On January 28th, Southampton welcome Arsenal to St Mary’s Stadium for the fourth round of the FA Cup. Fresh from their triumph over Liverpool in the semi-final of the league cup, Southampton will now look to conquer England’s other domestic cup this weekend.
The Saints are coming off a 1-0 win over Liverpool on Wednesday that led to the Saints going to their first League Cup final since 1979. After winning the first leg at St Mary’s 1-0, the Saints held out 0-0 until stoppage time when Shane Long scored past Loris Karius to put the tie to bed. After putting one giant of English football out of a cup midweek, Claude Puel’s side will look to do so again on Saturday. They did play a full strength team on Wednesday, so they may have to rest some players against Arsenal.
After squeaking through the last stage of this competition with a 92nd minute winner away to Preston North End, Arsenal face a significantly tougher task this round. The Saints have won four of their last five matches in all competitions, keeping clean sheets in all four victories. With a Premier League game only three days after, some rotation is inevitable, so Arsenal could have their work cut out for them on Saturday.
Southampton have quite a few injuries to deal with going into this one. Charlie Austin, Jeremy Pied, and Matthew Targett are all out with long term injuries, while Virgil van Dijk, Sofiane Boufal, Jake Hesketh, and Alex McCarthy are all expected to miss out with short term injuries, according to Physioroom.com. James Ward-Prowse and Jay Rodriguez both played against Liverpool, but are doubts for the match against Arsenal.
Arsenal will be without Santi Cazorla through a long term injury and Per Mertesacker as he continues to achieve match fitness after his long layoff. On top of that, Granit Xhaka will be suspended after his red card for violent conduct on Sunday.
Southampton: Shane Long
After coming on at half time and scoring the clinching goal against Liverpool on Wednesday, Long could prove to be a significant thorn in Arsenal’s side. The Irish international scored a brace for the Saints in their 4-0 demolition the last time Arsenal traveled to Southampton. He looks to be arriving into form, scoring the winner in their last two cup matches. The Irish striker has proved tough for Arsenal before and could do so again this weekend.
Arsenal: Lucas Perez
Arsene Wenger is likely to rotate his side with a league game on the near horizon, so there is a good chance Lucas Perez will get a start. The Spaniard has seen limited playing time this season, but has impressed in his short spells on the pitch. Perez was actually handed his debut against Southampton in the league fixture earlier in the season at the Emirates Stadium. He has six goals and four assists in only seven starts across all competitions. While it has to be taken into account that some of those numbers have been against tired defences and lesser teams, it’s still very impressive. Perez has shown that he can be a spark plug for the Gunners and he’ll hope to prove his worth, if he gets the chance.
The teams put out by each side will have a huge effect on the result of the match. Assuming they put out a reasonably strong side, Southampton have a good chance in this match. Arsenal could get caught looking ahead to their fixture against Watford on Tuesday and the Saints have fared well at home to the Gunners since they were promoted in 2012, with two ins and two draws at home to Arsenal.