Poor team selection made it tough for Arsenal against Southampton

A poor team selection would only ever have one outcome, right?

So, Mikel Arteta has ended up with egg on his face, and not the first time this season either.

He clearly prioritised Tuesday’s game over this one, but for a club that is 14 times record holders in this competition you can understand the frustration and disappointment from fans when the team sheet came in, instantly, and despite the individual talent some of the players have, you knew it was going to be an even tougher task than first thought.

Let’s not take anything away from Southampton, who from the off wanted it more, they were intense, faster and pressed at our weaknesses which then got them the breakthrough from an own goal by Gabriel, whom in my opinion looks a shadow of a player from when we first bought him.

Southampton’s French midfielder Ibrahima Diallo (L) and Southampton’s midfielder Theo Walcott react at the final whistle during the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Southampton and Arsenal at St Mary’s Stadium on January 23, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL /AFP via Getty Images)

The second half was much better from Arsenal, but we just could not find the breakthrough, despite a number of chances being created, the wrong players were in the wrong positions, and taking off Martinelli, yet leaving on Pepe, Willian and Nketiah for the whole game, was a decision I still cannot understand. But maybe that is why I am not a manager!!

Arteta has so much more work to do with this team, but being knocked out of a cup that should really be named the Arsenal Cup, in only the fourth round, in a season where it may be our only chance to win something, is very very disappointing. All I can say is I hope Arteta is proud of himself for picking a team that even on paper you knew would not do very well against a strong Southampton line up.

A deserved win for Southampton who beat us for the first time in the FA Cup, so congratulations to them!

Well onwards and upwards it is, and all attention turns to the league where we will be back to St Mary’s to face Southampton on Tuesday, hopefully with a better result in the end! Gooners?

Shenel Osman


  1. S.J says:

    From what I observe, we need quality additions in LW, AM, CM, LB and GK.

    My realistic dream signings will be, Zaha, Buendia, Bissouma, Mitchel, Pope.

    1. ozziegunner says:

      Matt Ryan will be off contract and should he perform to expectations, he will be a better option than Pope as number 2. Would Pope even want tk come to Arsenal to compete with Leno and at what price?

  2. Wyoming says:

    Southampton’s goal at the start of the season was just to stay up and because they now will their Manager prioritised the FA cup game. Now though he has to hope home ground advantage will help his tired team on Tuesday against a much stronger Arsenal. Arteta meanwhile is mindful that top 6 or even top 4 was expected from Arsenal. So he rested several key players and almost got away with it. If Arsenal beat a tired Saints in the league game Arteta will be vindicated. If not then he will be under the pump again especially because if Saints win they will go above Arsenal. Another week of learning for Mikel.

    1. GunneRay says:

      Very true. Arsenal cannot afford to lose against them again. The FA Cup was our best hope of auto qualification. Not any more!

  3. Sean M says:

    I really don’t understand all this criticism. Arsenal lack depth – particularly at LB, AM and CF – and cannot play the first team in every single game. Aside from unrealistically thinking we can drop £150m in the transfer market, what do people expect?

    1. Sean M says:

      You can probably add RW to that list given Pepe’s disappointing form.

    2. Timi says:

      Was thy Arsenal’s problem yesterday? I don’t get you fans!!! When Arsenal wins because players took their own initiative, you praise the coach! When the wrong players are chose to play a game and we lose you blame the players!!! It’s incredible how you people reason.

      Yesterday we had three problems that had ready made solutions!! Willian!! He had no business playing in the number 10 role. I am not the Arsenal Coach but I know this from watching Willian over the years. He does not thrive in that role because he loves to play with space in front of him to run and that’s on the flanks!! The second was Nketiah!!! If you would not play Lacazette then you needed another mobile number 9 who can in part double as a 10! Balogun is a better fit for that. Nketiah is built for tap in and running on to the ball. He is not a creator. Balogun dribbles, runs well with the ball and drops deep to join the midfield.

      Finally, we had no business having Elneny in Arsenal. Besiktas wanted him back but Arteta blocked the move. With that he has struggled the growth a good player like Miguel Azeez who is composed on the ball and passes forward at every opportunity! Arteta has no faith in Arsenal youth until he ha his back to the wall.

      So yesterday was nothing to do with depth but everything to do with a naive manager who thinks too much of himself and does not learn from his mistakes. So far his losing record is worse than that of Unai Emery and he has had more backing than Emery ever did.

      1. Joe. S says:

        You are right here Timi. Arsenal’s recent results have been more a case of players initiative rather than masterful tactics.

  4. Vinod says:

    “taking off Martinelli, yet leaving on Pepe, Willian and Nketiah for the whole game, was a decision I still cannot understand.”

    At the moment it seemed wierd but after the press conference it is clear why that was done. Arteta is not sure about the availability of Auba for next game so he had to protect Martinelli.

  5. Reggie says:

    Arteta has got the same problem as wenger, trying to put square pegs in round holes. The first thing you should always have is a balanced team, right foot on the right, left foot on the left and depending on formation the right amount of defenders, midfield and attackers. Arteta put out a totally unballanced totally blunted team. Why he wants to persist with wrong footed players that dont work week after week, slowing the game down and making our play blunt and fragmented, i dont know. If we haven’t got a left footed left back that has got to be better than a right footed left back in the under 21 or 23s we might as well not bother. If we haven’t got players knocking the door down to get into the cup games that are not pressuring the first team we are failing. If we cant have a direction that every player in every position can play too and slot in to then the coaches and manger are not doung their job. Playing different footed players in places that need the other foot and playing players to do jobs they are not capable of doing in the system is DOH! going to break that system down. Forget that little old Southampton put out their strongest side, we put out a more expensive one by a country mile and looked a country mile behind them. WHY? There isn’t an excuse for incompetence!

  6. Joe. S says:

    When, I first saw the starting line up it looked as though Arteta had randomly picked the players randomly from a lucky dip bag. It’s not all his fault though. These are the cards he has been dealt after four years of mismanagement from the top down. Shane Dyer at Burnley however would probably have no sympathy for Arteta and say,” I should be so lucky”.

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