Arsenal‘s winning run came to a halt in the Premier League this afternoon after they were held by Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium and manager Mikel Arteta will be rather relieved that they managed to walk away with a point.
The Gunners took an early lead through Granit Xhaka after he drilled home a cross from Ben White inside the penalty area and were then left to rue their missed chances as after the break, the Saints looked the more likely to go onto win the game.
They equalised midway through the second half when Mohamed Elyounoussi fed a delicate ball in past Arteta’s backline for Stuart Armstrong to slot the ball past Aaron Ramsdale.
Whether it was match fitness or complacency, there were plenty of Arsenal stars that just weren’t at the races down on the south coast, of those Gabriel Jesus could be included, having registered the worst rating of any visiting player, as per Sofascore figures.
Thomas Partey and Takehiro Tomiyasu, who was deployed in an unfamiliar left-back role, were other notable disappointments but perhaps the player who fell most in that bracket was the usually-reliable dangerman Bukayo Saka.
No Arsenal player lost possession (15) or was dribbled past more times (twice) than the England international, proving not only wasteful but lightweight in his battles and that was reinforced by the fact that he won just 40% of his ten duels as he struggled to get the better of Romain Perraud, via Sofascore.
The 21-year-old is amongst Arteta’s most lethal threats in the final third, considering the versatile winger had delivered eight direct goal contributions from their opening ten games, in which nine have been victories.
But neither of his two shots against the Saints’ stopper Gavin Bazunu were on target and nor did he create a chance from his 29 pass attempts, which were completed at an accuracy rate of just 72% – only one other starter for the north Londoners saw a poorer effort and that was the goalkeeper, who attempted a whopping 12 long balls.
‘One of his most forgettable games of the season thus far,’ wrote The Sun in their post-match ratings column, whilst football.london reporter Kaya Kaynak claimed Saka was ‘not as influential as he has been in the previous few matches.’
As such, forget about the likes of Jesus and Partey, it was the £70k-per-week star who massively let his manager and the team down with a pretty anonymous and lightweight showing against Southampton today.
He’ll need to buck up his ideas quickly with games against PSV Eindhoven in the Europa League and Nottingham Forest back in the league before the end of the month.