Arsenal and Southampton meet for the second time in four days at St Mary’s on Tuesday night, this time in the Premier League.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Saints eliminated the FA Cup holders at the fourth round stage on Saturday after Gabriel’s first-half own goal proved to be decisive.
Mikel Arteta made seven changes to the side that beat Newcastle United earlier in the week and following his decision to do so, which has seen him receive criticism from some of the Arsenal faithful, he’ll be looking to justify those choices by masterminding a Gunners victory with some of his rested stars leading the charge.
If Saturday’s game and the meeting at the Emirates Stadium back in December (a 1-1 draw) is anything to go by, this encounter is likely to be a close affair. Here is 90min’s preview of the fixture in which Arsenal are expected to make multiple changes…
What time is kick off? 20.15 (GMT) Where is it being played? St Mary’s TV Channel? BT Sport 1 (UK) Referee: Kevin Friend VAR: Robert Jones
Southampton vs Arsenal – FA Cup fourth round preview: How to watch on TV, live stream & prediction
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Preview of the FA Cup fourth round clash between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday evening.
Chelsea vs Luton – FA Cup fourth round preview: How to watch on TV, live stream & prediction
A preview of Chelsea’s FA Cup fourth round tie with Luton, including how to watch on tv, team news and predicted lineups.
Southampton 1-0 Arsenal: Player ratings as Saints knock holders out of the FA Cup
Player ratings from Southampton versus Arsenal in the FA Cup
Southampton are still without Jannik Vestergaard, Moussa Djenepo, Mohammed Salisu, Nathan Redmond and Oriol Romeu. while Kyle Walker-Peters is now also unavailable due to injury and Ryan Bertrand is suspended. Alex McCarthy could return in goal.
Arsenal could still be without their captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who had to deal with a personal matter over the weekend. Dani Ceballos remains a doubt and Pablo Mari is still not fit enough to return to the side.
Southampton 1-0 Arsenal – FA Cup – 23/1 Southampton 2-0 Shrewsbury Town – FA Cup – 19/1 Leicester City 2-0 Southampton – Premier League – 16/1 Southampton 1-0 Liverpool – Premier League – 4/1 Southampton 0-0 West Ham – Premier League – 29/12
Southampton 1-0 Arsenal – FA Cup – 23/1 Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle United – Premier League – 18/1 Arsenal 0-0 Crystal Palace – Premier League -14/1 Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle United (AET) – FA Cup – 9/1 West Brom 0-4 Arsenal – Premier League – 2/1
The pressure will undoubtedly be on the Arsenal boss if, the Gunners fail to earn a result at Southampton after rotating at the weekend.
As for the Saints, they are currently two points ahead of Arsenal in having played a game fewer, and they will be looking to increase that deficit further, closing the gap on the top six. However, given Hasenhuttl’s side have a lengthy list of absentees and are unable to make as many changes, fatigue could play a serious part in the outcome of this one.
The returns of Bukayo Saka, Alexandre Lacazette, Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey to the starting XI are likely to elevate Arsenal’s level significantly and so it’s fair to say they stand a greater chance of putting on an improved display on Tuesday night.
The key to any long and successful Football Manager 2021 save is to prepare for the future, and the best way to do that is by signing young stars for your team.
Whether that’s a young player who can make an immediate impact or one who still needs some time in academy football to hone their craft, it’s up to you to help develop your youngsters into superstars, and there are plenty of players capable of living up to that billing.
Here are 15 of the best young stars to build your FM21 team around.
Stefan Bajic is on the cusp of a breakthrough at Saint-Etienne.
The first goalkeeper born in the 21st century to play a game in one of Europe’s top five leagues, Bajic is held in high regard in France and has already impressed at senior level.
Famed for his love of flying off his line, Bajic boasts the kind of agility needed to make him a perfect Sweeper Keeper of the future.
Born in the Netherlands but currently representing England, Ajax stopper Charlie Setford is another of those who has long been touted for a successful future in the game.
At 16 years old, Setford is more of a work-in-progress, but the right manager could easily turn the teenager into one of the world’s elite goalkeepers.
He finds himself in the middle of an international tug-of-war, with both England and the Netherlands doing their utmost to convince Setford to choose them.
Some exciting performances in Switzerland earned right-back Jordan Lotomba a move to French side Nice in the summer of 2020, where he has gone from strength to strength.
