ARSENAL’S FA CUP defence is all Auba.
But their captain was not the only thing the Gunners were missing as Southampton claimed a deserved place in the fifth round.
Gabriel put through his own net to send Arsenal out the cup[/caption]
There’s no doubt the Gunners could have done with Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang up front after his two midweek goals.
Yet while a personal matter forced him to withdraw from the matchday squad, there was no excuse for Arsenal’s lack of quality and desire in the first hour against a lively, committed and intelligent Saints side.
Gabriel Margalhaes was unfortunate to deflect Kyle Walker-Peters cross into his own net to concede the only goal of the game.
But there was nothing lucky about the Saints’ win.
True, they had to withstand some strong Arsenal pressure in the final third of the game.
They defended resolutely, though, and ultimately earned their reward for taking the match and the competition seriously from the very start.
Southampton head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl picked the strongest team available to him and his side were on top in the early stages.
They almost led within five minutes when skipper James Ward-Prowse hit the crossbar with a deliberate, audacious effort direct from a corner.
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Che Adams forced the first save of the game from Bernd Leno with a direct run and shot before Gabriel Martinelli had a good chance to put the visitors ahead.
Granit Xhaka’s free kick found the Brazilian free in the penalty area but he miscued an admittedly tough volley when he might have had time to take the ball down.
Unfortunately for Arsenal, another Brazilian named Gabriel found the net at the other end.
Southampton did brilliantly to steal the ball deep in the Arsenal half and former Spurs defender Kyle Walker-Peters sent in a cross Gabriel Magalhaes deflected past Leno.
Arsenal did little in the rest of the first half to suggest they would equalise and Ward-Prowse went close with a free kick before the break.
The Gunners started the second period badly and Arteta made two changes before the hour mark that led to a marked improvement.
Centre back Rob Holding soon looped a shot over the bar and after Walcott had fired over, Arsenal created their best chance.
Nicolas Pepe played in Eddie Nketiah but Fraser Forster saved well with his left leg.
On came Alexandre Lacazette for the last 20 minutes and Arsenal built the pressure on the Saints, without creating another clear-cut chance until Nketiah sent an effort wide in stoppage-time. The holders were out and deservedly so.