A deflected Kyle Walker-Peters strike was enough to see an energetic and resilient Saints side progress into the 5th round of the Emirates FA Cup, knocking holders Arsenal out.
Ralph Hasenhuttl named a strong side, showing his intentions of going far in the cup, which included the likes of Danny Ings, James Ward-Prowse and Theo Walcott. Jannik Vestergaard and Oriol Romeu were still sidelined but the latter should be fit to return to action in this evening’s Premier League game, in which Arsenal will travel to St Mary’s for the second game in a row.
Saints first-half intensity rewarded:
Southampton were by far the better team in the first half as Arsenal found it hard to match the energy and intensity that Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side were playing with.
Warning shots were fired early on when James Ward-Prowse almost caught Bernd Leno out as he outrageously attempted to score directly from a corner. The Arsenal keeper had his crossbar to thank in helping to spare his blushes.
Around 10 minutes later the ball was played out wide to Che Adams. The forward drove away from ex-Saint Cedric Soares before easily getting past Gabriel and firing a low hard shot across goal which Leno did well to parry. Arsenal were fortunate to still be level.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 24th minute. Kyle Walker-Peters received the ball and fired a dangerous cross-come-shot into the penalty area. The strike took a deflection off Gabriel’s heel before nestling into the corner of the net. The impressive young full back deserved to be credited with the goal based on his recent performances but, because the ball was heading off target before the deflection, it had to go down as an own goal.
The Saints deservedly went in to the break a goal to the good.
Saints resilient as Arsenal pile on pressure:
The second half predictably played out differently.
Arsenal, motivated to retain the cup, went pushing for an equalizer. The introductions of Thomas Partey, Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette made a real difference, bringing some much needed quality and creativity into their play.
However, the best chance of the half fell to Eddie Nketiah. Lively winger Nicolas Pepe played a perfectly weighted through ball into the young English striker’s path and on the stretch he managed to get a shot away which looked destined for the bottom corner. But Saints ‘keeper Fraser Forster heroically stuck out a leg and managed to turn the ball around his post.
Southampton defended with heart towards the end of the game and were rewarded with an impressive FA cup victory which see’s them face fellow Premier League side Wolves in the next round.
Post- match reactions:
Saints boss Ralph Hassenhuttl was understandably pleased with the win but felt his team should’ve killed the game off:
‘We had in the first half more punch and more power. It was a good team performance.’
‘In the second half it’s normal they have a lift. We must make the second goal – we made one or two chances.’
FT: SOUTHAMPTON 1-0 Arsenal (Gabriel 24′ og).
Southampton: Forster, Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Stephens (booked), Bertrand (booked), Armstrong, Diallo, Ward-Prowse, Walcott, Ings (Long 85′), Adams (N’Lundulu 78′). Unused Subs: Watts, Valery, Vokins, Ramsay, Lewis, Chauke, Jankewitz.
Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin (Lacazette 72′), Holding, Gabriel, Soares, Elneny (Partey 58′), Xhaka, Pepe, Willian, Martenelli (Saka 58′), Nketiah. Unused subs: Maitland-Niles, Luiz, Willock, Runarsson, Chambers, Ryan.
Wessex Scene Man of the Match: James Ward-Prowse (Southampton).
Referee: Peter Bankes.