Premier League leaders Arsenal dropped points for only the second time this season as Stuart Armstrong’s second-half equaliser earned Southampton a hard-earned point at St Mary’s.
Armstrong finished off a flowing team move involving Adam Armstrong and Mohamed Elyounoussi to stretch Saints’ unbeaten league run to three matches.
Granit Xhaka had given the Gunners an early lead with his second goal in as many games, sweeping the ball first time into the roof of the net from Ben White’s low delivery.
The effervescent Gabriel Martinelli had a shot deflected wide and Gabriel Jesus was denied by Southampton goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu as the visitors threatened to double their advantage before the interval.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team improved in the second half but needed a superb last-ditch challenge from Elyounoussi to deny Jesus, who had broken clear of the Southampton defence.
Martin Odegaard thought he had put Arsenal back ahead not long after Armstrong’s equaliser, but the Norwegian’s effort was disallowed after the ball had gone out of play in the build-up.
The result leaves Mikel Arteta’s team two points clear of second-placed Manchester City, while Saints stay in 15th – three points clear of the relegation zone.
Arsenal fizzle out after bright start
The Gunners suffered a 1-0 defeat at St Mary’s last season, but after taking an early lead on the south coast they appeared on course to claim a 10th league victory of the campaign.
Odegaard flashed a shot wide from Xhaka’s pass inside 10 minutes, but the Switzerland international made no mistake from White’s accurate right-wing cross not long afterwards.
Southampton improved as the half wore on but Arsenal, who had won their previous 18 Premier League games after opening the scoring, continued to pose the greater threat in the final third and went close to adding to their lead through Martinelli and Jesus.
Jesus’ failure to get his shot off before Elyounoussi’s goal-saving challenge proved costly, as Southampton rallied to claim a deserved share of the spoils courtesy of Armstrong’s composed finish.
There were few complaints from the visiting players when Odegaard’s powerful finish from Kieran Tierney’s cut-back was chalked off, with replays clearly showing the ball had gone behind before the Scotland full-back could wrap his foot around it.
The stalemate is Arsenal’s first in 28 Premier League matches – since a goalless draw at home to Burnley back in January.
Southampton stage impressive recovery
Other than Lyanco’s hopeful long-range effort and a flurry of corners towards the end of the half, Southampton failed to trouble Gunners goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale before the interval.
Hasenhuttl’s side struggled to cope with the visitors’ energy and imagination in the early stages in particular, but a switch from a back four to a back five midway through the half helped stem the flow of Arsenal attacks.
It was a much more even contest in the second half – although clear-cut opportunities remained few and far between until Armstrong’s equaliser.
The Scotland midfielder kept his composure to calmly slide the ball past the onrushing Ramsdale after superb play from Elyounoussi to pick out his team-mate on the edge of the penalty area.
A 4-0 defeat at Manchester City earlier this month – Saints’ fourth in a row in the Premier League – had increased the scrutiny on manager Hasenhuttl, but a third successive game without defeat has helped ease that pressure.
Southampton have won eight points from losing positions in the league this season – only Crystal Palace have collected more after falling behind.