Arsenal clung on for a 1-1 draw against Southampton with ten men.
The aftermath of Wednesday’s draw has garnered a mixed response. Arsenal managed to bring a halt to the destructive string of home defeats, with ten men, while equally demonstrating how far the club have fallen when such performances and results now deemed as productive ones.
How one perceives the result is dependent on their personal outlook; whether this is a result making inroads towards short-term improvements, or a clearer sign of how far off Arsenal are from being a Premier League force again in the long-term.
It may have been glorified as a good point if the circumstances differed. Is it two points dropped when the reality is there were never three points there to grasp on to?
A tough one to call, admittedly, that is instead reliant on opinion of the individual as to where they see Arsenal being. Any other 15th-placed club in the form that the Gunners found themselves in would have been pleased to draw 1-1 with a side firmly in the top four hunt.
But this is Arsenal; a side capable of paying two of their players £350k-per-week wages, one of whom hasn’t even featured in a matchday squad.
We will, however, look to the positives. That we must.
That’s now 111 minutes of football played in the last five matches where Arsenal have been reduced to ten men. During that period over the course of three matches, the only goal conceded came at the hands of Burnley, via the head of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
A game regularly classed as one of fine margins, Arsenal also saw opposition sides clatter the frame of the goal four times during that period, with a handful of other close shaves. If a goal had found its way in at any stage then criticism would have followed, yet Arsenal were quietly praised for their determination and resilience against Leeds for example.
Fine margins indeed.
At the end of the day though, try as you will, going down to ten men is more than just added intensity from the opposition, it’s also brutally demoralising. In all three of the recent games where Mikel Arteta has seen his side receive a red card, Arsenal were in with a shout.
Valid arguments could be made that they weren’t in the Leeds game, but it doesn’t matter how dominant the other team is, if you’re level, you’re in the game.
This group of players have had to deal with the crushing disappointment of seeing one of their teammates spoil their chances of winning, relying then on mental resilience more than anything to see them through. Rob Holding had a poor game against the Saints, yet at the end he threw his body on the line to block shots and clear crosses. He finished strongly, as did some others.