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Arsenal's EPL title hopes suffer blow after Southampton loss

Gunners throw away chance of topping EPL points table after being humiliated 0-4 by Southampton; Manager Wenger blames referee's errors, but admits his boys weren’t good enough too

Southampton: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said that his title-chasing team had been punished for lacking sharpness after they crashed to a damaging 4-0 defeat at Southampton on Boxing Day.

Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger

Having beaten Premier League title rivals Manchester City 2-1 on their previous outing, Arsenal were looking for a victory that would have sent them to the top of the table. But instead they slumped to their heaviest league defeat since March 2014.

Dutch-born Curacao defender Cuco Martina, only in the team thanks to an injury to first-choice right-back Cedric Soares, put Southampton ahead with a sensational long-range strike in the 19th minute. Shane Long, himself only playing because of injury to top scorer Graziano Pelle, added a second, Jose Fonte headed in the third, and Long made it 4-0 in injury time.

"We lost too many challenges. They were sharper than us," Wenger (right) told BT Sport. "We were unlucky as well. Their first goal by right-back (Martina) was offside, the second was a foul on (Laurent) Koscielny and the third was a goal kick. The referee let a lot go, but when you're not dominant in challenges, that's the price you pay," added Wenger.

The result kept Arsenal in second place in the table, two points below Leicester City and a point above Manchester City, ahead of Monday's home game with Bournemouth.

Gunners loaded with blanks: Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny (left), midfielder Aaron Ramsey (second from left), striker Olivier Giroud and defender Nacho Monreal (right) react after conceding the opening goal during their English Premier League match against Southampton at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton on Saturday. Arsenal went on to lose 0-4. Pic/AFP
Gunners loaded with blanks: Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny (left), midfielder Aaron Ramsey (second from left), striker Olivier Giroud and defender Nacho Monreal (right) react after conceding the opening goal during their English Premier League match against Southampton at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton on Saturday. Arsenal went on to lose 0-4. Pic/AFP

"The title is down to consistency to fight in every game. Today was a very physical game and we didn't play well enough," Wenger said.

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman was ecstatic. "We showed fantastic belief in everybody and showed how good we are today if we play at our level," he said.

Two
Number of goals that were disallowed for Southampton due to infringements

2-1
Scoreline by which Arsenal had recently beaten EPL title rivals Manchester City

One
Number of defeats Arsenal suffered in their last 11 English Premier League encounters

28
The number of years since Southampton last beat Arsenal in a league match

Current EPL standings

Leicester 18 11 5 2 37 25 38

Arsenal 18 11 3 4 31 18 36

Man City 18 11 2 5 37 20 35

Tottenham 18 8 8 2 31 14 32

Crystal Palace 18 9 3 6 23 16 30

Man Utd 18 8 5 5 22 16 29

Watford 18 8 5 5 23 18 29

Liverpool 18 7 6 5 21 22 27

Everton 18 6 8 4 32 24 26

West Ham 18 6 8 4 26 22 26

Stoke 18 7 5 6 16 16 26

Southampton 18 6 6 6 25 21 24

West Brom 18 5 5 8 17 24 20

Bournemouth 18 5 5 8 22 32 20

Chelsea 18 5 4 9 23 29 19

Swansea 18 4 6 8 16 24 18

Norwich 18 4 5 9 20 32 17

Newcastle 18 4 5 9 19 33 17

Sunderland 18 3 3 12 19 37 12

Aston Villa 18 1 5 12 15 32 8

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