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Gunners must be cautious against confident Saints

southampton arsenal fa cup preview 2017

Match Preview: Southampton vs. Arsenal – FA Cup – 28.01.2017

No sooner had the 4th round draw been made the gasps of horror came from Arsenal fans up and down the country, but why? Surely a trip to mid-table Southampton shouldn’t be so filled with dread... Should it?

Whether it be memories of Christmas time last season where The Gunners were taken apart 4-0 at Saint Mary's Stadium or the fact that keeper Fraser Forster always seems to channel Lev Yashin against us game in game out we as fans never seem too pleased at a trip to the South Coast. Having laboured to a late 1-2 victory at Preston in the previous round this tie does suggest a tough day at the office could be in store.

Despite have urged caution in what I written above, I am not preparing myself for another game of watching from behind the sofa. Allow me to explain. Having played superbly in midweek to defeat Liverpool and reach the EFL Cup final Claude Puel’s men will be full of confidence and sprightliness. However, I also feel they may well slightly fatigued and their minds consumed by thoughts of a day out at Wembley and the opportunity of winning silverware.

For The Arsenal however, no such thoughts, this trophy represents a really serious chance of adding to the 6 FA cups Arsene Wenger has already put in the trophy cabinet in his tenure as Manager. However, the Frenchman will be missing from the dugout for this and the next 3 games after, due to a four match ban. Nevertheless I expect the North Londoners to have too much on the day for their hosts.

There will be changes to the starting XI for The Gunners, with David Ospina, Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck all expected to make the team. Brother Mesut, Hector Bellerin and Francis Coquelin could also get starting berths after recent spells on the sidelines.

So just where or how do I see this game being won? With pace and clinical finishing. It would be easy to suggest we simply need to start well, score early and pin the opposition back, but in truth, given the EFL Cup win heavy in the legs of the Southampton players my key to victory for Arsenal is fresh, hungry legs! I look at Danny Welbeck, hungry for a chance to get more football under his belt as a goal grabber on the day. It is also another chance for Aaron Ramsey to boss the final third in attacking midfield. And with The Ox returning to familiar territory and keen to put on a good show you begin to see why I believe this is a day for The Gunners to secure a comfortable passage into the 5th Round of the cup once again.

As highly as I rate our chances to slip through this game with relative ease a word of caution as always, whilst The Saints only narrowly squeaked past Championship side Norwich in the last round they do possess the players to really hurt us. Shane Long’s pace, James Ward-Prowse's dead ball delivery and the speed and trickery of winger Dusan Tadic are not to be overlooked and Arsenal’s defensive players will need to be on their game in order to keep the backdoor firmly shut!

A Saturday teatime game is never usually ideal, but hey, we get to watch the mighty Arsenal on the TV again so we can’t complain and if all goes to the way I see it we will have plenty to smile about come MOTD time later this evening.

COYG!

arsenal 2 southampton 1 koscielny celebrate winning goal

Last 3 Meetings

  • Arsenal 0-2 Southampton (30.11.2016)
  • Arsenal 2-1 Southampton (10.09.2016)
  • Arsenal 0-0 Southampton (02.02.2016)

FACTFILE

  • Southampton have kept clean sheets in four of their last five games against Arsenal in all competitions
  • This is the first FA Cup meeting between Arsenal and Southampton since the 2003 final, which the Gunners won 1-0 courtesy of a Robert Pires goal
  • Southampton have never beaten Arsenal in an FA Cup tie (semi-final in 1926/27, sixth round in 1978/79 and the final in 2002/03)
  • Arsenal have progressed from 16 of their 20 FA Cup fourth round ties under Arsene Wenger, losing only to Leeds (1996/97), Leicester (1999/2000), Bolton (2005/06) and Stoke (2009/10)
  • Southampton could become the first team to knock Arsenal out of both domestic cups in the same season since Manchester United in 1982/83
  • The Gunners have won their last five away FA Cup matches in a row - they have never won six consecutively in the competition's history
  • After losing back-to-back games against Everton and Man City, the Gunners have since gone six games unbeaten in all competitions (W5 D1)

INJURIES

Cazorla (Longterm), Mertesacker and Debuchy (Lack of Match Fitness) miss out.

Potential STARTING XI

Ospina, Bellerin, Gabriel, Mustafi, Gibbs, Ramsey, Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Lucas, Welbeck,

GOONERSPHERE'S PREDICTION

Southampton 1-4 Arsenal

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