Premier League: Arsenal drop points as title push stutters with 10 men

Frank Dalleres
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ARSENAL boss Arsene Wenger bemoaned the “harsh” dismissal of midfielder Mathieu Flamini last night after his side handed the initiative to Premier League title rivals Manchester City and Chelsea and suffered more injury woe.

The Gunners recovered from Southampton defender Jose Fonte’s early goal to surge into the lead with two strikes straight after half-time, from Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla, only for Adam Lallana's equaliser to deny them three points.

It also emerged that free-scoring midfielder Aaron Ramsey faces more weeks out after a setback in his recovery from a thigh injury, a development that could force Arsenal to buy before Friday night’s transfer deadline.

“Flamini’s red card looked harsh. He got the ball,” said Wenger of his player’s two-footed challenge on Morgan Schneiderlin. “I don’t want to look for any excuses. They played at a higher pace than us. In the first half we didn’t play well. In the second it was a very good footballing game. We showed character and resilience.”

A draw ended Arsenal’s run of seven straight wins in all competitions and means they could slip to third tonight, if City and Chelsea beat Tottenham and West Ham respectively.

Fonte nodded Saints into a deserved 21st-minute lead and it was not until after the interval that the visitors fought back.

First Giroud backheeled home Bacary Sagna’s cross, then, four minutes later, Cazorla fired in left-footed for his fourth goal in three games.

Lallana equalised with a controlled finish from a Jay Rodriguez cut-back moments later for a share of the points.