FA Cup Fourth Round Proper
(Danny Welbeck x2, Theo Walcott x3)
St Mary’s Stadium
Two games in one day isn’t all that uncommon this season for the Terrace Traveller. I had the mad day in London way back in August watching Dagenham & Redbridge and then racing over to The Valley to watch Charlton.
I’ve also managed a BUCs fixture on a Wednesday afternoon and then gone to a game in the evening, nothing too crazy as well as two games on January 2nd when I watched Colden Common at midday and Petersfield Town at 3pm.
My rush today wasn’t too dissimilar than my time in London. Flashback to the 27th August and Dagenham & Redbridge had just finished beating Wrexham at about 14:10pm and then I missed about 90 seconds of Charlton versus Bolton thanks to a mixture of running, tube and a very understanding taxi driver.
Today, as long as Team Solent’s FA Vase game didn’t go into extra time (which we now know didn’t), I would have about 40 minutes to get to St Mary’s and continue my FA Cup run.
For those who have followed me throughout the season, my FA Cup run has taken me to some obscure corners of the south of England. I also ventured north to South Cheshire for a Round One replay between Crewe Alexandra and Cheltenham Town.
This time I was sticking closer to home, and after jumping in my car, driving into the city centre, parking up and running 1.3 miles to the stadium I made it into my seat with 47 seconds on the clock.
I made it to game number two for the day and my 12th FA Cup game of the season.
Theo Walcott scored a hat-trick against his former club Southampton to book Arsenal’s spot in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Both sides fielded a mixed side for the cup but it was Arsene Wenger’s side that came out on top.
A Danny Welbeck brace and a single from Walcott gave the Gunners a convincing lead at the break before England international and former Saint Walcott completed his hat-trick in the second half to complete the scoring.
It looked like the visitors were up for the match and Jack Stephens had to be on hand to block Jeff Reine-Adelaide’s shot inside three minutes.
It took Arsenal just 15 minutes to open the scoring when Lucas Perez played a lovely ball into the path of Welbeck who showed real class to chip the ball over the onrushing Harry Lewis, clipping the underside of the bar on its way in.
Saints were clearly feeling the effects of Wednesday night’s heroics at Anfield and Arsenal doubled the lead on 22 minutes when Welbeck controlled Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s diagonal ball before slipping it past Lewis. Central defender Stephens went close to clearing the ball on the line but ended up clattering the post as it trickled in.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg wasted a shooting opportunity for the home side when his ambitious shot went well high of David Ospina’s goal.
Shane Long forced a save from Ospina when he connected with Cuco Martina’s pass but the Colombian ‘keeper was having a quiet evening between the sticks.
Shkodran Mustafi went close with a headed effort that would have put Arsenal three goals ahead on 29 minutes from Oxlade-Chamberlain’s well-struck free kick.
The game was dead a buried on 35 minutes when Stephens drilled a clearance straight at Hojbjerg, allowing Perez and Welbeck to exchange passes before Welbeck dragged the ball across the box to Walcott to tap in.
The second half started with an air of control by the away side who were nurturing their three goal lead.
Hector Bellerin was unlucky not to score when Lewis saved well from the Spaniard’s shot.
Changes for both teams were made just after the hour mark with Long and Lloyd Isgrove making way for Dusan Tadic and Nathan Redmond. The big change came from the away side with Wenger choosing to unleash his talisman Alexis Sanchez onto the pitch, replacing Welbeck.
Sanchez had an instant impact when he set up Walcott for his second and Arsenal’s third of the match on 69 minutes. Oxlade-Chamberlain played a nice pass through to Sanchez who pulled it back on the line with an inch-perfect pass to Walcott to slot, side footed, into the corner of the net.
Claude Puel’s men created very little as the fans started exiting the ground after the fourth goal upset by the lack of effort their side had shown in this cup tie.
The game was wrapped up seven minutes from the end when Arsenal hit Saints on the break, Perez played a beautiful ball forward from the edge of his own area setting Sanchez away and he squared the ball to the supporting Walcott to do the honours, claim the match ball and complete his treble.
2016/17 Games: 84
2016/17 Grounds: 49 (9)
Total Grounds Visited: 150 (40)