FT: Southampton 1 Arsenal 1

Walcott is unable to inspire Arsenal to victory on his return to Southampton on New Year's Day as they have to settle for a 1-1 draw. Southampton climb out of the relegation zone after a deserved share of the points while Arsenal slip up in the race for the Champions League. Stay with us for all the post-match reaction.

90 + 3

90 + 2
Wenger is furious on the touchline. Walcott has a free-kick wide on the right and a chance to cross. But he smacks it straight into the shins of the Southampton wall.

90 + 1
For once, Arsenal open up the Southampton defence with Gibbs on the overlap down the left. But the full-back, when he has the chance to shoot, tries to play a pass and Yoshida can clear.

ADDED TIME: There will be a minimum of three added minutes before the final whistle.

Arsenal are finishing the stronger and the ball breaks for Giroud inside the box. But Fonte defends very well.

Chance for Puncheon. He shows some neat footwork to dance into the penalty area but then his shot is rising and straight at Szczesny, who can punch clear.

From the free-kick, Wilshere sends the ball into the box. Arsenal keep it alive inside the six-yard box but then Boruc leaps high to show better handling than the fashion in which he started the game.

De Ridder's first contribution is to receive a booking after pulling down Sagna in a race down the wing.

This will be a frustrating result for Wenger if it stays like this and will represent dropped points in the race for the Champions League. His team have never quite clicked today.

Gervinho cuts in from the left on his stronger right foot and sends an effort skidding just into the side-netting. Southampton hearts were in mouths then.

Southampton make their final change. De Ridder comes on for Guly, who scored the own goal which equalised for Arsenal.

Credit to Southampton, who will climb out of the relegation zone if it stays like this, they are not shutting up shop. But they need to be careful they do not get hit on the break.

The game is ending in a scrappy fashion. If someone could put a foot on the ball, it could have a decisive impact.

Great hit from Arteta on the half-volley from 25 yards but his left-foot effort curls wide of the target.

It will surely be a case of the next goal winning the game from here. But chances have been few and far between.

Corner to Southampton but it is an easy clearance for Arsenal

Southampton make another change. Goalscorer Ramirez goes off and is replaced by rising star Ward-Prowse.

Giroud's touch again lets him down. Inside the area, his control is heavy when receiving a pass from Gervinho and Southampton can let the ball roll out for a goal-kick.

Oxlade-Chamberlain looked a little disappointed to be taken off on what was his return to Southampton. He had a good battle with Shaw.

Arsenal respond with a double change. Former Southampton player Oxlade-Chamberlain is replaced by Gervinho and Ramsey comes on for Cazorla.

Southampton decide to make a change and replace Lambert with Rodriguez.

Ramirez has the ball in the back of the net but it does not count as a referee's assistant has a flag up. It looked like Ramirez pushed Koscielny before swivelling and finishing.

Arsenal move up the other end of the field and Walcott has the chance to set his sights from the edge of the box. But, from the corner of the area, his low, right-foot effort is straight at Boruc.

Puncheon and Ramirez get in the way of each other around 20 yards from goal and it results in the latter punting a pass out for a goal-kick.

It would more likely be a defensive mistake, as we have already seen from the opening goals, which could lead to either Southampton or Arsenal breaking the deadlock.

There has not been a lot of quality on the ball in this game but there is still a sense of more goals.

From the free-kick, the ball goes over the head of any team-mates and skids through to the diving Szczesny on the bounce.

Ramirez has the chance to send a free-kick into the Arsenal box from 35 yards after a foul by Arteta.

That little bit of a lack of composure inside the Arsenal penalty area has been Southampton's problem so far. Goalscorer Ramirez is the man who has shown his class and calmness in the box. But he then sends a 20-yard effort over the crossbar.

All a bit of a scramble inside the Arsenal penalty area but the ball eventually drops for Puncheon. However, on his weaker right foot, he skews his shot into the side-netting.

Schneiderlin then finds himself in the book when receiving a yellow card for a wild sliding tackle on Cazorla.

Schneiderlin makes a great blindside run to break into the box and receive a pass from Puncheon. Schneiderlin aims a low cross to Lambert and the ball almost breaks for the striker but he slips at the vital moment in the six-yard box.

Boruc, dealing with a back-pass, looks to spray the ball out to the right when targeting Cork. But his distribution makes it difficult and Cork cannot prevent the ball from going out for a throw-in.

Giroud's first contribution is not great. His chest control lets him down on the halfway line and Davis can take the ball from the striker.

Arsenal are dictating the game at the moment but a Walcott cross is then terribly wild and rockets behind the goal from the right.

