Arsenal’s faltering quest for Champions League qualification suffered another setback after it lost at Southampton 1-0 in the English Premier League on Saturday.
Tottenham’s shock home defeat to Brighton on Saturday offered the Gunners the chance to move level on points with their fourth-placed north London rival.
But Mikel Arteta’s men blew a major opportunity to capitalise at St Mary’s as Jan Bednarek’s strike on the stroke of halftime condemned them to a fourth defeat in five games.
Arsenal retain a game in hand on Spurs, albeit a tricky trip to Chelsea, while its latest slip-up provides further encouragement for fellow top-four hopefuls Manchester United and West Ham.
The Gunners dominated possession for much of an uninspiring match, but in the absence of the ill Alexandre Lacazette they often lacked a cutting edge and rarely troubled Ralph Hasenhuttl’s resolute hosts.
On the occasions they did, they were frustrated by in-form Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster, who produced stunning saves to keep out joint leading scorers Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe either side of Bednarek’s decisive finish.
Victory for Saints ended a five-match winless league run to boost their aspirations of a top-half finish.