Arsenal ended a fairly uninspiring month of November by crashing out of the League Cup courtesy of a 2-0 at home to Southampton.
Arsene Wenger made a whopping ten changes to his starting line-up for this affair as the likes of Emiliano Martinez, Rob Holding and Jeff Reine-Adelaide were handed rare opportunities to impress.
There was a place in the semi-final at stake for both sides but it was difficult to notice that at the beginning of a dully contested match which saw neither side manage to register a shot on target until the visitors stunned much of the ground with the opening goal in the 13th minute.
A cross from Ryan Bertrand was not convincingly dealt with by the Gunners and the ball found Jordy Clasie who smashed it into the top corner of the net.
Arsenal, who had Lucas Perez back in action and featuring upfront, huffed and puffed to force an equalizer but the next meaningful attempt at goal came from Southampton yet again as Bertrand made another telling contribution by scoring the away side’s second after a swift counter-attack.
A bad first-half for Arsene Wenger’s men got even worse as an injury forced Mohamed Elneny to be withdrawn for Granit Xhaka before the break.
The second-half saw Arsenal produce a more urgent response to trailing 2-0 but this contest had been settled a long time ago.
Yes, November is now over and yes, that was a weakened squad but this is surely not another sign of the sort of form we will be seeing from Arsenal in the upcoming festive fixtures, is it?
What is worrying about Wednesday night’s result has more to do with a growing pattern of lethargic displays than an exit from an irrelevant cup competition.
Wenger’s full strength team has been performing in similar fashion to what we saw from that ‘second-string’ team against Southampton. The only difference is that Ozil and company have been snatching results despite being below-par while Perez and the rest were not as fortunate.
In addition to that, Wednesday’s line-up was hardly a team of ‘kids’. The likes of Gabriel, Gibbs, Jenkinson, Coquelin and Ramsey are all players who are very close to – if not already in – the regular eleven.