By Isaac Moore at London Colney
Yaya Sanogo played an hour as Arsenal Under-21s were held to a goalless draw by Southampton at London Colney.
The Gunners had the better of a game of few opportunities, but the draw means they are still without a league win in 2014.
SETTING THE SCENE
Steve Gatting made three changes from the side that drew with Norwich a week before. Sanogo started ahead of Austin Lipman up front, Jon Toral replaced Gedion Zelalem in midfield while Stefan O'Connor came in for Julio Pleguezuelo at centre back.
The Saints came into this game four places above the Gunners in the league, but a win for Gatting's men would take them above their visitors.
Conditions were tricky on a windy afternoon in Hertfordshire but both sides remained loyal to their passing philosophies.
Both sides had half-chances in the opening five minutes. Southampton worked the ball wide to Jason McCarthy, whose near-post cross was turned towards goal by Jake Flannigan, but Matt Macey was there to make the save. Then Semi Ajayi almost got on the end of Kris Olsson's corner but his header flew just wide of the near post.
Sanogo's first involvement came in the 11th minute when he was put through on goal by Thomas Eisfeld, but Saints defender Jack Stephens did well to catch the French forward and make a well-timed sliding tackle.
Arsenal's next attempt came in the 28th minute when Ryo drove at the Southampton defence, beating three players before sending his left-foot effort just wide.
Southampton had plenty of possession in the first half but it was the home side who looked more threatening going forward. The Gunners' best effort in the first half came when Eisfeld laid the ball off to Olsson, whose bending effort was pushed behind by Cody Cropper at full stretch.
The tempo of the game remained high in the second half, which seemed to suit the Gunners, with Southampton starved of possession when they ventured into the final third.
Sanogo was replaced on the hour mark by Lipman and the French forward will be pleased to get minutes under his belt after spending nearly six months on the sidelines with a back injury.
In the 66th minute Eisfeld found Ryo in space but the young winger could only blast his effort high and wide.
Arsenal's best chance of the second half, and possibly the game, came in the 74th minute when Toral squeezed a cross into Lipman. He tried to side-foot a shot into the corner but his effort was blocked by Jordan Turnbull.
The Saints came close to a late winner when Jake Sinclair wriggled into space before shooting straight at Macey.
- Sanogo 61
- Lipman 61
- Isgrove 52
- Jake Flannigan
- Josh Debayo
- Josh Sims 52