Morning all.

Seconds before kickoff, the Sky Sports cameras panned towards the Arsenal dugout. Mikel Arteta was wandering whilst his assistant Albert Stuivenberg sat, singing the words of the Arsenal song, North London Forever, together with the fans. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before, I loved it…..

On a night when Arsenal needed to get off to a good start and take control of the game, things couldn’t have gone more wrong. What Aaron Ramsdale was thinking when he played his first ball out from the back I’ve no idea but before he could blink, the ball was past him and in the back of the net. Then our old boy Theo Walcott caused even more damage by making it 2-0. Awful from Mikel Arteta’s men.

Oleksandr Zinchenko gathered the players around for a quick word, probably in attempt to calm the nerves, Captain Martin Odegaard and Zinchenko then had a little chat before play resumed. Weird.

Six minutes later, brilliant work from Bukayo Saka down the right followed by a ball across the box, and there was Gabriel Martinelli to fire home to make it 1-2. From that moment on it was pretty much all Arsenal as far as possession goes..

Until 68 minutes and a Southampton corner. 1-3.

Two more Arsenal goals came along. One in the 88th and the other in the 90th minute – the first was a lovely strike by Martin Odegaard and the second from Bukayo Saka which sealed a point, a point which so very nearly became three when Leandro Trossard clipped the bar in stoppage time and again when James Ward-Prowse somehow blocked a goal bound shot from Reiss Nelson.

Mistakes were made on the pitch last night, individually and collectively. We weren’t clinical enough up front, nor decisive in midfield or defence. But, one of the clearest mistakes in my opinion, was made before the game even kicked off. Fabio Vieira, a player whose not only played very little this season, but hasn’t been particularly effective when he has. Not for one minute do I understand why Mikel Arteta thought he was a better option than Leandro Trossard or Emile Smith-Rowe.

Mikel Arteta on whether it was a difficult match for Fabio Vieira:

It was a difficult match for a lot of players but for Fabio, he hasn’t played enough minutes. He had good periods but the way the game starts as well, instead of going one or two-nil up, and everything goes in your favour, it starts to go in a much more difficult way. That doesn’t help.

I’m not sure this stage of the season is time to be giving him more minutes either. Leandro Trossard and Reiss Nelson caused Southampton more problems in the time they were on the pitch Vieira did in just under an hour. Eddie Nketiah coming on seemed like a moment of desperation and hope rather than a tactical master stroke.

How can a goalkeeper, who at times has been outstanding for Arsenal this season, make such a big mistake at the beginning of a game? How can the midfield/defence play so poorly to allow such a simple Southampton move to end with a goal. It was schoolboy stuff. As was the defending for Southampton’s third. Even before the corner was taken, Caleta-Car was so committed to doing something with it yet not one Arsenal player tried to stop him.

I know I’ve written it before but how can a group of players who just two weeks ago were thrashing Leeds Utd 4-1, Crystal Palace 4-1, Fulham 3-0 – suddenly look so different on the pitch? Is it as simple as the loss of William Saliba has upset the balance of the team or in yesterday’s case, Granit Xhaka missing through illness too, or even the return of Gabriel Jesus? Is it simply nerves and the lack of experience? Or is it simply a late season collapse, after all, we’ve seen them before and not just under Mikel Arteta’s management. Or had/has a little bit of complacency/cockiness set in?

With 74% ball possession and 25 shots on goal, more than 6 have to be on target!

Now of course we have to face Man City at The Etihad. Probably the toughest toughest match on the fixture list each season for every club, but, there is hope as Everton went there on New Year’s Eve and left with a point and Brentford beat them 2-1 back in November of last year but that’s it I’m afraid. Just 4 points dropped at home all season by Guardiola’s side.

We’re still top of the League with a five point advantage over City but they have two games in hand. Still, if we beat them, the ball would be firmly back in our court. Mikel Arteta says he can’t wait for the City game but me, I can’t wait for it to be over…

Catch up in the comments..