Saints' FA Cup run ends

By Gordon Simpson Sat 28 Jan Saints vs Arsenal
Photo by Matt Watson
Sat 28 Jan 5.30PM
English FA Cup
Southampton
0
Arsenal
5
Welbeck [15' 22'] Walcott [35' 69' 84']
Referee: Kevin Friend | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 31,288

Only a matter of days after one Wembley dream was realised by Southampton, Claude Puel’s men saw another one shattered.

After the high of the EFL Cup semi-final triumph over Liverpool in midweek, Saints were knocked back down to earth and out of the Emirates FA Cup by Arsenal, as the Gunners prevailed 5-0 in this fourth-round clash at St Mary’s.

The exertions of Wednesday night at Anfield, coupled with a lengthy injury list and the prospect of a Premier League trip to Swansea on Tuesday, meant that Puel made sweeping changes to his line-up, with Florin Gardos making a notable return 23 months after his previous first-team appearance.

Florin Gardos made his first appearance since February 2015

Jack Stephens was the sole survivor from the side that started in the second leg against Liverpool, and his presence was required early on, as he made a superb block to deny Jeff Reine-Adelaide in just the third minute.

It was Arsenal who undeniably had the better of the early exchanges, and they fired another warning shot in the eighth minute, as former Saint Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sent a low effort fizzing just wide from 25 yards.

Their next attempt did not miss. Ainsley Maitland-Niles played a pass into Lucas Pérez 20 yards out, and he flicked the ball first-time in behind the Saints defence for Danny Welbeck to run onto, with the Arsenal striker lifting the ball exquisitely over goalkeeper Harry Lewis and in off the underside of the bar.

It was 2-0 after 22 minutes, as Welbeck again ran behind the hosts’ back-line, this time latching onto Oxlade-Chamberlain’s long-range, angled pass, bringing the ball under control superbly and stroking it past Lewis.

Saints did muster a response after that, as Pierre-Emile Højbjerg volleyed over, before Cuco Martina’s clever pass down the inside-right picked out Shane Long, who was captaining the side, but his well-struck effort towards the near top corner was pushed away by David Ospina in the Arsenal goal.

Southampton were then fortunate they didn’t fall further behind, as Shkodran Mustafi leapt to meet Oxlade-Chamberlain’s wicked free-kick in the 29th minute, only to glance his header narrowly wide of the far post.

Saints, though, went even closer soon after, with Højbjerg bending a free-kick from 20 yards agonisingly wide of the top corner, after Shane Long had been tripped by Gunners captain Kieran Gibbs.

Pierre-Emile Højbjerg went closest for Saints in the first half

Arsenal continued to threaten, though, and they made it 3-0 ten minutes before half-time, as Welbeck got to the byline, after exchanging passes with Pérez, before squaring for former Saints winger Theo Walcott to slide in and convert.

The second half began in rather quieter fashion, although Lewis did have to save well from Héctor Bellerín, after Arsenal had worked the ball to him in space inside the area.

Both sides made changes in the 64th minute, with Saints making a double swap. Lloyd Isgrove and Long were withdrawn, as Nathan Redmond and Dušan Tadić, who took over the captain's armband, came on.

Arsenal, meanwhile, brought Welbeck off, replacing him with their top scorer, Alexis Sánchez.

It didn't take long for him to have a significant impact, as Oxlade-Chamberlain's pass got him to the byline, from where he looked up and cut the ball back to Walcott, who stroked it into the far corner to make it 4-0.

The pair combined once again six minutes from time, as the former Southampton Academy graduate completed his hat-trick, rolling the ball into the bottom corner, after Sánchez had broken down the inside-left and squared to him in space.

Saints' suffering would end there, although Lewis had to save one-on-one from Pérez late on to prevent a sixth, as Puel's side completed a week of extremely contrasting emotions in the cup competitions.

Southampton

Head to Head Stats

Arsenal
  • Possession (%)
    48
    52
  • Shots
    14
    12
  • Shots on target
    2
    7
  • Corners
    7
    4
  • Passes Complete
    404
    463

Southampton

41
Harry Lewis (GK)
15
Cuco Martina
5
Florin Gardos
24
Jack Stephens
38
Sam McQueen
4
Jordy Clasie
23
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg
18
Harrison Reed
7
Shane Long (C)
Nathan Redmond (65′)
27
Lloyd Isgrove
Dusan Tadic (64′)
39
Josh Sims
8
Steven Davis
21
Ryan Bertrand
11
Dusan Tadic
14
Oriol Romeu
3
Maya Yoshida
22
Nathan Redmond
28
Stuart Taylor

Arsenal

13
David Ospina (GK)
3
Kieran Gibbs (C)
20
Shkodran Mustafi
24
Héctor Bellerín
16
Rob Holding
31
Jeff Reine-Adelaide
Alex Iwobi (72′)
15
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
55
Ainsley Maitland-Niles
14
Theo Walcott
23
Danny Welbeck
Alexis Sánchez (65′)
9
Lucas Pérez
7
Alexis Sánchez
18
Nacho Monreal
25
Carl Jenkinson
26
Emiliano Martinez
17
Alex Iwobi
5
Gabriel
4
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