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Southampton 4-0 Arsenal: Gunners blown away; title race murky as ever

Remember Monday, just five days ago, when Arsenal beat Manchester City and we thought, wrongly once again, that the Premier League title race was beginning make a bit more sense?

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Here’s the thing about that: forget all of it. Southampton’s 4-0 hammering of the Gunners at St. Mary’s Stadium on Boxing Day puts everything right back where we started — Leicester City top, Arsenal two points back and Man City a point behind them — just a week ago.

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Southampton opened the scoring was opened with one of the goals of the season (WATCH HERE), scored by backup right back Cuco Martina. The Dutch defender unleashed a wicked, outside-of-the-right-foot strike on a bouncing ball more than 25 yards from goal. It swerved through traffic and Petr Cech could do nothing as Saints took the lead on 19 minutes.

Arsenal’s best chance to equalize in the first half came in the 39th minute, when Theo Walcott sent a header needlessly wide of the near post without a single defender within three yards of him. The ball into the box came from a corner kick, but Walcott altogether failed to put his effort on target.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays ]

It was very nearly 2-0 in the 43rd minute, when Shane Long raced past Per Mertesacker are the Arsenal defense, and found himself one on one with Cech. The Irish striker went for the fancy chip over top of the Czech ‘keeper, but could only watch helplessly as the ball floated two or three goals’ height into the air and over the crossbar.

Not long after the halftime restart, Saints thought they had doubled their lead when Virgil van Dijk headed the ball past Cech. The Dutch defender was (correctly) ruled to have been in an offside position when the free kick was taken, thus the score remained 1-0.

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

That scoreline lasted just five more minutes, though, as Sadio Mane set up Long for a simple finish at the back post to give Saints a much-needed two-goal lead on 55 minutes. Mane burst down the right wing, played the ball through Mertesacker’s legs found Long all by his lonesome at the far post, where a simple tap-in past an outstretched Cech made it 2-0 in favor of the home side.

Jose Fonte made it 3-0 to Southampton in the 69th minute, when the Saints captain headed home Ryan Bertrand’s in-swinging corner kick.

It was long who next went inches from making the score 4-0 in the 89th minute. The Irishman once again raced past Mertesacker, but his shot found only the front side of the far post after slipping by the onrushing Cech.

Long eventually did make it 4-0, on 91 minutes. Dusan Tadic played him through between the center backs and, from a similar angle to his previous chance, Long slotted the ball between the legs of Cech for a famous and emphatic South Coast triumph.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

With the defeat, Arsenal miss out on an opportunity to return to the Premier League summit, instead remaining two points behind Leicester. Southampton, on the other hand, remain 12th in the league table, still two points behind Stoke City for 11th, but also just three points back of Liverpool in 7th.

Follow @AndyEdMLS