Thing need to improve, Arsenal chiefs told a meeting of club staff during the international break.
Perhaps Unai Emery and his players did not get the message because against Southampton they arguably got even worse.
Alexandre Lacazette rescued a dramatic point for Arsenal with a 96th minute equaliser, his second of the game, but that was fooling nobody inside the Emirates.
Alexandre Lacazette’s 96th minute goal salvaged a point for Arsenal against Southampton after a dismal display
Danny Ings stunned Arsenal after his excellent finish put Southampton 1-0 in front after just eight minutes at the Emirates
Lacazette responded with a close range finish on 18 minutes after the ball had ricocheted fortuitously into his path
James Ward-Prowse saw his penalty saved by Bernd Leno but he tapped home the rebound to make it 2-1
The deafening chorus of boos at the full-time whistle, lack of any celebration from Arsenal after the Frenchman scored and Ralph Hasenhuttl’s obvious frustration that his Southampton side were not leaving as deserved victors told the real story.
This was yet another major setback, both the result and nature of their latest deeply worrying performance.
Arsenal were outwitted, out-fought and out-performed for most of the 97 minutes to leave the already under-fire Emery under even more pressure.
MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS
Arsenal (3-4-1-2): Leno 6; Chambers 6 (Pepe 46, 7), Sokratis 6, Luiz 6; Bellerin 6 (Martinelli 84) Guendouzi 6.5, Torreira 6 (Willock 84), Tierney 7; Ozil 7; Lacazette 7.5, Aubameyang 7.
Not used: Martinez, Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Nelson.
Goals: Lacazette 18, 90+6
Booked: Torreira, Sokratis, Lacazette, Pepe, Tierney, Guendouzi
Manager: Unai Emery 6
Southampton (4-2-2-2): McCarthy 7; Soares 6, Stephens 7, Bednarek 7, Bertrand 7; Ward-Prowse 7, Hojbjerg 7; Redmond 6.5, Armstrong 7 (Boufal 86); Ings 7.5 (Long 73, 6), Obafemi 7 (Djenepo 76, 6).
Not used: Gunn, Valery, Yoshida, Romeu.
Goals: Ings 8, Ward-Prowse 71 (p)
Booked: Ings, Bertrand
Manager: Ralph Hasenhuttl 7
Referee: Stuart Attwell 5
Season at a glance
- Premier League
- Premier League
- League One
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- Scottish Premiership
- Scottish Div 1
- Scottish Div 2
- Scottish Div 3
- Ligue 1
- Serie A
- La Liga
Arsenal’s unprecedented statement of disappointment about the current state of play following their defeat last time out against Leicester was a pointed warning at best for Emery and dreaded vote of confidence at worst.
Now sacking season is well and truly here following events this week up the road at fierce rivals Tottenham this week, this was not far off exactly what Emery did not need, a sixth game without a win to leave them seventh and seven points off the top four.
Emery said: ‘We’re disappointed, frustrated and also I understand the supporters. We didn’t deserve more today. We lost a very good opportunity to connect with our supporters.
Unai Emery went into the game under pressure and emerged from it with his future under even more scrutiny
‘[The lack of celebrations after equaliser] is an example of how the players felt. They felt it was not enough, our performance, to achieve the victory.
‘We can be disappointed and the fans also angry for that result.’
Southampton were excellent for large parts here, a far cry from the side who collapsed in such stunning fashion in their historic 9-0 humiliation against Leicester not so long ago.
Five different Arsenal players conceded possession needlessly inside a disastrous opening five minutes
Only their finishing at the death cost them a first league win at Arsenal since 1987 and spared the Gunners. Southampton should have been out of sight well before Lacazette had the chance to double his tally.
Hasenhuttl said: ‘After that [ending] you have to force the positive feeling. It is not easy to let it out.
‘The last weeks were not easy for anybody but the team showed they are believing in what we are doing.
Arsenal were caught cold by a quick free-kick which allowed Ings to run through on goal and finish expertly into the corner
‘With the third and fourth goal it is gone. We didn’t do it today but next week we have to.’
