Feed on
Credit: David Price / Contributor

It’s been almost normal lately, after our recent run of better results, if not always better performances, to state that “this could have been a different report had we not beaten ……….”. (fill in the name of your favourite victim).

Well this could have been a very different report had Shrewsbury beaten Southampton on Tuesday evening. I was, in fact, very much hoping that Shrewsbury would triumph and therefore be the subject of this preview.

Why ? Because Shrewsbury would have provided the perfect opportunity to link our next FA Cup tie with the other most important event of this week – the inauguration of Joe Biden as President of the United States.

But how are they linked, I hear you asking ? Oh, yes you are ! (That season may actually have finished now, I realise 😉) Ok, the link is a complicated one but bear with me.

What is Shrewsbury famous for?

Well, Shrewsbury has played a part in Western intellectual history, by being the town where the naturalist Charles Darwin was born and brought up. I am very pleased about this because it provides the perfect excuse to weave in another little story about another kind of Darwin. It involves the famous, or infamous, Darwin Awards which, for those who don’t know, are handed to people who commit exceptionally stupid acts, whereby they inflict fatal injuries on themselves. This particular instance involves one of Joe Biden rival, Donald Trump’s warriors, who attacked the White House on 6th January brandishing a taser gun. Our, er, hero set the weapon off accidentally and shot himself in the testicles – a feat which caused him such pain that he died from the resulting heart attack. There are no words.

However, we are supposed to not be discussing Shrewsbury, which is also home to the Ditherington Flax Mill, the world’s first iron-framed building, which is commonly regarded as “the grandfather of the skyscraper”. So had we conceded the first goal of the game, we could have found ourselves with a tower block to climb, if not a mountain. And so, there were so many reasons to have wanted us to be playing the Shrews, or Salop, which is their correct and the most uninspiring nickname I think I’ve ever heard.

The club is nicknamed Salop, meaning ‘from Shropshire’ the county in which Shrewsbury is located. In 1972 it became the official county nickname but has been that of the football club for some years. Salop is taken from the Latin translation of ‘Floreat Salopia’ – flowers or thrives with Shropshire.

Shrewsbury play in blue and amber, colours which are not exactly unfamiliar to the Arsenal in the FA Cup, although the League One club’s strip is more a vertical stripy ensemble. They used to play in League One at Gay Meadow, nestled by the side of the River Severn, but times change and they now play in League One at New Meadow by the side of the railway line which runs from the west of London, past Shrewsbury and on to Wales.

However, we are playing Southampton, but I wrote all this in advance, knowing I had a week in which a year’s accounts had to be done and both daughters had to be accompanied to lengthy medical appointments, though nothing serious, thank goodness. Having made all the effort, I’m damned if it’s all going in the bin. File it under general disinterest and move on.

Southampton seem a less interesting, if more testing opponent, particularly as they will also be our next opponents in the Premier League, a mere 3 days later and again at the St Mary’s stadium, and you wouldn’t want to be reading all about them twice, now would you ?

Theo Walcott, old favourite / pantomime villain, – oh, yes he was ! – is down there now, having returned to the place of his footballing naissance. It would be fun to see him toughing it out with Kieron Tierney, a man who actually eats iron girders for breakfast and skis in the Cairngorms, but only if it’s cold enough, wearing only his underpants and with his lift pass stapled to his forehead. Will either of them play though ?

Being “only” the FA Cup, that is the question. Personally, I hope we go with a strong side. Winning is a habit and we should want to keep our current run going – plus continued presence in the cup competitions is good for morale and does give a chance for the squad players to be involved, should we face weaker opposition.

But how do we attract this weaker opposition – something we don’t seem very good at ? The answer is balls. Either get someone to warm up our ball in the draw – the traditionally favoured method – or get them at the last minute to swap our numbered ball with that of Totteringham – they seem extremely good at attracting very much weaker opposition. All the time.

