Danny Welbeck scored twice and assisted another as Arsenal beat Southampton 3-2 at the Emirates in a drama-soaked encounter in the Premier League.
Southampton took the lead through Shane Long but the lead lasted all but 11 minutes as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang drew the Gunners level after a delicious flick from Welbeck.
Arsenal then took the lead through Welbeck whose shot from outside the box took a huge deflection to beat McCarthy in goal.
Charlie Austin drew Southampton level with his third touch of the game after Cedric Soares’ darted past Arsenal defenders before passing to Austin who tapped the ball in.
But it was Welbeck who had the last word as he nodded Alex Iwobi’s cross past Alex McCarthy after missing a tap-in minutes before.
Mark Hughes’ men, who had defender Jack Stephens sent off in added time before Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny was also dismissed, remain 18th in the table and three points from safety.
The south-coast outfit also had a second Long goal ruled out for offside and defender Wesley Hoedt saw his header cleared off the line by Elneny.
Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy had kept the visitors’ second-half hopes alive with a string of impressive stops to deny Aubameyang, Granit Xhaka and Alex Iwobi.
Late drama lifts Emirates inertia
A sterile first-half atmosphere at the Emirates, after a similarly muted last league win against Stoke, was transformed by a dramatic second half in north London.
Arsenal won over their supporters with a display of grit to keep their winning momentum going as the focus shifts to Europe again.
It is now six consecutive triumphs in all competitions and they sit sixth in the Premier League table.
And this 150th win at their home ground since they left Highbury in 2006, adds more weight to Wenger’s claim that their relative woes this term maybe require a little perspective.
They seem almost certain to miss out on the top four again this season after that happened last term for the first time in 20 years.
But even without the influential Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere in their starting line-up they had the mental strength to take all three points against determined opposition.
“If you look at our home season, people have seen good football here and I read somewhere that we were the third best team in the league with our home results,” Wenger said last week.
After leading twice, two late red cards and and a surprisingly loud roar at the final whistle, there was certainly entertainment at the Emirates on Sunday despite the empty seats.
Wenger and his players head to Moscow with a spring in their step, still believing they can reach the Champions League next season by winning the Europa League. They hold a 4-1 advantage from the first leg of the quarter-final.