Arsenal drew a third consecutive match in the Premier League as they fought back from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 at home to 20th placed Southampton in their Matchday 32 clash. The Gunners are now five points clear of second-place Manchester City, having played two games more than the champions.
After disappointing draws away from home against Liverpool and West Ham, Arsenal had a chance to return to winning ways when they welcomed bottom club Southampton to a packed Emirates Stadium.
The Saints struck the first blow in the opening seconds as a mishit pass from Aaron Ramsdale fell into the path of Argentine youngster Carlos Alcaraz, allowing him to fire his side in front.
Southampton soon doubled their advantage after 14 minutes as former Arsenal winger Theo Walcott found the back of the net following a pass from the impressive Alcaraz, who had picked up the ball after Martin Odegaard surrendered possession cheaply.
Arsenal responded well and pulled one back at the 20-minute mark through Gabriel Martinelli, who swept the ball home from inside the box following a cross from Bukayo Saka.
Arsenal ended the first half in dominant fashion and started the second in the same way as they sought to find an equaliser. They were, however, guilty of being their own biggest enemies as another error led to a third Southampton goal in the 66th minute. Thomas Partey lost the ball at the edge of his box and the Gunners conceded a cornerkick afterwards. From the corner, Armel Bella-Kotchap made first contact, sending the ball to the far post where Duje Caleta-Car headed home his first goal for the club.
After the third goal, Arsenal put the Saints under relentless pressure, with a number of last-ditch interventions from Bella-Kotchap and Lyanco keeping the Gunners at bay. In the 88th minute, the pressure finally paid off as Odegaard curled a delightful effort, his 12th of the season, into the bottom corner.
Two minutes later, Arsenal drew level through Saka, who reacted quickest to fire home from close range after Gavin Bazunu parried an effort into his path. Buoyed by their late equaliser, the Gunners finished strongly and were unlucky not to snatch all three points as Leandro Trossard saw an effort come back off the crossbar and Reiss Nelson missed the post by mere inches.
Southampton held on for a hard-earned point against the Gunners, who extended their lead atop the standings to five points. The London club have, however, played two games more than nearest rivals Manchester City. Both sides will face each other next at the Etihad Stadium in a match that will surely be defining for the title race.