Apart from Theo, they have proverbial thorn-in-our-side, if seemingly nobody else’s, 33 year old Shane Long, who usually gets subbed on to score one of his two goals a season against us. He must surely be getting past it though, being Long in the tooth an’all. 😉

They also have Danny Ings, another returnee to the south coast where it all started for him at Bournemouth in 2006. I’m not too worried about him as we all know “Ings ain’t what he used to be”, as this fella tells us


Oh, it’s Fings ! – still works for me though 😉 It seems his future at Southampton may be in doubt, as the player wants to play in the Champions League. He’s 28 years old now, so it’s probably now or never, but if the club courting him again turns out to be Totteringham continuing their interest of last summer, it’ll most likely be never. On a serious note, Ings has been suffering from Covid-19 though, was missing from Tuesday’s side and is unlikely to feature.

The main Southampton threat is likely to come from James Ward-Prowse, whose party piece is the long range free kick, one of which finally defeated Shrewsbury in Tuesday’s replay. I somehow still think of him as a youngster in the Southampton team but he is 26 now – where does it go ? – and has played 250 games for them. Surprisingly, he has only recorded 26 goals though, a touch under a goal every ten games, so if we can avoid giving free kicks away around the edges of our 18 yard area, he may not be such a threat.

Southampton last won the FA Cup on 1st May 1976, beating Manchester United 1-0 in a shock victory as they were in the old Second Division at the time. They have never won it since. We, of course, have lifted the trophy a record 14 times, including wins in 2014, 2015, 2017 and a debut season victory for Mikel Arteta last summer.

League form may not count for much in the Cup but, if it does on this occasion, we are in for a close fought match. The Saints sit one place above us in 9th after a strong start to the season, and have scored 26 times, conceding 21. We have scored 23 times and conceded 19.

The Teams

We don’t appear to have any new injuries following the Newcastle game, so the sick room card school will be down to just two players, limiting possible games to Snap and Beat Your Neighbours – and it’s always good fun to do that !

Dani Ceballos has a tight left calf and will continue to be assessed and tested before the game.

Pablo Marí has a mild right calf strain and is hoped to be back in training next week – so out for Saturday.

Southampton were without Danny Ings, Jannik Vestergaard, Oriol Romeu, Nathan Redmond, Moussa Djenepo and Mohammed Salisu for the game against Shrewsbury.

However, manager Ralph Hasenhüttl says, “maybe on Saturday,” of potential return dates. “The earliest return will be Ingsy, then Moussa maybe, with Ori and Reddy also in this group. Then maybe Jannik, but that can be in February, and Salisu is still longer out with a muscle injury”. I would guess, on that basis, that we can expect to see Ingsy, Ori, Reddy and all the resty, fit and er, Reddy to go.

Midfielder Will Smallbone, who I have to confess I have never heard of, has incurred an ACL injury, so will be out for many months.

Team selection will be interesting, especially as it’s a cup game and we face the same opponent in three days time in the league. I thought Soares did very well against Newcastle and could get the nod over Bellerin, who hasn’t been at his best for a while. Tierney might be rested to protect his fatigued calf, which can only really mean Maitland-Niles in at left back. Holding could be protected ahead of Tuesday too. This is probably our best chance of a trophy this season but I do think Arteta will go with a “cup side”.


Soares Luiz Gabriel AMN

Willock Xhaka

Pepe Lacazette Aubameyang


It’s a guess, and also protects Partey, Saka and ESR but it could easily be miles out.

The Holic Pound

Our record against Southampton in the FA Cup is P5 W4 D1 L0 GF11 GA2.

In the Premier League it is currently much closer and the proximity of the two teams is reflected in the odds on offer this weekend. Paddy Power are offering 2/1 on a Southampton win, 23/10 on the draw, and 13/10 on an Arsenal victory.

If you fancy an early punt on us to retain the trophy, you can get between 9/1 and 12/1 as we are 5th or 6th favourites, depending on where you look.

Kick-off is on Saturday 23rd January at 12.15 (UK time). TV by BT Sport.

Referee is Peter Bankes, 4th official is Graham Scott, VAR is David Coote – just in case you care.

Enjoy the game, ‘Holics.

60 Drinks to “Arsenal vs Southampton (or Shrewsbury)”

  1. 1
    Countryman100 says:

    Loving it Trev. “I’ve done all this research on Shrewsbury and I’m buggered if I’m going to waste it!”

