FA Cup holders Arsenal were knocked out in the fourth round by Southampton on Saturday after a first-half own goal from Gabriel.
The Brazil centre back deflected Kyle Walker-Peters’s low drive past Bernd Leno midway through the first half at St Mary’s – the first goal the visitors had conceded in over eight and a half hours stretching back to Boxing Day – as Southampton got the better of Arsenal for the first time in the competition.
As a result, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side will now take on Wolves at Molineux in February’s fifth round after they edged past non-league Chorley Town 1-0 on Friday night.
Southampton: Forster (7), Walker-Peters (8), Bednarek (6), Stephens (6), Bertrand (7), Armstrong (7), Diallo (7), Ward-Prowse (9), Walcott (7), Ings (8), Adams (7)
Subs: Long (6), N’Lundulu (6)
Arsenal: Leno (7), Bellerin (6), Holding (7), Gabriel (5), Cedric (7), Elneny (6), Xhaka (6), Pepe (6), Willian (5), Martinelli (5), Nketiah (8)
Subs: Saka (7), Lacazette (6), Partey (6)
Man of the match: James Ward-Prowse
How Saints finally beat Arsenal in the Cup
Both managers made a raft of changes with the two teams meeting again at St Mary’s in the Premier League on Tuesday evening, although the hosts still sent out a strong line-up as key striker Danny Ings returned.
Saints dominated proceedings before the break, almost opening the scoring in fortuitous circumstances when captain James Ward-Prowse’s corner from the right floated over Leno’s head, only to crash against the bar.
The Arsenal No 1 was called into action again after Che Adams left Gabriel for dead, but the German goalkeeper did well to keep out the striker’s goalbound effort before Southampton took a deserved 24th-minute lead.
Danny Ings returned to the Southampton side for their FA Cup fourth-round tie at home to Arsenal.
The England striker has recovered from a hamstring injury and a positive Covid test to be recalled along with former Gunners forward Theo Walcott. Che Adams also came into the side which showed six changes from their rescheduled third-round win over Shrewsbury in midweek. Fraser Forster, Jack Stephens, Jan Bednarek, James Ward-Prowse and Ibrahima Diallo all retained their places.
Meanwhile, Arsenal made seven alterations from their 3-0 Premier League win over Newcastle on Monday night. New signing Mat Ryan was named on the bench as Bernd Leno continued in goal, while Hector Bellerin and Gabriel Magalhaes came into the back four. There were also starts for Mohamed Elneny, Nicolas Pepe, Willian, Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah.
The hosts worked the ball across the box between Ings and Ward-Prowse before the skipper fed the overlapping Walker-Peters down the right. The full back’s low centre was then touched past his own ‘keeper by the unfortunate Gabriel, trying to clear his lines.
The visitors were flat in the first period, only threatening once when Eddie Nketiah’s clever free-kick caught the Southampton defence napping, but Gabriel Martinelli fluffed his lines when faced with just Fraser Forster to beat.
As the sun came out on the south coast after the break, Arsenal’s attacking intentions grew as the visitors stirred into life, especially after Mikel Arteta introduced Bukayo Saka and Thomas Partey just before the hour-mark.
But a combination of Forster, who did well to deny Nketiah, and Ward-Prowse, who was alert enough to clear the former’s shot off the line with ten minutes to go, saw Saints hold on for a trip to Molineux.
Arteta suffers rare Cup loss – Opta stats
- This was Mikel Arteta’s first defeat in the FA Cup as a player or manager in 15 games (W13 D1), since featuring in Arsenal’s 1-0 loss to Blackburn back in February 2013.
- Southampton have beaten Arsenal in the FA Cup for the very first time, with the Saints drawing one and losing four of their previous five matches against the Gunners in the competition.
- Southampton have eliminated the holders from the FA Cup for the first time since beating Tottenham in a replay back in February 1902. Indeed, the Saints had lost each of their previous seven FA Cup fixtures against the competition’s holders prior to today.
- This is the third time in the last four seasons that Arsenal have failed to make it to the fifth round of the FA Cup (2017-18, 2018-19 & 2020-21).
- Gabriel’s own goal was the first goal Arsenal have conceded since Tammy Abraham’s strike for Chelsea on Boxing Day, ending the Gunners’ run of 508 minutes without conceding in all competitions.
4 – Arsenal have conceded four own goals in all competitions this season – more than any other Premier League side and the most they have conceded in a single campaign since 2015-16 (5). Worry. #SOUARS pic.twitter.com/fnt7ASThFq
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 23, 2021
Man of the Match – James Ward-Prowse
The Saints skipper once again ran the show on the south coast, as has so often been the case of late due to his eye-catching form.
The playmaker very nearly broke the deadlock after just five minutes with one of his trademark set plays – albeit not from a customary free-kick, but a corner – only for his whipped delivery to smash against the crossbar.
The England international, 26, was then inevitably involved in his team’s winner midway through the first period, releasing Walker-Peters down the right, before the full-back’s cross was turned into his own net by Gabriel.
What the managers said…
Ralph Hasenhuttl: “We had in the first half I think more punch, more power. In the second half, it’s always normal that the opponent gets a lift, they make a few good subs with quality and then it’s still hard to defend.
“We must make the second goal. I think there was only one or two chances. I think the penalty for Longy (Shane Long) was a clear penalty for me and then you can kill the game but, as long as it’s 1-0, you never know.
“But the team was very disciplined today against such a strong side. It’s always important that you are against the ball very organised and I think I’ve seen today 11 players on the pitch that really worked hard for this cup win.”
Mikel Arteta: “Really sad to be out of the competition. Congratulations to Southampton, but I’m disappointed with the way we lost the game.
“We had issues in the first half. We have to compete in these games, we have to do that better, but it’s a lesson. They all tried so hard, it was intense game and Saints demand the best out of you because they are aggressive. They all tried their best.
“We are looking in the market to see what else we can do, we moved some players, we are a little bit short in one or two positions, let’s see what we can do.”
Pundit View: ‘I don’t know what Arteta’s doing’
Paul Merson on Soccer Saturday:
“I don’t know what he’s doing,” said the former Arsenal forward.
“They’re not going to win the league. They’re not going to get into the top four, I wouldn’t have thought, unless they go on one of the best runs in the history of the Premier League.
“For me, this is the [competition] that made Arteta last time around. He came to Arsenal and had a great semi-final and a great final.
“Honestly, I can’t believe it. This was a more important game than the midweek league game, in my opinion. They’re not getting relegated and they’re not getting in the top four.
“You don’t really want to end up getting sixth or whatever again because then you’re playing in the Europa on Thursdays and that just sets you back.
“So, for me, bad decision.”
The two sides meet again at St Mary’s in the Premier League on Tuesday evening, with the game kicking off at 8.15pm.
FA Cup 2020/21 – key dates and draw
The FA Cup schedule has been confirmed, with the final set to take place at Wembley on Saturday May 15.
There will be no replays this season to help ease fixture congestion.
The draw for fifth round took place at the same time as that for the fourth round.
- Fourth round: January 22-25
- Fifth round: Wednesday February 10
- Quarter-finals: Saturday March 20
- Semi-finals: Saturday April 17
- Final: Saturday May 15