Willian and Nicolas Pepe have had their egos dented, says Peter Crouch after Arsenal’s FA Cup exit

WIllian was once again ineffective against the Saints
WIllian was once again ineffective against the Saints (Picture: Getty Images)

Peter Crouch believes Willian and Nicolas Pepe’s egos have taken a hit as the pair once again put in sub-par displays in Arsenal’s FA Cup defeat to Southampton on Saturday.

Gabriel’s own goal in the first half condemned the Gunners side to a 1-0 defeat at St Mary’s on Saturday as the holders crashed out of the competition at the fourth-round stage.

Mikel Arteta made seven changes from the side that beat Newcastle 3-0 on Monday, with second-string players including the likes of Willian, Pepe and Eddie Nketiah all struggling to make an impact.

Pepe lost possession on multiple occasions
Pepe lost possession on multiple occasions (Picture: Getty Images)

The Saints were by far the better team in the first half, and capitalised on their initial pressure when Kyle Walker-Peters’ cross was diverted by Gabriel into his own net.

Thomas Partey and Bukayo Saka’s introduction in the second half gave the Gunners a boost, but Southampton defended their lead resolutely and booked their place in the fifth round of the competition.

Emile Smith Rowe, who has been at the heart of Arsenal’s mini-revival, was left out of the matchday squad and rested.

Gunners youngsters Smith Rowe, Saka and Gabriel Martinelli have taken the places of their struggling senior team-mates Pepe and Willian in recent weeks, and Crouch feels that has taken a toll on their confidence.

‘They were disappointing,’ Crouch told BT Sport.

‘I think they are very very good players, we’ve seen the talent, certainly Pepe at Lille, Willian at Chelsea.

‘They’ve both been very good players. I just think at this moment in time maybe they’re been suffering from a lack of confidence.

‘I think their egos have been dented because young players have come in in their place.

‘It’s difficult if you’re an experienced professional and you’re watching kids play ahead of you.

‘You’re going to be upset, angry and there are two ways you can react: you can throw your toys out of the pram or you can knuckle down, work hard and earn your place back and I don’t feel like today they’ve done enough to warrant their place in the starting XI.’

MORE : ‘What a player!’ Jack Wilshere raves about Arsenal duo Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe and makes exciting Mikel Arteta claim

MORE : Kevin Campbell rates Arsenal’s top-four chances after mini-revival

Follow Metro Sport across our social channels, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

For more stories like this, check our sport page

No comments