Arsenal 0 – 2 Southampton
We’re sill on for the treble, right?
Losing last night was no surprise. We knew the wholesale team changes were coming, understood and in most cases, agreed with them. The EFL Cup has lost its’ sheen. It’s the same tournament we won with such joy in 1987 and 1993 but in name only. Its standing in the English game is not far above the EFL Trophy. Yes, two League Cups exist when there really should only be one. You can end that sentence with ‘none’ if you feel so inclined.
An Arsenal defeat always hurt; but some defeats hurt less.
None of us disagreed with the mass rotation of the XI and as a result, losing was always more of a 50/50 than a normal home game might be viewed.
From kick-off we could see that this was an XI which had not played together before but it was a nig night for some individuals to stake claims to a place on the bench more often or to mark themselves out as future first teamers. Instead, the lack of desire and cohesion has left question marks over whether those who’ve acquired a reputation will actually deliver.
Arsène did not hide his dismay at the performance. “It was not good enough and we paid for that,” he said, before adding:
“I question our urgency level, our focus from the start on. It was not good enough and we paid for that. Overall, I think that is the most disappointing.
Some of that stems from the contempt with which he holds the tournament. If the manager conveys a message for long enough – 20 years in his case – it becomes ingrained in the culture of the club. It’s a cup he doesn’t care about and never will. Players don’t overtly think about but to some extent, it is in their psyche.
From his point of view, the concern will be no-one made him question his team selection for the Premier League in a positive way. Some are exempt from that. Lucas gets a pass having been out injured and to some extent, the same applies to Jenkinson. I said to some extent, not entirely. His confidence is shot to pieces and question marks over his inclusion in this weekend’s trip to West Ham appeared.
Ramsey and Iwobi were probably the biggest disappointments in terms of performance; the senior members of the side and between them, they couldn’t drag a performance from the team. I wouldn’t fault their effort; neither hid from possession, even when things weren’t going right – and horribly wrong.
There’s a temptation to go overboard in defeat and we need to be wary of doing exactly that. The reaction to this defeat on Saturday will be interesting to gauge. A different XI with more focus will certainly take the field.
Things have been going well so maybe a jolt to the system was needed to ensure that minds refocused in the important competitions. A wake-up call, if heeded, is never a bad thing.
Today and tomorrow, the players and manager get on with preparing for the trip to the Olympic Stadium. The Royal Mail is delivering the binoculars for the travelling support this weekend; don’t leave home without them.