Arsenal left it late to beat Southampton but showed the required character and attitude to challenge for the Premier League title.
Arsenal struggled to perform at their best against Southampton but still showed they have the character to fight until the end.
The Gunners haven’t lost in 22 home league games to the Saints now but it was Claude Puel’s side who took the lead on 18 minutes when a Dusan Tadic free-kick deflected in off Petr Cech for an own goal.
Puel was coached by Arsene Wenger for seven years when the Frenchman was manager of Monaco in the early nineties and he may have been surprised by a well-drilled team who restricted his side to a game played predominantly in midfield.
The summer signings of Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez for a combined £52million have clearly increased morale at Arsenal and there was an air of confidence amongst those around the ground ahead of kick-off. Mustafi looked composed and confident despite a nervy start and misplaced pass, and received a standing ovation from the fans after going on a rampaging run midway through the first half.
It was Spanish forward Perez who got involved in the equaliser when he found Laurent Koscielny in the box. The centre-half subsequently finished off the move in style when he netted a sumptuous overhead kick to celebrate his 31st birthday in style.
Santi Cazorla influenced the game in spells from his deep-lying playmaker role, but the shape of Arsenal’s midfield looked all over the place at times and was unable to exert pressure on the Southampton back four.
Mesut Ozil struggled in his no.10 role and, although he netted in the recent win over Watford, the German has not scored a league goal at the Emirates since December.
This was an Arsenal team that performed well in spells and appeared to be lacking ideas at times but still managed to get the job done in the end. Previous Wenger sides would have capitulated, conceded or struggled to have found that last minute winner but Cazorla confidently stepped up to put away a late penalty after Olivier Giroud had been hauled over in the box.
New signings, new hope but same old Arsenal leaving it late. Wenger will be relieved to get the three points and record a crucial victory ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League opener against Paris Saint-Germain in France.