Arsenal vs. Southampton: Winners and Losers from Premier League

Michael Cummings@MikeCummings37World Football Lead WriterFebruary 2, 2016

Arsenal vs. Southampton: Winners and Losers from Premier League

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Arsenal fell further off the Premier League title chase following a scoreless draw at home to Southampton on Tuesday night.

    The Gunners had revenge in their sights following a 4-0 loss to the Saints on Boxing Day, but Arsene Wenger's side could not find a way past Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster, who turned in a strong display.

    The draw dropped Arsenal to fourth place, five points behind leaders Leicester City. 

    Here, Bleacher Report selects winners and losers from the match.

Winner: Fraser Forster

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Fraser Forster was undoubtedly the star of the night. The Southampton man made a string of key saves to deny Arsenal and finished with an impressive tally of 11 saves. Per STATS Football, that's the best total in the Premier League this season.

    Fraser's performance was not all about quantity, though. He showed plenty of quality as well, denying Mesut Ozil with a fine reaction save in the first half before keeping out Theo Walcott with a double stop in the 67th minute. Moments after that, he also clawed away an Alexis Sanchez header that appeared set to bounce into the bottom corner.

    As Arsenal pushed ever more intensely for the breakthrough goal, Forster made another good save in the 85th minute. Ozil and Sanchez combined brilliantly in the box, but the Southampton man trumped both of them with yet another save on Sanchez at his near post.

    Forster has now kept four straight clean sheets since returning from injury. While none of his saves were absolutely world class, he was rock-solid in goal for Southampton, and on this form, the Saints will have a chance to win any game he plays.

    "He is a fantastic goalkeeper," Saints boss Ronald Koeman said, per BBC Sport. "Sometimes you think you can't score because he is massive. Maybe today was his best performance. We are happy he is the keeper of Southampton."

Loser: Arsenal's Finishing

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Is it fair to praise Fraser Forster in one breath and then criticize Arsenal's finishing in the next? Yes, in this case it is.

    As noted in the previous slide, Forster didn't make any saves on Tuesday night that were undeniably world class. More often than not, Arsenal shot straight at him or at the very least failed to test him. And then there were the outright misses, notably Laurent Koscielny's close-range header that flew over the bar in the second half.

    With even decent finishing, Arsenal would have won this game by two goals or more. The Gunners created more than enough chances and have only themselves to blame for dropping more points.

Winner: Alexis Sanchez

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    In all the negativity about Arsenal's title chances (more on that momentarily), it's almost too easy to ignore any positives that came out of the match. But it would be negligent to gloss over Alexis Sanchez and his contribution.

    Following an injury layoff, the Chilean started a league match for the first time since late November. He played the full 90 minutes and was Arsenal's most consistent attacking threat on the night.

    As usual, Sanchez never stopped running, always gave 100 percent effort and constantly sought out opportunities for himself and his teammates. With most of Arsenal's outfield players playing poorly (Hector Bellerin and Aaron Ramsey were particularly bad), Sanchez and Mesut Ozil were the only ones who looked capable of breaking down Southampton.

    That nearly happened in the 85th minute, when some fantastic interplay between the two set up Sanchez for a chance. But Fraser Forster stopped the Chilean's shot at the near post, and Arsenal threatened only rarely after that.

Loser: Arsenal's Title Credentials

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    On a night when all their rivals won, Arsenal stuttered yet again. If we needed any more evidence, here's yet further proof that the Gunners don't have the mindset needed for a genuine title challenge.

    Leicester City won 2-0 at home to Liverpool. Manchester City beat Sunderland 1-0 away. Tottenham Hotspur coasted to a 3-0 victory at Norwich City. But Arsenal couldn't beat—or even score against—Southampton.

    That makes it three straight league games in which the Gunners have failed to score. They're winless in four and have claimed only two victories in their last seven league matches. Leaders Leicester are now five points ahead, while Man City have emerged as their closest rivals and Tottenham have taken over third place on goal difference.

    The conventional wisdom tells us that Arsenal will never have a better chance to reclaim the Premier League title for the first time since the Invincibles season of 2003-04. But that chance is fading fast. On this Groundhog Day, it appeared we saw a return of the same old Arsenal, despite what Arsene Wenger would say.

    "Look, I don't know why you say same old Arsenal," the Arsenal boss said, per BBC Sport. "For 20 years we have been at the top of the Premier League. At the moment we have to say that we have dropped points but we have to keep fighting and believing."

Winner: Ronald Koeman's Record Against Arsene Wenger

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    Facing Arsenal and Arsene Wenger brings the best out of some managers. Southampton's Ronald Koeman appears to be one of them.

    On Boxing Day, Koeman's Saints tore apart Arsenal 4-0 in a result that now feels more like a warning sign for Arsenal than we realized at the time. Tuesday's match had a different feel, with Southampton forced to defend for long stretches.

    But once again, Koeman secured a result against Wenger, which should be little surprise by now. In 11 encounters between the two managers, Wenger has won just twice (h/t @Orbinho), with Koeman claiming four wins and five draws.