EFL Cup Review: Saints Beat Arsenal Sinners

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.

’til Tomorrow.


51 thoughts on “EFL Cup Review: Saints Beat Arsenal Sinners

  1. adam singh says:

    Didn’t watch the game but by all accounts a pretty poor performance. Did Elneny get injured as we taken off before half time? Or was he just shit? CM and the left wing is becoming a bit of an issue. Neither Iwobi or Ox is doing enough and any combination of Ramsey, Elneny, Xhaka and Coq hasn’t worked well in recent games.

    Perez look well short of what we need but it’s too early to judge I guess.

    West Ham were terrible against Utd. Let’s hope it continues on Saturday.

  2. Ian says:

    I read Elneny had the ‘two bob bits’ which is why he came off….

  3. adam singh says:


    Ah. Prob something contagious. He’s not best buds with Ozil and Sanchez is he?

  4. adam singh says:


    Ah. Prob something contagious. He’s not best buds with Ozil and Sanchez is he?

  5. Fabrechenko says:

    I caught glimpses of the game while on a night’s out with friends, I was already in a happy mood, so i decided to go home without watching the entire game, seems like i made the right decision.

  6. Bill says:

    Great review yogi.

    I agree with your idea that we got exactly what we asked for and expected yesterday. The forwards we started yesterday have scored about 4 goals in 60 total appearances between the 3 of them and you can’t expect them to score against one of the 4 best defensive teams in the league. Scoring was not a realistic expectation. Anyone who has watched Ramsey for the last 3 years knows that he is not an impact player and expecting him to do something special yesterday was unrealistic. Same with Iwobe, he is a U21 player who has played like his age for the last couple months and you can’t expect more then he is capable of giving. We always ask arsene for massive rotation and playing as many U21 players as he can and that certainly does not send a message to the squad that we want them to win this cup. If we all want to see players like Jeff and Iwobe and then we can’t really complain when they play like U21 players.

    To be fair to arsene if you look at the list of teams that has won this cup it’s clear that all of the big teams have a similar attitude about the league cup. They are the lowest leverage games on a 50 game schedule.

  7. Akshay says:

    I am frustrated that we lost not because of anything, but our unbeaten streak is over.

    Now imagine going unbeaten in the league for the next ten match weeks and not lose to Basel and win our Fa cup matches and think, but oh for that Damn league cup game.

  8. C says:


    And thus lies the problem, in a team that featured ONLY 1 true U21 player (because Iwobi shouldn’t be considered U21, he is a regular for the senior side) then those around him should be able to raise their level of play and should be able to drag this team. Its not about heavy rotation or anything of that nature, you have a full squad of players and in matches like that they should want to prove themselves and by all accounts they didn’t (again, I didn’t watch a single min of the match).

  9. nicky says:

    As usual, we used a team made up with second stringers, not used to playing together and were caught by a determined lot who wanted to progress further.
    Nothing was gained or lost. Our full squad simply must do the business at the weekend, always remembering that the game is football and not a track and field event.

  10. andy1886 says:

    Quick question – anyone remember when we last played well for a whole ninety minutes? It’s not one game in isolation.

  11. C says:

    I will say, the strangest thing is if Elneny was that sick prior to the game, Arsene knew it; then why even start him, it makes absolutely no sense at all.

  12. C says:

    On the loan front:

    Crowley’s immaturity and lack of professionalism (something that was actually spoken about and reported on while he was playing for Arsenal’s U21 and during his loan spell at Barnsley last season prior to that loan being cut short) has again let him down and his loan deal with Oxford has been cut short.

    Toral scored a cracker of a goal

  13. Bill says:


    You have watched the same games as I have and watched iwobe playing with the first 11 for the last couple months and he clearly is playing like a U21 player which is what he is so expecting more is probably not realistic.

    You have been banging on for years about putting as many U21 players as possible into these league cup line ups and now you are telling me it’s the fault of the more experienced players when the U21 players struggle. If you give jeff or iwobe all that credit when they are playing well then you can’t really make excuses when they the inevtable happens and they really struggle against a decent team. You can want arsene to do whatever makes you happy but both ideas can’t be correct at the same time. You can’t have it 2 ways.

