By Walter Broeckx
A lot of changes indicating that Arsenal finds the PL more important than the FA cup at this moment in time. I’m not going over all the changes but only Mustafi held his place in the starting line up compared to the Burnley match.
The most important fact maybe was the first start for Welbeck since May last year. Also the first time we see Per Mertesacker involved since his injury in the first friendly in Lens.
Starting team for Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Gibbs, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Maitland-Niles, Walcott, Reine-Adelaide, Lucas, Welbeck
On the beach : Martinez, Jenkinson, Gabriel, Mertesacker, Monreal, Iwobi, Alexis.
Bellerin to Walcott on the flank whose low cross finds Adelaide but his shot was blocked for a corner. Adelaide after a second corner to Lucas but his cross can’t find Walcott at the far post. A bit later The Ox with a shot from distance but also very wide. Maitland Niles with a good ball to Bellerin but the latter couldn’t find Lucas and the keeper first on the ball. Arsenal keep going forward and a ball is played to Lucas who clever plays it in the path of Welbeck who is one on one with the keeper and lobs it in from the crossbar. GOAL!!!! 0-1 to the Arsenal after 15 minutes.
Arsenal continue to play the attacking football from the opening 15 minutes but a defender just in front of Walcott to save for a corner when he would have been clear on goal. The Ox with a long ball to Welbeck a wonderful control, wins enough space to push it next to the keeper and slots home. GOAL!!!! 0-2 to the Arsenal after 22 minutes.
Ooospina then attracted out of the penalty area but Holding can head the cross and the follow up is shot well over the goal. The first goal bound effort from Southampton. Long then with a shot but Ospina can save for a corner. The save was needed. The resulting corner leads to a goal kick. The Ox meanwhile is the main man in midfield regulating play and the tempo and switching wings. A free kick from The Ox finds Mustafi but he heads wide. That should have been his second Arsenal goal. Maitland-Niles and Adelaide also very much and positively involved so far. Arsenal still 0-2 in front after 30 minutes.
Friend then gives a soft foul against Gibbs and Southampton can take a free kick from a dangerous position but it goes in the side net. The Ox again with a good ball but Walcott can’t control the ball enough on the turn and loses his balance. But Arsenal just the better team. Southampton lose the ball in their own half. Welbeck to Lucas who again produces a fine pass back to Welbeck who crosses low in front of the Southampton goal and Walcott and a defender push the ball against the net. GOAL!!!!! 0-3 to The Arsenal after 36 minutes.
Southampton get a corner but the shot goes wide. Mustafi with a clever low header back when Maitland Niles loses the ball so the danger is cleared. Ospina with a fine catch on a cross but he held his head and stayed on the floor. A slight collision with Long in the air maybe but not clear visible in the images. Arsenal now leaning back a bit and a big scare when a foul on Gibbs is not called but Southampton waste the chance. Arsenal go in at half time with a well deserved lead of 0-3. The forward line Welbeck-Lucas-Walcott guided by The Ox really on fire in this first half.
Arsenal very much in control in the opening minutes and Welbeck sees a shot cleared for a corner. The effort from Maitland Niles goes well over. At the other end he clears a ball that bounced around in the Arsenal penalty area. At the other end The Ox just can’t find Walcott. Welbeck with a nice run to Lucas who gives it to Bellerin but the keeper can save his shot. Walcott again send away by The Ox but he stumbles a bit when going round the last man and the chance is gone. Arsenal keeps in control of the match most of the time. And Maitland Niles keeps on popping up when Southampton might become dangerous. Another good block. Adelaide stays on the ground when falling badly on his back for a while but seems to recover. Lucas keeps on pressing high up the pitch against the Southampton defenders, really amazing work rate. Arsenal still 0-3 in front after 60 minutes.
Lucas feeds Welbeck but he takes one touch too many to shoot. After 63 minutes Alexis comes on in the place of Welbeck who had a great first start scoring two goals and assisting the 3rd. Welbeck getting a well done from captain Per. Southampton with a shot from distance but not even close to the target. Mustafi then relying on Ospina on a back pass but Ospina cool as a cucumber controls the ball. Arsenal attack at the other end. The ox (who else) with a fine ball to Alexis who is on the goal line, a cut back to Theo and he coolly finished the attack. GOAL!!!!! 0-4 to The Arsenal after 68 minutes.
Alexis with an attempted backheel to Gibbs but he misses his touch and Southampton can clear. At the other end another Southampton shot finds row Z. Adelaide goes off after 71 minutes and Iwobi comes on. A good and fine display from the youngster! Maitland Niles again with some good solid defensive work. Arsenal clear a corner with some luck but the counter from Alexis is cut out after a foul. Ospina dribbles a Southampton striker in the penalty area. He sure looks confident with the ball at his feet. Arsenal still 0-4 in front after 75 minutes.
Arsenal losing their concentration a bit in the last minutes. But Southampton can’ take advantage of it. Time to wake up a bit but Alexis can’t control another fine pass from The Ox. He looks very angry. Picture will be used tomorrow to say he is off.
By the way a nice fact for the started a match without English players. Arsenal today started with Holding, Gibbs, The Ox, Maitland-NIles, Welbeck and Walcott. Maitland NIles keeps on popping up at the right place in the defence. Amazing performance. Lucas looked dead after chasing the ball for 80 minutes.
Lucas with a great deep ball to Alexis who waited till he got some support in the person of Theo and he once again finished it off in style. GOAL!!! 0-5 to The Arsenal after 84 minutes. A hattrick for Theo! And another assist for Alexis. Oh and 5 valid goals. Not one where the ref had anything to do with it. With 3 minutes to go Wenger left his seat in the stands. Lucas was send away but the keeper could stop the ball. What a pity he deserved a goal for his hard work, effort and contribution. And it was another great ball from The Ox to release him.
A great performance from the whole team. A clean sheet and some great football for most of the time. The youngsters looked great and out attack was amazing. Arsenal march on in the FA cup.