Goals from former Arsenal man Theo Walcott and current Gunners talisman Pierre-Emmerick Aubameyang cancelled each other out as Arsenal shared the points with Southampton at The Emirates. Hopes of a second-half comeback for Arsenal were soon thrown out of the window when a second consecutive Arsenal performance was tainted with yet another red card, this time for Gabriel Magalhaes.
Old face comes back to haunt The Gunners
Theo Walcott marked his return to his old stomping ground with a goal. The ex-Arsenal man notched 37 Premier League goals at The Emirates for Arsenal and tonight tallied his 38th - albeit in different circumstances to what many would have envisioned. The electric winger capitalised on Arsenal’s nonchalant defending, lifting the ball over Bernd Leno to give The Saints the lead after a quarter of an hour. Walcott dealt his former club a further blow in the second half, winning a foul which saw referee Paul Tierney brandish a second yellow for defender Gabriel, reducing the home side to ten men.
The Hasenhüttl press
Southampton’s press has proven to be key to their success so far this campaign. Che Adams and Danny Ings relentlessly hounded all evening, as they have done all season, and made it difficult for their opposition to build out from the back. Conversely, the home side looked lethargic and lacked the intent needed to get the club out of their current rut. Unlike Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side, Mikel Arteta’s men showed no intensity or desire to flip the game on its head.
Aubameyang ends goal drought
Before the day had started, Arsenal had not won a game of Premier League football since their captain Pierre-Emmerick Aubameyang had last scored a goal - versus Manchester United, five games ago. Aubameyang scored 22 times last season, however, he has struggled to find the back of the net since. Bukayo Saka, in a moment of brilliance, skipped past the Southampton defence, feeding the ball to Eddie Nketiah who put the ball on a plate for his captain to easily dispatch past McCarthy. Aubameyang’s return to the scoresheet will be a massive boost for The Gunners captain who has looked agonisingly sparse of confidence in recent matches.
The ten men of Arsenal
Following Granit Xhaka’s dismissal in the last match against Burnley, it was identified that there is a disciplinary issue surrounding the club. Nicolas Pepe sparked the debate weeks prior when he was shown red for his headbutt on Leeds' Ezgjan Alioski and Gabriel continued it tonight when he was given his marching orders on the hour mark. Two games in a row now have Arsenal had a bright start to the second half ruined by two moments of stupidity. The Gunners had equalised moments before through Aubameyang, giving them hope of picking up three points for the first in five games, but they were soon diminished when they were reduced to ten.
There is no Europa League outing this week for The Gunners to redeem themselves. Instead, Arsenal will now turn their attention to Saturday where they will face a high-flying Everton.
Squad rotation should be expected as teams now embark on a busy winter schedule and the suspension of Gabriel will force Arteta’s hand in making some changes.