  14. C says:


    Again, I didn’t watch the match and if they struggled (which you have stated) then they should have played better, they deserve the criticism that comes with their play; but the notion that its because they are U21 players, to my mind is the easy way out.

    For all the talk of having a strong squad, good depth; it was the senior players that filled that team sheet last night and when your younger players are struggling, it is up to the more senior players to take the game by the scruff and drag the team on. You have long been one that says the opposite, give the mins to players 15-23 of the squad, well those players, plus Ramsey didn’t do the business. So blaming it purely on or even bringing up one U21 player and one that is now a regular for the senior side puzzles me.

    To be quite honest, from everything that I have read, maybe more U21 players would have been and done a better job. Surely Maitland-Niles at RB for starters; hell maybe even Mavididi playing on the flanks and Adelaide or Iwobi moving centrally and dropping Ramsey to the bench.

  15. Bill says:


    Southampton is a team whose culture is built around their defense and every season they are a top half of the table team because of their defense and they are always close to the top of the table in fewest goals conceded irregardless of the fact that they are not that talented as individual players. They were going to play solid defense irregardless of which players were on the pitch because that is what they do. Our first 11 probably would have won but they would have had a tough time breaking them down.

    In yesterdays game our front 4 attacking players has probably scored 6-8 total goals between all of them in their last 100 combined appearances. The fact that we would struggle was completely predictable and to expect the group of 18 players the suited up yesterday to break down Southampton was never realistic even if we had come out with a fire in our belly.

  16. Bill says:


    We did not have any goal scorers in yesterdays starting line up and we might have been able to nick a goal somewhere but playing against Southampton the outcome was almost inevitable if we conceded 1 or more goals. The players knew that as well as I did. You have watched the same team as me for the last years you know that Aaron Ramsey is not a difference making player and sending him out with instructions to take the game by the scruff of the neck and drag the team up is not reasonable. Players often struggle when if they try to do more then are capable and we can’t expect Ramsey we have watched for the last 3 years to change the game. That does not mean he is a bad player but he is not an impact player. We can’t have the same expectations for players like Ramsey, Elneny, Xhaka, Perez or even Jeff or Iwobe as we do for Ozil or Alexis. Our star players are ones we count on to pull us thru tough games and that is the way it should be.

  17. Jonny says:

    That’s really annoying about Crowley – he’s too bright a talent to be wasting such opportunities to learn, he clearly needs a firm line and some fatherly advice about his future.

    Danny says he hopes to back before Christmas, I see. All good and well but I don’t think he is going to add much that we don’t already have and I have little faith in his injury record going forward.

    AW will prob just use it as an excuse to avoid going into the market…

  18. The Arse in Namib (AITG) says:

    Southampton are a good squad that plays week in week out and you can’t beat them with a patchwork quilt of players coming back from rests, who have not had much game time, youngsters and players a bit off colour.

    Replace Southampton with another team in the PL or many in the Championship and you can say the same thing, they can’t win. Likewise, it is not Iwobi or Ramsey’s fault for not shining or if you included Sanchez it would not be because he had a bad night. They cannot do it above a certain level.

    A good team understanding and spirit is going to win, so to hope for much else is pretty pointless.

  19. Bill says:


    We have had other attitude issues over the years but I don’t think Crowley is anywhere near the JET or Wojo or Bendtner level of prospect but he still has to opportunity to make enough money to keep him happy the rest of his life if he plays well enough but the window is very short. I will never understand why players like him are not busting a gut to impress with every chance they get.

  20. C says:


    The thing with Crowley is that he was having the same issues at Arsenal. The Oxford manager has said he has tried to help him and give him a firm hand, both by dropping him and trying to give him guidance. I hope he isn’t one of those that doesn’t get it until its too late.

    The other thing is, he is starting to get a “name” for himself as a disturbance even though, talent wise he has bags of unfulfilled potential.

  21. C says:


    I can agree with most of that, the thing is though my friend, Ramsey should be able , in match against players of his same skill (though I think Claise had the most talent from the line-ups I saw) he should be able to impose himself. I am starting to wonder if Ramsey is more little fish in big pond.

  22. Bill says:


    It might be different against Nottingham Forest or Reading but the Ramsey we have watched for the last 3 years is not the sort of player who is going to be able to take the game by the scruff of the neck and potentially change the outcome against a team that is organized and defends the way Southampton does.

