Arsenal struggle for goals as 6/10 the highest rating for any player
Arsenal's faltering title challenge suffered another misstep as they drew 0-0 at home to Southampton, their fourth Premier League game without a victory.
On a night when Manchester City beat Sunderland and Leicester City defeated Liverpool, arguably the most damaging development saw Arsenal slip into fourth behind rivals Tottenham, who crept up the table with a 3-0 win at Norwich City.
Fraser Forster was in sensational form in the Southampton goal, repelling everything Arsenal could throw at him in one of the goalkeeping performances of the season.
Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, with a succession of chances, were all denied by Forster's brilliant display of dexterity, Arsenal succumbing to a draw which leaves them five points off the title pace.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Petr Cech, 6 -- The keeper enjoyed a confident start as he coped well under a bombardment of set-pieces from James Ward-Prowse. He saved easily from a couple of Southampton openings but his efforts paled in comparison to those of Forster at the other end.
DF Hector Bellerin, 5 -- Southampton enjoyed some early joy down his side through Dusan Tadic and Bellerin's delivery was also patchy in a below-par first-half display. He never stopped trying but lacked the incision of some of his performances this season.
DF Gabriel Paulista, 5 -- The Brazilian was given a show of faith when keeping his place despite the return of Per Mertesacker from suspension, but he lacked the German's poise when starting play from the back, one errant pass almost costing his side when Sadio Mane intercepted and saw a shot saved. Gabriel was also fortunate not to give away a penalty when going to ground recklessly against the same player, and was booked in the closing stages. Error-prone.
DF Laurent Koscielny, 6 -- Tried to keep things tidy against a tricky Saints front three of Sadio Mane, Shane Long and Tadic and could have scored himself when heading over the bar from close range from an Ozil cross in the second half. Showed Gabriel how to defend with calm.
DF Nacho Monreal, 6 -- Southampton focused their attacks on Bellerin's side and through the middle so Monreal had an unfussy and typical tidy performance at the back. He supported Sanchez in attack when the occasion demanded.
MD Mathieu Flamini, 5 -- Francis Coquelin was still building up his fitness after starting in the FA Cup win over Burnley so Flamini was given another chance in the holding role; he only succeeded in showing why Coquelin's return is so important, a series of sloppy passes gifting possession away.
MD Aaron Ramsey, 5 -- Little came off for Ramsey in a disjoined first-half display and although his performance improved in the second half, it was another story of frustration as Arsenal struggled to make the breakthrough. Too many passes went awry.
MD Joel Campbell, 6 -- The Costa Rican was an intermittent threat in the first half, almost setting up Ozil for the opening goal a minute before the break with a dogged dribble into the box. But his waning influence on the match was recognised when he was replaced by Walcott just after the hour mark.
MD Mesut Ozil, 6 -- Arsenal's chief playmaker could have scored twice in the opening 20 minutes, only two be denied by two wonderful saves from Forster. He found the close attentions of Victor Wanyama and Oriol Romeu to be an irritant at times but could have scored again just before the break when he failed to get a clean shot away from close range. Always looked for the run in the box but couldn't find the breakthrough Arsenal needed.
MD Alexis Sanchez, 6 -- Picked out Ozil with a sumptuous 40-yard pass to bisect the defence after 12 minutes, only for the German to see his shot saved after a sensational piece of control. But he was left aghast with the rest of his teammates when Forster denied him with yet another incredible stop in the final 10 minutes, flinging out a hand to parry his shot away.
ST Olivier Giroud, 5 -- Southampton are not the easiest side to play against as a lone centre-forward but Giroud held the ball up gamely against Jose Fonte and Virgil van Dijk. Only a superb flying save from Forster prevented Giroud from curling one home in the opening minutes of the second half and his finishing deserted him in the face of Foster's masterclass.
Theo Walcott (for Campbell, 62 mins), 5 -- Was quickly involved in the action but Forster's heroics continued as he denied Walcott with a double save.
Francis Coquelin (for Flamini, 85mins), N/A -- Was on the pitch for one minute before being booked for a messy challenge on Long.