Arsenal exit EFL Cup with dismal defeat to Southampton
EFL Cup: Arsenal 0, Southampton 2
01 December, 2016 — By Ella Jessel
ARSENE Wenger defended making 10 changes to his team after a 2-0 defeat by swaggering Southampton yesterday evening (Wednesday) sent Arsenal crashing out of the EFL cup.
Two first half goals were enough to send the Saints marching on to the semi-finals of the competition, while the home side scurried off the pitch to a chorus of boos after their miserable performance in the near freezing conditions.
It was Arsenal’s first defeat in 19 games but the concern was how the weakened side rolled over and capitulated to the visitors, who themselves had made eight changes.
Wenger conceded it was a “disappointing performance” but said the only thing he would change was the result of the match.
“Look I regret for having lost a game. I think we have played well until now. If you look at the players who played well tonight, some of those who did not play tonight were on the edge.
“In midfield we had Coquelin, Ramsey, Elneny, Xhaka, up front Perez…Giroud was injured. We had Iwobi, one of the regular players in the first team. The problem wasn’t there. We had players who are used to top-level competition. But we didn’t have the right urgency from the start.”
Southampton were set up for the counter-attack, and Claude Puel’s tactics worked brilliantly against a disjointed Arsenal side who played as if they had never set eyes on each other.
It took the game a while to warm up but Claude Puel’s side grabbed the lead when Jordy Clasie latched onto a rebound from Sofiane Boufal’s effort, sending the ball sailing past Martinez into the corner of the net for his first goal for the club.
For the entire first half, Arsenal failed to register a single shot on target and when Ryan Bertrand’s scored Southampton’s second, after a defensive mistake from Carl Jenkinson, who struggled throughout and was substituted for Maitland-Niles in the second half, the mountain was too big to climb.
While Southampton’s wonder kids stepped up to the plate – midfielder Harrison Reed silenced Arsenal’s big-money forward Perez – and Josh Sims impressed again after his league debut on the weekend– few of Arsenal’s youngsters shone.
Premier league regulars did not fare much better, with Ramsey fluffing his lines, Iwobi seeming lost without Sanchez and Oziland Perez putting in another peripheral performance that provided zero threat to Forster’s goal.
Substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came closest to scoring in the 79th minute but fired his shot over the bar from 12 yards and Southampton held on for a well-deserved victory.
Before kick-off a minute’s silence was held in the stadium in memory of those who died in the Colombia plane crash which wiped out almost the entire Brazilian football team Chapecoense.
Arsenal’s Brazilian defender Gabriel was clearly emotional as he grasped a tribute banner bearing the message ‘Força Chape’.
ARSENAL: Martinez, Jenkinson (Maitland-Niles, 64), Gabriel, Holding , Gibbs, Coquelin, Elneny (Xhaka 43) Reine-Adelaide (Oxlade-Chamberlain 62), Ramsey, Iwobi, Perez
Subs not used: Bielik, Bola, Macey, Mavididi
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