|Southampton 1 v 0 Arsenal|
Saturday, 23rd January 2021 Kick-off 12:00
Southampton V Arsenal The FA Cup Verdict
Saturday, 23rd Jan 2021 14:50
This was a true Spirit Of Southampton win where we had literally had our only 11 fit first team regulars in the starting line up, but we came out of the blocks well, dominated the first half and then dug in as our legs tired and ground out the result.
The starting line up for Saints was still strong even without the injured Redmond, Djenepo, Vestergaard & Romeu, all of whom have played their part this season, especially the latter two.
The bench didn't make such happy reading, Shane Long aside the most experienced player was Yan Valery with around 30 games for the club, the other 7 subs had around 15 games between them and most of those appearances were substitute appearances.
But Saints started well and got into their stride, they were creating the chances and pushing Arsenal back and when the goal came after 24 minutes it was no surprise, it was a great build up a fine overlap by Kyle Walker Peters and a shot that put the ball into the danger area, it was credited to Gabriel, but truthfully it should be given to KWP.
At the break we were comfortable and at the start of the 2nd half we were the ones most likely to score, but as the game approached the hour mark, Arsenal brought on fresh legs and we really had no options that early in the half to do the same.
We needed everyone to run themselves into the ground and they did, but it did mean we were pushed back, but we battled like Trojans and Fraser Forster had little to do in our goal, but what he did do he did well and it has to be said, 3 appearances and 3 clean sheets, two of them against Liverpool & Arsenal is testament to how hard he has worked to get his confidence back.
The last 30 minutes were not pretty to watch, Danny Ings was pushed back into the midfield, not tactically but by necessity, how we would have loved to have brought on Oriol Romeu, Nathan Redmond or Moussa Djenepo for fresh legs, but we had literally no one tried and trusted.
With 12 minutes to go off went Adams and on came N 'Lundulu to chase and harass and then with 5 mins to go on came Long for Ings.
The truth is we weathered the storm and in the last 5 minutes Shane Long was the perfect fit. he won the ball drew free kicks and took the sting out of the game, so much so that the Gunners failed to get up a head of steam in the final minutes to try and snatch extra time.
James Ward Prowse was the man of the match on TV and you won't find many arguments, but if he was a 9/10 all of his team mates were not far behind him, we showed what we can do as a side in the first hour and in the final 30 minutes we showed our never say die spirit.
Strangely (Not) the TV commentary was all about Arsenal in the last half an hour, how they were getting on top, not one BT pundit whether commentating or in the studio, mentioned how thin our team were and gave us credit for how our starting XI had to run themselves silly to get into the last 15 minutes where we could risk a sub or two.
A very satisfying win, hopefully we might have a player or two back for the Premier League game in a few days time when we do it all again.
Photo: Action Images
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Letters from Wiltshire #37 by wessex_exile
On Tuesday night, long-suffering U’s fans, and after such a long wait, finally saw something truly remarkable. Yes, on that fog-bound night we witnessed not one but two miracles – Trevor Kettle making two catastrophically poor game-changing decisions, listening to arguments against those decisions, admitting he had been wrong, and reversing them. Oh my days, as I live and breathe, if I’m ever blessed with grandchildren in years to come, will they believe doddery old me when I tell them what happened that night? Oh, and the U’s finally threw the monkey off their back and won a game…
Letters from Wiltshire #36 by wessex_exile
So, Wayne Brown isn’t yet the Messiah it would seem, but nor necessarily is he a very naughty boy either. In a tricky fixture at Forest Green Rovers on Saturday evening, what I saw started as encouraging – the U’s out of the blocks fast, showing pace, urgency, passion even – but sadly lacking in actual quality on the ball. By comparison, FGR had plenty of that, and very quickly gained total dominance across all areas of the pitch, and sliced through us for two goals in quick succession with alarming ease. It probably would have been more of the same in the second half, but for the red card. It looked fair enough at the time, but following an appeal it has now been rescinded. However, even with just ten men and happily sacrificing possession, we still had nothing to open them up, and still conceded a third from the simplest of free kicks. Worrying signs for Wayne, and lots of work to do, so let’s see how things may have improved tonight…
Letters from Wiltshire #35 by wessex_exile
As many were predicting, time finally ran out for Steve Ball mid-week, after the U’s lost 2-1 at home to Exeter City. Although a considerable improvement in score-line compared to the 6-1 thrashing they handed out at St James Park earlier in the season, apart from the first 10-15 minutes and very brief glimpses throughout the remainder of the game, it was a poor performance, leaving Robbie Cowling with no choice. After a brief interlude, Robbie named Wayne Brown as our new Interim Head Coach (that’s caretaker as far as I’m concerned), and after an even briefer interlude, Robbie and Wayne in a joint statement put to rest any lingering concerns about Wayne’s attitude to race. If Wayne can show the same sort of leadership on the training ground and in the dressing room as he used to show for the U’s on the pitch, I am certain he’s going to do very well in the job.
Letters from Wiltshire #34 by wessex_exile
I won’t dwell on Robbie’s latest message to the supporters – we’ve all read it, and we’ve all probably drawn our own conclusions about what it doesn’t say as much as what it does. To me, bottom line, I suspect the clock is now ticking for Steve Ball (at least), turn around this terrible form pretty damn quick, or start clearing out your locker. Regardless of personal opinions on any of the individuals concerned, I would like to think none of us actually wants to see people made redundant in the current climate. But, these are difficult times that require tough decisions. If Steve Ball is up to the job and can turn this around, I’ll be more than happy to support him. If he’s not, he has to go before irreparable harm is done…and we all know what that will look like, we’ve been there before…
Letters from Wiltshire #33 by wessex_exile
Today we face a trip to Crawley, not usually a venue that bears fruit for the U’s it has to be said. In nine visits we’ve only won once in the league, and once in the League Cup. Of course, we’ll all remember that League Cup victory, indeed many of us were probably there to see us progress through to 5th round and the dream fixture against Manchester United at Old Trafford. All of our goal-scorers that night, Luke’s Norris and Gambin, and Cohen Bramall (okay, technically an O.G.), are no longer with us, so let’s hope at the very least that recent departee and subsequent returnee Frank Nouble can bag another like his late equaliser against Mansfield. Steve Ball commented during the week about how tight the league is at the moment, and he’s right that a couple of back to back victories would see us move significantly up the table away from danger – but we’ve got to win them first Steve – something we’ve failed to do since our 1-0 victory at Scunthorpe on December 8th.
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