Last Saturday’s game v Southampton was the total anticlimax. I was really looking forward to a proper Saints v Gunners battle and hoping that we would finally crack them. They have become a bit of a bogey team to us, especially in away fixtures. I don’t rate Alan Shearer as a commentator at all but have some sympathy for him regarding his statement that managers are not taking the FA Cup seriously anymore. Virtually every PL team made a high number of changes, which is a strong indication that the FA Cup does not really matter to them.
The Football Association did not help matters by scheduling PL games for tomorrow and Wednesday. Survival in the PL is crucial for a lot of clubs and winning the FA Cup appears to have become far less important nowadays. I reckon this is a real shame, and it will be hard to change things round for the FA.
We won 5-0 and there were some good individual performances by our Gunners, but it is impossible to take anything from it. The Saints were never in this game and wanted it to be over as soon as Welbeck scored his and Arsenal’s second. It was was so obvious that they would put nothing in our way that I lost interest pretty soon after we scored our third. At the end of the game I felt more melancholic than euphoric, hence no full match review.
Perez produced a very fine assist and two Ozil-worthy pre-assists; the Ox showed what he can do when given space and time and being played in a central position; Theo showed us all the value of taking a chance with the first touch (and that he has still got it); Welbeck showed us all what Plan C in attack would look like, and especially the first goal was a beautiful, Henryesque finish, and; Alexis got to come on late to claim two very well timed and placed assists, so he is also a happy bunny.
The defence can boast a clean sheet and Holding will be pleased with an assured, although hardly challenged, performance. Mustafi kept his Arsenal unbeaten record and led by example, and the full backs and keeper put in a decent shift (but nothing to write home about).
The only real beneficiaries of this encounter were M-N and Jeff: they actually played at their current level v the Saints and shone throughout the game.
But who knows how they all would have done IF the Saints had actually turned up to give us a game. They did not and it became a very easy-on-the-eye training session for our boys. Luckily, we will get to see the real stuff again against the Hornets tomorrow. They also made numerous changes and got kicked out of the FA Cup, so will be ready to sting us right in the Arsenal.
23 thoughts on “Saints 0 – 5 Gunners: A Lovely Training Session”
The FA cup is still very serious business for most clubs; as stated, it had more to do with scheduling of the premiership fixtures, so close to the weekend’s games that meant managers had to prioritize for the competition that offers the most money. It is a no brainer.
Regarding the game against Watford, there was an era where you knew we would score 4, but those days may be gone. We would be made to work hard for each goal (I still feel we can score a few against them). The hornets also come with a few new signings. I have watched M’baiye Niang and know enough about him to warn that he needs to be given special attention, being a new man. He is a strong lad with quick feet and a deceptively languorous gait. Having been touted to join us a few times in the past, he will want to prove something, if brought on.
With our returning players, we should have a bit too much for them, though.
Is it all about money then, Eris?
Nice one TA, even if didn’t meet JK’s timing needs… I’ll be writing a preview for the Watford match this afternoon…
Southampton travel to Swansea for a match tomorrow night, which, if they had played their first team against us, would have (maybe) been a bit much after playing last Wednesday (and winning) at Anfield. I was at least half-surprised they rotated so much as their league position seems strong enough (in terms of relegation). They fell at the group stage of the Europa league but maybe they have hopes about getting up for a spot there next season even if they’re currently well off the top 6 teams. With one Wembley final already scheduled I thought they might field a team which would challenge us in an effort to get there again at the end of the season (and back into Europe, if I’m not mistaken)…
Puel chose not to which made things quite easy. The pace in our squad to press them in MF set the tone early and then the goals came. AMN putting that ball on Perez’s left foot so he could play onto DW was a thing of real beauty, I thought… DW bringing down Ox’s long ball and scoring a 2nd was a bit more improvisational but enough to kill the tie, as you said. From there we cannot fault Theo’s finishing nor the service, pace of play and team defending from the rest of the squad. It was a nice stroll and one which will make us less concerned about the January window closing without any signings. Now we just have to take care of business with the main players and get the helpers in at the correct moments. Easier said than done, of course, and, if we fail with our more regular guys there will be stronger shouts for those who shone at So’ton. Such is the price of such a dominant run-out, but it’s (far) better than the obverse, I think.