More of a wing-back than a traditional defender, the Swiss international is a complete defender who is capable of holding his own at both ends of the field. He doesn’t have the flair of team-mate Youcef Atal, but he does bring a bit more reliability at the back.
Lotomba is ready to impress at any level of the game, but he has all the tools needed to develop into a true star.
Already a star in the French top flight, Benoit Badiashile is flirting with household-name status already, and he’s not even 20.
His enormous frame helps him stand out among the crowd, but Badiashile is far more than just an imposing figure. Technically, he is well beyond his years already, with his passing range particularly impressing scouts.
Monaco know they have a real gem on their hands and will make you pay up to sign Badiashile, but he’s worth every penny.
Strahinja Pavlovic is yet to make the same kind of impact at Monaco as Badiashile, but all the signs suggest he’ll get there soon enough.
He might be a no-nonsense defender, but Pavlovic does possess some impressive passing skills. He can kick-start attacks from the back but is comfortable enough stepping into midfield when needed.
That technical ability allows Pavlovic to feature as a defensive midfielder at times, although centre-back is definitely where his future lies.
AZ’s starting left-back for the last few years, Owen Wijndal is bursting with experience at both domestic and international level.
Wijndal is a pacy defender who does not shirk his defensive duties and has consistently impressed in the Eredivisie, but it’s at the attacking end that the Dutchman really excels thanks to his speed and calmness on the ball.
He’s already used to a lot of responsibility and should therefore be more than ready to slot into any team on the planet.
After breaking through to the Genoa senior side last season, Nicolo Rovella has gone from strength to strength.
With fantastic vision and positioning, Rovella is the perfect fit for the Carrilero role. He’s great at hoovering up the ball and is capable of recycling possession to his more-creative team-mates.
Rovella was handed his Italy Under-21 debut in November 2020, despite being three years younger than most of the competition. Italy have a lot of faith in the teenager, who is seen by many as a potential mainstay in the senior setup in the near future.
If you’re a seasoned FM player, you won’t need introducing to Ryan Gravenberch.
The youngest player in Ajax history, Gravenberch is held in ludicrously high regard by scouts all across the planet because of his unique blend of precision, power and composure at the age of just 18.
He’s another of those who might command a hefty price tag, but he can more than justify such an investment in just a few years.
A regular feature at PSV since making his debut in January 2019, versatile forward Mohamed Ihattaren has been earmarked for an incredibly bright future.
The teenager is already flirting with a breakthrough to the Dutch national team, and with that reputation comes a sizeable price tag. You might not be able to sign a whole load of new faces if you choose to splash out on Ihattaren, but it’ll all be worth it soon enough.
He’s one of the few players his age who is already ready to make a senior impact, so there’s no waiting around for him to develop. Throw him in at the deep end and he’ll start swimming.
If you’re looking for a future superstar on the left wing, Ajax sensation Naci Unuvar is the perfect signing for you.
The 17-year-old has consistently played above his age group for both club and country, and more importantly, he has never looked out of place. With Unuvar, it feels like a question of when he will break through, not if.
A right-footed left winger, Unuvar does his best work when cutting inside, so make sure to deploy him as either an Inside Forward or Wide Playmaker.
Since playing under-20 football as a 13-year-old, few players have had a spotlight on them quite like Celtic’s Karamoko Dembele.
It feels surprising to note that Dembele is yet to really make his senior breakthrough, but it’s worth remembering that he’s still just 17 years old. All the hysteria has distorted things somewhat.
Make sure Dembele keeps his head down and you’ll see him develop into one of England’s finest wingers.
Another of those names which should be well known to any seasoned FM veteran, Myron Boadu is already among the finest players in the Eredivisie.
After fighting his way back from a gruesome ankle injury, Boadu has managed to get his career back on track and bagged his 20th league goal for AZ in just his 40th appearance in the competition.
His goalscoring form was rewarded with an international debut which saw him become the first player born in the 21st century to score for the Netherlands.
Long touted as a core part of the future of Belgian football, winger Jeremy Doku’s hard work was rewarded with a move to Ligue 1 side Rennes worth in excess of £20m.
Doku may be advertised as a left winger, but he’s just as effective on the other side of the pitch and can even hold his own in a central striker role, where he loves to use his flair and agility to turn defenders inside out.