  23. C says:


    Crowley has great potential but his attitude seems to be the problem. Not sure how much you have followed him, but the talk was that he had the talent of our young Jack at the same age; just some food for thought.

  24. C says:


    I’m going to shy away this time from my response to that since most think I dislike or don’t rate Ramsey at all.

  25. jjgsol says:

    Surely, the point is that if you take one or 2 of the squad players and fit them into the basic 1st team, to take into account an injury or possibly the need to rest a player, they will do fine.

    Take 5 or 6 of them and put them in the 1st team, in all likelihood, they would struggle.

    Put 10 in and you get what we had last night.

    It should also be remembered that the players who played last night, most of them have not played this season, other than for few substitute appearances and the occasional start.

    I wonder why anyone expected anything else against a well drilled and disciplined defensive side.

    To expect Ramsay, playing in his preferred and Wales position for the 1st time this season, to, all of a sudden, control the entire match, is asking somewhat more than can be expected.

    If he played in that position 3 or 4 times and the same thing happened , then I think you could criticise him but not on a single one-off occasion when he is playing with 9 other squad players who barely play at all.

  26. gunnerlife says:

    I think Iwobi Did very well yesterday but Ramsey was the worst player on the pitch.

  27. Bill says:

    Ox is not much of a scorer but prospectively he was probably the most likely player of the 18 that suited up for that game to have a chance to score. If we were going to use him anyway we should have started him and given him as much chance as possible to make something happen.

    The only really disappointing thing for me was the fact that we conceded 2 against a Southampton that had rotated a few players. Keeping a clean sheet was imperative and we let ourselves down from that standpoint.

  28. Bill says:

    C @ 2:57

    Unless I have completely misinterpreted all the stuff you post you don’t like Ramsey. I am not a fan of Giroud and I have been saying that we should have replaced Arsene since the team imploded in 2011. We all have our preferences and there is nothing wrong with that.

  29. Bill says:

    Regarding Crowley, the number of players that we have heard are ultra talented coming thru our U21 ranks over the last 10 years has gone way past triple digits. I am always a bit skeptical when we search for and find an excuse to explain why they are not playing as well as we expected.

  30. Jonny says:

    There is no excusing Ramsey’s level of contribution – he was fucking dire.

    Other players were poor too but it’s hard to think when Aaron had a really good game and he has been afforded far more chances than he has merited too.

    I have some sympathy as he is persistently played in a position that is thoroughly unsuitable to his skill-set but he is not going to get the starting berth he wants…I am starting to wonder when AW’s patience will run out.

  31. Bill says:

    The one thing we should have been able to do yesterday was play defense as well as they did because the individual quality of our players was certainly equal or better then theirs. However, we don’t have the sort of team wide defensive mindset and culture that they do.

  32. Jonny says:

    “To expect Ramsay, playing in his preferred and Wales position for the 1st time this season, to, all of a sudden, control the entire match, is asking somewhat more than can be expected”.

    As is often your way, Jiigsol, you make suppositions that are totally untrue. No one was expecting to control the entire match.

    How about expecting him to play even half as well as the 18yo debutante playing opposite him in midfield?

  33. Bill says:


    Using heavy rotation to explain why we played so poorly is a relatively weak excuse since they also rotated heavily and had no trouble breaking us down. How can that be our excuse when it did not hurt them?

    Neither team had the firepower to break the other down if both teams had played good defense. The team that played the best defense was going to win that game. IMO the difference was they played better defense and we conceded an early goal

  34. C says:


    I don’t dislike Ramsey and I actually think he is a good player (I have stated as much on multiple occassions), the issues I have with him is his style of play and lack of discipline within the team and final decision making, shoot instead of pass, try the flair flick when a simple pass would give us a clear goal scoring chance, etc.

  35. Bill says:


    Everyone cheers for all of the Arsenal players and hopes they do well and help the team when they are on the pitch. However, all of us have players we like better then others. If you don’t want to use the word “dislike” then call it whatever you want but it seems like Ramsey has replaced Flamini as your least liked player on the current with Giroud and Ox coming in close behind. Nothing wrong with that unless that affects how you judge the way a player is performing. However, since we are fans and not decision makers how we judge a players performances makes no difference so whatever we want to do is all good.

