Arsenal were unceremoniously dumped out of the EFL Cup last night by Southampton after a disappointing 2-0 loss to the Saints
Jordy Clasie put the Saints ahead within 12 minutes with a great strike from the edge of the box before Ryan Bertrand doubled Southampton’s lead in the 37th minute with a neat finish.
Arsene Wenger made 10 changes to his team from Sunday’s win over Bournemouth but this clearly proved to be an error as none of those players put in a performance that Wenger would have expected.
Southampton, who made eight changes of their own from the weekend, were the better side throughout and eased to a 2-0 victory with their first half goals more than enough to dump the Gunners out of the EFL cup.
Saints have now won three of their last five meetings with Arsene Wenger’s side, who finish their uncannily cursed month of November with just 1 victory. The loss also means that Arsenal’s 19 game unbeaten run in all competitions has come to an end.
Here are some of the key talking points from the game:
Carl Jenkinson is not good enough for Arsenal
The injury to Hector Bellerin and Mathieu Debuchy has left Arsene wenger short of options at right-back.
Both of Southampton’s goals came from Jenkinson’s side. The Englishman was woefully out of position when Ryan Bertrand received the ball on the left-hand side for the first goal, and offered almost no resistance when Bertrand played the ball into the penalty area. It looked almost too easy for the Saints, and with one swift move and one terrible piece of defending Arsenal were behind within 12 minutes.
For the second goal, Jenkinson dithered on the ball under pressure, first attempting a pass to Ramsey that the Welshman had no chance of reaching, before regaining possession and losing it again almost instantly with a touch that took it straight into a Southampton player. Steven Davis surged forward, found Boufal on the left – once again completely void of Arsenal defenders thanks to Jenkinson’s error – who then slid the ball in to Bertrand who placed the ball in the corner of the net.
Jenkinson is adored by Arsenal fans as he is a childhood Gooner, but the romance is nearing its end. The defender is simply not good enough for a club of Arsenal’s class, and one has only to ask West Ham fans about his inconsistency to get an idea of why he will never cut it at the top level. He is too prone to losing his composure under pressure, and does not show the kind of awareness and nous that Bellerin does when it comes to his defensive duties.
Arsenal will be hoping that Bellerin returns ahead of schedule, as Jenkinson is simply a liability to this side.
Would be quite surprised if Carl Jenkinson makes another Arsenal appearance after tonight tbh.
— Tim Stillman (@Stillberto) November 30, 2016
Arsenal need an upgrade on Gabriel
Gabriel was earmarked as Martin Keown’s successor when he first joined Arsenal, with his tough tackling and tenacious style of defending appealing to Gooners everywhere. The defender has since been utterly erratic with his performances, and one always gets the feeling that he will always make a mistake that leads to a goal.
His defending for the Saints’ second goal smacked of complacency, as he made almost no effort to put Sofiane Boufal under any real pressure, allowing the Southampton midfielder to pick out Ryan Bertrand with ease.
Given that it was only an EFL Cup tie, it is hard to argue with Wenger’s decision to start Gabriel and Rob Holding – who already looks better than his defensive partner. But it doesn’t look like Gabriel will ever be good enough for Arsenal.
Wenger’s loyalty to players is continuing to hurt him
There is a fine line between ruthlessness and blind loyalty. Wenger seems to be firmly on the latter side of that line and has been so for his entire career. His loyalty to players has paid off most of the time, with his perseverance with the likes of Thierry Henry proving to be massive successes.
However, he is also guilty of persisting with players who most football fans can see will never be good enough for Arsenal. Denilson, Emmanuel Eboue, Sebastien Squillaci – the list goes on and on. All of these players were never good enough for Arsenal yet all of them have played a lot more games than any manager of a club with title aspirations would have allowed.
Mourinho is the antithesis of Wenger, but the Frenchman could take a leaf out of the Manchester United manager’s book when it comes to being ruthless with players who are simply not good enough.
Arsenal’s “strength” in depth is not what it seems
Going into the season, many thought this is one of the strongest squads Arsenal had in recent seasons. However, Arsenal are:
1) One injury at CB away from playing one of Gabriel or Holding
2) One injury away at LB from playing Kieran Gibbs
3) Already only have one recognised RB in Carl Jenkinson
4) Already only have Sanchez – who has only played as a striker for Arsenal on a regular basis this season – as a viable option up front given the injury to Giroud.
The only place Arsenal have any real depth is in central midfield, and even their options on the wing – Alex Iwobi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – are simply too inconsistent for a team that wants to challenge on all fronts. Once again, this smacks of Wenger’s refusal to ship out players who have been given enough time to prove themselves but continue to look only good at the best of times and terrible at the worst.
Rio Ferdinand admits he has been impressed with our squad depth. #Arsenal pic.twitter.com/mYPn3M2Mlw
— Arsenal (@tomgunner14) November 26, 2016
Ferdinand might be changing his opinion about that very soon.
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