Given their sizeable investment in Doku, Rennes aren’t prepared to let him go for cheap, so you better start saving those pennies now.
It feels as though Lyon sensation Rayan Cherki has been around for ages, such is the level of hype that surrounds him.
Cherki, who starts the game at 16 years old, still has a bit of growing to do before he’s ready to make a consistent impact on a starting lineup, but he’s not far off. Give him minutes off the bench now and he’ll soon blossom into a starter.
Lyon know all about his potential – he’s seen by many fans as the club’s best academy graduate ever – so Cherki is another of those who might set you back a pretty penny.
Sebastiano Esposito, who boasts an outrageous goal record at youth level, would be getting more minutes at Inter if it wasn’t for the equally electric form of Romelu Lukaku.
Esposito has been sent out on loan to SPAL for his first consistent taste of senior football, and it’s a move which is being watched closely by scouts who believe the striker could soon be one of the best in the league.
He’s not ready to lead the line for a top side just yet, but given he’s still a teenager, there’s plenty of time for all that.
Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe is believed to be desperate to get a move to Real Madrid over the line this summer, but Los Blancos know affording him will be easier said than done.
Real have been plotting to sign Mbappe for years now, waiting until he enters the final year of his contract this summer before swooping in and landing the 22-year-old for a ‘cut-price fee’ of no more than £200m.
The deal was seen as feasible before the COVID-19 outbreak obliterated Real’s finances. They have been left needing to sell numerous fringe players – the likes of Gareth Bale, Marcelo, Isco, Luka Jovic, Brahim Diaz and Dani Ceballos have been mentioned – but according to ABC, even that may not be enough.
Mbappe is believed to be concerned that Real’s financial struggles have left them unable to sign him, and it’s said that he has reached out to the Spanish side to make sure they are actually going to pursue him in the summer.
Real want to do business with PSG but are aware of the enormous cost of the deal. A fee of £142m is suggested, and Real know offloading those fringe players won’t get them that kind of money.
Florentino Perez feels as though he would have to authorise two major departures this summer, and one potential casualty of the situation is winger Vinicius Junior, who just so happens to be wanted by PSG.
PSG have been trailing Vinicius for years and would be open to including him in a swap deal for Mbappe, but the 20-year-old’s value is nowhere close to Mbappe’s price tag, and therefore another sale must occur.
At the minute, it’s not actually known who that player could be, and Real are now scrambling around to gauge the interest levels in some of their other good-but-not-that-good players.
There’s also the matter of Mbappe’s sizeable wages to figure out. He would want in excess of £16m-a-year for his net salary, which could be freed up by offloading those unwanted players suggested at the very start.
Real are well aware of the issues they face in getting this deal done. PSG are putting pressure on Mbappe to make a decision about his future, and if Los Blancos can’t put their money where their mouths are, they might miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime deal.
“The players have to make it different. The message is clear. The basics are to run and to sprint and the players have to do that on the pitch. The way we approached the Arsenal game in the first half wasn’t right.”
This was Frank Lampard’s reaction to Chelsea being completely outperformed by a down-on-their-luck Arsenal in December.
“Was it tiredness? No. Did the players lack character against Arsenal? They did and they know that. The first half we lacked it. Second half we didn’t, to be fair.”
Not for the first time, he publicly lambasted his players for failing to compete. Maybe that’s something Lampard, one of the finest footballers to have ever played the game, would never understand. He always ran the hard yards, always showed up on big occasions, always thought he was a world class player. Perhaps it just didn’t compute to him that a manager would be at fault for what happens on the pitch.
It wasn’t the first time one of Lampard’s ugly blind spots emerged. His comments regarding the different routes into management he and Sol Campbell have endured (highlighted by Raheem Sterling) were ones trying to deflect a blame not necessarily aimed at him, rather than continue a much-needed dialogue. His snappy remarks at The Athletic’s Liam Twomey for his articles negatively impacting the players’ confidence smacked of desperation. To the bitter end, it could never have been Lampard’s fault.
But there may still a good manager in him, somewhere. Waltzing into the Derby County job in 2018 with his suit tightly fitted and his top button undone may have looked easy (apparently his uncle Harry Redknapp helped grease the wheels, but you keep insisting your route into management was about hard work, buddy), but it was still a rather unsteady club to join.
