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Arsenal Versus Southampton: Under New Management

steve-bould

So Steve Bould steps into the hot seat this afternoon. He must be chuffed. Imagine managing the greatest team in the history of the FA Cup as they step out for their fourth round tie. No one has played more finals than us. No one has won the thing more often. Mr Bould has a lot of history to weigh him down but he has a great and proud tradition to buoy him up.

The disaffected fans who have for years been calling for a change in the Arsenal dugout have finally got their way. With Arsène facing an inconsistently harsh punishment for his instinctive actions of self defence against an out of control fourth official, we have lost his guiding and talismanic presence during this and the following three games.

I shall say no more on the subject because I don’t want to upset those who think he deserves this ban. Or that Taylor acted appropriately in provoking the response which led to the unfortunate incident. I won’t convince you and you won’t in a million years convince me so let’s just draw a veil over the whole sorry business.

Southampton are a good side. They will provide us with a proper contest today as they always do. The Saint’s heroics against Liverpool were either symptoms of an ongoing Mersyside malaise or a signal that the south coast club is coming into some decent form. Perhaps a little from column A and a little from column B.

That we will rest players was never in doubt and therefore hardly a talking point. That Southampton will also be at less than full strength is down to a formidable injury list. One fan tweeted yesterday that they’ll be without ten players including Ward-Prowse , Rodriguez, Van Dijk, Hesketh, Austin. So neither side will be at full strength and the big debate among Arsenal fans is whether we’ll see our skipper back in the starting line up or not.

I am a big fan of our big German and would be delighted to see him alongside Gabriel but then I like the look of young Noddy Holding too. With four highly experienced centre backs in front of him, these matches represent the youngster’s only realistic chance for first team football, so it’ll be tough for him to miss out. When you join a huge club that is the chance you take, he need only look to Alex Iwobi and Hector Bellerin to see that the gap can be bridged and so he ought to remain positive.

One imagines Alex will resume his understudy role if Mesut is rested and that either Theo or Lucas will start – and possibly both of them. Another player knocking on the door and wondering if an abysmal run of untimely injuries has robbed him of his chance is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

I may be a drooling, ageing imbecile but I seem to recall Arsène suggesting, some years ago, that AOC could end up playing in central midfield. In fact I’m certain of it so we mustn’t discount the possibility especially with Santi, Xhaka and Elneny all missing, Aaron still finding his way back after a long lay off and Coquelin recently injured.

The permutations are manifold and we can all have fun speculating or we can wait for the club to publish the team sheet, whatever floats your boat. One thing is certain the venerable competition still holds a very special place in the hearts of the fans. I was talking to a Man United supporting acquaintance yesterday. He and I agreed, with one notable exception, on absolutely nothing when football inevitably rose to the top of the agenda.

We both agreed that in spite of the greater rewards and prestige associated with the Champions and Premier League titles, there is something particular about the FA Cup. Something nostalgic and thrilling which trick the League Cup has never managed to master. Something which gets the heart beating faster in a way that the long haul of a league competition cannot match. I like the way we climb from the trenches of the attritional war that is our usual fixture schedule and face off in a straight forward, winner takes all bare knuckle scrap.

Of course I don’t need to tell you how important the FA Cup is. We all have our special memories both heart warming and heart breaking. For me, the first huge Arsenal moment in my supporting career was Charlie George’s goal in the final in 1971. I have since then endured Wrexham, Watford and Blackburn, suffered Liverpool’s horrible victory in the 2001 final, and don’t even mention Roger Osborne or Trevor Brooking. Each has burned a scar into the confused, emotional area of my psyche which processes my obsession with football.

However much those and other cup exits have hurt they pale when I recall Santi’s free kick, Ray Parlour’s sublime strike versus Chelsea, Anelka’s cushioned take down and consummate finish against Newcastle, the fireworks at the end of the ’79 final and of course Aaron’s moment of magic to bring the cup back after such a long absence.

So today can we perhaps forget our battles with each other, with officials, bureaucrats and other fans? Instead why don’t we just revel in the countless memories the cup has brought us down through the years? What springs to mind when you first hear the words FA Cup? Why not share your thoughts. Or not. It’s a free country after all.

I’m off to check the water levels in my pond, I’ll see you here for five thirty.

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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75 comments on “Arsenal Versus Southampton: Under New Management

  1. Is that the same Danny mills that said:

    “Southampton need to get in their faces a little more and break up play”

    Tbf it’s not hard to see where Steve Coogan finds his inspiration!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. inspiring football from the arsenal so far

    Like

  3. It’s all about their rubbish defending

    Liked by 1 person

  4. If Perez does not score I will be amazed – he looks as though he is going to explode with frustration

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  5. I think a little crowing is in order

    Liked by 2 people

  6. We should win that comfortably every week. it would do my blood pressure the world of good.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. That Maitland-Niles can play a bit. And my two favourite forwards sharing the goals made it even better. Pretty sure many were queuing up to have us lose that one so good to see such an emphatic performance. Bloody brilliant!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. thought Perez was excellent throughout, worked hard and was very direct it was a real shame he didn’t get reward.
    Jeff and Ainsley were very good as well proving our youngsters are just as good as some of the other clubs lauded byb the press. It was also great to see the Ox have such a good game and maybe this will be the kick to his confidence that will see him grow into the world class player he has the potential to be.
    Of course the players performance, tactics, substitutions, team talks and everything else associated with such a good win was entirely down to Bouldy and Arsene played no part.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Very satisfactory. Our double barrelled midfield was outstanding, all three but M-N was really assured both defending and with the ball.
    If anything could be said to be wrong with such a performance it was Lucas Perez not getting the goal his performance so richly deserved. I really, really like him as a player. Selfless and intelligent.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Very excellent performance, good to see theo and Danny back and firing. And ….Perez, what a superb player