    I do remember going down to Southampton in the Cup (or was it league cup?) a few years ago and putting five past them, but in recent years it’s been very slim pickings for us at St Mary’s. Going to be tough going. I would definitely play Partey, I think he needs the run.

    Do we think Mat Ryan, our new goalkeeper from Brighton, might play?

  2. 2
    bathgooner says:

    Nice one, Trev. Shrewsbury sounds a far more interesting place than Southampton.

    I think MA8 wants to retain his first piece of managerial silverware and he certainly won’t underestimate the Saints’ threat. So I expect Holding, KT3, Partey and possibly also Saka, to start rather than Gabriel, AMN, Willock and possibly Pépé. A win of any proportion would be very nice, thank you.

  3. 3
    Countryman100 says:

    I found the FA Cup game I went to at St Mary’s. 2017. Theo got a hat trick!


  4. 4
    TTG says:

    Thanks I really enjoyed that and I find Shrewsbury more interesting than Southampton anyway . I do remember watching us beat Shrewsbury in the late sixties in a replay and Michael Thomas scoring down there in the 1990s ( ?1991) to win a tricky tie . I remember the tie C100 refers to – Welbeck played well that night as did the Jeff. We won the Cup that season as we did when we beat them in the sixth round in 1979 . So if we beat them we win the Cup- Simples!
    Nobody ( other than Arteta hopefully) has a clue about the team tomorrow. I hope and think we will play a strong side . I think we will see Gabriel, Partey, Martinelli and Auba . It’s our best chance of a trophy although if we get the chance I’d like to win the Europa League . Anyway we will crush the Saints 2-1 . If Ryan is eligible ( probably signed too late for a lunchtime kick off ) he might play . Emi played through the various rounds last season.

  5. 5
    Trev says:

    Cheers fellas !

    C100 – there was so little time between the replay and tomorrow, I had to get a fair bit written in advance – so….. I thought you’d like the political bit anyway 😉

  6. 6
    TTG says:

    Something interesting on Odegaard from a Madrid blog- encouraging but confirms he has chronic knee problems

  7. 7
    Countryman100 says:

    I love the Darwin awards Trev and thought the same about the self tasering berk invading the Capitol!

  8. 8
    Esso says:

    Cheers Trev! Great stuff mate.

  9. 9
    bt8 says:

    Gateway to North Wales. Unless it’s Chester. Always wanted to visit Shrewsbury but I guess I’ll have to settle for learning its correct pronunciation. Gateway to mid-Wales perhaps. Nah, that’s probably Hereford. Oh bugger all, let’s just shaft the Saints.

    Cheers Trev. I much enjoyed it.

  10. 10
    Goonersince54 says:

    Very informative pre match review Trev
    Like most, i have no idea about our line up, but suspect that Saints might well play a close to full strength side given this is the only Trophy they can win this season.
    Should be an interesting match with the Saints high pressing game allowing us more opportunities to counter attack.
    On another note,
    I see the under 23’s beat Brighton 5 nil this evening, and young Balogun scored 4 of

  11. 11
    Goonersince54 says:

    Make that 3 for Balogun not 4, original report showed 4 to his name.
    But regardless, no wonder he wants to leave, far too good for under 23 football, and too far back in the pecking order to get the game time he wants in the first team squad.
    Interesting that unlike other younger players with potential, like ESR, Reiss Nelson, Eddie etc, there doesn’t seem to be any talk about him going out on loan to a championship side for a season.
    As for Odegaarrd,
    I really don’t know why we keep taking Madrid castoffs on loan,
    As already noted, Suarez was a disaster, Ceballos has hardly set the world on fire in his time here, and now we want to take another one. ??
    Yes Ode had a very good season at Sociedad with creating chances in the top 6 players in Spain, but the EPL is a different and difficult beast where only the strong of mind and body survive.
    He has hardly played for Madrid this season, so how ” match fit ” he is is anyone’s guess.
    it looks like North London is becoming the resting place for Real castoffs, with bale having hardly played down the road at our Neighbors.
    I would much rather we were getting players that their respective Clubs are fighting tooth and nail to keep, rather than ones they are keen to offload.