After eight minutes they were daring to believe for the first time of a first league win at Arsenal in 25 attempts. And when Danny Ings’ opener came it was little surprise.
Before that Arsenal had begun incredibly sloppily, five different players either needlessly conceding possession or misjudging the ball inside the first five minutes.
Emery gesticulated frantically at his players to get in position but his orders appeared to have minimal effect
Three minutes later Calum Chambers blocked Nathan Redmond, Arsenal’s defence were looking elsewhere when Ryan Bertrand took the resulting free-kick quickly to put through Ings who whipped his eighth goal of the season past Bernd Leno off his near post, a deserved reward for their purposeful start.
The natives that were inside a less than full Emirates, were getting restless, not helped by Arsenal’s failure to trouble Alex McCarthy and Ings giving the hosts another scare when he fired over first-time after Michael Obafemi had got in down Arsenal’s wide open left channel to cross.
Lacazette’s equaliser on 18 minutes gave Arsenal and Emery some respite but their performance failed to improve
Emery gesticulated furiously and frantically at his players in a bid to pull them into position.
What he really needed was a goal to calm everything down inside an increasingly mutinous Emirates.
Lacazette duly delivered, volleying past Jan Bednarek on the line after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s effort was blocked by Bertrand, to bring Emery some respite.
Emery abandoned his back three formation at the break, bring on Pepe for Chambers though they continued to look uncertain defensively.
Leno had to dive full stretch to prevent a Lucas Torreira own goal minutes into the second half.
That save was bettered at the other end by McCarthy who stuck out his left boot to prevent Aubameyang.
A see-saw period followed.
Mesut Ozil struggled to stamp his authority on the game after being handed a second consecutive Premier League start
Pepe blew an Arsenal counter by delaying his pass to Ozil, Redmond forced Leno into a spectacular tip over bar, Pepe volleyed over before Cedric Soares let Arsenal off the hook, over-hitting a simple square pass to Obafemi after robbing the dallying Sokratis and a big chance went.
Five minutes later Southampton earned another chance to restore their lead when Kieran Tierney pulled back Ings to concede a penalty.
The now customary VAR check followed as the officials looked for an offside. Eventually the penalty was given and Ward-Prowse fired in the rebound after his initial effort was saved.
After that it looked only like Southampton would extend their lead. Stuart Armstrong fired wide, Moussa Djenepo had an effort cleared off the line before somehow firing wide and fellow sub Sofiane Boufal also lost his footing at the crucial moment.
Just how costly all those misses were became clear deep into injury time when Gabriel Martinelli crossed for Lacazette to stab in.
Pepe’s half-time introduction for Chambers produced a much more positive response as Emery got his big four attackers on the pitch at the expense of his back three formation.
Southampton were awarded a second half penalty after Kieran Tierney was penalised for tugging on Danny Ings’ shirt
Initially, they continued to look uncertain defensively and Leno had to dive full stretch to prevent a Lucas Torreira own goal minutes into the second half.
That save was bettered at the other end by McCarthy who stuck out his left boot to prevent Aubameyang before Pepe was put through by Lacazette but blew his big chance to find Mesut Ozil.
The game swung again, Redmond running at Torreira and forcing Leno into a spectacular tip over then Arsenal attacked and Pepe acrobatically volleyed Tierney’s cross down into the ground and against the bar.
Ward-Prowse saw his penalty saved but he converted the rebound and looked to have given Southampton a shock win
The next big chance fell to Southampton and how they failed to take it was a mystery. Sokratis dallied on the ball in his own box and was robbed by Cedric Soares who only had to square the ball across goal to give Obafemi a tap in. He over hit his pass and the chance went.
Five minutes later Soares was one of the most relieved men inside the Emirates when Southampton earned another chance to restore their lead.
Arsenal breathed a sigh of relief when Lacazette scored his and the Gunners’ second of the afternoon deep into injury-time
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl cut a dejected figure after watching his side concede a late equaliser