Arsenal’s unbeaten run came to a close with defeat at Southampton, as a perfect storm rolled in to give us the loss on our travels.
Unai Emery went with a switch in system, with Bellerin and Xhaka our wing-backs, and Stephane Lichtsteiner, Nacho Monreal and the recently returned Laurent Koscielny part of our back three.
This meant no space for Lacazette up top, with Aubameyang preferred, but it was to make little difference in a first half that had familiar failings.
Southampton were buoyed by the fresh approach of newly appointed Ralph Hassenhuttl, and the former RB Leipzig boss had been thorough apparently, in his pursuit of improvement from his Saints side. This meant that the home team went for it early on, and we looked a little lackadaisical in all honesty.
Saints were looking busy and always looking to utilise the speed of Redmond and Armstrong on the flanks, and our defence were slow on the uptake, giving more pressure to Guendouzi and Torreira to track runners.
We did have the earliest opening through Aubameyang, but McCarthy did well to stop the effort, but after that, the home team grew into the game, and just after Armstrong tested Leno, Danny Ings gave the home side the lead.
Matt Target crossed from the left, and Ings got in to head home at the front post, after Koscielny inexplicably failed to head out and instead tried to clear with his foot.
Saints continued to threaten, but against the run of play, eight minutes later, we had an equaliser.
Nacho Monreal had made a good run down the left and was found with Iwobi’s pass, and the Spaniard cut back a delicate chipped ball that Mkhitaryan met with a firm header to leave McCarthy fingertipping it into the net.
We had more than we deserved, but our first half miseries were to continue.
Auba again came close to scoring, and McCarthy intercepted a Bellerin pass to stop an almost certain goal, but just before half time, Southampton took the lead again.
Another cross came in and Ings was ahead of Lichtsteiner and behind Koscielny to loop an unconventional header into the corner, leaving Leno with no chance.
We had no time to respond, and we went into the half time break with a deficit and still possessing the record of having zero half time leads this season.
Bellerin had been injured just before the break, and emery swapped him out to switch up our play, bringing on Alexandre Lacazette.
We looked like a different team for the first fifteen minutes, bringing the game to Saints and Aubameyang again tested McCarthy with a close range shot, before we equalised yet again, with a dash of luck.
We won the ball back high up and the ball found Mkhitaryan, who tried his luck from 25 yards. The ball spun off Vestergaard and wrongfooted the keeper, giving us the goal that our second half start deserved.
Hassenhuttl made changes, but we continued to create, Lacazette crowded out in a good spot, and Iwobi firing over just before being subbed for Ozil.
Maitland-Niles then came on for Lichtsteiner, as the game opened up and either side looked capable of winning the game. As the minutes ticked by though, Saints were creeping back into contention, and we were made to pay.
Second half sub Charlie Austin, who had four goals in four games against us, profited from some terrible defending. Long raced forward on a break, and he was given time to put a ball into the box. Laurent Koscielny could see there was a single player in the box to mark but ball-watched instead. Berndt Leno decided to come for the cross and instead flapped nowhere near it and Austin had the easiest job to head into an empty net.
It was a combination of two huge errors that gave the home side the lead, but whatever happened, we never looked secure, or as sharp as we have done during this run that is now ended.
That is now one win in six against Southampton, and we are now three points behind Chelsea, and five behind our neighbours, who we face next in the Carabao Cup in midweek.
Emery has some work to do.