AF Diary #21
FA Cup Quarter Final draw
Norwich vs. Aston Villa
Southampton vs. Derby or Man Utd
Chelsea vs. Bournemouth
Arsenal vs. Man City
The bottom game is a fantastic draw. One of the two biggest sides will be gone going into the semis. Our draw is fine. It’s at home, probably against Utd who we just beat at home.
Haha, come on! Mon the Derby. So, it’s Derby in the FA Cup QF’s. They are currently 5th in the Championship.
Everton 2 Southampton 3
This is the third time this season we’ve been leading 3-0 and scraped to a 3-2 win and the second time we’ve done it against Everton. Fraser with two here and Munoz had it wrapped up after 40 minutes and then somehow we let in two late goals. How do I tell them to guard against complacency at 3-0 up though? Surely they should be able to coast at 3-0?
Ed is one of the best things about Southampton. He was a trainee at the club and is a prime example of their excellent academy. He came through in 2023 and after a few loan spells in lower leagues he started firing them in for the first team. He record goals tally in the Prem is 25. The most he’s scored in all competitions in one season is 31. He’s currently on 18/28. So I’m certain he’s going to best his all competitions record and maybe the league one too. What a player!
Champion’s League KOR1 L2
Porto 1 Southampton 1 (3-5 agg)
After Porto’s dramatic second half at St Mary’s it was squeaky bum time when they scored a terrific goal after 18 minutes. Jeff firing one in. We crept back into it, scored a penalty (Doda) and settled for a draw. It’s enough and we’re into the CL QF’s.
Southampton 3 Fulham 1
Fulham scored with their first shot, after ten minutes, and only had one other shot in the entire game. We got an equalizer when a Dong-Wook cross got turned into his own net by Gordon McGlinchey. Munoz fired in a second almost straight from kick off second half. My rousing half time pep talk getting the job done. Dong-Wook added a third and the only concern is another injury to Ale Rioja. He’s out 3-4 weeks.
I’m thrilled that my run-in has very few hard games but I check Man City and Arsenal and they don’t either. We’ve all already played each other and nobody is playing Chelsea. They’ve both got one game against Man Utd to go but we’re behind even if they both lose that particular fixture and we win everything.
Bournemouth 0 Southampton 3
Early start here with Chris Watts tucking one in after 4 minutes played. Garrrry Marrrrbles scores twice and we win comfortably. Could have added a fourth in injury time but Fraser went for goal instead of playing it to a completely unmarked Munoz. I don’t blame him for being greedy. He’s scored loads this season.
Champion’s League QF draw:
Wolfsburg vs. Arsenal
Bayern vs. Chelsea
Southampton vs. Benfica
Man City vs. Atletico Madrid
This is another great draw for us. It means not having to play anyone I’m scared of until at least the semi finals. The proliferation of English teams means I’m likely to play either Arsenal or Man City at some point. Benfica are beatable. That’s what I know based on my time in Portugal.
FA Cup QF
Southampton vs. Derby
What a ridiculous game this was. Ed Fraser got sent off after 9 minutes. Munoz then put us in front and we were cruising until Cristobal gave away a 73rd minute penalty. Byrne smashing it straight down the middle. Rob Kenyon then put Derby in front and I had to go attacking, with ten men, and time running out. Garry Marrbles comes up with the vital goal for 2-2. Extra time and indeed penalties followed. We scored all of ours. Byrne tried his luck down the middle again and smart keeper Ruben learned and saved it. He saved another and we’re finally through. Made really hard work of Championship Derby!
