Arsenal extend lead at the top after Saints draw

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Ten-man Arsenal moved two points clear at the top of the Premier League table after second-half goals from Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla earned the Gunners a 2-2 draw with Southampton at St Mary's.

The hosts outplayed the league leaders for a large proportion of Tuesday night's game, and Jose Fonte's headed goal gave Mauricio Pochettino's side a well-earned half-time advantage.

But, two quickfire goals within seven minutes of the restart swung the match back in the visitors' favour, only for Saints captain Adam Lallana to cap his man of the match performance with that all-important equaliser.

Arsene Wenger must look upon the result as one point gained rather than two dropped, given the dominance of Southampton's display. Arsenal owe a great deal of gratitude to goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who made several important saves to ensure a share of the spoils.

In the absence of the injured Rickie Lambert, Pochettino handed a first senior start to 18-year-old striker Sam Gallagher, the latest young talent off the south coast club's production line, and he certainly made his presence felt, with some neat hold-up play and several solid efforts on goal.

There was an element of fortune about Southampton's opener, in that it came from a generous free-kick award, after referee Lee Mason adjudged Per Mertesacker to have fouled Lallana, when replays showed that the German defender clearly won the ball.

Jack Cork wasted little time in restarting play with a pass out wide to Luke Shaw, who bypassed Serge Gnabry down Arsenal's right flank and lofted a ball to the back post, which was met by the head of the towering Fonte, who leapt higher than Nacho Monreal to divert the ball inside Szczesny's near post.

Minutes later and Saints were on the attack again, this time a defence-splitting through ball from Calum Chambers was held up well by Gallagher. After a lay-off to Steven Davis, the Northern Ireland international played into the feet of Lallana, who evaded his marker with a neat turn before firing his left-footed effort wide of Szczesny's post.

Southampton almost doubled their lead in equally fortuitous fashion, when Monreal's attempted clearance cannoned off the outstretched leg of Davis and into the path of Gallagher, who lashed his shot wide of the far post.

Gallagher was denied again shortly before the break when Laurent Koscielny's last-ditch slide tackle blocked the teenager's goal-bound effort, engineered by more neat footwork from Davis and Lallana inside the Arsenal box.

Moments later, Artur Boruc was called into action to palm away Arsenal's only chance of note in the first-half. Koscielny's toe-poked shot was heading for the bottom corner after Southampton failed to properly clear their lines following a Mesut Ozil corner.

The Gunners came out firing after the break and drew level within minutes of the restart. Monreal's over-hit cross from the left was poorly dealt with by the retreating Jay Rodriguez, who allowed Bacary Sagna to step inside and drill a low shot across goal, which was turned in from close-range by Giroud, for his 14th goal of the season.

Arsenal then hit Southampton with a sucker-punch, after Cazorla's curling left-footed effort from the edge of the box evaded the outstretched Boruc, and nestled into the bottom corner after good work from Ozil down the right.

However, back came the Saints again. Rodriguez made up for his earlier lapse in concentration when he got in behind Sagna and, running to the byline laid back for Lallana to fire a left-footed shot underneath Szczesny from the edge of the box. It was the least that they deserved.

Later, Ozil grazed the Southampton crossbar when he was allowed to run from the halfway line through the defence. His effort deflected off the sliding Fonte and onto the top of Boruc's goal.

Mathieu Flamini was shown a straight red card following a dangerous two-footed tackle on Morgan Schneiderlin with 10 minutes remaining, and for the rest of the match the Gunners shut up shop, and looked happy to settle for a point.

Szczesny had to be alert again when a deflected Luke Shaw cross looked like heading in off Sagna, but the Polish goalkeeper did well to turn over the bar. From the resulting corner, he made another vital save to deny Fonte's right footed volley.

The result means Arsenal move further clear at the top of the table, but with title rivals Chelsea and Manchester City both playing tomorrow night, they now have a chance to close the gap on the leaders.

Southampton: Boruc; Chambers, Fonte, Yoshida, Shaw; Schneiderlin, Cork; Rodriguez, Davis (Guly 89), Lallana; Gallagher (Ward-Prowse 70)

Subs not used: Davis, Clyne, Wanyama, Hooiveld, Isgrove.

Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal; Arteta, Flamini; Gnabry (Oxlade-Chamberlain 70), Ozil, Cazorla (Gibbs 85); Giroud (Podolski 90).

Subs not used: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Jenkinson, Bendtner.

Venue: St Mary's

Referee: Lee Mason

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