'Weak' Arsenal outclassed by spirited Saints

Gunners' lacklustre performance at Emirates gifts Southampton their first EFL Cup semi-final place in 30 years

Sam McQueen & Ainsley Maitland-Niles
Sam McQueen of Southampton and Arsenal's Ainsley Maitland-Niles battle it out at the Emirates
(Image credit: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Arsenal 0 Southampton 2

Arsene Wenger described himself as "disappointed" with his side as Arsenal crashed out of the EFL Cup and extended their dismal record in the competition.

The Gunners have never won the League Cup in the manger's 20-year reign and few of their players seemed interested in overcoming a spirited Saints side during the quarter-final clash at the Emirates.

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Southampton's record in the competition is also poor - they've reached the final only once, in 1979, losing 3-2 to Nottingham Forest.

"We had a disappointing performance, particularly in the first half," Wenger admitted.

Arsenal, with ten changes to the side that beat Bournemouth 3-1 in the Premier League on Sunday, conceded two goals early on. Jordy Clasie opened the scoring with his debut goal for Southampton and Ryan Bertrand followed suit with the second a few minutes before half-time.

The hosts never looked capable of clawing back the deficit, lacking inspiration and energy for most of the match as they suffered their first defeat since losing to Liverpool 4-3 on the opening day of the season.

"I regret that we lost the game," said Wenger. "We had played well until now. If you look at the players who played well, some of those who did not play were on the edge."

Wenger is right to be disappointed in how his team performed. Despite the wholesale changes, Arsenal still fielded some quality players in Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey, Mohamed Elneny, Alex Iwobi and Lucas Perez, but none of them rose to the occasion. Only the introduction of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the second half upped the tempo.

"We had players who are used to top-level competition," said Wenger, "but we didn't have the right urgency and were weak in some departments."

Southampton also rung the changes to the side that beat Everton at the weekend and the eight new faces earned the Saints their first League Cup semi-final appearance since 1987.

"It was a great performance," said manager Claude Puel. "We were clinical in the first half, with two goals from two chances. After, in the second half, we had many chances to score another goal and make the game safe against a good team.

"It was a fantastic game to achieve that result: good solidarity, good attitude. I enjoyed what my players did."

Only Liverpool stand between Southampton and their first cup final since losing the 2003 FA trophy to Arsenal. The semi-finals kick off the week commencing 9 January, with the Saints meeting the Reds at St Mary's. Manchester United play Hull in the other semi.

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