player ratings as Saints knock out FA Cup holders

Southampton knocked out the Arsenal holder from the FA Cup with a 1-0 fourth-round victory over the Gunners at St. Mary’s on Saturday afternoon.

Southampton’s 24th-minute opener proved to be the winner, as the teasing cross from Kyle Walker-Peters was deflected into his own net by Gabriel.

The Saints had largely dominated in the first half and were well worth their lead at the break, but Arsenal improved a lot in the second half and had opportunities to equalize thanks to Eddie Nketiah and Rob Holding. However, the former soared and the latter saw his shot saved by the feet of Fraser Forster as Southampton held on and progressed into the FA Cup fifth round.

Let’s go into some player notes

Cédric Soares, Kyle Walker-Peters
Walker-Peters opened the scoring for Southampton | Catherine Ivill / Getty Images

Fraser Forster (GK) – 6/10 – Barely had a stop to make for the first hour, but managed a big save with his feet in the second half to stop Nketiah.

Kyle Walker-Peters (RB) – 7/10 – His formidable teasing center was turned into his own net by Gabriel as Southampton took the lead.

Jan Bednarek (CB) – 8/10 – Produced a significant first-half block to prevent a goal-tied Pepe effort, followed by a crucial interception to keep Martinelli from being played on goal.

Jack Stephens (CB) – 7/10 – Southampton had to make a more defensive change in the second half, but Stephens cleared and directed whatever came their way.

Ryan Bertrand (LB) – 6/10 – Really energetic, willingly tearing up the left flank in the first half. Forced to sit deeper and diligently stick to defensive duties in the second.

Nicolas Pepe, James Ward-Prowse, Stuart Armstrong
Ward-Prowse and Armstrong started in midfield for Southampton | Catherine Ivill / Getty Images

Stuart Armstrong (RM) – 6/10 – The cast was really impressive, pulling in a few cross-field diagonals and a neat first pass to send Adams rushing into the second half.

James Ward-Prowse (CM) – 8/10 – Slammed the crossbar in the opening rally with a moving corner, before picking Walker-Peters in preparation for the Saints’ opener. Instrumental for Southampton – moved the ball cleverly and deterred the Gunners.

Ibrahima Diallo (CM) – 7/10 – Wiped the rear terribly on several occasions, especially in the second half with acceleration to dispossess Pepe.

Theo Walcott (LM) – 6/10 – Change of flank with Armstrong a few times. Looked crisp and lively, well connected to Adams.

Che Adams, Rob Holding
Adams has started for Southampton | Catherine Ivill / Getty Images

Danny Ings (ST) – 6/10 – Shaken the post early in the second half after beating Arsenal’s backline for rhythm. Really sharp, decisive in leading the press of the Saints.

Che Adams (ST) – 6/10 – Almost opened the scoring with a solid solo run, but was prevented by a weak save from Leno. Has been replaced by 13 minutes remaining.

Dan N’Lundulu – 5/10

Shane Long – N / A

Kyle Walker-Peters, Cédric Soares
Cedric started left-back for Arsenal | Catherine Ivill / Getty Images

Bernd Leno (GK) – 6/10 – I quickly began to turn Adams down with a clever, reflexive save in the first half.

Hector Bellerin (RB) – 6/10 – Advance more frequently in the second half as Arsenal saw more ball, before being substituted in the 70th minute.

Rob Holding (CB) – 6/10 – was presented with one of Arsenal’s most promising openings but was sacked from a corner in the second half.

Gabriel (CB) – 5/10 – Beaten too easily by Adams as the Southampton striker neared the opening goal, before turning the Walker-Peters cross into his own net

Cedric Soares (LB) – 6/10 – Playing in a less familiar left-back role, bombarded forward on every given opportunity and looked sharp. Switched right when Bellerin exited.

Willian, James Ward-Prowse
Willian was back in Arsenal’s starting XI | Catherine Ivill / Getty Images

Granite Xhaka (CM) – 5/10 – Caught on the ball several times by the energetic Southampton press, unable to make a revealing impact on the game.

Mohamed Elneny (CM) – 5/10 – Caught deep in his own half of the pitch during the preparation for Southampton’s first match. Replaced just before the hour.

Willian (CAM) – 5/10 – He looked more efficient in the number 10 role when he picked up the ball – but he drifted in and out of the procedure and the play far passed him.

Kyle Walker-Peters, Gabriel Martinelli
Martinelli started in Arsenal’s top three | Catherine Ivill / Getty Images

Nicolas Pepe (RW) – 6/10 – Really grew up in the game and was Arsenal’s best player in the second half. Teed up Nketiah in the second half with a smart shot, before sending his hitting partner away with an excellent deep ball.

Eddie Nketiah (ST) – 5/10 – Well combined with Pepe in the second half, before seeing an effort diverted widely. He had Arsenal’s best chance of the game, but his close effort was ruled out by Forster.

Gabriel Martinelli (LW) – 6/10 – Had a formidable run behind the Southampton baseline on an Arsenal free-kick, but failed to make a clear connection with a volley attempt. Very much alive, he looked like Arsenal’s most dangerous player before being substituted in the 57th minute.

Thomas Partey – 5/10

Bukayo Saka – 6/10

Alexandre Lacazette – 5/10