|Southampton 1 v 0 Arsenal|
Saturday, 23rd January 2021 Kick-off 12:00
Southampton V Arsenal The FA Cup Preview
Saturday, 23rd Jan 2021 07:45
Southampton take on Arsenal in the 4th round of the FA Cup for the right to take on Wolverhampton Wanderers, Ralph Hasenhuttl is taking it seriously so it is likely to be a changed side from the one that beat Shrewsbury a few days ago,
Arsenal might well have rallied since our draw at the Emirates a couple of months ago, but Saints can go into the game with no fear despite a number of injury worries.
It was a virtual reserve side against the Shrews, but that will change as Hasenhuttl will ring the changes.
In goal it will be interesting to see whether it is Fraser Forster or Alex McCarthy who starts, the latter is very much the number one keeper, but Ralph may want to conserve McCarthy for a couple of tough games coming up in the Premier League.
At right back Kyle Walker Peters will surely come back into the side and in the centre Jack Stephens and Jan Bednarek will play as there is literally no other option, but at left back the manager has a dilemma, Ryan Bertrand can play but will be suspended for the Gunners visit in midweek, so will he feel it better to leave Jake Vokins in the side to give him a little more experience in the Premier League.
In midfield with Oriol Romeu still not 100% Ibrahima Diallo will stay in the side, in truth he has been another gem discovered and has been one of our better players in the last few games, James Ward Prowse will play unless injured.
But out wide it will be different with Theo Walcott and Stuart Armstrong likely to play out wide.
Up front Che Adams will play and it looks like he will be partnered by Danny Ings, if that is the case, it will be a strong Saints side and one that Ryan Bertrand aside was good enough to beat Liverpool.
The issue though will be who is on the bench, Shane Long and Dan N Lundulu look likely to be there, as will Ryan Bertrand assuming Vokins gets the nod, Jan Valery as well but then it starts to get a bit desperate, it will be a question of who is fit enough, perhaps Nathan Tella and Oriol Romeu might be just about ready, but after that we are into the academy ranks.
Our starting XI can beat Arsenal, but the big question is can we cope if we have an injury during the game or indeed as legs tire as the game goes on.
This is a crucial week in our season coming up, if we can get through this round by beating Arsenal and get a result in the Premier League game on Tuesday, then we will start to get the likes of Nathan Redmond and Jannik Vestergaard back into the side.
We just need the youngsters to step up to the plate as they have done so far, the season can get very exciting here or become one of if only, but whatever the result , Ralph Hasenhuttl has turned this club around, brought back the pride and turned us into contenders again, perhaps this won't be our season, but then again it just might.
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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