Southampton are through to the quarter-final of the FA Cup after a superb 3-1 victory at home to high-flying West Ham, who could not find an answer up against a team who had made nine changes to their starting XI.
With just Kyle Walker-Peters and James Ward-Prowse retaining their places in the team, opportunities were given to the likes of Romain Perraud – who has had to drop out of the team due to the former’s incredible recent form, as well as Tino Livramento’s return from injury.
Despite having not played since the Saints’ draw away against Manchester United on the 12th February, the Frenchman, who arrived for £10.8m in the summer from French Ligue 1 side Stade Brestois 29, looked extremely sharp.
He opened the scoring in the 31st minute of the game with an absolute thunderbolt from almost 30-yards out, an effort which The Times described as a “wonder strike”, before a James Ward-Prowse penalty and Armando Broja strike wrapped the game up, with Michail Antonio scoring the Hammers’ only goal.
The 24-year-old left-back also completed 87% of his passes as well as making three clearances, one block, one interception and two tackles in another defensively solid performance.
The Saints star also hinted that he believes the team could go on to win the trophy in his post-match interview, with an answer that will surely be music to the ears of fans.
“We are ninth in the Premier League and in the last eight of the FA Cup. We can dream,” said Perraud.
His encouraging performance and excellent goal will give boss Ralph Hasenhuttl something to think about going into the final few months of the season, as Livramento and Walker-Peters at the moment seem to be the first-choice pairing.
However, after losing possession 16 times in the game, there are still clear areas in his game that need improvement, providing the manager with a headache over whether to use him on a more regular basis.
And while the former Spurs wing-back has been playing in place of Perraud in recent weeks despite being a natural right-footer, and the former being described by teammate Stuart Armstrong as a “top quality player”, it’s hard to see a way-in for the French defender.
However, with Livramento being linked with a move away from St Mary’s Stadium, the Saints won’t be weakened too much should his potential sale go through, with Walker-Peters also impressing on the right-side of defence when called upon and Perraud proving that he is a reliable option more often than not this season.