SOUTHAMPTON, December 26- Needing a win to go top of the Premier League table, Arsenal instead put in one of their worst performances of the campaign, falling to Southampton 4-0 on Saturday.
The defeat marked the first time Arsenal had conceded even three goals in a league game this season.
Arsenal had a chance to overtake leaders Leicester after the Foxes lost to Liverpool earlier on Boxing Day, but three points were never in the cards for the visitors at St Mary’s.
Cuco Martina opened the scoring in the 19th minute with a remarkable 35-yard strike that curled around defenders and into the corner of the net.
Shane Long nearly doubled Southampton’s lead on two chances before half-time. First his back-heeled goal was rightly ruled out for a foul in the build-up, Later, he missed well over the bar when freed on the breakaway.
Long did find Southampton’s second 10 minutes after half-time as Sadio Mane centred for him to score on the counter-attack.
Arsenal shouted that Long had intentionally tripped up Laurent Koscielny while running toward goal, but referee Jon Moss did not appear to see the incident.
Jose Fonte made it 3-0 on 69 minutes by heading home Ryan Bertrand’s corner from close range.
Long remained dangerous, hitting the post with a shot before finding his second goal and Southampton’s fourth by shooting between Petr Cech’s legs in stoppage time.
Southampton remained in 12th place and earned their first win since November 7 at Sunderland, ending a five-game league winless streak.