Two late goals from Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka managed to salvage a point against Southampton, but could only ensure we claimed a third draw in succession.
We got off to the worst possible start when Carlos Alcaraz netted within the first 30 seconds, and then on 14 minutes Theo Walcott came back to haunt his former club to hand us a mountain to climb.
Gabriel Martinelli’s 15th goal of the season reduced the arrears before half-time, however Duje Caleta-Car restored the two-goal cushion on 65 minutes and as we entered the final five minutes it looked like a loss was on the cards.
However the skipper fired in from range before Saka pounced to prod home a loose ball in the final minute of normal time to grab a share of the spoils in unlikely circumstances.
Trailing by two
Things started to go wrong just 27 seconds into the game when Aaron Ramsdale attempted to pass out from the back but didn’t spot Alcaraz, who snuck in to intercept, control and fire the ball into the bottom corner to stun the home crowd.
Their shock quickly turned to encouragement as they tried to rally the players and some direct running by the electric Martinelli led to chances for Odegaard and Oleksandr Zinchenko who failed to hit the target, but the visitors piled further early misery on us by moving 2-0 ahead.
Alcaraz was again involved, picking the ball up in the middle and feeding it into the path of Walcott, who did what he did so often in our colours by tucking the chance away first-time into the bottom corner and put us deep in trouble.
Martinelli provides hope
We needed a quick response, and it arrived six minutes later as Martinelli gave us a lifeline. Saka tricked his way past Romain Perraud and did well not only to keep the ball in play, but find our top scorer who produced some great movement to get free and flash home a volley that reignited our chances.
We couldn’t afford any further mishaps and only a double save by Ramsdale to deny Mohammed Elyanoussi and Alcaraz kept the deficit at one, but as a frantic opening quarter began to settle, we kept probing in and around the visitors’ area and Gabriel would head over on the stroke of half-time.
Then in stoppage-time Ben White flicked a Saka corner goalwards which was brilliantly cleared off the line by the back-peddling Alcaraz, and then Gabriel Jesus saw an attempt blocked in the box as we went into the break down, but not out.
At half-time Ruben Selles tightened things up by moving to a five-man defence, and that saw our opportunities dry up. With it being hard enough to score once to grab a draw, a hammer blow to our title chances arrived midway through the second half when the Saints added their third.
On a rare foray forward in the second half, James Ward-Prowse swung over a corner which was flicked on by Armel Bella-Kotchap, and Calta-Car headed the ball past Ramsdale to dampen the mood.
A golden chance fell to Jesus straight away when he was picked out in space at the far post by compatriot Martinelli but he couldn’t keep his attempt down, and as was the story after the break we couldn’t find a way through a stubborn Southampton defence, despite plenty of pressure.
With three minutes to play, we managed to claw our way back into contention when Odegaard played a one-two with White and bent the ball home from the edge of the box to make it 3-2, and incredibly two minutes later we got ourselves level.
Reiss Nelson picked up the ball in a dangerous position on the left and fired towards the bottom corner. Gavin Bazunu did well to get down low and keep it out, but Saka tucked home the rebound to get the Emirates rocking.
Eight minutes of stoppage time provided even more noise, and we were fractions away from completing an incredible comeback when Leandro Trossard let fly from range and struck the crossbar, meaning there wasn’t quite to be a Bournemouth-esque ending this time as we were forced to settle for a point.
Facts and stats
We are the first side to avoid defeat in a Premier League match despite trailing by 2+ goals as late as the 88th minute since Newcastle United against Everton in January 2020.
Southampton are the first team in Premier League history to start the day bottom of the table and score 3+ goals against the team starting the day top.
We have kept three clean sheets from 16 home games in the Premier League this season – only Southampton have recorded fewer shut-outs at home this term (1).
Carlos Alcaraz is only the second player to both score and assist away to Arsenal in the Premier League this season, after Kevin De Bruyne.
Gabriel Martinelli has scored 15 goals in the Premier League this season, the joint-most in a single campaign by a Brazilian, along with Roberto Firmino in 2017-18.
Bukayo Saka (24) and Martinelli (20) are only the second pair of teammates aged 21 and under to both record 20+ goal involvements in a single Premier League campaign, after Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney in 2006/07 for Manchester United.
The top two in the Premier League go head-to-head on Wednesday as we travel to the Etihad Stadium to take on Manchester City in the game of the season. We’re then back in action six days later when we host Chelsea at the Emirates in our final London derby of the campaign.
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