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The Rewind opinion column – what we learned from Southampton v Arsenal

18:59 30 January 2017

Arsenal's Danny Welbeck appaluds supporters as he is substituted during the Emirates FA Cup, fourth round match at St Mary's Stadium, Southampton.

Arsenal's Danny Welbeck appaluds supporters as he is substituted during the Emirates FA Cup, fourth round match at St Mary's Stadium, Southampton.

PA Wire/PA Images

Read our Rewind opinion column as our man at the match Layth Yousif shares his observations on Arsenal’s rout of Southampton

Buy him a pint

‘Trio’ Walcott may have hit a treble to reach 98 goals for Arsenal - ensuring their smooth passage into the fifth round of the FA Cup at St Mary’s against a disappointing if raw Saints side led by former Arsene Wenger disciple Claude Puel. But the real hero was Danny Welbeck. Soon to be labelled ‘fit-again’ Danny Welbeck after his brace goals saw prolonged celebrations from his teammates. Not just because they supplemented Arsenal’s imperious superiority during the game, but because it signalled redemption. Wenger’s relief and delight afterwards was palpable too. He talked movingly and openly, with the merest hint of emotion in his voice, about the long road Welbeck has travelled since his unfortunate long-term injury - and fears the injury would ruin the forward’s career. Thankfully the mental strength Welbeck has showed during the long night of his soul through those nine months and 264 days since he last scored means his recovery has been met with unbridled joy. From his manager, his teammates, those within the game – and the 4,700 travelling fans. If ever a lad deserved a pint it’s Welbeck. But knowing his dedication during his time out he’d probably just settle for an energy drink.

Get your coat son

Far be it for us to criticise a manager who has just led his team to the League Cup final at Wembley through two tough games against the might of Liverpool, but it seemed a strange decision by Southampton manager Claude Puel to rest 10 players ahead of their clash with Arsenal. And yes we know English football is gruelling. And the fact the Saints have two hard league games this week. But why concede a fight to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup for the future glory of er, eighth place? What will Southampton fans remember from this season? A spirited mid table placing or a trip to Wembley? Why Puel didn’t try and make it two trips by fielding a strong side and capitalise on their midweek euphoria against an Arsenal side with an absent manager who also have bigger fish to fry against Chelsea and Munich next month? Seriously, what is the point of playing football if not to win trophies?

Magic Moment

Alexis Sanchez coming on. Yes, of course if he had been injured there would have been an outcry. But footballers are made to play football. And the way Sanchez agitated to get playing time is so refreshing. For the ultimate ‘street footballer’ money is secondary to playing the game. And whether it’s Barcelona in the Nou Camp or a second-string Southampton line up at St Mary’s all the Chilean wants to do is kick a ball around. So he did – and that desire to play football is simply refreshing.

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