Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said that his title-chasing team had been punished for lacking sharpness after they crashed to a damaging 4-0 defeat at Southampton on Boxing Day.
Having beaten Premier League title rivals Manchester City 2-1 on their previous outing, Arsenal were looking for a victory that would have sent them to the top of the table.
But instead they slumped to their heaviest league defeat since March 2014 courtesy of a jaw-dropping Cuco Martina strike, a second-half Shane Long brace and a Jose Fonte header at St Mary’s.
“We lost too many challenges today. They were sharper than us,” Wenger told BT Sport.
“I think we were unlucky as well. Their first shot on goal went into the top corner from the right-back (Martina), the second goal came after a foul on (Laurent) Koscielny.
“It’s a disappointing result, but I have to say well done to Southampton. The referee let a lot go, but when you’re not dominant in challenges, that is the price you have to pay.”
The result kept Arsenal in second place in the table, two points below Leicester City and a point above Manchester City, ahead of Monday’s home game with Bournemouth.
“The title is down to consistency to fight in every single game and produce a performance,” Wenger said.
“Today was a very physical game and we didn’t play well enough.”
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman, whose side had not won in their five previous league games, said that his players had produced a “perfect performance”.
He added: “We showed fantastic belief in everybody and showed how good we are today if we play at our level.”