OK, off for awhile then back with a preview…
TotalArsenal: January 30, 2017 at 15:55
Is it all about money then, Eris?
Much as it hurts to admit it, that’s got to be the case, no? For the smaller clubs in the EPL, the first priority is to stay up; the next is to get as high up as possible. For the mid table sides, they remain happy to just be there and abouts, but aspire to get into Europe (even if usually falling by the way). The top teams with larger squads are able to play fairly strong teams owing to quality in the 2nd teams, but faced against a very good championship side, slips may occur because the lower division sides put out their strongest sides for the cups. I am not sure how, but the FA has got to work to bring back the excitement of the FA cup in the areas of prize money, exclusive scheduling and easier TV rights.
17TH, I believe the League cup takes you into Europe as well, so Southampton has motivation to win it. I hope they do as I can’t stand that Mourinho gets a trophy to brag about in his first year with United😃
It is not often I get disappointed in a review TA. This one did.
Both sides made 10 changes from their previous game. Ours turned in a team performance, and made them look 2nd best. They still had to do it.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who you begrudgingly offer as beneficiaries, was starting as the sole DM, supported by two attacking mids.He was immense when he had to be. It took him 5 or 6 minutes to click into this central role, but once he did, he was at the heart of the pass, move, pass momentum that took control of the game. No, he wasn’t pressed in his own half during the 1st period, but those quick one two’s in tight situations was calmness personified. The two well time tackles turning dangerous crosses into corners, and not penalties, were also top class. No matter who the opposition was. I know he misplaced 8 passes, but I only know that from 78 touches and 90% accuracy. Not bad for a 19 year old who has never let the team down wherever he plays?
I said a few days ago that we would have to wait for the Xhakaland-Niles midfield … perhaps not that long?
Oxlade-Chamberlain? I have not seen anyone do more than one those chip, of-the-top, passes in one game since the days of Alex Song. Another beneficiary I think?
‘Your man’ Lucas was the epitome of selfless running..His assist for Welbeck goal was top draw. The through pass to him came from our central DM, A M-N.
Welbeck and Walcott too, were not slow at coming back helping the defence. Their goals came from excellent team work that moved the ball forward at pace.
That is what made the Southampton look so poor. If we had started slowly, as in our previous disjointed way, they would have grown into the game, and who knows which way it might have finished?.
Two others worthy of praise were Holding, who was probably one of the most improved players on the day, and Jeff R-A, who never stopped running, and in a Sanogo-esque sort of way would come away wityh the ball in ridiculously tight situations. He has still got a bit to go, but he shows promise.
I think they deserve better than being dismissed as having a training session. …
I believe that Southampton have in the region of 9 players currently injured, so we must take that into consideration, especially as we know how that can decimate your squad.
I have to say what a sterling job our medical have done this season…
Great post TA
Fair analysis Seventeenho. I just did not expect it to be sooo easy, but yeah, Puel had difficult choices to make and, as Kev says, they had a lot of injuries to deal with too.
It is take two to tango, Gerry, but nothing wrong with a lovely training session, hey?! 😀
Agreed Maitland looked very good. I like his strength and intelligence and love to see more of this against a proper opponent.
Would Wenger risk Reine-Adelaide, Maitland-Niles, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Holding at Sutton…?
I am not really buying that, Eris 🙂
The FA Cup is a big prize to win and has such a fabulous history and prestige attached to it. The fans love it and the final at Wembley, and now the semi-finals as well, are such special events. I reckon the scheduling of league games straight after FA Cup games, need to stop. I would also give a CL place to the winner; that would change the whole scope of the tournament.
Wow, third away draw in a row. Sutton it is – proper cup romance.