Arsenal make the first change of the game. Podolski has been poor and is replaced by Giroud, who scored twice against Newcastle.

Arsenal look to break through the pace of Walcott. But he elects to cut inside and take on a shot when he could have rolled in Podolski. Walcott's shot is blocked by a wall of defenders.

Szczesny, though, is then forced into a diving save to give Southampton a corner. The goalkeeper then produces a fine reflex stop to prevent Sagna from scoring an own goal at the set-piece after the ball deflected off the full-back's thigh.

It has been a bit of a slow opening 10 minutes to the second half. Neither side has managed to get their passing game going.

Arteta then brings down Guly on the halfway line to give Southampton the chance to attack. However, Cork is offside. Replays suggest it was maybe a harsh decision.

A few jeers from the home fans as an Oxlade-Chamberlain pass goes astray. But Arteta regains possession.

It looks like Wilshere might have a bit of a bloodied nose. But he is back on after a short spell on the touchline to have some treatment.

Another break in play for an injury to Wilshere, who took a whack in the face from a high boot from Ramirez. That was accidental but nasty and, surprisingly, not a free-kick.

Fonte almost sells Boruc short with a back-pass, especially with the pace of Walcott threatening. But Boruc is out of his area to hoof clear.

Arsenal are again looking to get the ball down and play. But they have not really troubled Southampton with their passing. The home team have stopped the ball getting to Walcott and Cazorla.

Oxlade-Chamberlain does look like he has the beating of Shaw every time. Again he creates room for the cross at the byline but his slices his delivery and it drifts out for a goal-kick.

Southampton will have been encouraged with the ease in which Puncheon got in down the right behind Gibbs.

Lambert again shows his dominance in the air, as he meets a Puncheon cross after the winger had broken into the box. But no team-mate can reach Lambert's header back across goal.

Southampton get the second half under way.

Southampton took a deserved lead through Ramirez after some horrendous defending from Sagna but Arsenal levelled before the break through Guly's own goal. Southampton had the better of the first half after Arsenal had dominated the opening five minutes. There is a feeling there will be more goals in this game.


45 + 1
Walcott has the ball in the back of the net in injury time before the break but the England international had clearly run offside.

ADDED TIME: There will be a minimum of one minute added time before half-time.

Opta Fact
Southampton have now scored four own goals this season. That is a joint Premier League high, with three of them coming against Arsenal.

Cracking back-heel from Ramirez on the byline gives Guly the ball on the edge of the Arsenal six-yard box. But he looks to pass to Lambert and gives Arsenal the chance to clear.

Arsenal now have a bit of momentum and are on the front foot. There is a shout for a penalty when Podolski's flick hits Cork on the arm. But play continues and Wilshere's sliding tackle on the edge of the Southampton box includes raised studs on Guly. Free-kick to Southampton.

It is another defensive blunder which leads to a goal. Walcott teased an inswinging cross from a free-kick on the left and Guly, in his attempt to clear, slides and stretches for the ball only to stab it past Boruc from close-range at the near post.


Sagna has not had the best of games. Along with his complete howler for Southampton's goal, his crossing when in space has been poor.

Credit has to go to Adkins. So far, he has got his tactics spot on. Southampton are well organised and drop deep whenever they do not have the ball. Cork blocks an attempted cross from Gibbs down the left.

Southampton, meanwhile, have been excellent. They are harrying the Arsenal midfield and are bold and adventurous in attack. Ramirez again skips into the penalty area but is just crowded out.

Arsenal have paid the price for losing their way in midfield. They have also had little threat in attack as a consequence. There has been next to no service for Walcott, who has hardly had a touch.

It is a dreadfully scrappy goal. After Sagna's horrible attempt at a toe-poke clearance only succeeds in prodding the ball back into the Arsenal penalty area, it drops for Southampton record-signing Ramirez, who makes no mistake with a first-time finish from 10 yards. Southampton deserve the lead.


Lambert wins another header on the edge of the Arsenal box against Koscielny but Guly cannot quite meet the knockdown when slipping.

Wenger is not pleased with how his Arsenal team are performing. He is stood, scowling on the touchline.

Lambert shows good strength to hold off Koscielny in a header but his lay-off is not on target and gives possession back to Arsenal from the long-ball.

Podolski has been a passenger in the opening half-an-hour for Arsenal. He is not providing many options for the midfielders when they move forward.

Ramirez goes down on the edge of the Arsenal box. But there is minimal contact from Koscielny, who knew what he was doing when disguising a trip by acting as if he was pulling out of the challenge.

Puncheon and Ramirez have swapped flanks for Southampton. Puncheon is now on the right and Ramirez is on the left.

