Arsenal cruised into the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup with a 5-0 victory away to Southampton at the St. Mary’s Stadium this evening, as Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck took centre-stage in the side led by Steve Bould in Arsène Wenger’s absence.
An early brace from Welbeck in his first start of the season saw the Gunners run riot in the first half, meanwhile Walcott’s hat-trick added the finishing touches to the visitors’ first win away to Southampton for over 13 years.
Spirits were high as the North Londoners took to the field, having jumped up to second place in the Premier League table last weekend under dramatic circumstances, and the Gunners looked to extend the feel good factor in a dominant start, despite a heavily-rotated XI.
Jeff Reine-Adelaide showcased his playmaking capabilities when slipping Lucas Perez through inside the box as early as the 4th minute, but the Spaniard’s swipe at the ball from the left failed to hit the target, as well as find a teammate inside the box.
The former Deportivo man wasn’t as forgiving with his decision-making the second time around, however, hooking a pass around the corner for Welbeck in behind the defence, who kept his composure to dink the goalkeeper and open the scoring for Arsenal in the 15th minute.
Welbeck was evading the Southampton defence again six minutes later, this time meeting Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s long ball before landing a finish through the legs of the on-rushing Harry Lewis.
At the other end, Shane Long set his sights on clawing back a goal for the hosts, but David Ospina was equal to the Irishman’s strike when parrying the shot away from danger.
Come the 35th minute, Welbeck and Lucas were found combining again inside the box, as the ex-Manchester United forward set Walcott for his first goal of the night with a tap-in, making it 3-0.
Welbeck was then replaced by Alexis Sanchez midway through the second half, as the Chilean sunk his teeth into the action immediately to assist Walcott for his brace in the 68th minute.
With the unexperienced Saints stretched, Arsenal smelt blood when Sanchez was set through on goal before biding his time for support, laying off a pass for Walcott to secure the match ball and a 5-0 victory with a shot across goal.
Lucas came close scoring himself as late as the 88th minute, but couldn’t surpass Lewis between the sticks after going one-on-one, as Wenger’s side settled for five goals ahead of Monday’s draw for the fifth round.
Arsenal XI: David Ospina (6); Hector Bellerin (6), Shkodran Mustafi (7), Rob Holding (7), Kieran Gibbs (6); Ainsley Maitland-Niles (8), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (9), Jeff Reine-Adelaide (7); Theo Walcott (8), Lucas Perez (7), Danny Welbeck (8)
Subs: Alexis Sanchez (7), Alex Iwobi (6)
By Patrick Ribeiro