Football

Player ratings as Armstrong equaliser pegs back league leaders


An improved second-half performance helped Southampton hold Premier League leaders Arsenal to a draw at St. Mary’s on Sunday afternoon.

Granit Xhaka finished well from Ben White’s cross to put the Gunners ahead early on, but the Saints gained some momentum in the second half before Stuart Armstrong brought them level by finishing off a quick counter attack.

Arsenal were quickly into their work in the opening ten minutes as Xhaka and Martin Odegaard went close and their period of dominance was rewarded when Xhaka thumped in White’s cross inside the penalty area.

The Gunners benefitted from a lacklustre Saints start, the home side failing to find any rhythm and gifting opportunities to the visitors. A James Ward-Prowse pass was easily gathered by Thomas Partey and Odegaard then fed Gabriel Jesus, who tussled and got away from Mohammed Salisu before firing into the side netting.

Southampton won a succession of corners but failed to test Aaron Ramsdale, with Jesus going closest when his first-time shot was beaten away by Gavin Bazunu.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side had looked pretty toothless in front of goal, the lack of threat being summed up at the start of the second half when Adam Armstrong was gifted the ball in the final third by Gabriel but was hesitant in possession and ended up gifting the ball back to Arsenal.

A few crosses from Stuart Armstrong and Romain Perraud caused hesitation in the Arsenal defence, but Jesus came closest to scoring next only to be denied by a brilliant recovering challenge from Mohamed Elyounoussi, stopping the Brazilian before he could get a firm shot away.

Southampton were more assertive as they game wore on and punished Arsenal for their lack of cutting edge when they drew level. Elyounoussi drove infield and fed Stuart Armstrong, who placed his shot into the far corner beyond Aaron Ramsdale to make it 1-1.

While the hosts pushed forward in an attempt to win all three points, Arsenal were relatively untroubled at the back and were instead left to rue some missed opportunities as their lead over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table shrunk to two points.

GK: Gavin Bazunu – 7/10 – Had to keep out one Xhaka shot but was powerless to prevent another from hitting the roof of his net. Steady throughout.

RB: Lyanco – 7/10 – Made his first league start of the season. Had Southampton’s first shot on target with an ambitious drive. Was on the front foot in defence.

CB: Duje Caleta-Car – 6/10 – Had a few nibbles at Jesus and Saka which could have ended worse.

CB: Mohammed Salisu – 5/10 – Looked worried whenever Jesus drove forward at the Southampton defence.

LB: Romain Perraud – 6/10 – Rampaged up and down the left hand side, putting in a few dangerous deliveries.

RM: Mohamed Elyounoussi – 8/10 – Remarkable sprint back and tackle denied Jesus with the goal at his mercy. Set up the equaliser with a great run and pass to Armstrong.

CM: James Ward-Prowse – 6/10 – Some sloppy passes handed Arsenal the initiative.

CM: Ibrahima Diallo – 6/10 – A little overwhelmed during the early stages but improved and made a lot of ball recoveries.

LM: Stuart Armstrong – 7/10 – Put a few dangerous crosses into the box before equalising with a well placed effort.

ST: Joe Aribo – 5/10 – Couldn’t hold the ball up when Southampton needed respite from Arsenal pressure.

ST: Adam Armstrong – 6/10 – Got through a lot of defensive work, nicking possession back with some good tackles, but didn’t pose much of a threat to Arsenal’s back line.

SUB: Che Adams (73′ for Aribo) – 6/10

SUB: Theo Walcott (73′ for Adam Armstrong) – 6/10

SUB: Samuel Edozie (80′ for Stuart Armstrong) – 6/10

Manager: Ralph Hasenhuttl – 6/10 – Set his side out in the wrong formation early in the game, handing Arsenal the platform to play. Changes helped Southampton later on to nick a point.

GK: Aaron Ramsdale – 6/10 – Didn’t have a proper save to make in the first half before being beaten by Armstrong.

RB: Ben White – 7/10 – Charged forward and delivered a good cross for Xhaka to convert.

CB: William Saliba – 7/10 – Distributed possession well and rarely looked troubled by Southampton’s runners.

CB: Gabriel – 6/10 – A few sloppy moments in possession but they went unpunished.

LB: Takehiro Tomiyasu – 6/10 – A little sluggish in closing down Elyounoussi before the equaliser. Nice and solid otherwise.

CM: Thomas Partey – 6/10 – A couple of interceptions got Arsenal on the front foot in attack.

CM: Granit Xhaka – 7/10 – Tested Bazunu with a fierce drive before arriving in the box to thwack in White’s cross.

RM: Bukayo Saka – 6/10 – Nice interplay with White before Xhaka’s strike. Booked for a dive and not as big a threat as he has been in recent weeks.

AM: Martin Odegaard – 6/10 – Played some nice passes into Jesus and prevented one Saints counter-attack when Arsenal had no players back.

LM: Gabriel Martinelli – 6/10 – Made a few dangerous runs to the byline and into Southampton’s box.

ST: Gabriel Jesus – 6/10 – First sight of goal showed his twinkling dribbling before hitting the side netting. Drove at the Southampton defence but end product was lacking.

SUB: Eddie Nketiah (71′ for Martinelli) – 6/10

SUB: Kieran Tierney (71′ for White) – 6/10

SUB: Fabio Vieira (83′ for Odegaard) – N/A

Manager: Mikel Arteta – 6/10 – His side had the initiative in the early moments but didn’t show the killer instinct to win the game. Arteta responded with changes after the equaliser but their momentum had gone by then.

Player of the match – Mohamed Elyounoussi



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