Sagna again has room to cross from the right-side of the penalty area. But, in acres of space, his delivery does not beat the first man. He then strays offside when attempting to collect Wilshere's return pass.

Neither side is really managing to keep the ball for a consistent period at the moment. Both teams are producing better work when out of possession and pressing their opponents.

Yoshida wins the header from the corner and clears well up field for Southampton. Good defending.

Oxlade-Chamberlain, though, is still getting the better of Shaw. His low, early cross from the right is heading towards Walcott before being cleared for a corner.

Arsenal have lost their way under the excellent high-level pressing of Southampton's midfield.

Schneiderlin sends a cross into the Arsenal box from the right but it is a bit wayward and goes over the heads of his team-mates. Southampton need to have a bit more composure on the edge of the Arsenal box.

After a break for Wilshere to receive treatment, he is back on his feet and back on the pitch. A few Southampton fans boo as Wilshere returns but his injury would make your eyes water.

But play is pulled back for a foul on Wilshere by Ramirez. It appears Wilshere was accidentally caught in a... sensitive... area.

Wilshere has had a sloppy start to the game. He has been outmuscled in midfield on a few occasions and then seems to lose the ball to Ramirez on the edge of the Arsenal box.

That was the kiss of death! Yoshida attempts to play a pass out to the left to Shaw but misses his team-mate and gives Arsenal a throw-in.

Yoshida has been a focal point for Southampton so far. He is winning a lot of headers in the air and is helping the home team in their attempts to play their way out of defence.

Koscielny brings the ball over the halfway line. But he passes straight to Schneiderlin. Southampton advance forward and a Lambert shot from 25 yards is blocked by Vermaelen.

Arsenal have just shaded possession in the opening quarter-of-an-hour with 53 per cent to Southampton's 47.

Sagna goes on another adventure down the right but, under pressure from Guly, he slips and Shaw can advance forward. There are a few players slipping this evening.

We have a period of head tennis in the centre of the field before Southampton get the ball back on the deck and again start to look to counter-attack on Arsenal.

Excellent tracking back from Puncheon, as he covers the right-back position to see the ball out for a Southampton goal-kick.

Schneiderlin and Ramirez are not giving Wilshere or Arteta any time on the ball in the centre of midfield.

Arsenal are having some joy in wide areas. They are getting the chance to cross from both flanks but have little aerial threat in the centre. This has been a open start to the game. Both sides are looking to attack.

Lambert almost latches on to a through ball having got behind the Arsenal defence. But Szczesny is off his line to gather and Lambert would have been stopped by an offside flag.

Southampton are now coming in to the game a little and are finding their own passing rhythm.

Arsenal do not properly clear the corner and, when the ball is returned to the danger area, Yoshida goes down inside the 18-yard box after taking a whack from Vermaelen. That could easily have been a penalty but no Southampton players really appeal.

Arsenal keep the pressure on and win another corner. This time, Boruc's handling is clean and he earns ironic cheers from the crowd. Southampton break and win their own corner.

Arsenal look very confident. They are passing with a real swagger. Cazorla spread play and a Sagna cross from the right is again spilled by Boruc. Luckily for the Southampton goalkeeper, no Arsenal player is following up.

Play is back under way and a Cazorla deflected shot has Boruc scrambling before going for a corner. From the set-piece, Boruc is a little lucky when fumbling a simple catch before his defence clear.

Break in play for a head injury to S Davis after an accidental clash with Sagna when both players were going for the ball. They are both back on their feet without requiring treatment.

Arsenal finally give the ball away as a pass down the right has too much for Sagna and it rolls out for a goal-kick, which Boruc hits long down field.

Puncheon and Guly are dropping deep in the early stages and leaving Lambert as a lone front-man to try and stem 120 seconds of Arsenal keep-ball.

Arsenal immediately hit two long balls towards Oxlade-Chamberlain against Shaw. Oxlade-Chamberlain wins both headers. Are Arsenal going to target rookie Shaw?

After Southampton won the coin toss, Arsenal get the game going.

Nigel Adkins' pre-match interview: "This is a challenge we are relishing. It is a chance to get 2013 off to a good start."

Rob Davies says: "Southampton have had some OK results against big clubs this year, narrowly lost 3-2 to both Manchester clubs. Arsenal on a great run of form, especially Walcott. I think this is heading for a draw - 2-2. One for Walcott and Vermaelen."

Southampton's teenage star Luke Shaw is one to keep an eye on this evening. According to reports, Arsenal want to sign the 17-year-old defender. Shaw is a product of the same Southampton Academy which has produced Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gareth Bale. Adkins, though, has said Shaw is not for sale.

