Arsenal dropped two points but could have lost all three as the Saints outplayed their North London opposition.
Arsenal had an own goal to thanks as the Gunners drew 1-1 at Southampton after record signing Gaston Ramirez had given Southampton the lead at St Mary’s.
Victors by seven goals to three against Newcastle United at the weekend, Arsenal managed only one shot on target in 90 minutes at Southampton.
But for Guly do Prado deflecting a free-kick by the disappointing Theo Walcott into his own net before half-time, Southampton would have got the win they deserved for a more committed performance.
Following four successive wins, Arsenal were a poor shadow of the team that had won their previous four matches, while Southampton moved out of the bottom three of the Premier League with their third successive draw.
Saints brought back Artur Boruc in goal and dropped Kelvin Davis after the 3-3 draw at Stoke City but the Polish goalkeeper had an inauspicious start, allowing Jack Wilshere’s corner kick to slip through his hands then fumbling what should have been another easy catch.
With the goalkeeper in such uncertain form, Arsenal should have tested him with some early shots, but they failed to do so even though they dominated the early possession.
The hosts were struggling to deal with Wilshere and Santi Cazorla in midfield, but they battled their way back into the match with some determined tackling and were soon forcing the Arsenal defenders to kick anywhere.
Arsenal were lucky when referee Lee Probert gave a free-kick against Ramirez when he won the ball from Wilshere and set off for goal when it looked as though the England midfield player had run into the Uruguayan rather than vice-versa.
Ramirez then unsuccessfully claimed a penalty when he threw himself over Thomas Vermaelen’s challenge, but after 35 minutes he was celebrating, even if it was a messy goal.
First, Lukas Podolski gave possession away to Morgan Schneiderlin, who had a chance to shoot but tried to set up Rickie Lambert instead.
His pass was poor, but Bacary Sagna’s interception hit Southampton’s Jason Puncheon and rebounded for Ramirez to drive low past Wojciech Szczesny.
If that was scrappy, then Arsenal’s equaliser two minutes later was even worse.
Walcott, playing against his old club, curled in a free-kick from the left that seemed to be going harmlessly to Boruc, but Brazilian winger Guly swung a foot at the ball at the near post and deflected it into his own net.
Saints looked to try to regain the lead, but Kieran Gibbs nipped ahead of Puncheon when danger threatened.
Arsenal got the ball in the net again before half-time, only for Walcott’s shot from Wilshere’s pass to be ruled out for offside.
It had been a poor first half, and the second did not begin promisingly, with clearances ballooned up in the air and a succession of offsides, but Guly brought the home fans to their feet after 54 minutes with a 22-yard shot that Szczesny palmed round the post.
The goalkeeper had to be alert again moments later, grabbing the ball on the goal-line when Guly’s corner rebounded goalwards off Sagna’s knee.
Saints were getting on top, and Szczesny was lucky when Schneiderlin got down the right and crossed low.
The keeper could only palm the ball out and was relieved to see it fall behind Lambert as the Saints top scorer moved in for the kill.
Then a raised flag denied Ramirez a second after he seemed to have beaten the offside trap and beaten Szczesny.
Three minutes from time, Puncheon could have won the game after cutting in from the right, but his fiercely hit shot was too close to Szczesny, who fisted it away.
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