  12. 12
    TTG says:

    Arsenal u 23s beat Brighton 5-0 tonight with Balogun getting a hat-trick! Azeez and Moller got the other goals . It increases the buzz around Balogun still further .
    The other rumour gaining pace is that we are interested in Ryan Bertrand of Southampton. I’m a fan of his but he might be an expensive older back-up . He is out of contract in the summer.

  13. 13
    TTG says:

    You beat me to it! We are generating some exciting prospects aren’t we? I do hope we can keep Balogun .

  14. 14
    Trev says:

    One of the most exciting can remember is Jack Wilshere. He’s now playing for Bournemouth in the Championship. How did that happen ?

    The answer, of course, is a mixture of his playing style, some personal issues at one time and lack of protection for a highly skilful player who was often rotationally kicked off the park.

    A huge talent we saw relatively little of and got nothing for.

  15. 15
    North Bank Ned says:

    A wonderful read, Trev. Nothing left on the cutting room floor. Waste not, want not.

    Shrewsbury is rather picturesque in an Olde English sort of way as it failed to attract the attention of both the Luftwaffe in World War 2 and the town planners in the 1960s.

    It is also where the founders of Private Eye spent their schooldays, so deserves its place in history for that alone.

    I expect a strongish team. Arteta likes winning the FA Cup.

  16. 16
    Cent says:

    I really enjoyed reading that, Trev. The Saints have been, much like us, a very unpredictable team this season. Hopefully we will see the best of us and the worst of them this week. If for nothing else, because this preview deserves a win.

  17. 17
    Osakamatt says:

    A fine read thanks Trev.

    Ryan was a surprise but good we
    got something done. Hopefully the
    cost will be taken out of the goalie
    coach’s wages.

    2-0 to The Arsenal today.

  18. 18
    Goonersince54 says:

    TTG @13
    We are indeed, but I fear Balogun is already lost to us.
    The young have no patience nowadays and his Agent is doing him no favours.

  19. 19
    TTG says:

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head .He apparently loves the club. I suspect he is a better prospect than Nketiah and we have to take tough decisions to sell people given how we’ve so wasted money previously . However, as you suggest , his agent ( the same one as Eddie apparently) will steer him to a deal that will see him leave for minimal compensation and maximum readies for the agent . The other striker we have in a #imilar bracket, John- Jules , is injured again on loan at Doncaster and may struggle with his fitness . When I saw the two live I thought John- Jules was just a bit better but I was most taken with ESR who was in a different class to anyone on the pitch

  20. 20
    BtM says:

    Lovely stuff, Trev.

    Always very difficult to play any team twice within a few days and beat them twice too. Make it happen, Arsenal.

  21. 21
    Uplympian says:

    Great preview Trev. The biggest miss in not playing Shrewsbury is that the headline following our win would obviously have be been The Taming of the Shrew.

    You’ve made a very good stab at the possible team selection but it’s really impossible to outguess Arteta in this. I expect he will pick a strong team as he will want to win the Cup again as far as he can. This will be tempered with the need to rest & rotate, particularly as we return to St Mary’s on Tuesday evening for the league match. My Saints supporting neighbour says they have a lot of injuries with a small squad so he’s not expecting the strongest of teams but again, it will depend on their manager’s priorities.
    A win will be a good tonic going forward both into the next round and the following league fixture – 2-0 to the good guys.

  22. 22
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Cheers Trev. Excellent preview that made me laugh.

    I have no idea what the team will be. There are a lot of options. The fact that we can make 5 subs i think means we may start with a ‘cup’ team but have players like Saka, ESR and maybe Auba on the bench. I think Eddie may start.

    Whoever plays, let’s win!

  23. 23
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:


    I’m not as down as you on the potential of a move for Odegaard. As a loan it would not cost much, which is a good thing right now. We have seen how ESR has transformed our attacking play, partly through his skill but also simply due to his position. We look much better with a 10 and our only other potential options are Willian (no thanks) and Saka (not his best position). We can’t play ESR into the ground so we need cover.

    We can’t buy anyone who is not first rate. And we probably can’t afford to buy anyone at all right now. We also may benefit from seeing how ESR develops over the rest of the season. If he plays his way into being considered our 10 of the future by the management team then we will only need to buy a player as his cover… No £50m on Aouar necessary. And if we do wanna lash out big money on a 10 then the summer is the time to do it.

