Arsenal put in another dismal performance in a 2-2 draw with relegation candidates Southampton on Saturday, and they were very lucky not to lose.
The suggestion from the majority in the English media after defeat to Leicester was that Unai Emery would be given an opportunity in a run of easy games to put things right and get the team back on track.
The first of these games was against Southampton, and Arsenal were awful. Danny Ings gave the away side an early lead after a quick free-kick, though the Gunners did quickly equalise through Alexandre Lacazette tucking home a rebound.
James Ward-Prowse restored the advantage in the second half with a penalty rebound, before Lacazette levelled things up again with a tap in deep into injury time.
Southampton had a few fantastic chances to increase their lead before that. Most notably when Sokratis lost the ball in his own area and Cedric failed to find his man for an open goal, but also when Joe Willock had to clear the ball off the line with minutes to play.
The main problem was the way Emery set up for the match, so it’s unfair to put the blame too heavily on any individual player, but let’s have a look at our player ratings for the match.
- Bernd Leno 7 – You had to feel for Leno, who made a good penalty save but was just unlucky that it fell in an area he couldn’t get to it for the rebound. He was abandoned by his defence for Southampton’s opener, and made three good saves goals aside.
- Calum Chambers 5 – Certainly the wrong centre-back to remove at half-time, Chambers performed pretty well in possession, though he did also have one or two defensive lapses. Perhaps Emery is reluctant to use him in a back four because there was no other justifiable reason to leave Sokratis on instead.
- David Luiz 5 – Went to sleep for Southampton’s opening goal, turning his back on the play. His long pass eventually leading to the late equaliser was excellent though, and he was fairly solid other than the opening goal.
- Sokratis Papastathopoulos 3 – Completely ineffective in possession and was also dribbled past more than the other two centre-backs combined. The worst moment was when he decided to try take-ons in his own penalty area, Arsenal certainly should have conceded but they got lucky.
- Hector Bellerin 5 – Struggled a bit to get back into the swing of things, Bellerin made some good tackles but also missed a couple he should have made.
- Kieran Tierney 5.5 – In general, this was a good performance from Tierney, but with two big defensive errors. He gave the ball away in the first half in a dangerous area leading to a shot, then conceded a penalty in the second. All the same, he was possibly Arsenal’s biggest threat going forward with his crosses.
- Lucas Torreira 5 – Torreira and Guendouzi don’t have a good awareness of where the other is when they’re attacking, and they get caught out repeatedly with passes and runs in behind them as a result. They both made four interceptions and completed all of their attempted tackles, but it doesn’t matter when you’re also caught out for both goals.
- Matteo Guendouzi 5 – As above, until the midfield pairing start acting as a unit it doesn’t matter what they do individually. Right now their efforts are neither creating goals nor preventing them.
- Mesut Özil 8 – There have been some accusations that certain players aren’t playing for Emery anymore, but there’s no way Özil can be included in that. He gave his all for the team driving forward, finding Tierney in dangerous areas consistently and directly creating as many chances as the other 13 Arsenal players combined.
- Alexandre Lacazette 7.5 – Took his two goals nicely, but was a little sloppy in his passing at times. That can be forgiven when you score twice though.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 5 – Should have scored when the ball bounced through to him early in the second half, but wasn’t too involved in the game other than that. He did flick the ball on well in the build-up to the second goal.
- Nicolas Pepe 6.5 – It’s clear why Pepe chose to pass on his counter-attack, as it would have been a much easier chance if he’d found his man, but he should really have gone for goal. The winger was unlucky to see a well-hit volley bounce up onto the bar, and he had a good impact overall.
- Joe Willock 7 – Although they were only on for 14 minutes, Willock and Martinelli arguably had as much of an impact on the result as anyone. Willock made an intelligent block on the line to keep the score at 2-1 and played a good pass to Lacazette for another chance.
- Gabriel Martinelli 7 – Had one real opportunity to run at the Southampton defence and he took it, beating his man and crossing for Lacazette’s equaliser.