Saints knock out FA Cup holders

By SFC Media time Sat 23 Jan Saints vs Arsenal
Photo by Matt Watson
Sat 23 Jan 12.15PM
English FA Cup
Southampton
1
Arsenal
0
Magalhães (og) [24']
goal
Stephens (56') Bertrand (83')
yellow card
Referee: Peter Bankes | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 0

Southampton booked their place in the last 16 of the Emirates FA Cup by dumping holders Arsenal out of the competition at St Mary’s.

A first-half own goal from Gabriel Magalhães was enough to separate the sides, although the result was nothing less than Saints deserved, having looked the better of the two teams for most of a crisp early afternoon on the south coast.

The win keeps alive the dream of a first FA Cup triumph since 1976 and sets up a fifth-round tie away to Wolverhampton Wanderers for Ralph Hasenhüttl’s team next month.

Hasenhüttl said prior to the game that he would be treating it as seriously as possible, and his team selection certainly showed he was true to his word, as Ryan Bertrand, Theo Walcott, Stuart Armstrong and Danny Ings were all restored to the side following the 2-0 win over Shrewsbury in Tuesday’s third-round tie.

For Arsenal, there were seven changes from the side that beat Newcastle 3-0 in their last Premier League outing, with Mikel Arteta losing star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the hours before kick-off to a personal matter.

It was Saints who were the brighter from the off, forcing a couple of early corners, one of which James Ward-Prowse sent slicing in off the outside corner of his boot, almost catching out Bernd Leno in the visitors’ goal, as the ball hit the bar and rebounded away to safety.

20210123 Southampton v Arsenal FA Cup
Ché Adams went close to scoring early on for Saints

They went close again on 14 minutes, as a brilliant Kyle Walker-Peters tackle deep in his own half started a move that ended with Ché Adams racing into space down the inside-right, only for a diving Leno to get just enough on his low shot across goal to tip it wide of the far post.

It wasn’t all Saints, though. A clever Arsenal free-kick from deep in the 16th minute picked out the run of Gabriel Martinelli in behind the home defence, but he failed to make a solid contact as he swung his left foot at it when he had only Fraser Forster left to beat.

Straight back down the other end and Walcott sent a dipping shot across goal from 18 yards just wide of the far top corner, as he looked for another goal against his former employers, having also netted in the 1-1 draw at Emirates Stadium last month.

It felt as though Saints were the more likely to score, and sure enough they made a deserved breakthrough on 24 minutes.

It started with Ibrahima Diallo and Stuart Armstrong pressing and winning the ball off Mohamed Elneny deep in Arsenal’s half on the left, before they swung it over to the other side, where Walker-Peters drilled in a low angled cross that a sliding Gabriel diverted into his own net.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 23: Kyle Walker-Peters(R) shoots at goal to open the scoring during the FA Cup fourth round match between Southampton FC and Arsenal FC, at St.Mary's stadium, on January 23, 2021 in Southampton, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Kyle Walker-Peters's cross is diverted in by Gabriel Magalhães.

Had the Arsenal defender not made contact, it might not have mattered anyway, as Adams was sliding in next to him ready to convert. Either way, the important thing for Saints was that it ended up in Leno’s goal.

The pressure didn’t end there, with Armstrong not long after sending in a dangerous low strike that deflected off a defender and flew just wide.

Arsenal then provided James Ward-Prowse with a sight of goal two minutes before the break, as Nicolas Pépé fouled Bertrand in an aerial challenge just outside the corner of the box, but the Saints captain couldn’t follow-up his effort against Shrewsbury in midweek, bending his free-kick just over the top.

Neither side made any changes at half-time, with the first substitutions of the match arriving on 57 minutes, as Arsenal sent on Thomas Partey and Bukayo Saka in place of Elneny and Martinelli.

Moments later, Arsenal’s best chance of the game to that point arrived, as Hector Bellerin clipped in a cross from the corner of the area, with Rob Holding challenging for it. The ball then dropped kindly to Holding about ten yards out, but he side-footed over the bar.

Saints had a good opportunity of their own on 65 minutes, as a slick break ended with Ings cutting the ball back to Walcott in space inside the area, but he got underneath his right-footed effort and sent it over.

20210123 Southampton v Arsenal FA Cup
Fraser Forster made a big save for Saints in the second half.

Two minutes later and, back at the other end, Arsenal would have been level were it not for Fraser Forster. Pépé’s clever pass from the left found the run of Eddie Nketiah in behind, and he tried to poke the ball into the far corner, only for Forster to get a touch on it with his left boot and divert it wide.

Arteta then sent on more firepower, replacing Bellerin with Alexandre Lacazette for the final 20 minutes, before Hasenhüttl responded with his first change of the day, as Dan Nlundulu was sent on for Adams.

The game rumbled on into the final ten minutes, with Saints still standing firm under an increasing amount of pressure from the visitors, who were forcing them deeper.

Ings, making his return from injury, was then withdrawn for Shane Long with six minutes left on the clock, shortly after Pépé had wasted a good opportunity for Arsenal, curling a free-kick comfortably over from just outside the right edge of the box.

Substitutes Saka and Lacazette then almost combined for an equaliser in the 90th minute, but the former's cross from the left was inches away from the head of the latter as he raced into a central position.

Into added time the game went and Saints survived one more scare, as Lacazette blazed wide from inside the box with what proved to be the last opportunity of the afternoon.

A fifth-round date and the prospect of reaching the quarter-finals now await Hasenhüttl's side, as they went marching on at the end of a memorable week in the cup.

Southampton

Head to Head Stats

Arsenal
  • Possession (%)
    38
    comparison angle
    62
  • Shots
    11
    comparison angle
    11
  • Shots on target
    2
    comparison angle
    2
  • Corners
    7
    comparison angle
    5
  • Passes Complete
    246
    comparison angle
    437

Southampton

44
Fraser Forster (GK)
2
Kyle Walker-Peters
5
Jack Stephens yellow card
3
Ryan Bertrand yellow card
35
Jan Bednarek
8
James Ward-Prowse (C)
27
Ibrahima Diallo
17
Stuart Armstrong
32
Theo Walcott
10
Che Adams
replace Daniel N'Lundulu (78′)
9
Danny Ings
replace Shane Long (85′)
7
Shane Long
40
Daniel N'Lundulu
29
Jake Vokins
64
Alexandre Jankewitz
41
Harry Lewis
72
Kgaogelo Chauke
18
Yan Valery
65
Caleb Watts
31
Kayne Ramsay

Arsenal

1
Bernd Leno (GK)
6
Gabriel Magalhães
16
Rob Holding
2
Héctor Bellerín (C)
replace Alexandre Lacazette (72′)
17
Cédric Soares
35
Gabriel Martinelli
replace Bukayo Saka (58′)
25
Mohamed Elneny
replace Thomas Partey (57′)
34
Granit Xhaka
19
Nicolas Pépé
12
Willian
30
Eddie Nketiah
28
Joseph Willock
21
Calum Chambers
7
Bukayo Saka
13
Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson
9
Alexandre Lacazette
33
Mat Ryan
15
Ainsley Maitland-Niles
18
Thomas Partey
23
David Luiz
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