How much damage did the draw with Southampton do to Arsenal's title chances?

By Avenell Dave

I have to say I've been amazed at the vitriol some people posted or forwarded from lunatics claiming to be supporters in response to drawing at Southampton on Tuesday night.

I spoke before the game of the worries many had that we may struggle there - the floodlights, the windy conditions, the fact that Southampton are a decent side all proved to be valid concerns.

There's no doubt that we played poorly.

There's a strong argument that when playing against sides who are not as adept at moving the ball as the Barcelonas or the Dortmunds of this world, playing Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini together actually hinders our style.

Granted, Southampton had 53% of possession but with another ball player, that may not have happened.

I suspect Arsene Wenger's choices were limited by the absences of Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Aaron Ramsey, whose latest injury developments cast doubt on his availability for the huge month ahead of us.

He could have played Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but rushing the former Saint back to start a game of such intensity may have been a physical risk and a performance risk given his lacklustre passing against Coventry.

You could argue that Lukas Podolski deserved a chance - and certainly that he should have come on earlier than the 90th minute, but equally, had he started, his lack of tracking back may have caused us problems.

Given the ineffectual Arteta/Flamini axis, you do wonder why the Frenchman was not withdrawn as we went for a winner but hindsight is a wonderful thing. It's easy being a fan without necessarily knowing all the thinking that goes into selections or substitutions from the manager.

Let's not forget that Manchester City, who score goals for fun (and probably will do again tonight against the Spuds) only drew there last month.

You could argue that their first goal shouldn't have happened after a perfectly reasonable Per Mertesacker tackle and foul on Monreal and a rare moment of sloppiness that we have all but cancelled out for their second.

One good point was the impressive performance of Mesut Ozil who is starting to find his groove. I would still like to see him take games by the scruff of the neck but I am sure that will come.

We may well find ourselves knocked off the top of the table on Wednesday night but while a draw is far from ideal, coupled with a lengthy Flamini suspension that comes after his reckless tackle, you can't win them all.

Football is a game of two teams and sometimes the other team plays better or you have an off day. To not lose is progress itself.

We're nine games unbeaten with six clean sheets in that time and thankfully we have Crystal Palace on Sunday who, while enjoying their own resurgence, should be beatable at home. Even when Tony Pulis brought his troublesome Stoke sides to us, they never caused us a great deal of difficulty at home.

It was fascinating to hear Arsene Wenger hint that transfers will be done now - whether that is because the negotiations going on with Julian Draxler are about to conclude or because more urgency has been forced upon the club because of injuries.

Manchester City are miles ahead of us, so one of my Addict friends said last night and perhaps they are in terms of the depth of their squad and resources.

But we started the week ahead of them and I can all but guarantee they won;t win every single game remaining this season.

There is a long way to go. We're in amongst the genuine contenders.

Let's hope for a new face or two to help us make a real fight of it. And let's keep our feet on the ground after what was far from the disastrous result many seemed to consider it to be.