The Capital One Cup may be the least glamorous of the four major competitions that Arsenal participate in on a yearly basis, but it still represents a genuine chance of silverware. That possibility for this season was eroded as Arsene Wenger’s side suffered a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Southampton at Emirates Stadium this evening.
Arsenal, having made ten changes from the win over Aston Villa, took the lead through a superb free-kick from Alexis Sanchez. Thereafter, however, they struggled to deal with a hard-working Southampton side, who levelled courtesy of a penalty from Dusan Tadic before scoring what proved to be the winner when Nathaniel Clyne beat David Ospina with an excellent strike.
Arsenal fielded an unfamiliar-looking defence, with Hector Bellerin and Isaac Hayden being called upon, whilst Francis Coquelin was deployed at left-back. This was a side that hadn’t played a competitive game together and it showed. Abou Diaby played some neat passes in his first start for over a year and Jack Wilshere attempted to drive the team forward without much success, but Tomas Rosicky and Lukas Podolski, two of the more experienced players on show, struggled throughout.
The majority of the players who featured for Arsenal haven’t played regularly of late and, as such, the team seemed to be devoid of sharpness as well as quickness of thought with regards to decision-making.
Joel Campbell demonstrated his technical ability but his decision making, on this evidence, still requires some work. Hayden made some good interventions, but Arsenal were guilty of not closing down Clyne for his goal.
Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Chuba Akpom were all called upon as the game wore on, but Southampton, with better finishing, could have inflicted further damage on the Gunners. Akpom can count himself a little unlucky not to have started, especially with Podolski being so ineffectual. The visitors used the ball intelligently throughout, something that could not be said of Arsenal.
Bellerin and Hayden didn’t disgrace themselves, and it can be argued that the latter was one of the very few Arsenal players to put in a positive performance this evening, but, with Arsenal now out of the competition, it appears that there won’t be too many further opportunities for youngsters in the first-team this campaign.
It was a disappointing night, and, like last year, Arsenal have exited the Capital One Cup at a very early stage.