  36. C says:


    The thing with Crowley isn’t that its something that I am making up or reasons why he wasn’t playing; it literally came from the mouth of the Oxford Manager and last season from the Barnsley manager.

    The Oxford Manager is quoted by the BBC as saying:
    “I’m certainly not going to lose sleep if Arsenal have got an issue with Oxford United going forward.

    “The one thing we are, and will always be, is very professional. Nothing and nobody will ever get in the way of what we’re trying to do from a team culture and ethos point of view.”

    Just last month Oxford’s manager Appleton said:

    “There are a couple of issues I want to make sure are addressed in terms of what he does on and off the field,” he said.

    “He’s a 19-year-old lad who has fantastic ability, but his professionalism at times lets him down.

    “He’s had a few issues at Arsenal and Barnsley previously. It’s all a massive learning curve for him.

    “Ultimately sometimes when people step out of line you have to put them in their place.”

    Those are straight from the managers mouth.

  37. Bill says:


    I have not followed Crowley but we have heard the same things about the talent level of dozens and dozens and dozens of players like him. Time will tell what happens with him just like with all of the other players that we have talked about who have come thru the U21 ranks.

    You are certainly not alone in concerns about Ramsey. There are plenty of other people on this blog who seem to feel the same way. It annoys poor Dukey to no end but he will survive. 😉

  38. G4E says:

    Seriously, no one should have been expecting to win this tie with this kind of team. When I looked at the team sheet before the game, I knew for sure we would lose it. I don’t even know what team Southampton played with, but this is not a Championship team, they’re a Premier League team and not a bad one at that.

    At least we gave them a shot at winning something….

    Time to put all the efforts now in the remaining competitions and hope for the best.

  39. Bill says:

    With Santi out for 3 months we are in big trouble if our form is really dependent on his influence.

    Part of the problem yesterday was the fact that our system seems to be so fragile and the injury or loss of form to a player like Santi or rotating a few players seems to disrupt what we try to do. Thats why its a mistake to be rotating more then we need to in the high leverage games.

    We had 67% of the ball possession yesterday so in theory we should have been the better team. However, a club like The Saints whose system is built on playing great defense and counter attacking is more resistant to disruptions by losing players or rotating. I think the fragility of our system which is built of intricate passing, technical skill and ball possession is part of the reason we have been so inconsistent over the years.

  40. C says:


    Yup saw that, I would go with Xhakja and Elneny as first choice pivots moving.

  41. C says:


    I get it, but Crowley was highly sought after, is a really talented young midfielder and he, thus far in his career, he is being held back not because of talent but because of attitude.

  42. Bill says:


    I hope Crowley becomes an impact player for us. I hope the same for every player that comes thru our youth system. In the last 12 years if only 1 out of every 10 players that we have gotten excited about had lived up to the potential we thought they had then we would have won all 4 of the trophies every year in this decade

  43. C says:


    Yup if he doesn’t then I’ll be talking about the next talented youngster either purchased or brought in that is set to burst onto the season.

  44. C says:

    While all of us have heavy hearts for the victims in the Chapecoense tragedy, Gabriel was playing with an even heavier heart having lost his former manager and close friend Caio Junior.

  45. Raven says:

    Hi all
    Back from 7 weeks holiday in Italy.
    Re the match yesterday. It sure wasnt pretty, but I am also baffled by some of the players he put out there. Perez has just gotten over an injury and honestly didnt look to be ready yet. personally would have preferred Giroud up front. Elneny being ill before the game and still playing;now Wnger had to swap him out at the end of the 1st half. he should have played Xhaka there from the get go. Ramsey just dont fit the way Wenger wants Arsenal to play. Ramsey is best as a false 9 starting on the right wing with freedom to roam in the area between the defence and the midfield of the opposing team. Thats the role he played at the euroes and imo it was the best he has played since his breakout season.
    On that Welsh team they had Allen, King and Ledley as the work horses in the center midfield which gave Ramsey and Bale enough cushion to play freely and riskfully without it ever becoming really dangerous.

    Re youth developement and players.
    Its very rare that a club get more than a player or 2 from each youth team. Its very very rare that a club get more than 2. I really hope Mavididi is the one that breaks through all the way if I can only chose one from the current Arsenal youth setup

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