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Wenger labels Southampton sinners over time-wasting

7:34 PM GMT+4 10/12/2017
ArseneWenger - cropped
The manager was not impressed with the behaviour of the home side as his team were forced to settle for a point

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."

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."