One of the standout ties in the fourth round of the FA Cup will take place at St Mary’s on Saturday afternoon as Southampton welcome fellow Premier League club Arsenal.
Southampton beat Shrewsbury Town 2-0 on Tuesday night to book their spot in round four, while Arsenal advanced courtesy of a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United earlier this month.
Southampton were originally due to take on Shrewsbury in the third round on January 9, but the match had to be rearranged after a coronavirus outbreak at the League One club; the fixture finally took place on Tuesday night, and it was a straightforward 2-0 success for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side.
The Saints have only won the FA Cup on one previous occasion, lifting the trophy in 1976 courtesy of a famous victory over Manchester United, with Bobby Stokes netting the only goal of the contest.
Southampton reached the final back in 2003, though, losing to Arsenal, as Robert Pires’s first-half strike proved enough for Arsene Wenger’s side to lift the trophy once again.
Hasenhuttl’s team will enter this game off the back of successive home victories, including a 1-0 win over Liverpool in the Premier League at the start of the month, and an excellent 2020-21 campaign to date has left the club in ninth spot in the table ahead of their next league game on January 26, which is also against Arsenal.
The Gunners were far from at their best in the third round against Newcastle, but Emile Smith Rowe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both scored in extra time to secure a 2-0 victory for the FA Cup holders.
Mikel Arteta’s side have taken four points from their two league matches since then, including a dominant 3-0 win over Newcastle on Monday evening to move into 10th spot in the table, two points behind Southampton.
Arsenal have won this competition on 14 occasions and are the holders, beating Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley courtesy of a brace from Aubameyang, and it might again represent the team’s best chance of silverware this term despite their involvement in the Europa League.
It is almost two years since the capital giants last lost an FA Cup fixture, while they are unbeaten in their last four matches with Southampton since a 3-2 defeat at St Mary’s in December 2018.
The two teams played out a 1-1 draw in the Premier League just over a month ago, though, and it is difficult to know what to expect in this match as both managers could spring surprises with their team selections.
Southampton FA Cup form: DLWDLW
Southampton form (all competitions): LDDWLW
Arsenal FA Cup form: WWWWWW
Arsenal form (all competitions): WWWWDW