Thanks to Gabriel’s own-goal in a 1-0 defeat to Southampton, last season’s FA Cup winner Arsenal was excluded from the competition in the fourth round on Saturday, though Manchester City endured a scare to overcome fourth-tier Cheltenham 3-1.
The decision of Gabriel to try to block a shot from Kyle Walker-Peters in an otherwise close game proved crucial for Arsenal losing its grip on the cup.
Right-back Walker-Peters was given plenty of space to overlap the Arsenal defense, but before Gabriel’s failed attempt deflected the ball from the post and in, his shot looked to be going narrowly wide of the far post. It was the first objective Arsenal had conceded after five consecutive shutouts since Dec. 26.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said, “I’m very disappointed because we wanted to stay in the competition, we had a dream to do it again like last year and today’s dream is over.”
“I am also frustrated with the way we have accepted the target in an environment where we know we should not do that,” he added.”
“At the same time, I can’t blame the players’ efforts, how they tried and how they went in the second half to get a goal.”
Arsenal has won a record 14 times in the FA Cup and Arteta called it “our favorite competition” before kickoff. In last year’s final, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored both of the team’s goals in the 2-1 victory over Chelsea, but he was not available on Saturday because of what Arteta called “a personal matter.” Arteta said he was not yet able to predict when Aubameyang would return.
Southampton is going on to Wolverhampton’s fifth-round game away, which on Friday beat sixth-tier Chorley.