    So all we need right now is a loan player who can play 10 for a few months in the cups or as a sub for ESR. I dunno who is available but I can’t imagine Odegaard is much worse than other options.

    I’d be perfectly happy with this one if it comes off.

  24. 24
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Just to go against the general opinion and inject some positivity…

    I have a suspicion that Arteta will win out and Balogun will stay.

    I don’t think he is ready for regular first team action and if he moves on I think he will struggle. We are doing an excellent job of bringing youngsters through and they are players he has played with for a decade. There will be clear progression for him. If he hurries up and signs da ting then we can get him out on loan to a Championship club for the second half of the season and have a look at him in the summer. I suspect that a loan, even for a few months, might see him get in next year’s squad.
    We ain’t gonna loan him or play him if he hasn’t signed a contract, so if his agent wants the money he gets from a move it is gonna cost a developing player half a year.

    I think the kid will make the right decision in the end.

  25. 25
    Esso says:

  26. 26
    Esso says:

    Quite like that team, as much as for who’s not playing.

  27. 27
    Esso says:

    Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Cedric, Elneny, Xhaka, Pepe, Willian, Martinelli, Nketiah

    Subs: Runarsson, Ryan, Chambers, Luiz, Maitland-Niles, Partey, Willock, Saka, Lacazette

  28. 28
    Esso says:

    No idea why my Twitter link got zapped! Illegal or something?

  29. 29
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    It’s time for Mustafi to go. When you can’t make a 9 man bench that has two keepers on it… it is time to get the hell out of dodge!

  30. 30
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    ESR and Auba rested fully.

  31. 31
    Esso says:

    and rightly so, and Tierney

  32. 32
    Esso says:

    Surprised about AMN – but we will see if Cedric is a real option at Left Back.

  33. 33
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    I like that team too. We might struggle for creativity but we can’t play the same players every game. At some point our second string need to step up. There is an opportunity for Pepe, Willian and Eddie to show something. And Gabi to get some more fitness and add his undoubted quality.

    I like Cedric at LB. Gabriel back in the team is a good call (and next to the calming influence of Rob) Partey on the bench can always come on for minutes as the match situation dictates

  34. 34
    Osakamatt says:

    Cedric in front of AMN on the left?
    Willian as a 10 I guess.
    Interesting line up and like others
    I’m happy to see some rested

  35. 35
    Esso says:

    Agree GSD and hopefully Martinelli can give us a bit of ooomph up front.

  36. 36
    Esso says:

    I’m convinced AMN is out the door come summer.

  37. 37
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Yeah Esso. He looks the most likely to drive the rest of them. Hopefully Eddie will give him a hand.

    Personally I think Pepe’s work rate has improved hugely, as well as his ability to actually make a tackle or an interception (not just Walcott about the place). He obviously needs to be productive in an attacking sense, but I am glad he isn’t a defensive liability anymore.

    Anyway, if Pepe keeps up his workrate then even Willian is gonna have to put a shift in or look well out of place…

    That is my reasoning explaining why Willian will play like he gives a damn today. 😜

  38. 38
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    There is no point keeping AMN if we don’t play him. I think this summer we will get a better offer than we did last summer and he’ll be gone.

  39. 39
    Countryman100 says:

    In my link to the same game four years ago above, interesting that Ainsley played. He’s been around awhile and cannot be considered a young kid anymore.

  40. 40
    Countryman100 says:

    Ainsley is 24 in August and has played 64 times for The Arsenal.

  41. 41
    Trev says:

    Thanks all for the kind comments – pleased if it made you chuckle – we can all do with a laugh these days.

    Good to see you Esso and Cent – and all the other regulars, of course !

  42. 42
    ksn says:

    Gabriel deflects a cross into his own goal and the Saints lead 1-0.

  43. 43
    Osakamatt says:

    couldn’t say it’s going well really
    but a bit unlucky with the goal

  44. 44
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    We were unlucky with the goal after a fairly even start. But we have got worse since then. It looks like only subs will change things for us. They players on the pitch don’t seem to have any ideas

  45. 45
    Steve T says:

    Poor first half. It just goes to emphasise even further those players that just are not quite good enough.

