ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
LONDON • Goalkeeper Petr Cech has urged his Arsenal team-mates to be ready from the first whistle after another slow start led to 1-1 draw at Southampton yesterday.
After the Gunners shipped two early goals in their 3-1 loss to Manchester United a week ago, the Czech had to pick the ball out of his own net after just two minutes at St Mary's Stadium.
Defender Per Mertesacker, who replaced the injured Shkodran Mustafi, gifted Southampton the goal that allowed Mauricio Pellegrino's side to control the first half.
His poor clearance conceded possession deep inside his own half and he slipped as he attempted to make up for his mistake, allowing Dusan Tadic to pick out Charlie Austin's run into the box where the striker finished from 12 yards out.
The hosts should have been two up inside five minutes when Tadic shot too close to Cech. Minutes later, the striker hit the post, and Cech was far from impressed with the defending.
"We deserved to get a point for the second-half performance," he told the BBC after substitute Olivier Giroud's 88th-minute header salvaged a draw. "We don't deserve all three because we gave them good chances in the start and could have been 3-0 down.
"The first 10 minutes cost us the game against Man United. And it almost did again today. It is something we have to work on. Every player needs to ensure that when they step out of the dressing room they are ready to compete."
Southampton also struck the woodwork in the second half, with Oriol Romeu hitting the crossbar.
For all of Arsenal's possession - they finished with 67 per cent of the ball - their 11 shots produced few clear-cut chances. They seemed to have run out of ideas until Giroud found space between the Saints defenders and headed home an Alexis Sanchez cross.
Austin told BT Sport: "Second half, we can't really play like that.
"We camped in from minute one. You give Arsenal one chance and they score. We have a point but should have had three."
A point was not enough for Arsenal to climb back into the top four, and manager Arsene Wenger felt the result was not just the Gunners' doing.
"Time wasting is a problem in England and referees have not found the solution yet," he lamented.