SOUTHAMPTON: Granit Xhaka scored a superb early goal but Premier League leaders Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton today as Stuart Armstrong netted a deserved second-half equaliser for the home side.
The result moved Arsenal to 28 points from 11 games, two ahead of second-placed Manchester City, while Southampton are 15th with 12 points from 12 games.
The visitors looked untouchable in the opening 15 minutes as they launched wave after wave of attacks on the home goal and were rewarded with an excellent opener from Xhaka, who also netted their winner in the midweek Europa League win over PSV Eindhoven.
Bukayo Saka’s flick set right-back Ben White away down the right flank and his cross was thundered into the roof of the net by Xhaka.
The Swiss international had not scored any goals with his right foot in his first 263 games for the North London club, but now has two in his last two games.
“We started well and we should have scored more but we’re only human and it’s tricky,” White said, adding that they were disappointed with their second-half showing.
“We were sloppy in possession, we didn’t win duels. It was the opposite to the first half.”
Home goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu made a fine stop from Gabriel Jesus’s excellent acrobatic shot as Arsenal threatened a second goal.
Jesus had another chance to score when he was sent clear by Martin Odegaard but a superb block from Mohamed Elyounoussi snuffed out the danger.
Southampton must have been relieved to be only 1-0 down at the break, but were much brighter in the second period and were deserving of their equaliser, perhaps profiting from an Arsenal side who looked increasingly weary from their midweek exertions.
A quick counter-attack on 65 minutes drew reward when Elyounoussi slipped the ball into the path of Armstrong, who was composed with his finish past goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.
The home team looked the more likely to find the winner after that, but created only half-chances.
They will certainly look at it as a point well earned, and perhaps a springboard to better things this campaign.
“It was always going to be a hard game, it was not the perfect start. But to get a point is amazing for us,” goalscorer Armstrong said.
“We changed the shape quite quickly and set deeper to limit their chances. We knew on the counter-attack we could be dangerous.”
Arsenal are at home to Nottingham Forest next Sunday, while Southampton travel to Crystal Palace on Saturday.
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