Arsenal: Martinez, Jenkinson, Gabriel, Holding, Gibbs, Coquelin, Elneny, Ramsey, The Jeff, Iwobi, Lucas
Subs: Macey, Bola, Bielik, Maitland-Niles, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mavididi
Arsenal’s long unbeaten run came to an end this evening as they went down 2-0 to Southampton at the Emirates to crash out of the EFL Cup to the Saints for the second time in three seasons.
As ever there were plenty of changes, Arsene Wenger making 10 from the team that beat Bournemouth last weekend.
The Gunners began confidently with lots of early possession, but the visitors grew into quickly and in the 13th minute took the lead. They worked it down the left, crossed it into the middle and an initial shot was blocked. It fell to Clasie on the edge of the box who blasted it past Martinez. 0-1.
Good work from Iwobi saw him try his luck from just inside the box but his effort was blocked at close range, and Ramsey’s knock down for Lucas was smart but the Spaniard was blocked off before he could shoot.
Arsenal had plenty of possession but lacked any real creativity. Elneny went into the book for a foul on Boufal, followed a few minutes later by Iwobi who the referee judged had impeded the same player but it was a harsh booking for the youngster.
It was the Gunners right that proved a weak link again when the Saints extended their lead in the 38th minute. Jenkinson lost the ball on the right hand side, Southampton worked it down their left again, and Ryan Bertrand’s shot rolled into the bottom corner. 0-2.
That was compounded a few minutes later when Elneny went down with injury and was replaced by Granit Xhaka. There was nothing for Arsenal to claw back before the whistle, and Southampton took their two goal lead into the break.
There were no changes from either manager at half-time, and Arsenal needed something a lot better from the final 45 minutes. There was an early sight of goal when Iwobi and Ramsey crafted a chance for Lucas, but on the turn the Spaniard’s shot was weak.
Nice work moving the ball down the right to Jenkinson gave Ramsey a sight of goal, but as the ball was played just behind him, his shot was easily taken by Forster.
At the other end Long headed over, then tested Martinez with a crack from distance that the Arsenal keeper just about pushed to safety.
Xhaka cracked a 35 yard free kick on target which Forster saved easily enough, before the exciting Boufal almost sealed the deal for the Saints with a shot that deflected just wide.
Coquelin had a left footed shot which didn’t trouble the Southampton keeper, and Arsene Wenger then made his second change of the night, sending on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for The Jeff. That was followed by the introduction of Ainsley Maitland-Niles for Jenkinson.
Holding left Long in a crumpled heap in the 66th minute, which was about the highlight of the night thus far from an Arsenal point of view. Coquelin had another crack, this time pulling his shot not too far wide with his right foot.
Ramsey sliced a shot wide, and saw another one blocked after an Ox cross. Davis almost made it three for the visitors when he lifted a cross over Martinez but also over the bar, and Long was guilty of a horrendous miss when he got behind the Arsenal defence.
Oxlade-Chamberlain should have pulled one back in the 79th minute, but skied his shot over the bar with just the keeper to beat. Arsenal did have . go in the final few minutes, Ramsey and Lucas almost combined to create an opening, and there were a series of corners that were almost dangerous.
Iwobi struck a shot on target but again Forster wasn’t troubled when making the save, and a run from Josh Sims caused all kinds of problems, only a late intervention from Maitland-Niles prevented a third goal.
Four minutes of injury time provided nothing for Arsenal and attention now turns to the far more important matter of Saturday’s Premier League clash against West Ham.