Sloppy side leaves FA Cup with whimper

Arsenal only started playing with intensity in the last twenty minutes of this match –  not in keeping with their FA Cup pedigree.

Enough to annoy Arsenal fans.

There were seven changes – Aubameyang out with ‘family issue’, Smith Rowe out of the squad, Gabriel back. Cedric was at left back, Bellerin back at right in a 4-2-3-1 with Elneny and Xhaka at the base, and Martinelli, Willian and Pepe, supporting Nketiah up front.

Not a team to inspire total confidence. And like the Newcastle tie, not without its dangers, with key players on form left out. There again they have to play the Saints again on Tuesday and it was clear from the selections that Arteta thought the Premier League match took priority. Not sure why?

It left severe question marks on the quality of Arsenal’s squad. And a Catch-22. Some of these players have to play themselves into form – but there are no competitions left for them to do so.

A litany of mistakes, sloppy play and lack of connections bore the pre-match selection predictions out. Southampton pressed high with intensity and Arsenal couldn’t cope.

Southampton had a lot of injuries coming into the game – but picked the strongest side possible.

They were on top in the first five with a dangerous free kick and two corners – one of which hit the post.

Cedric sent a ball for Pepe to chase with, alleged Arsenal target Bertrand which went for a corner. Pepe failed to beat the first man.

WIllian ran onto a ball and crossed and Cedric had a chance from the rebound and shot well over.

Adams burst forward and aimed for the right corner – Leno saved.

Walker Peters clattered Martinelli and should have been carded. Soon after, ran through on goal but failed to connect.

Southampton were producing some slick link up play in midfield.

Elneny was blocked by the press and lost it to Ward Prowse who passed to Walker Peters who cut in from the left shot through Cedric’s legs and Gabriel who was off the pace, deflected it into his own goal. The first goal Arsenal conceded in over 500 minutes.

The home team’s high press was working and leading to chances. All Southampton – and Some really sloppy play from Arsenal – with loose passes from Willian and Elneny.

Willian set Pepe away but his shot was blocked and failed to reach Cedric on the left.

And then idiotically gave a dangerous free kick away on Bertrand, but Ward Prowse sent it wide.

At the start of the second Holding gave the ball away leading to a Southampton attack.

Gabriel hopelessly let Ings get in behind but it was offside.

Partey came on for Elneny on 56, along with Saka for Martinelli.

Pepe and Nketiah linked up for a Nketiah chance which was blocked for a corner. Holding had a golden chance in front of goal but the ball wouldn’t come down fast enough and he fired over the bar.

Pepe passed inside to Partey who fired over. And Ings passed to Walcott in the Arsenal area and it also went over. Plus ca change.

Pepe sent Nketiah away but Forster cleared with his left foot.

Walker Peters got away with a handball VAR check.

Lacazette came on for Bellerin on 71.

Pepe won a free kick on the edge of the area and …fired over..

Nketiah had a half chance in injury time but shot wide. In keeping with Arsenal’s poor quality overall.

After the match, Ward Prowse said his team performed the high press with intensity.

Ralph Hasenhuttl said: “In the first half we had more punch and power. In the second half the opponent gets a lift with substitutions. The team was very organised and worked hard for the Cup win. Intensity was our philosophy. It was a good team performance.

On the next game: “Arsenal can bring in some changes. We have two days off to recover.”

Mikel Arteta said: “I’m really sad to be out of competition. Disappointed to be out and conceding the game. In the first half we had some issues controlling aspects with unenforced errors with their high press. In the second half we carved out another two or three chances but it was not enough.

“The way we conceded the first goal – is our own fault. It is a lesson.

“It was a very even game in first half (???). They are good in transition. In the second half we added more quality and created chances – but not enough.

“Southampton are aggressive and you have to try your best.

In terms of the transfer market, he said: “We are looking in the market. We are short in one or two positions ,and we’ll see what we can do.”

Southampton: 44Forster, 2Walker-Peters, 35Bednarek, 5Stephens (Booked at 56), 3Bertrand (Booked at 83), 17Armstrong, 8Ward-Prowse, 27Diallo, 32Walcott, 9Ings (Substituted for Long at 85), 10AdamsSubstituted for N’Lundulu at 78)

Arsenal: 1Leno, 2Bellerín (Substituted for Lacazette at 72), 16Holding, 6Gabriel, 17Cédric Soares, 25Elneny (Substituted for Partey at 58), 34Xhaka, 19Pépé, 12Willian, 35Martinelli (Substituted for Saka at 58), 30Nketiah