Thanks for all your comments and predictions so far. Sorry I have not been able to publish them all. Keep your opinions coming throughout the game and what is left of New Year's Day at peter.fraser@bskyb.com or via Twitter @SkySportsPeteF.

Danny says via Twitter: "Will be an exciting game. Flair all over the Arsenal team with the likes of Cazorla, Walcott and Chamberlain. 3-1 Arsenal."

Opta Fact
All four of Southampton's Premier League wins against Arsenal have come on the South Coast. Southampton have lost only two of their last nine Premier League games.

Theo Walcott has scored 10 goals in as many appearances for Arsenal, making him 9/2 favourite to open the scoring. Sky Bet have a number of price boosts on offer, including Podolski to score first and the Gunners to win 3-1 at 55/1. Meanwhile, in-form Jason Puncheon's price to score first has been boosted to 16/1.

Southampton come into this game on the back of two draws, including the dramatic 3-3 draw at Stoke City in their last outing. Adkins' team's last outing at St Mary's was the 1-0 defeat by Sunderland. Arsenal have won four Premier League games in succession since the shock loss to Swansea City. Their wins have included the hammerings of Reading and Newcastle by five goals or more.

Ryan Sadler says: "Vital game for Arsenal. Not too sure about having Koscielny instead of Mertesacker but come on you Gunners."

As for Southampton, they remain in the relegation zone in 18th position. But they have two games in hand on 17th-placed Wigan, who have lost 4-0 at home to Manchester United, and Nigel Adkins' team could go 15th on goal difference with a win this evening.

According to my calculations, after the earlier results in the Premier League, Arsenal now trail the top four by five points. Chelsea, who are not playing until Wednesday against Queens Park Rangers, have dropped to fourth place. This game is therefore very important for their Champions League ambitions.

Logan says via Twitter: "Arsenal to win 4-0. Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski and Koscielny to score. Can't let Walcott leave and must strengthen the squad in the transfer window."

What do you make of the team news? Where will this game be won and lost? Keep the opinions coming at peter.fraser@bskyb.com or Tweet me @SkySportsPeteF. There is just more than half-an-hour to kick-off.

Geoffrey Day says via Twitter: "What's got into Adkins' head? Boruc in goal instead of Davis and Gazzaniga? Cork in defence? And where's Clyne? Oh no!"

Joe Hussein says: "A must-win game if we want to finish 3rd/4th this season. Walcott will get another brace of goals. Sign him up Mr Wenger! Come on you Gunners!"

So Southampton goalkeeper Artur Boruc makes his first appearance since October, replacing Kelvin Davis as one of three Saints changes. Steven Davis and Gaston Ramirez are also brought in. Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both start against their former club as Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger names the same side who defeated Newcastle 7-3 on Saturday.

Ian Kemble says: "Arsenal to win 3-1, with Cazorla and Podolski getting the goals. Southampton's to come from Lambert."

AFC Team
Szczesny, Sagna, Vermaelen (c), Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Podolski, Walcott. Substitutes: Martinez, Mertesacker, Coquelin, Ramsey, Rosicky, Gervinho, Giroud.

SFC Team
Boruc, Cork, Fonte (c), Yoshida, Shaw, Puncheon, Schneiderlin, S. Davis, Guly, Ramírez, Lambert. Substitutes: K.Davis, Hooiveld, Rodriguez, Ward-Prowse, Richardson, Mayuka, De Ridder.

We are expecting the team news any minute now. Stay with us for the line-ups as they are announced.

Opta Fact
Will this be another goal-fest? Arsenal have scored six goals twice in their last six meetings with Southampton. But each of Southampton's last five home league games have featured under 2.5 goals.

Anthony Wagstaff says: "It has got to be an Arsenal victory today although Southampton have proved tough for the top teams at home. Arsenal to win 2-0, Walcott and Cazorla to score, oh and Walcott to sign a new contract after the match. Come on Arsenal."

Match Officials
Referee: L Probert Assistants: R Ganfield & M Wilkes Fourth official: M Jones

If you are not still fighting off a New Year's Eve-induced hangover and feel able to type, you can get in touch throughout the afternoon/evening with your thoughts, predictions and opinions as the game unfolds. Drop me a line at peter.fraser@bskyb.com or via Twitter @SkySportsPeteF. A selection of the best comments will be published.

Hello and all that Happy New Year soppy stuff. Welcome to our live and interactive coverage of the evening game between Southampton and Arsenal at St Mary's. Will Theo Walcott start on his return to Southampton? Stay with us for all the team news as soon as the word is out. Kick-off is at 17.30 BST.

Premier League Fixtures

There are no fixtures at present.

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