Southampton hosted Arsenal on Saturday in the FA Cup Fourth Round with the hosts looking to knock the Gunners out of yet another cup. Expectations were high for the match to be a competitive affair, but Arsenal ran riot with Danny Welbeck and Southampton’s youth product Theo Walcott securing the win. Here are the four things we learned:
1. Welcome Back Welbeck
Danny Welbeck recently came back from a long-term knee injury to the warm embrace of Gooners everywhere. Making a couple of very convincing substitute appearances, hopes were high on Saturday night with Welbeck’s name appearing on the team sheet.
Twenty minutes into the game, Danny picked up a brace, and in the 35th, he teed up Walcott for the Englishman’s first of the night. The quality of the striker was evident in both of his finishes, and the vision for his assist simply added to a near-perfect performance. A pacey forward with both a keen eye and a boot is exactly what the Gunners need right now, Welbeck’s return will be a welcome boost for the Gunners.
2. Southampton’s Youth Succeeds
With two former Southampton players taking the field in Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott, Southampton were given a reminder of their outstanding youth academy.
Walcott capped off a fine performance with three very well taken goals and surely restored his position in the starting XI. Alex had a far more mixed performance with the odd lapse of concentration coming together with a rather promising box-to-box position. Though he is yet to cement a starting place, both him and Theo have developed into strong and experienced footballers. Wenger will be hoping the pair only continue to improve.
3. Wenger’s Team Talks Are Improving
Given the Gunner’s previous setbacks against the home side and the manager’s touchline ban, Arsène found a way to inspire his side towards a very convincing performance against yet another bogey side.
Arsenal came out looking refreshed and determined to get on the front foot from the beginning of the game – a welcome change to the cliché that is usual from Arsenal’s games. After a handful of goals and a partially solid defensive showing, both fans and players will be more confident. Hopefully the Gunners will continue this fine run of form and mount a serious run towards Chelsea.
4. Arsenal set for a good Cup run?
Although Arsenal are in second place in the Premier League and the recent double FA Cup champions, expectations have somewhat plummeted in their runs for silverware. The Gunners sit eight points behind London rivals Chelsea and have drawn Bayern Munich yet again in the Champions League.
However, the dominance they displayed against a team known to beat them in their last few meetings, is a statement in itself. The Gunners are slowly redefining themselves as a team eager and willing, and able to compete.
The season is still not done, and the Gunners are competing on three fronts convincingly. With an incredibly tough run of fixtures coming up, Arsenal need all the confidence and morale they can get and the victory against Southampton was just what the North London side needed.
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