The Gunners, on the road for the third game in a row, managed to carve out a 2-0 win over ten-man Southampton at the St Mary’s Stadium to finally put a smile on the face of manager Mikel Arteta.
Eddie Nketiah’s first-half strike – all thanks to goalkeeper McCarthy’s terrible blunder – and Joe Willock’s late goal sealed a deserved win for the Londoners on Thursday evening.
Southampton, who enjoyed a 3-0 win over bottom-of-the-league Norwich City last time out, started brightly against the visitors.
The Gunners, equally desperate for a result here after back-to-back defeats since the restart – losing to both Manchester City and Brighton and Hove Albion – refused to lie low and be crushed.
And it was Arsenal who came close to breaking the deadlock in the opening minutes when Aubameyang rattled the underside of the crossbar when he seemed sure to score.
Arsenal’s opener, however, arrived midway into the half, but it was more of a gift than from a carefully worked move.
A seemingly harmless back-pass reached goalkeeper McCarthy who then unwittingly passed it straight at Nketiah, who made no mistake in finding an empty net.
And that was the only goal that separated the two teams at the break.
Southampton started the second half – as they did the first – on the front foot, playing with intensity and purpose, but Ward-Prowse blasted their best early chance over the bar.
Arsenal once again got themselves back in the thick of the action and could have doubled their lead but for some fine defending from the hosts.
Aubameyang received another raking pass down the left, and he tried to fizz the ball low across the face of goal. But Bednarek slid in to intervene, turning the ball narrowly past the near post with McCarthy scrambling.
With the game nearing its closing stages, Southampton pushed forward to try and level the game, but Arsenal’s keeper stood firm – saving from Shane Long – to protect his side’s clean sheet.
And moments after Saints’ Jack Stephens was shown a red card for a professional foul, Joe Willock doubled the Gunners’ advantage to seal a fine win for the visitors.
The victory sees Arteta’s men climb to the ninth position on the Premier League table, six points behind Manchester United in fifth.