Arsenal are now running out of steam at the worst possible time
t the full-time whistle, the Arsenal players sunk to their knees and collapsed to the floor.
Despite a late flurry against Southampton, they slipped to a third draw in a row and it feels like their title charge is running out of steam.
The Gunners extended their lead at the top over Manchester City to five points, but crucially Pep Guardiola’s have two games in hand.
The two sides will meet on Wednesday at Etihad Stadium and it now feels like a case of do or die for Mikel Arteta’s side.
Arsenal will know they cannot afford to perform like they did against Southampton, or certainly not like they did for the first 80 minutes.
It went wrong from the opening 27 seconds, when Saints opened the scoring. Aaron Ramsdale literally passed the ball straight to Carlos Alcaraz, who curled it past him to stun Emirates Stadium.
By 15 minutes it was 2-0 as Arsenal gave the ball away in midfield and Alcaraz set Theo Walcott free. The forward finish by slotting the ball into the bottom corner, just like he did during his time at Arsenal.
The Gunners were all over the place at that stage. They were ragged and disjointed, with the midfield being outshone by Saints teenager Romeo Lavia.
This was not the controlled performance Arteta had craved before kick-off, but instead a frantic game. Amid the chaos, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard tried to drag Arsenal to the three points they needed.
Martinelli pulled one back in the 20th minute, volleying home Saka’s cross after he had been put through by Odegaard.
When Duje Caleta-Car made it 3-1 midway through the second-half, it looked like game over. Yet again more poor defending undid Arsenal as a corner was flicked on and Caleta-Car was unmarked at the back-post to head home.
Arsenal had been lacklustre up until that point and it was not until the final 12 minutes they started playing. They had one shot between the 45th and 77th minute. They managed 10 between the 78th and end of the game.
Odegaard’s curling goal from the edge of the box was one of those, as he gave Arsenal hope with two minutes of normal time to go. Moments later, the game was level when Saka bundled in a rebound from Reiss Nelson’s shot.
The winner so nearly came after that. Leandro Trossard hit the crossbar and Nelson, the hero from the late win over Bournemouth, had a shot heroically blocked by James Ward-Prowse.
It was all too little, too late for Arsenal and the fear is now one can say the same about their title charge. Three draws on the spin have handed the initiative to City and they are clear favourites to win the title.
“Now is the difficult moment,” said Gabriel Jesus. “It is time now to stick together until the end.
“We still have a lot of things to do this season, it is not over, we are still five points clear.
“Manchester City have two games in hand, but if we want to be champions we have to go there to win the game – that is all.”