R4 FA Cup 2020-21, 23rd January 2021

Southampton 1

  • Gabriel 24' (OG)

Arsenal 0

    Intro & Team News
    Embed from Getty Images

    A great team performance again

    Intro and Team News

    IBO Reporter - Sir B3na1i

    |As a Saints fan born three and a half years after our most famous day I have to say that the FA Cup has never really held much hope for me. For Saints there are usually more pressing priorities, namely topflight survival, or even in very dark times second tier survival, or seeking promotion back to the higher leagues. I started going to games in the 1988-89 season, since then only 9 different teams have won the FA cup, and in those 30+ seasons there have only been three occasions when the winner hasn’t been Arsenal, Man Utd, Liverpool, Tottenham (themselves only managing one win mind), Chelsea and Man City. The three that have broken through the big six barrier are Everton, Portsmouth (spit!) and Wigan, and only Everton can really say they’ve had any sort of success since – but to be honest from where they were when they won it in 1995 (one of English football’s big boys) to where they’ve been since (Premier League also rans) it doesn’t feel like winning the FA Cup is necessarily something smaller clubs can cope with. Wigan were relegated in the season they won it and have fallen further since and Portsmouth basically bought the cup with money they didn’t have and their fall from grace is well known (and enjoyed) by Saints fans. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that unless you’re backed by a mega-rich owner it’s rarely the start of something, and in fact for the smaller clubs (especially the really small ones, like Portsmouth) it seems to signal the end of things.

    We have of course had a couple of close calls since the turning of the millennium, most memorably the final in Cardiff in 2003, against this weekend’s opponents – a day that will live forever in the memory of every Saints fan that was there, because it was so rare a thing, something to be cherished and because the Arsenal fans on the day seemed so bored by the routine of another final that many couldn’t even be bothered to stay for 30 seconds beyond the lifting of the trophy. And of course in 2018 we lost the semi-final to eventual winners Chelsea. But other than that good FA Cup memories are few and far between for many modern Saints fans.

    And yet, despite all of that I really would love to see Saints lift the FA Cup one day. This is the man who cried when we lifted the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy back in our League One days. It might well have been only competed by teams in the bottom two leagues. We might well have been the only decent team in it that took it seriously. We might have had a team of players that were far too good for that level and would in fact go on to win international honours and European trophies with their future clubs and countries but it was magic. My team, a team that had been through so much shit had a trophy and I was there. I should confess now that I’m a hugely emotional football fan. I remember in 2015 when, again this weekend’s opponents, Arsenal beat Aston Villa in the FA Cup final and that result meant Saints, who’d finished 8th in the Premier League would be going to Europe – I was watching that game in an airport hotel bar (ah, international travel – good times!) and I started crying, Saints were in Europe! We’d been on the brink of extinction and a few short years later we would be competing on an international stage. My wife looked at me and said, “Are you fecking crying?” before telling me to “Sort yourself out.” To be honest, apart from the lack of fans in the stadium, this season feels similar to that one. Saints are in no trouble in the league and yet unlikely to qualify for Europe and so, why not have a go for the cup – we can worry about what happened to Wigan and Portsmouth another time! The trouble was we were playing Arsenal, and not only do they have FA Cup pedigree in spades, but Saints had never beaten them in the FA Cup in their whole history. Now I guess there’s a very small chance that there are some strange individuals out there that haven’t seen the game and are reading this report blind, so spoiler alert, this is the second match report I’ve done for IBO, and the second time we’ve made history! My last match was when we beat Liverpool to become the only team to beat each of the PL defending champions in the following season.

    I switched on the TV late to avoid as much of the awful BT Sports coverage as possible. I was pleased to see that Ralph seemed to be sharing my thoughts, let’s try to win this thing, and had picked the strongest available line up of outfield players, with Forster in goal who although not first choice had done well in recent outings. The most interesting inclusion was Bertrand who had been linked with Arsenal in rumours over the couple of days before – I understand he’ll turn them down as he’s indicated he wants FA Cup football (smug winky face!). Arsenal on the other hand had rotated heavily with seven changes. This told us two things, they are prioritising the league (and have to as they’re below Saints) and Arteta respects Saints enough to do that as we play them in the league on Tuesday. I saw enough of the BT Sports coverage to hear Peter Crouch back the Saints for the win, but I was more distracted by his overlong hair – I know we’re in lockdown Crouchy, but that’s a shambles!