I abandoned the game for a bit here because Mike Kilby messaged me, asking if I wanted a game of Among Us. I did! It was great fun. We played with Dohmi and Lukas. The idea is you’re a bunch of crew members on a space ship completing tasks so the ship can take off. Only one of you is an imposter, out to murder the others. Whenever a dead body is found everyone sits around debating it, knowing full well one of them is a killer. Or two! It’s an Agatha Christie novel in game form. I enjoyed it a great deal. Most of the time I wasn’t an imposter but on the few times I was I managed to kill Dohmi and deliberately left Mike alive so Mike was sticking up for me in the group chat thing. Which was not helped by Dohmi’s own suspicious behaviour. Like stopping the game for meeting and asking “what’s for lunch?”
It’s £4 on Steam. You won’t regret it and you’ll probably end up getting all your mates to get it so they can play along.
WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS
Spain had a few games. They put seven past Azerbaijan and then saw off Czech Republic. Based on our last qualifying campaign it’s probably not worth mentioning the qualifiers as Spain flatten everyone until it gets really serious.
Southampton 1 Tottenham 0
This was very easy. Spurs offered nothing. We struggled to score though and it was a Fonseca cross deflected into his own net by Ross Gilchrist that made the difference.
Pre season I was expected to qualify for Champion’s League, which feels like a done deal with Chelsea fading fast and Man Utd not pushing us hard. Also QFs of CL, which we’ve done and SFs of the FA Cup, which we’ve also done. The board have had all their requirements ticked off and we are only starting April.
FA Cup SF
Southampton vs. Bournemouth
An easier semi-final draw than in the Carabao Cup, that’s for damn sure. We are 26 points above Bournemouth in the league. Arsenal await in the final after a penalties win over Villa. Damn it! This is 3-0 after 20 minutes. Tommy Frenger on fire. He ends up with a hat trick. Munoz gets two. Bournemouth decimated. 5-1. Arsenal await.
Champion’s League QF L1
Southampton 2 Benfica 0
I wasn’t particularly worried here and we bossed the game. Garry Marrbles tucked away a first half pen and a free kick from Tommy Frenger finished Benfica off. Second leg after the next league game and I’m a win away from a third CL semi. Third time lucky?
Southampton 0 Leeds 1
This game happened right after I posted a screenshot of the winning streak we’d been on since January. Fucking karma or something. They scored in the second minute and despite over twenty shots we couldn’t find a goal. Are we getting burned out? Or is it just clearly apparent that the league is beyond us and we can coast into CL now? Well, we can’t. Man Utd and Chelsea are right there!
Champion’s League QF L2
Benfica 0 Southampton 1
A cruise! Rioja hits them early for 1-0 and I even had time to rest players and kill the tempo in the second half. Southampton breeze past Benfica and into the semi’s of the CL.
PC SWITCH ISSUE
I switched the game over to a new PC and for some ungodly reason it reset to the save point before the FA Cup semi-final. Fuck’s sake. Anyway, here we go again. Southampton 3 Bournemouth 2 second time around. Less dominant. Hit the woodwork FOUR times. Rioja with two and poor Tommy Frenger gets downgraded to one from a free kick. The boys go one better than before against Benfica at home, winning 3-0. Rioja, Dong-Wook and Fraser on the scoresheet in a comprehensive win. Double mezzala pays off again! Lost to Leeds again. 2-1 this time. At one point we had 20 shots to their 2. We score late on through sub Munoz but Leeds hold on. Another jinx team? Fuck. CL finished the same again, with us overcoming Benfica. The draw is far harsher though. No upsets, unlike Chelsea and Wolfsburg first time around. This time we draw Man City and it’s potentially another final with Arsenal. A team we’ve lost twice to this season.
Stoke City vs. Southampton
A win here secures CL football for next season and gets every board expectation ticked off. We secure it with relative ease. Leading 1-0 for most of the game before Big Ed Fraser pops up with a late second. Emiliano Fonseca scored the first, a real beauty, after a delightful counter attack. 2-0. Champion’s League football officially acquired for next season.
Watford vs. Southampton
This game means very little. Watford in mid-table obscurity. Southampton safely in CL positions. Watford miss a penalty and Ruben also saves a clear cut one-on-one. Fraser misses all three of his chances and Ruben saves a breakaway in stoppage time too. 0-0.