    Need to sharpen up second half of we want to remain in the cup.

    Trev, my apologies, I have still not had a read of your preview. I will so so.

    Wake up Arsenal.

  46. 46
    Sancho Panza says:

    Of the 20 in the squad today how many would you be happy to get rid if? I can count 7 in the 11 and 12 in total.

  47. 47
    ksn says:

    Shit passing by Gabriel and Holding and they have been putting the team under pressure.
    Pepe doesn’t do much and keeps stumbling instead of getting the ball under control. Southampton playing better football and looking more cohesive. Almost got caught out again when their goalie kicked the ball to Ings and he hit the bar. COYG.

  48. 48
    Steve T says:

    Ian Darke, in total aghast, “I think that was a foul throw???? The are normally confined to park football on a Sunday morning?”

    Clearly not someone who has regularly watched Arsenal in recent times.

  49. 49
    ksn says:

    Laca on for Bellerin.

  50. 50
    ksn says:

    I think the new crop of refs are being trained by Atkinson.

  51. 51
    bt8 says:

    Is a 12 noon kickoff even legal?? COYG

  52. 52
    ksn says:

    The fucking ref is not seeing how our players are being fouled systematically. Their players are smiling as they know the ref is on their side (just my imagination, maybe).

  53. 53
    Steve T says:

    Pepe. What the fuck is that??????

  54. 54
    Sancho Panza says:

    Fucking woeful. Well played Saints.

  55. 55
    ksn says:

    Out of the FA Cup and deserved to be out. We just have too many shitty players and we can’t do basics like passing properly. Hope we beat them in the upcoming league game.

  56. 56
    Steve T says:

    I must say, I was really disappointed with that. I was disappointed with the team selection. We are mid table. We certainly aren’t winning the league. So why not play our strongest side? As Southampton showed, they are a decent side. Perhaps that’s why it was so quiet in here? Was everyone resigned to that kind of performance?

    The first half was just so disjointed. After the changes we looked better. But for me, it’s abundantly clear both from today, and the rest of the season so far, who needs to be out of the door before we start next season.

    One final word on the strikers. For me, Balogun looks a much better prospect than Eddie. I would love to be wrong but I don’t think he has it at this level. I think we would be making a massive mistake if we allow Balogun to leave, to keep Eddie.

  57. 57
    North Bank Ned says:

    That did not make for cheerful watching. Southampton were the deserved winners even though we could have salvaged something if we had taken our chances, such as they were. For all their pressing and mid-field dominance, the Saints did not create that many chances. That said, we were second-best for much of the match, especially in the first half. Willian is a shadow of the player he was at Chelsea; putting him in blue for the day did not rekindle any muscle memory. It looks as if our season turns on ESR having a stellar second half. That is a high-risk gamble. As for Pepe, you don’t pay £72 million for work rate. You pay that sort of money for impact, i.e., a left foot that scores goals, creates assists and wins games. It is just not there. Xhaka was anonymous, at least until Partey came on. Nketiah did not get much service but did not look predatory. He must be feeling Balogun’s breath on his neck. I would have pulled Pepe, not Martinelli, to bring on Saka. Gabi did not have a great first half, but he needs playing time to get back into the pace of games, and his energy is infectious. We needed that. We’d better beat them in the league game after that.

  58. 58
    Trev says:

    Ned, broadly agree. I would guess that the Martinelli substitution was precautionary as he hasn’t played 90 minutes for a long time. It’s easy to see what we would be missing were he to be injured again.

    It’s a shame to be out of the cup but today also illustrates that we don’t have the squad to try to climb up the league and contend in two cup competitions. We can still win the Europa ! 🤞🏻

  59. 59
    Osakamatt says:

    We’ve been using squad players in the FA Cup for many seasons
    now and won it in some of thos seasons. The PL and EL have to be
    the priorities now so I wasn’t surprised at the selected XI.
    We didn’t play well and it’s always disappointing to go out but it
    was a tricky draw. On to the league game.

  60. 60
    Bathgooner says: