Southampton 3 Arsenal 2

Ings 20, 44, Austin 85 Mkhitaryan 28, 53

Arsenal’s 22 game unbeaten run in all competitions came to a sudden end at Southampton where Unai Emery’s side were beaten 3-2. The Saints new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl’s winning home start was a combination of his new methods of high energy, high pressing and closing down when out of possession. Arsenal never really got going on a heavy pitch and under constant rainfall. It was similar to the Gunners encounter with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park where they couldn’t hold out for the win and allowed Palace to grab a point. Here they were much more “generous,” with Bernd Leno coming out to a Shane Long cross which he didn’t need to. Charlie Austin had the simple task of heading in the winner on 85 minutes. Danny Ings had twice given the Saints the lead with two headers, and twice Arsenal responded through Henrikh Mkhitaryan to level. When Emery brought on Meust Ozil for the last 20 minutes to replace Alex Iwobi, it was a bold move. Emery has stated that some games aren’t right for Ozil and has therefore has omitted the German as he did in the win at Bournemouth. Returning from a back injury, perhaps brining Ozil on here wasn’t the best thing to have done and especially when Aaron Ramsey and Mohamed Elneny would have given more bite to the Gunners’ rearguard. All flicks and tricks, it’s great when Ozil gets going but you will raraely see a defensive shift from the talismanic German. His misguided trick deep in the away half was pounced on by the Saints defence to counter and launch the move which led to Austin’s winner.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should have fired the Gunners into the lead after five minutes. Matteo Guendouzi found the Gabon forward with a 29 yard pass and although the initial control was good, the shot fell comfortably for Alex McCarthy to make the save. That seemed to be as good as it got for Aubameyang who seemed off the pace, while the Saints defenders were quick to snuff out any danger posed by the Gunners’ top scorer.

Arsenal’s makeshift three man defence of Stephan Lichsteiner, Granit Xhaka and the returning captain Laurent Koscielny were getting into all sorts of tangles. Matt Targett’s cross from the left was missed by Koscielny, but Xhaka had time to see the danger. The Swiss defender reacted too late however and in nipped Ings to head past Leno after 20 minutes.

Arsenal restored parity eight minutes later when Nacho Monreal picked out Mkhitaryan with a cross from the left for the Armenian to head down and past McCarthy. The players body language suggested that Arsenal would get stronger, but a minute before the break, Nathan Redmond’s cross from the right was headed past Leno for the home side to re-take the lead.

Every time Arsenal tried to pass and move, there were at least two red striped shirts hurrying them in possession. Arsenal restored parity again on 53 minutes. Alexandre Lacazette came on for Hector Bellerin at half time, and when the France striker robbed Janick Vestergaard deep in his own half, Mkhitaryan was able to take aim to see his deflected effort send McCarthy the wrong way.

Aubameyang wasn’t getting any luck in front of goal, while Iwobi should have done better from an angled effort which he curled wide of the upright. While Lucas Torreira had been hard at breaking up the Saint’s lines, he really could have done with some help alongside him. Elneny would have been a perfect foil, however Ozil came on, and in effect Arsenal were defensively reduced by one.

Austin has now netted in all five games against Arsenal. At the final whistle, did Leno really need to be in calm conversation with Austin to seemingly discuss the merits of his winning header?

This will be a lesson learned. Others will follow and it’s how quickly Emery’s side learn from their collective mistakes and establish defensive solutions which will determine how quickly the Gunners get back on track.

Arsenal next host Spurs in their Carabao Cup quarter-final on Wednesday.