Southampton vs. West Ham
With the Champion’s League semi coming up and the CL confirmed for next year I field zero first team players here. It’s not a weak side but it’s all second choices. We boss the game but it finishes 0-0. I’m not mad. I really don’t care.
Champion’s League SF L1
Southampton vs. Man City
WE SCORE IN THE OPENING MINUTE. It’s offside. After indecisiveness from Lyall Claydon, world’s best goalie, Fraser nips to open the scoring. We go a bit defensive after Fu Xingchen beats three players and is barely denied by Ruben. The defensive line up keeps calm and holds on. 1-0. Half way there! Arsenal vs Bayern is 0-0 after the Emirates leg. It’s very close at this level of European competition.
Burnley 2 Southampton 1
This meant nothing at all. I wanted players fresh for the City game and left out anyone likely to be involved. The team still played ok and came back from 1-0 down only to ship a late winner. The CL business has made me very serious here.
Champion’s League SF 2L
Man City 2 Southampton 0
Oh no. Fu Xingchen does us here. It’s the second goal that annoys me. I switched us to very defensive and their goal came about from them stealing the ball from my right back who was on their touchline with the ball. What the actual fuck are you doing lads? Very defensive. VERY. DEFENSIVE. So they shot themselves in the foot and ignored me. I tried to switch formations second half but we rarely threatened and deserved nothing. A shame as the same game in the league we played the same formation and didn’t do anything stupid and got a 0-0.
Southampton 1 Leicester 1
Nothing to report here but Spurs went down! They lost at Everton and got overtaken by Fulham who won on the road. Tottenham get relegated for the first time in this save. We finish our league season in third.
FA Cup Final
Southampton 3 Arsenal 2
A rollicking good conclusion to our season. Ed Fraser was suspended for his stupid sending off in an earlier round that saw him suspended for three cup games. Munoz played in his place. I also opted to go more attacking, thinking that Arsenal had done us on our shithousery formation a few times. One small tweak though; removing the high line we play against most clubs due to Arsenal’s pace. It paid off. Munoz and Rioja twice put us ahead before Munoz wrapped it up on 52 minutes. It wasn’t an especially nervy final half hour even. I didn’t make a single substitution. Trust the lads who are out there, I thought. Job done. First trophy as Saints boss!
- Ed Fraser 31
- Felipe Munoz 17
- Ale Rioja 12
- Garrrry Marrrrrbles 9
- Marco Chiappini/Simon Ash 8
Munoz chipped in with way more goals than I thought he had. Rioja was a big threat in the air, surprisingly. Marrable (Garry’s real name) came good after starting the season on the bench. He’s been so effective I switched to a double mezzala so he and Dong-Wook could play.
- Cristobal 12
- Ale Rioja 12
- Marco Chiappini 10
- Lee Dong-Wook 8
- Alil Doda 8
Doda assisting on 8 goals is surprising given his lack of appearances. Cristobal did brilliantly coming forwards from right back. Evan Meslin, my other loanee, did less well only picking up ONE singular assist. ONE! Having played a season I now know what team I should have been playing in the harder games we faced early doors this season.
- Ale Rioja (AMR) 7.40
- Garry Marrable (MC) 7.35
- Ed Fraser (ST) 7.35
- Gonzalo Jaime (DC) 7.24
- Marco Casella (DC) 7.23
Both starting centre backs getting in the top five is a surprise. I normally have superior full backs on the ratings. So Southampton definitely play a bit differently. I’m not sure how that’s happened. Gustavo Leon, who was supposed to be the best midfielder at the club, finished the season with a 6.97. Fonseca, who I preferred in midfield for large chunks of the season, got a 6.92.
Many decisions to make in the off season. Visit @arn_fm on Twitter for updates and twitch.tv/arnfurious for streams of next season