    On commentary we had the completely unbiased (cough), Ian Darke (Portsmouth) and former Arsenal centre back Martin Keown.

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    It was good to see Danny Ings back in action after his period of self-isolation


    • 44 Forster
    • 2 Walker-Peters
    • 35 Bednarek
    • 5 Stephens - Booked 56'
    • 3 Bertrand - Booked 83'
    • 17 Armstrong
    • 8 Ward-Prowse
    • 27 Diallo
    • 32 Walcott
    • 9 Ings (Long 85')
    • 10 Adams (N'Lundulu 78')


    • 7 Long
    • 18 Valery
    • 29 Vokins
    • 31 Ramsay
    • 40 N'Lundulu
    • 41 Lewis
    • 64 Jankewitz
    • 65 Watts
    • 72 Chauke

    Stacks Image 260


    • 1 Leno
    • 2 Bellerín (Lacazette 72')
    • 16 Holding
    • 6 Gabriel
    • 17 Cédric
    • 25 Elneny (Partey 58')
    • 34 Xhaka
    • 19 Pépé
    • 12 Willian
    • 35 Martinelli (Saka 58')
    • 30 Nketiah


    • 7 Saka
    • 9 Lacazette
    • 13 Rúnarsson
    • 15 Maitland-Niles
    • 18 Partey
    • 21 Chambers
    • 23 David Luiz
    • 28 Willock
    • 33 Ryan

    Stacks Image 258
    Match Report
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    Diallo had another good game and is looking better with each outing now

    Match Report

    IBO Reporter : Sir B3na1i

    |Saints kick off to get the action underway after both sides have taken the knee as a message that prejudice of any form is unwelcome in the game. The first item of note is that Keown mentions that Romario is missing for Southampton, and he’s right I suppose, there is no one called Romario on the pitch for Southampton, it’s also worth noting that Gascoigne, Eusebio and Klinnsman are also missing. The opening exchanges see Saints getting the ball into the box a number of times via a few Ward-Prowse free kicks and corners and a couple of crosses from open play from Betrand and Walker-Peters. Ward-Prowse even hits the bar directly from one corner. Che Adams works Leno in the Arsenal goal after Walker-Peters beats the man he was brought in to replace, Cedric who today is being played by Arsenal at left back.

    On 14 minutes Arsenal get their first real chance after Walker-Peters gives away a free kick for a foul on Martinelli. Willian takes but Martinelli completely fluffs the end-product having caught Saints out at the back. It’s a warning for Saints who until then have looked comfortable and been the more threatening side. The only other Arsenal effort being a Cedric shot from distance that would have only troubled row Z had anyone been sat there. 23 minutes into the game Darke and Keown are discussing the time that Arsenal beat Southampton in the final 18 years ago. A day on which Keown picked up an FA Cup winners medal. Keown calls the day “unmemorable”. And, whilst I’m reeling with anger at this description of what all young football fans dream of achieving when playing on the park as a kid and all Saints fans will remember forever Kyle Walker-Peters punishes the ungrateful arse by lashing a ball into the box that takes a couple of deflections and ends up in the goal! The goal is given as an OG for Gabriel, but Walker-Peters, the former Spurs man, celebrates like it’s his anyway - and rightly so!

    1-0 Saints.

    Other than that it’s a half of little note. Saints pressing game is strong and they force some errors from Arsenal that lead to chances. Armstrong gets a shot on target after Ward-Prowse picks up a loose clearance by Leno. There are more Ward-Prowse corners, one after an Ings volley that was on target is blocked by Holding. At the other end Bednerak has to block a shot from Pepe who then looks to find Cedric with the follow up but the former Saints man cannot reach it. On 42 min Saints get their first ‘in range’ free-kick, it’s whipped well wide by the Saints captain – the angel was tight but we’ve come to expect great things from this man and I’m disappointed, despite having no right to be. A moment after that Keown gives praise to Ward-Prowse and talks of his incredible record since Ralph became manager and reminds us just how clueless Mark Hughes was (as if we needed it) by pointing out that JWP has been ever present for Ralph and yet Hughes barely used him.

