FA Cup defeat doesn’t tell us anything we did not already know

So we will not be winning back to back FA Cups again.

Taking into account a side winning back to back FA Cups has only occurred 4 times in 30 years the odds were always against The Arsenal.

Interesting to note that 3 of those 4 teams have been Arsenal.

So we are out of our trophy and it was not a huge surprise.

We were in for a hard game as soon as the team news came out that the likes of Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney were not playing whilst Southampton picked their strongest team.

We have struggled this year with our strongest XI, and limped to a draw against Southampton earlier this with our 1st team.

It actually annoys me when mid-table teams with no really chance of relegation play are rotated XI in the cup. It is disrespectful to fans that travel and denies them a genuine chance of winning a trophy – so fair play to Ralph Hasenhüttl for taking the competition seriously. There is no reason the likes of Southampton or Wolves could not go all the way to the final.

So we had a weak XI, Southampton had a strong XI and that was that.

Even with a weakened side, I still expected Arsenal to perform a lot better than what they did. But it was “same old same old” with the usual players putting in their usually poor performances.

During our poor run earlier in the season, there were 2 consistencies.

Sides taking advantage of an error at the back for Arsenal and scoring, and lack of creativity up front.

Gabriel was unlucky for the ball to bounce of him and slide under Bernd Leno. An own goal was Southampton’s only real chance of the match and it sums up our season.

It is the top of the field where it was a feeling of deja vu.

Willian and Nicholas Pepe.

The pair should simply not be in a starting XI together. Both are playing so poorly that we are losing 50% of our attacking prowess when the pair start.

Neither has performed well this season, so it was no surprise when their poor form continued.

Why Mikel Arteta continues to pick the pair in tandem I do not know.

Yes, Saka and Smith Rowe are youngsters and Arteta needs to treat them carefully, but it feels like every time Willian and Pepe start together we struggle to create and lose.

And it was not that both started, but also that both finished the game.

The free kick with 3 minutes to go sums it up.

In a good position on the edge of the box. A whipped in ball to the far post is what’s needed. Any touch is a goal.

Willian and Pepe over it, the Ivorian hits it a long way over. Not even close.

It is getting to the point where Arsenal need to just cut their losses on Pepe. If an offer of £20m comes in for him, take it.

Whilst that will see us make a huge £50m loss on him, it would at least allow us to reinvest some funds in someone better.

As for Willian. The decision to offer him a 3 year deal gets more and more baffling every game.

It’s taken 18 months for us to get Mesut Ozil off the books, but we now have over 2 years of Willian eating a wage.

If the side was rotated so that Arteta could see if the likes of Pepe and Willian would return to form, it all did was reinforce what most of us know. That neither are good enough.

Hopefully with the emergence of Emile Smith Rowe, the impending signing of Martin Odegaard and return to fitness of Gabriel Martinelli, we should not see Willian and Pepe in an XI together again.

The senior pair should now be 5th and 6th in the pecking order behind their junior team mates.

So it is frustrating to be out of the FA Cup, and equally as frustrating that it is the same old players putting in the same old poor performance.

Onto Tuesday when we play Southampton again.

Keenos

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