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Training is going to be fierce this week!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. why isn’t Danny Mills managing a BPL club, he is wasting his vast years of experience and incredible knowledge of the game by being a pundit on BBC R5, any amount of clubs could do with his insight, especially when playing Arsenal – Mills says the secret is to kick the shit out of them, of course he dresses it up with things like – get in their faces, – put them under more physical pressure – play more aggressively – they don’t like it up them Captain Mainwaring

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Well I thoroughly enjoyed that. Pretty good performances all round. We’re for a decent night’s sleep…..

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Don’t know why anyone was worried pre-match, after all there was two major advantage to Arsenal

    Mustafi was playing

    and

    Merson predicted we would lose

    every time you see merson predict a result of a game, you can so clearly see why he lost 100’s of thousands of £ on his gambling. The poor feck hasn’t got a scooby

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  15. Joyful stuff. So many good things you could pick out.

    Everything went well , including the normal (which to me means wonderful) Friend, and a team who don’t make shitty challenges when in a bad spot. A Phil Dowd probably couldn’t have changed today’s outcome, not without a Barton, Nolan, etc, but they could have made it less enjoyable.

    We’ve a cracking squad, and at least a few excellent young prospects. There are many I’ve thought looked about the same level as Maitland-Niles, Reine-Adeleide and even Iwobi, so as well as those three there could easily be more to come through.

    A really good day. Just that Wycombe result away from being a phenomenally good day and the best since final game last year.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Jeff Reine Adelaide for the Santi roll!!! Holy fuck that kid played a blinder. I’m super excited for him to take the leap and do an Iwobi. Maitland Niles didn’t look half bad in the middle either.

    Bellerin, Iwobi, Maitland Niles and Jeff Reine Adeleide represent the new direction the academy has headed towards in the last few seasons. Project Youfff.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Every season Arsenal have played Southampton in the FA Cup the Gooners have reached the final.

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  18. anyone see the incident that got spurs their penalty, I have not, but the commentator on bbc radio implied it was not a penalty – “the ref deemed it to be a penalty”

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  19. Noooooo eddy -more refereeing skulldulgery !!!!!

    I thought it was a bit quiet, in spite of the dreadful performance by Kevin Friend at St Mary’s

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  20. no no no, anicol, the standard of reffing in England is beyond reproach, never a mistake made, never a game affecting error, and we know this to be true as the PGMOB tell us this is a fact.

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  21. Thank goodness for that eddy, I thought I’d have rewrite my Saints’ post match !

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  22. Wenger on Theo’s hat-trick and cup win
    Five goals from two players who were making their first starts after injury. Precocious performances from two young midfield prospects. A classic team display. And a place in the last 16 of the Emirates FA Cup.
    Saturday’s trip to St Mary’s had so many positives, it was hard to know where to start when Arsène Wenger arrived for his press conference. Read on for some of the manager’s quotes:

    on enjoying the win…
    It was pleasant to watch because we had individual strong performances and collectively as well. I liked the fact that we didn’t lose our concentration. It didn’t become easy when it was 3-0, we kept playing the way we want to play. It was pleasant to watch and it was a good opportunity to see players who have come back, like Welbeck, be so convincing.

    on Jeff and Ainsley…
    We saw some young players in midfield who, in my opinion, have done very well.

    on what the hat-trick does for Theo…
    Theo is a good finisher and the chances we created were very good. When he finishes with one touch, he’s very quick to respond. He has a short backlift and is very accurate with his finishing.

    on Welbeck’s performance…
    I knew that he worked very hard, but you never know how much efficiency there will be… to transfer that into a competitive game. I think it was great to see that he hasn’t lost his runs, he hasn’t lost his finishing. It shows as well, when you are able to transform that frustration of not playing into efficiency, that’s a special guy.

    on Welbeck not losing his attributes…
    It didn’t look that way at all. We have always two fears – the first is that it takes him too long to get the decision-making, and secondly that the player is scared to go into any contact. When he made the runs and was fighting the defender, for me that was a very important moment for him.

    on Welbeck getting his ‘zip’ back…
    He worked very hard and he went through some moments of very deep disappointment. When he had the setback and we had to go in the knee again, when you’re a professional football player, that’s absolutely difficult. After the first disappointment, he became even more resilient and worked even harder. He’s highly respected inside the club because he has shown so much dedication, never moaned, worked very hard and tonight everybody is delighted for him.

    on if he ever had doubts over Welbeck’s comeback…
    You wonder. I wondered first of all if he’d be solid enough mentally to cope with that. I’m not a medical specialist but you hope that it will all go well after he comes back after the second surgery.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Bad week for Piers Morgan. He called Ewan McGregor a peadeofile and his favorite coach farted away the very last bit of passsssshun that was in his gas tank.

    Bitch, we beat mother fucking Southampton 5-0 with Rob Holding, Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Maitland-Niles as the spine of our team.

    Like

  24. Just enjoyed the first half again this morning. I’m paying attention to Maitland-Niles and Jeff Rein-Adeleide. The latter has lots of silky skill, technique, confidence and audacity. Bodes well for the near future.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. new post up

    Like

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