The Rams had a bloated, ageing squad on a wage bill fit for a Premier League side rather than a consistent Championship playoff contender, with financial fair play regulations threatening to hit the club hard. Many of Derby’s core players – including Golden Boot winner Matej Vydra – left upon Lampard’s arrival. Mason Mount, Harry Wilson and Fikayo Tomori coming in on loan injected much-needed youthfulness into the squad, while six senior players signed permanently and went straight into the fold.
The squad turnover was high, but a rookie manager still took Derby to the Championship playoff final, memorably knocking out Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds when everyone had written them off along the way.
And the circumstances which Lampard arrived to at Chelsea weren’t much better either, with Eden Hazard departing for Real Madrid and a transfer ban coming into effect. What he was given was what he had to use.
Lampard successfully utilised players from the club’s academy more than any other manager in the Roman Abramovich era. The talk going into the 2019/20 season was that it was a free hit for Chelsea, and they ended it in the top four and with an FA Cup final appearance. Along the way, they played some great but naive football, often hamstrung by their inexperience and holographic goalkeeper.
Chelsea looked to establish themselves as a super club once more, splurging over £200m in the transfer market. For the first time in his managerial career, Lampard’s task was more about challenging rather than merely competing, and he failed.
“We are grateful to Frank for what he has achieved in his time as Head Coach of the Club,” Chelsea’s parting statement read. “However, recent results and performances have not met the Club’s expectations, leaving the Club mid-table without any clear path to sustained improvement.”
Lampard is obviously a smart man with a great footballing brain, a manager willing to give youth a chance and someone who should command the respect of the next dressing room he walks into. But it definitely won’t be at a club like Chelsea, and he can’t ignore his quite obvious flaws any longer.
Having pulled the trigger on club legend Frank Lampard, Chelsea are said to be lining up Thomas Tuchel as his replacement – but are they making a mistake not going after Massimiliano Allegri?
The Italian, who is currently unattached, is said to be considering other options – that’s according to Fabrizio Romano, but given the Blues’ financial power and the lure of the Premier League it is hard to believe they couldn’t persuade the 53-year-old to make the move if they really wanted to.
Although Tuchel is six years his junior, the former Juventus boss is a far more decorated coach having won six league titles and four Italian Cups.
Allegri is often lauded for his tactical versatility; nowadays, everybody is looking for a clear style, a philosophy if you like, however, in the case of the Livorno-born coach, he has proven he can be successful and adaptable.
During his spell in Turin, he worked mainly with three systems: the 3-5-2, 4-3-1-2 and the 4-3-3. Five of his aforementioned six league titles came in consecutive seasons, so who could argue with his methods?
While open to making changes regarding the way his side attacked, one thing Allegri never strayed away from was a compact shape when out of possession. He was able to find the balance and that, in my view, is why his side became one of the most formidable in Europe.
Having reached two Champions League finals in three seasons, losing to Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively, you could certainly argue he failed to crown their domestic dominance with the ultimate prize in the European game.
Chelsea’s seemingly imminent appointment of Thomas Tuchel feels like it might be geared towards them trying to get more out of the German pair they splashed a huge £119.7m on – but is that the right approach?
When the club decided to break the bank in order to bring in Kai Havertz and Timo Werner among others, they’d have expected the team to be challenging at the top of the division, not down in ninth place having played half of their fixtures.
It could be argued that one of Frank Lampard’s biggest struggles this season was finding a system in which those big-money signings could thrive and justify their transfer fees. One of Allegri’s strengths is his adaptability and that allows him to make the necessary tweaks tactically to get the best out of the players available to him.
One of the common misconceptions you often hear thrown around regarding the Italian is that his style of football is boring and that simply isn’t true. Under Allegri, Juventus played some excellent stuff at times – even before the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid.
Tuchel is undoubtedly a talented coach and having taken Paris Saint-Germain to the Champions League final last season, you could argue his sacking last month was harsh. If he is to be confirmed as the new Chelsea boss, Roman Abramovich will have brought in another top coach to add to the list of big names to have managed the club during his ownership.
However, given the pressing need to get the best out of the current crop and improve tactically right away, perhaps the Italian would have been the smarter choice. Only time will tell if the club will regret their decision to prioritise the German.