Arsenal's title hopes are dashed as they draw 3-3 against relegation-threatened Southampton. Gunners squandered many chances in the game.
|Aaron Ramsdale rues own mistake that led to Southampton's opener in Arsenal's 3-3 draw with the Saints on Friday. (Photo credit: BBC)|
Arsenal’s title dreams went up in thick flames right in front of their home fans on Friday night as the young Gunners battled to a 3-3 draw against relegation candidates Southampton.
Arsenal knew what to do, and from the lineup that saw Alex Zinchenko restored to the starting eleven after recovering from a tight muscle, you could tell the team wanted it badly.
But it wasn’t to be, as a schoolboy error handed the visitors the initiative at the blast of the whistle.
An attempt to play out from the back by Aaron Ramsdale failed as he passed to Alcaraz, who obliged and handed the visitors the lead with a simple finish.
One became two when Alcaraz picked up former Arsenal man Theo Walcott on the break, and the winger slotted home coolly.
Gabriel Martinelli halved the deficit midway into the first half, but the Southampton defence stood firm to prevent Arsenal levelling before the break despite all efforts from the Gunners.
Ben White saw his header cleared off the line, and Gabriel Jesus headed wide from close range.
The Saints couldn’t have asked for a better start to the second half.
After surviving Arsenal’s early onslaught in the second half, Duje Caleta-Car headed home unmarked from a corner kick to take it completely away from Arsenal.
And at that point, the Gunners knew the title race was over.
Mikel Arteta removed Fabio Vieira for Leandro Trossard, and Zinchenko made way for Nelson.
Martin Odegaard scored to make it 3-2, and at that point, the visitors became jittery, and it was only a matter of time before they crumbled.
Arsenal pelted Southampton with barrages of attacks, but attack after attack, the Gunners kept fluffing chances, with Gabriel Jesus missing sitters and offside calls halting promising moves.
But breakthroughs would come from the likeliest of sources.
Bukayo Saka got on the end of a loose ball to make it 3-3, and the extra-time board went up. It took eight massive minutes for Arsenal to find their goal.
Trossard went close, but his fierce effort sailed narrowly over the bar.
At the final whistle, the mood at the Emirates suggests the reality: it’s all over for Arsenal, as all City need to do is win their two outstanding games and avoid a loss to the Gunners when they meet in midweek.
Many people predicted it, but Arsenal only have themselves to blame.