OLIVIER GIROUD came off the bench to rescue a point at Arsenal as they looked to be heading for another tame defeat.
Arsene Wenger’s side had produced an insipid display in the South Coast chill and Charlie Austin’s third minute goal saw Saints edging towards three points.
But French striker Giroud climb highest to glance in a header on 87 minutes to force the draw and deny Mauricio Pellegrino’s side the win.
Austin loves playing against Arsenal.
The Southampton striker was making his third start against Wenger’s team and for the third time, found the net in what proved to be the winner.
Southampton could not have wished for a better start, scoring after little more than two minutes – and that proved to be the key.
Per Mertesacker lost possession, Dusan Tadic played a clever through the defence,
Austin was just onside and ahead of Nacho Monreal, before flicking the ball past Petr Cech’s left arm.
It was his fourth goal in four games.
Austin could have scored again a couple of minutes later with Arsenal still looking a mess defensively. Tadic once again split open the visiting defence but Cech saved impressively.
Austin was causing complete mayhem, even though he was also caught offside on a couple of occasions.
Arsenal took 16 minutes to manage an attack but Alexandre Lacazette shot straight at Fraser Forster but at least they got back into the game.
Lacazette then looked certain to score in a stunning counter attack – he really should have equalised – but Pierre-Emile Holbjerg showed some real guts and took the ball off the Frenchman’s foot.
Forster, who has rightly received some recent criticism from Saints fans for his recent performances, pulled off an excellent save with his right hand to keep out a drive from Aaron Ramsey
Lacazette was caught by Maya Yoshida inside the area but there were no claims and Southampton will have been happy to get down the tunnel at half-time still leading.
Southampton defended heroically at times with Jack Stephens delivering a particularly good challenge on Sead Kolasinac.
It was certainly a decent game to watch and although Southampton threatened less in the second half, Romeu delivered a powerful shot which hammered against the crossbar.
In the 64th minute, Wenger replaced Danny Welbeck for Mertesacker yet it was Southampton who should have scored but the chance fell to Ryan Bertrand and his shot trickled past the post.
Jack Wilshere, although yet to start a Premier League game for the Gunners, replaced Granit Xhaka and Wenger completed all three of is subs in the 72nd minute with Giroud coming on for Lacazette.
And that last throw of the dice paid dividends for Wenger as Giroud made the vital impact with three minutes left of normal time.