Matthew Le Tissier finally unlocked the Arsenal door last night to give southampton the point they deserved, and leave highbury still waiting to witness a premiership victory after seven failed attempts. there was a first home goal to savour from John Hartson, his second in successive matches, but his prowess could not be matched by Ian Wright, who squandered a host of opportunities.
a little shimmy from Le Tissier in the 74th minute paved the way for jim magilton to prod home the equaliser, extending southampton's unbeaten run to six games. it was the irishman who supplied the saints' winner when the sides met at the dell in november - another name to add to those who have made the gunners suffer this season.
In their current predicament, Arsenal were always going to suffer an attack of nerves every time Le Tissier came within shooting range. With only seven minutes gone, the Southampton captain managed to miss an open invitation he would normally claim, and Arsenal began to believe fate was turning their way.
An interception helped on by Neil Shipperley left Le Tissier with only David Seaman to beat. He pulled it wide, and when he tried for a better finish after Lee Dixon had wanted too much time to control, he found only the side netting.
From an unpromising beginning, Arsenal discovered the means to go in front. Ian Wright gave chase to an up-and-under, won it ahead of Francis Benali, and forced a stretching save from Bruce Grobbelaar, who could only take the sting out of it. the ball bounced for Hartson to head home in the 21st minute.
Wright's perseverance had brought the goal, but otherwise Arsenal's usual marksman was happy to put the first half behind him. One attempt with his left foot was so wayward that it went for a throw-in. Grobbelaar stood in the way of another he managed tokeep low, a stop that Seaman improved upon when Shipperley executed a smart turn from eight yards.
Southampton were passing the ball with more assurance, and continued to make the better chances. In the 53rd minute, Shipperley got away and appeared to take a push in the back from Steve Bould. The referee's lack of interest confounded Alan Ball, the Southampton manager, who was off his bench and on to the touchline to register his complaint.
Arsenal (4-4-2): Seaman; Dixon, Linighan, Bould, Keown (Hillier, 83); Parlour (Kiwomya, 83), Jensen, Schwarz, Morrow; Hartson, Wright. Substitutes not used: Bartram (gk).
Southampton (4-4-2): Grobbelaar; Kenna, Hall (Widdrington, 67), Monkou, Benali; Dodd, Magilton, Maddison, Heaney (Hughes, 65); Le Tissier, Shipperley. Substitutes not used: Beasant (gk).
Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).