Holders Arsenal will be aiming to progress further in the FA Cup when they take on fellow Premier League side Southampton in the fourth round this weekend.
FA Cup action takes centre-stage this weekend in England as clubs compete to progress to the fifth round of the competition. And current trophy holders Arsenal will be in action at the St. Mary’s Stadium on Saturday afternoon, as they gear up to take on Southampton in the fourth round.
Southampton advanced to this stage of the FA Cup after they defeated lower league outfit Shrewsbury Town 2-0 at home earlier this week. The result also meant that Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side bounced back from a 2-0 defeat to Leicester City in the Premier League and will now be looking to advance in the cup competition with a win on Saturday.
Arsenal, meanwhile, after a difficult run last month, seem to have gathered momentum again, having gone six games without a loss in all competitions (W5 D1). Mikel Arteta’s side defeated Newcastle United 2-0 in the third round of the FA Cup and head into the weekend game on the back of a 3-0 win over the Magpies in the Premier League.
Southampton and Arsenal have already met once this season, in the league, with the game ending in a 1-1 draw as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cancelled out Theo Walcott’s goal. And ahead of their latest meeting in the FA Cup, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Heading into the game, Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has a host of injury issues to contend with. The Saints’ boss will have to make do without the services of Jannik Vestergaard, Moussa Djenepo, Nathan Redmond, Nathan Tella, Moussa Djenepo, Michael Obafemi, Mohamed Salisu and Will Smallbone. In addition, Oriol Romeu is also a doubt for the fixture.
Having fielded a much-changed XI for the cup tie against Shrewsbury earlier this week, Hasenhuttl is expected to name a strong lineup when Arsenal come visiting. No change is expected in goal, however, with Alex McCarthy’s deputy, Fraser Forster, in line for another starting berth.
At right-back, summer signing Kyle Walker-Peters should replace Yan Valery, while Ryan Bertrand should come into the side on the left. How the duo deal with the threat of the Arsenal wide players could have a huge say in the outcome of the game. Jan Bednarek and Jack Stephens should pair up at the heart of the defence.
Captain James Ward-Prowse is a certain starter in the middle of the park for Southampton. The England international will pose a major threat from his set-piece delivery and will look to support midfield partner Ibrahima Diallo in the defensive phase to try and curb the influence of Arsenal’s creative players.
Theo Walcott and Stuart Armstrong ought to occupy the wide roles in midfield, although the latter is likely to drift in centrally and try to create overloads while the former is likely to make blistering runs upfront to support the strike-partnership of Danny Ings and Che Adams.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Forster; Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Stephens, Bertrand; Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Diallo, Walcott; Adams, Ings
Unlike his counterpart in the Southampton dugout, Mikel Arteta has only a couple of players absent for the trip to St. Mary’s. Defender Pablo Mari and on-loan midfielder Dani Ceballos both miss out due to their respective calf injuries. The Gunners’ boss, however, is likely to rotate his troops for the game against the Saints on Saturday afternoon.
With Mat Ryan completing a loan move only on the eve of the game, it is unlikely that he will be ready to face Southampton. Instead, first-choice goalkeeper, Bernd Leno should start between the sticks for the Gunners.
Gabriel Magalhaes, who has not been used in the last two matches, could come in to form the centre-back partnership alongside Rob Holding. Hector Bellerin is in line to replace Cedric Soares at right-back, but given the importance of Kieran Tierney with his overlapping runs from the left-back position, no change is expected there on Saturday.
Thomas Partey made his first start since returning from injury against Newcastle earlier in the week and having impressed heavily, the Ghanaian should feature against Southampton. He will look to turn over possession and initiate quick transitions in the middle, with Mohamed Elneny supporting him.
Bukayo Saka has been extremely influential for Arsenal in recent games and is unlikely to be dropped while the same goes for Emile Smith Rowe as well. The duo should start on Saturday, although Saka is likely to move to the left wing to accommodate Nicolas Pepe in the starting XI. This would see captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang occupy a more central role.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Elneny; Pepe, Smith Rowe, Saka; Aubameyang
- Arsenal have defeated Southampton in all of their four previous FA Cup meetings. The Gunners have gone onto win the trophy on the last three occasions they beat the Saints in the competition.
- Southampton have won just one of their last nine matches against Arsenal across all competitions (D3 L5).
- Arsenal have won eleven of their last twelve FA Cup matches, losing the other one against Nottingham Forest in January 2018.
- Southampton have won just three of their last 17 FA Cup meetings against clubs from the Premier League, beating Blackpool (2010/11), Watford and West Bromwich Albion (both 2017/18).
- Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored in each of his four FA Cup appearances till date, finding the back of the net on six occasions in the process.
Player to Watch
He may be just 19 years old, but Bukayo Saka has grown into one of the most important players for Arsenal in his fledgeling career at the top level. The England international has been pivotal to the resurgent run that Mikel Arteta’s side have been on of late.
Saka, so far this term, has four goals and three assists in all competitions, with four of those goal involvements coming in his last six matches. His pace, ability to beat his man and the excellent understanding that he has shown with Emile Smith Rowe has revitalised the Gunners’ attack.
Given his form and his importance to the team, there is every chance that Saka will start against Southampton. And, the 19-year-old, after a fine performance against Newcastle United in the Premier League, will be hoping to lead Arsenal to the next round of the FA Cup.
Southampton 1-2 Arsenal
After a myriad of struggles, Arsenal have started to click again and are on a six-game unbeaten run, during which they have kept five clean sheets. Southampton, meanwhile, have won just two of their last six games in all competitions, although it did include a hard-earned win against Liverpool in the Premier League.
Nonetheless, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men have seen a slight dip in form after a fine start to the season. Given the number of injury problems that they are having to deal with, they might be in for a difficult afternoon on Saturday. The Gunners have an imposing record against the Saints in the FA Cup and based on their recent form, they should be able to bag a win and progress in the competition.
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