It was a rout in the FA Cup game, one that was not entirely expected, at least not to this extent. The Gunners took it to Southampton at St. Mary’s stadium, and they emerged victorious, coasting to a 5-0 rout courtesy of forwards Walcott and Welbeck. Here’s more insight into the match.
5. Pace Does Matter
Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott accounted for all of the Gunner’s five goals, Welbeck scored two and Walcott three. Both pacy forwards had no problem taking their chances, and they sure had plenty of them thanks to their midfield and fellow teammate Alexis Sanchez. Southampton’s defense was unable to cope with the trio, and the scoreline shows as much. This isn’t to degrade their other skills. Their speed was just one trait they used to rip apart Southampton’s defense; their finishing did the rest.
4. Welbeck is Back
In his first start in 265 days, the Englishman showed no signs of rust. He scored the game’s first two goals, both assisted by wonderful through balls by Lucas Perez and Oxlade-Chamberlain. Arsene Wenger himself even gave the young forward a standing ovation. It was a pleasant surprise for Arsenal fans, many expecting him to struggle on his return. He did just the opposite, however. Welbeck had just come back from a knee injury which made him sit out for the last nine months. While the concerns are certainly allayed, they are by no means gone. If Welbeck continues to perform at this level, we’ll see.
3. Arsenal Can Challenge for the Title
Arsenal showed that they can challenge Chelsea for the silverware; all they need is a slip-up. They have been performing very well lately, winning five of their last six games. They have loads of talent, and they are capable of beating any team on the planet. Even without coach Arsene Wenger, who was serving the first match ban of his four game suspension, they absolutely decimated The Saints, who sit at eleventh in the Premier League. If the Blues ever mess up, rest assured that Arsenal will not waste their chances. We may just have a race on our hands.
2. Change isn’t Always Bad; Well, at least for Arsenal
Coaches Arsene Wenger and Claude Puel each made a total of ten changes to their respective sides, something that may have cost Southampton in the long run. Unlike the Gunners, who have a talented roster with plenty of depth, the home team may have thrown the game away. The only player from The Saints who was at Anfield the prior week was Jack Stephens. Arsenal, on the other hand, had no trouble adapting, and their increased depth and more talented side definitely gave them a huge advantage over a second-string Saints team. Alexis Sanchez was substituted later on in the match, and he made a difference, assisting Walcott to earn the Englishman his fifth hat-trick in his Arsenal career.
1. Arsenal Has A Bright Future Ahead of Them
The youngsters definitely shined in this one: Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Ainsley Maitland-Niles to name two. The midfield duo outshined the more experienced Southampton midfield, and they definitely made an argument for more playing time. They dominated possession, provided valuable passes to their forwards, and they contributed both offensively and defensively. Another name that comes to mind is that of Rob Holding. Partnered with new signing Shokdran Mustafi, he continued to build on an already impressive season, guiding the Gunners to a clean sheet in an impressive performance on both sides of the pitch.
Southampton (4-3-3): Lewis 5; Gardos 5, Martina 4.5, Stephens 5, McQueen 4.5; Hojberg 5.5, Clasie 5, Reed 4.5; Isgrove 4 (Tadic 64′ – 4.5), Sims 4.5, Long 4.5 (Redmond 65′ – 5)
Unused Subs: Taylor, Yoshida, Bertrand, Davis Romeu
Arsenal (4-3-3): Ospina 5.5; Bellerin 6.5, Holding 7.5, Mustafi 6.5, Gibbs 6; Maitland-Niles 6.5, Oxlade-Chamberlain 8, Reine-Adelaide 7 (Iwobi 72′ – N/A); Welbeck 7.5 (Sanchez 65′- 7), Perez 6, Walcott 7.5
Unused Subs: Martinez, Mertesacker, Paulista, Jenkinson, Monreal
Referee: Kevin Friend
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