Wenger labels Saints sinners over time-wasting
Arsene Wenger lamented what he perceived to be time-wasting tactics from Southampton after Arsenal left it late to secure a 1-1 draw at St Mary's.
The hosts hit the front early through Charlie Austin and Arsenal's afternoon looked set to end in frustration before Olivier Giroud performed a familiar salvage act, coming off the bench to head an 88th-minute equaliser.
But it was what unfolded between the goals that pricked Wenger's attention.
He said to BT Sport: "Happy [with the result]? No because we wanted to win, but when you cannot win at least don't lose it.
"In the second half we played in their half. The wasting of time became a real problem and the referees have not found an answer yet.
"In the first half the referee could have given a penalty and in the second half we could not take advantage of a counter-attack in the last minute."
Asked whether there was a solution to persistent time-wasting, Wenger said: "The answer is the authority of the referees.
"First of all I think it's in the hands of the players to respect the game and to play and then for the referees to act early."
3 - Charlie Austin has scored in all three of his Premier League appearances against Arsenal. Gunning. pic.twitter.com/QR2G95GACS-- OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 10, 2017
Having seen Arsenal give up a two-goal deficit early in the 3-1 defeat to Manchester United last weekend, Wenger's best-laid plans were again undermined by a sluggish start on the south coast.
"We played with good sprit but unfortunately in the last two games we have dropped points for a bad start," he said.
"Of course you are concerned. You don't want to make too much of a problem of it because it takes belief and confidence away from the players
"You could see last week, the players wanted to start strong and overall, it took us a while to get into the game."
Giroud now has 17 Premier League goals as a substitute - a joint divisional record alongside ex-United hero Ole Gunner Solskjaer's in terms of a tally for a single club - and Wenger paid tribute to the 31-year-old France international's mental strength.
"I will start him [too] of course, because we play every three days," he added.
"He is mentally extremely strong and you have to be grateful that a player, whenever he is needed, comes on and delivers.
"It is a great achievement what he has done."