Why Southampton Want To Win Against Arsenal In The FA Cup
Thursday, 21st Jan 2021 11:08
On Tuesday against Shrewsbury Ralph Hasenhuttl rested most of his first team regulars to give youth a chance and also to ensure that his squad didn't pick up any more injuries, but when his side runs out against the Gunners at St Mary's on Saturday, the side will look a lot different and for good reason.
Those that complained on social media about the manner of the win against Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday, failed to take into account that the team was essentially a reserve side, of the 11 that started, only two Jan Bednarek & James Ward Prowse were considered starters a month ago, yes another two in Jack Stephens & Ibrahima Diallo are currently in the starting line up, but that is only because two key players Jannik Vestergaard and Oriol Romeu are out injured.
Add Fraser Forster and Shane Long and you had experience, but both have barely featured, although on paper it had an experienced side, the truth is that it was a reserve side as we used to call it, in all but name.
Had it been a different situation with injuries, then Ralph Hasenhuttl would have made some changes to give game time to squad members, but he would not have had a team with five players, Jan Valery aside with barely a game between them.
But the manager was taking the game seriously he was just having to adapt to the situation and ensure that he didn't pick up any more injuries, especially in positions where he has little or no cover.
Ralph has always said he takes the cup competitions seriously as he showed last season and indeed this when he put out a full first team against Brentford in the League Cup.
How much he wanted to win the game against Shrewsbury was emphasised in the final 10 minutes when he made his first substitutions, he brought on the experienced Stuart Armstrong and Che Adams, with only a slender lead he was taking no chances and was determined to ensure there were no upsets.
So against Arsenal I think we will see a lot stronger side out, there will still be room for some changes and necessity will play a part in that, but I would expect that the likes of Che Adams and Stuart Armstrong will play as well as a return for Kyle Walker Peters at the back and hopefully Theo Walcott
Danny Ings could well also be fit again, but I would prefer him to starting on the bench, to ensure we don't push him too much after his recent injury and time out with Covid 19.
Saints will want to win this as Ralph Hasenhuttl will feel this is his best opportunity this season for a Europa League spot, firstly because the injury crisis has seen us lose ground in recent weeks in the Premier League and secondly because several Big Six clubs will be absent in the draw for the next round.
Six Premier League clubs went out in the 3rd round and in the 4th round if we beat Arsenal that is them out and they will be joined by either Manchester United or Liverpool who play each other.
With a third all Premier League clash between Fulham & Burnley, virtually half the division will be knocked out.
Not accounting for any shocks, 3 more sides are guaranteed to join them after being eliminated in the 4th round
If Saints get through they travel to Wolves assuming they beat Chorley, in the 5th round and with several other potential all top flight ties in the offing, Utd/Liverpool V West Ham, Everton V Tottenham Hotspur & Leicester V Brighton the competition will be opened out.
That means that after the 5th round 13 of the 20 Premier League clubs will be out of the competition, meaning that in the 6th round only 7 Premier League clubs can remain and that is the maximum, a shock or two in either round could reduce that further.
So the 6th round draw will see over half the numbers made up by clubs in the Championship or below.
This is a great opportunity for Saints if they can despatch Arsenal and then win in the 5th round, there is a path emerging, we have to do our part and win two games and then fingers crossed in the draw for the 6th round.
Not accounting for any shocks, 3 more sides are guaranteed to join them after being eliminated in the 4th round.
Photo: Action Images
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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.
Letters from Wiltshire #32 by wessex_exile
Fifty years ago yesterday, Colchester United of the 4th Division pulled off the greatest cup giant-killing ever, beating 1st Division Leeds United 3-2 at Layer Road. Watched by 16,000, and the Match of the Day cameras, Dick Graham’s U’s, a rag-tag band of mostly aging journeymen, defied the odds to defeat arguably the greatest club side in Europe at the time. “The greatest cup giant-killing ever” is a bold claim, and over the years various football magazines and websites have run their own polls of which was the greatest. Whilst that day at Layer Rd always features, as the years have gone by other feats fresher in the memory have been put forward as a candidate – we probably all remember Ronnie Radford’s screamer against Newcastle, Sutton’s exploits, or even Bradford City quite recently at Stamford Bridge – but these pale into insignificance when you pause to reflect on the Don Revie side that we beat that day. Sprake, Cooper, Charlton, Hunter, Lorimer, Giles etc – all full internationals, all household names – the only one missing was Billy Bremner, and that was because he was injured. By comparison, all we had to offer was Ray Crawford – at his peak arguably on a par with some in the Leeds side, but that peak had been ten years earlier playing for Ipswich and England. Eleven heroes didn’t just try and hold out against Leeds United, they took the game to their illustrious opponents with such tenacity, grit and no small amount of flair, and before we knew it, the U’s were 3-0 in the lead. As legs tired, Leeds got back into the game with goals from Hunter and Giles, but we held firm – typified at the death by Graham Smith pulling off an impossible save to ensure the U’s achieved the greatest cup giant-killing ever!
Letters from Wiltshire #31 by wessex_exile
And so the dust settles on another transfer window closing, and despite (my) expectations that the possibility of incoming business was going to be remote, we have instead seen a veritable flurry of activity, with no less than three coming in. Big Frank Nouble, making a very welcome return on loan from Plymouth Argyle, of course needs no introduction. Neither really does feisty Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu, here on loan last season, and this time signed full-time from Charlton Athletic for an undisclosed fee. Actually paying hard cash for someone did come as a surprise, presumably offset by the sale of Cohen Bramall to Lincoln for a similarly undisclosed fee. However, the fact that the Addicks have insisted on not only a sell-on clause, but a rarely used buy-back clause too, suggests (a) Wiredu’s signing fee probably wasn’t too high, and (b) Charlton are protecting those finances with these clauses. The last one, which would have been a complete surprise for me were it not for a contact leaking me the news earlier yesterday, is left-back Josh Doherty on loan from Crawley. Josh was only announced once outgoing left-back Bramall was confirmed, and presumably his loan is directly related to part-time fashion model, TV and radio celeb and former left-back Mark Wright signing for Crawley on a non-contract game-by-game basis in December. We have also released seven from the academy, Ollie Kensdale, Miquel Scarlett, Sammie McLeod, Michael Fernandes, Ollie Sims, Danny Collinge and Matt Weaire, and I’m sure we all wish them the best for the future.
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