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Arsenal's chances of securing Champions League football for next season suffered another blow as Jan Bednarek condemned them to a 1-0 loss at Southampton.
Bednarek put the hosts ahead on the stroke of half-time, with Fraser Forster making two excellent saves as Southampton inflicted Arsenal to a third straight Premier League defeat.
Having watched Tottenham suffer a last-minute reverse to Brighton and Hove Albion earlier on Saturday, Arsenal would have moved level with their top-four rivals with a victory.
A flat performance from the Gunners, however, meant Spurs' slip-up went unpunished, allowing Southampton to end a five-match winless run of their own.
Despite the end result, Arsenal did make a bright start, with Cedric Soares drawing a decent save from Forster after cutting in from the right.
Southampton's goalkeeper was forced into a more difficult stop when he brilliantly diverted Bukayo Saka's effort over the bar.
The Saints recovered from their slow start to strike first, though, when Bednarek swept Mohamed Elyounoussi's cut back home from close range after 44 minutes.
Eddie Nketiah went close with a neat backheel after meeting Cedric's cross as Arsenal searched for a response, before Saka almost picked out the top-right corner after cutting in from the right on the hour.
Forster made his second stunning save in the 73rd minute, getting down to his left to turn substitute Emile Smith Rowe's fierce volley away from the corner.
He then denied Saka and Granit Xhaka in the final 10 minutes as Arsenal's season threatens to spiral downwards.
What does it mean? Gunners' Champions League dream dealt another blow
Having emerged as favourites for a top-four finish after making an excellent start to 2022, Mikel Arteta's team have suffered three consecutive defeats for the first time since August, when they lost their opening three games of the season.
That slump sees them trail Spurs by three points, with next month's north London derby looking likely to prove decisive in the battle for Champions League football. However, a win for Manchester United elsewhere on Saturday means the Red Devils are now above Arsenal on goal difference.
Forster stars against depleted attack
Forster turned in a superb display for Southampton, making six saves, two of them spectacular, to thwart a visiting attack deprived of Alexandre Lacazette.
The Frenchman, absent due to a positive COVID-19 test, has managed seven goal involvements (five goals and two assists) against the Saints, and was severely missed by the below-par visitors.
Arsenal let another game pass them by
Despite attempting 653 passes, their highest tally in a single Premier League game this season, and firing 23 shots at goal, Arsenal struggled to find a way past a Southampton rearguard that had shipped 10 goals in their last three home games, albeit six of those came in their hammering at the hands of Chelsea.
Key Opta Facts
- Southampton kept their first clean sheet in six Premier League games, having conceded 15 goals in their five matches before today.
- Arsenal have lost each of their last three Premier League games, having lost just two of their previous 13 (W11 D1). It is their third run of three consecutive defeats in their three seasons under Arteta.
- Southampton's winner was the first goal Arsenal have conceded from a corner situation in the Premier League this season.
- There have been 11 instances of a team having 20+ shots but failing to score in a Premier League match this season, with three of those being for Arsenal.
- Fraser Forster has kept three clean sheets in his seven Premier League games against Arsenal, only keeping more against West Brom and Swansea City (four each).
Arsenal will be back in Premier League action on Wednesday, travelling to Stamford Bridge for a derby with Chelsea. Southampton, meanwhile, face struggling Burnley at Turf Moor the following day.