Feel free to publish the preview whenever you are ready, Seventeenho. I am sure 84 will approve of it as well! 😉 😳
Burnley v Lincoln City
Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur
Blackburn Rovers v Manchester United
Sutton United v Arsenal
Middlesbrough v Oxford United
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Chelsea
Huddersfield Town v Manchester City
Millwall v Derby County/Leicester City
At least the other top contenders have an away game too…
Craig Eastmond plays for Sutton United now…. He will love this draw!! 🙂
Rory Deacon is also an ex-Gunner
Gander Green Lane is a beautiful name.
Rory Deacon as a Gunner has totally escaped me..
T A whilst to a certain extent I agree with you about the training session atmosphere etc It was nice to watch a game in a relaxed atmosphere for a change. Certainly wouldn’t want to watch games like that every week but i enjoyed it nevertheless.When I saw the team sheet i have to admit I thought we were on a loser. Southampton will not win the league or get relegated, so I fail to see why they put out such a week side. A number of the players will have got a huge boost from their performances and hopefully will push on accordingly.
all positive as far as i am concerned.
Cheers Retsub, in an ideal world, Wenger would put the same team up against the 🐝 Hornets 🐝 so we would be able to judge properly how good they are. Happy that you enjoyed the game, but I just didn’t.
If it’s true that winning the EPL cup gets So’ton back into Europe, I can see why they put out such a changed squad… Two cups in England seems like a real burden for a lot of clubs…
That said, I’m glad we’re through (in the bigger one) and I like the draw… Sutton’s pitch looks like it could suit us, though it might be on the harder side if it’s a freezing February afternoon/evening… Not a lot of fans will be able to attend…
Sorry, TA, I don’t think we’ll be seeing the same team vs the Hornets…Your mileage may vary, of course…
A much more coordinated attacking and defensive performance from Arsenal. Even the substitutes and their assigned positioning was spot on.
Great pressing and direct off the ball movement from Arsenal’s front three.
The diagonal off the ball runs from Walcott and Welbeck were particularly impressive and Lucas delivered an Alexis like performance at centre forward.
Good compact and disciplined display from Ox, Maitland Niles and the back four.
Greater separation between Arsenal’s back six and front four meant Arsenal were also better equipped to play on the counter attack more often as they had multiple forward options already in advanced positions when attempting to transition from back to front. As such they could transition much quicker than in recent weeks.
Sensational offensive and defensive performance by Ox and Maitland Niles. Ox in particular demonstrated all of the qualities required from Arsenal’s deeplying central midfielders – strong in the tackle, great awareness defensively to intercept passes from the opposition, lovely one touch passing to quickly recycle possession and fantastic long range passing to launch counterattacks (one of which was an assist for Welbeck’s second goal). The Ox’s performance versus the Saints was better than anything I’ve seen from Ramsey or Elneny this season and in my opinion the Ox should be a walk up starter alongside Coquelin versus Chelsea.
Also I don’t think Arsenal’s performance versus the Saints should be played down because Southampton rested a number of their senior players. So did Arsenal and only a few weeks ago Arsenal’s more senior players put in a poorer and much more incoherent and ill disciplined display versus Preston.
Overall a great performance by the Gunners. Hoping to see the same level of coordination in the matches to come.
I wouldn’t take anything away from the exciting display of our team against Southampton, reflected in the quality of our goals.
1st goal : great off the ball run by Welbz , first time through ball pass by Perez (1st class) and the sumptuous well timed chip by Welbz
2nd goal: a sumptuous 35 yes pass from Ox, plus Welbz perfectly timed run off the shoulders of the defense, plus Welbz plucking the ball from the air and finishing with aplomb.
3rd goal: great run with the ball by Welbz followed by his great run off the ball to rendezvous with the pass from Perez well weighted in time and space that Welbz cut back for Walcott to flick home ahead of a defender.
4th goal : good pass from Ox, excellent cutback from Sanchez and first time shot from Walcott for the goal.
5th goal: a prodigious banana pass from Perez that set Sanchez goal bound and the defense scrambling to recover, cut back by Sanchez, held still the hand of the clock until Walcutt raced up, then rolled the ball for Theo to again finish first time.
5 great goals non scrappy. Take home is that we have a great squad and we must make it count as we approach the home stretch.
Two more happy Gooners who did not notice the weakness and lacklustre of our opponent. Ah well! 😜😜