    We get 1 minute of added time in the half. Literally nothing happens apart from me feeling a little regret that I agreed to write this match report as I have to sit through it in case something happens and I really need a wee. As the whistle goes Saints deserve their lead.

    The first 10 minutes of the second half start very much in the vein of the first, with Saints having the better of things. On 49 minutes Forster hits a big clearance up the field for Danny Ings to run onto. Ings runs clear and his shot hits the post. There’s an offside flag up anyway, but replays show Ings was definitely onside so it would have been interesting to see what would have happened had the shot gone in.

    On 57 minutes Elneny and Martinelli are replaced by Saka and Partey. A minute later Arsenal win a corner after Bednarek blocks an Nketiah shot. Holding shoots over from it. The Portsmouth fan and Arsenal legend with the commentary microphones are trying to convince themselves as much as anyone that Arsenal are doing better, personally I’m not seeing much to worry about yet – on 61 minutes Cedric commits a foul throw as if to justify my lack of nerves. On 66 minutes Forster makes a good save from Nketia and this is really the first meaningful attempt Arsenal have had all game. On 71 minutes Lacazette replaces Bellerin and I do start to think that could be an issue. Cedric moves across to his more natural right back position and looks more comfortable. Forster has to punch away another Nketiah effort and Saints start to get so deep that Ings and Walcott are doing a fair bit of defensive work in their own half.

    It’s 78 minutes before Saints make a change and it’s Adams off for N’Lundulu. There’s another chance for Nketiah that Forster saves and Ward-Prowse deals with the follow up on the line. It’s good defensive work but it’s all academic as the flag is up. On 81 minutes Bertrand is fouled deep in the Arsenal half and it’s almost a close range corner for Ward-Prowse. It’s blocked by Pepe but Ings picks up the lose ball and gets a powerful shot on target, it’s straight at Leno.

    With the game drawing to a close BT Sport seem more interested in selling us the Connor McGregor fight than commentating on the action. The programme starts at 1am and I doubt any neutral viewer of this game is awake to see the advert let alone thinking about staying up to the wee small hours. It hasn’t been much of a spectacle, but Saints have done the professional job required. When Long replaces Ings on 84 minutes it’s clear that Ralph is looking to run down the clock. Corners are taken short for Long to hold up for as long as possible. There is however one moment of excitement on 87 minutes when Long is taken out in the box. It’s a penalty, but the rule of Long applies and it’s not given, despite VAR.

    The game ends with a Fraser Forster goal kick after 3 minutes of added time. Saints are in the 5th round and will face Wolves next (we played them on the way to the final in 2003 – maybe…). More significantly, the holders are out and Saints have their first ever FA Cup victory over Arsenal.

    Man of the Match

    |Martin Keown gave it to James Ward-Prowse and I can definitely see a case for that. Peter Crouch picked out Jan Bednarek for high praise in the post match analysis, and again I can see why. Personally, my Man of the Match was Kyle Walker-Peters. He played much of the game in the Arsenal half, was always a threat against the hapless Cedric, he did his defensive work well too… plus, if they’re going to take the goal off of him the least he deserves is the IBO MotM award.

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    Theo certainly enjoyed playing against his old club.

    Match Statistics

    Match Stats

    Referee: Peter Bankes

    Attendance: NIL


    • 38% Possession
    • 11 Shots
    • 2 Shots on Target
    • 1 Goal
    • 7 Corners
    • 9 Fouls


    • 62% Possession
    • 11 Shots
    • 2 Shots on Target
    • 0 goals
    • 5 Corners
    • 7 Fouls

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    A rather sad sight, with no crowds able to attend, there is nobody to sell a programme, or beer token to outside the stadium