Arsenal 1-2 Saints
In the rarefied air of the Premier League, cup progress is dependant on the relative value of the competition as seen by the manager. Now that the increasingly annoying Pochettino song has been consigned to history, more people seem prepared to voice how wrong he had been in this respect, particularly regarding the F.A. Cup, of course.
That’s several months away for Ronnie, but although he does shuffle the pack a bit, we do look interested in progressing in the knock-out competitions. Targett and Mané came into the side for the Capital One fixture at Arsenal and with Gardos retaining his place, but most regular starters were there, including the goalkeeper. In an engrossing first half, Davis did well to almost control a ball over the top, but the touch wasn’t quite good enough to enable him to force it past Ospina.
That looked costly when Sanchez showed his €50m class with a superb free kick that left Forster a spectator – but surely unfair for Arsène Wenger to pick such a high profile player in this competition, given his track record? Happily Rosicky knows where his manager’s priorities lie, and an ill-judged tackle on Mané left 5,000 visiting fans wondering who would replace Lambert with penalty kick duties. The answer was Tadić, but his down-the-middle approach suggests more work on the training ground is needed if he is to follow in the traditions of Peachie, LeTiss and Rickie.
Pellè had a good effort nick the post as it went wide, but there was no disappointment for Clyne as he unleashed a swerving shot from distance that Ospina could only flap at as it sailed past him.
Saints probably should have picked off Arsenal on the break at some point during the second period, but the last pass was never quite right and we were grateful for a sharp save from Forster that preserved the lead.
In fact the only real blemishes after a fifth successive victory were four more bookings to add to a mounting total, and including cautions deep into added time for Pellè (took one for the team) and Forster (took his time on behalf of the team), and a perfectly correct card for Targett for a reason he probably still doesn’t understand as he was being substituted.
LSSC Man of the Match: Jose Fonte – an immense presence at the back, making life easy for Gardos.