So we are out of the League Cup. A great start to the game with a sensational free kick by Alexis Sanchez was followed up by with a penalty to Southampton after a poor challenge by Tomas Rosicky and a stunner by Nathaniel Clyne (who deserves an England call up).
A disappointing result, but there are plenty of positives, as well as some negatives, to take from the night.
Positive – Going out
The League Cup is very much the ugly duckling of the 4 honours we begin the season chasing. It always brings up the conundrum of how we should approach it. Play youngsters to see how they do against top opposition, or play a strong side to try and win it. Both have their merits.
Getting knocked out is by no means a disaster.
For a Champions League side, the beginning of a season is always congested. Play on the weekend, play mid week, see your stars fly to the four corners of the world for internationals. Repeat.
Whilst not all the top players might play in the League Cup, they train as a team so will have to prepare together, even if they are not playing. Last night Ospina, Bellerin, Chambers, Wilshere, Rosicky, Podoslki and Sanchez from the 1st 11 and Chamberlain and Cazorla coming on will be involved in the match day squad against Spurs.
By being knocked out, we have now freed up two mid weeks between now and the end of the year. Two mid week rests might not seem much, but lets put that into context of the first 5five months of the season.
Had we made the quarter final of the League Cup, we would have only had two mid weeks off between now and the FA Cup 3rd round tie in the New Year.Not much time to get a little refresh. By being knocked out so early, we now double that time off. It should leave us that little bit fresher for upcoming games.
We now have the week between Sunderland and Burnely free, and perhaps more importantly, the week between Newcastle and Liverpool. It might not seem like much of a silver lining at the moment, but were we to win all four of those games, you could argue that not playing a League Cup tie between them contributed to the victories.
And these thoughts don’t even take into account the fixture congestion making the semi-final or final creates.
Negative – Going out
I want to win every trophy. Whether it is the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup or League Cup. I want us to win it. We are in football to win things. There is nothing better than a day out at Wembley.
Also, the League Cup has always given us an opportunity to blood younger players against decent sides. You have to wonder when Hayden, Bellerin or Akpom are now going to get a chance again, or will they return to he youths before a January long move to some dump like Carlisle? The League cup is brilliant for their progress, an it’s over before it’s really begun.
Also, the League Cup provides a brilliant opportunity for youngsters to watch the games. For Dad’s to take their son’s. With Premier League and Champions League games becoming more and more expensive. One adult and 2 kids can go to the League Cup for less than £50. The League Cup is a good breeding ground for our future fans. For many kids last night, it would have been their first game.
With Arsenal now out, in the same way you wonder when the kids will get their next chance to play, you also have to wonder when the kids will get their next chance to watch live.
Positive – Arsenal 2nd 11 v Southampton’s 1st 11
Only Alexis Sanchez would be guaranteed a starting place in Arsenal’s strongest 11. Meanwhile, Southampton had arguably their strongest possible 11 out, bar a debutant left back. They are 2nd in the league and last night was their 5th win in a row.
It was certainly not a defeat on the scale of Bradford or MK Dons beating Manchester United. It is no disaster or embarrassment to lose to a very good Premier League outfit.
A lot can be taken from many of the performances, and we should now be confident that many of the players on show last night can be rotated in against mid-table and lower sides and we should still perform. The performance of the youngsters impressed the most (more later).
We played well against a strong Premier League outfit
Negative – The Seniors
Lukasz Podolski and Tomas Rosicky were disastrous.
Firstly, the German. I barely realised he was playing. He showed why we have attempted to offload him the last two summers. He is still only with the clubs due to circumstances conspiring in his favour (injures). He put in the tepid lazy performance that has plagued his Arsenal career. This season will be his last at Arsenal.
Tomas Rosicky has not played much, so maybe I am about to be too harsh, as he probably isn’t match sharp, but he looked old last night.
Slow decision making, 2nd to react to every loose ball, he looked every year of his 33 on this planet and more. A lot might have been down to lack of match sharpeness, but for me, he took the place in the starting 11 that I would have liked to have seen go to someone younger, to see what they can do.
I have long been an advocate of keeping around senior players, but the time has come for him to step aside and give youngsters sub as Oxlade Chamberlain or Gedion Zalelem a chance.
I would not be upset if both players left us next summer. Last night they let their younger team mates down.
Positive – The Youngsters
We played three 19 year olds in defence last night, and none of them looked out of place.
Unfortunately, injuries mean that Bellerin and Hayden won’t get a loan move to another Premier League club. Then again, training against Sanchez, Ozil and Walcott every week, alongside Mertesacker and Kosicelny, might be better for their development anyway.
All 3 did not look fazed at all, and all look to have a bright future at Arsenal, even if it is as a squad player.
Negative – Joel Campbell
A youngster who I feel does not have a bright future at the club is Joel Campbell.
A lot of hype has been around Campbell since he joined us in 2011. He became the forgotten man last summer, only to burst back into our conscious with a wonder goal against Manchester United.
A good World Cup later, and his stock was high. Hindsight shows we should have cashed in at this point.
Yesterday he showed exactly why he is not good enough for Arsenal, and why he has struggled on loan at 3 different clubs in 3 different counties.
Maybe now our fans will stop hyping up players based on YouTube videos and the odd good performance. He is senior to both Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Serge Gnabry but junior to them in talent and ability.
Another to be sold next summer, unfortunately at a lower price than we could have got this.
Positive – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Whilst he only played 15 minutes (or so) he looked a class apart in comparison to Joel Campbell. Barely 21, his brief cameo should get him a start against Spurs, seeing Arsene Wenger returning to 4231 with Sanchez Ozil & Chamberlain behind Danny Welbeck.
With Theo Walcott now out until middle of October at the earliest, Oxlade-Chamberlain should be given a run in the team on the right wing. He deserves it.
Negative – Where are the Local Lads?
A longer blog for another day perhaps. The talk throughout the game between myself and others was “What has happened to the local boys?”. We played without a single player from London (let along North London or just Islington) again.
Yes, it is part of the wider picture of problems in English football, but the lack of local boys at Arsenal is worrying. The two players that we often claim as our own – Carl Jenkinson and Jack Wilshere – are from Harlow and Stevenage respectively.
In our first team squad we have six Englishmen (seven if you include Jenkinson), but only one can really be said to be an Arsenal Academy graduate (Jack Wilshere). Just two are from London (Kieran Gibbs from South of the River – Lambeth, & Theo Walcott from Stanmore). I honestly can not remember our last Islington born player.
I know GC has some very strong views on what he believes is a problem in our youth set up, and something that needs to be addressed. Hopefully he will write something fuller on it soon.
Positive – Moving On
Well, me mum always said end every day with a positive, and it is the same with this blog. I don’t want leave it on a sour note.
We lost to a very good Southampton side to a penalty and a screamer. Disappointing but not a disaster.
But what is the biggest positive of the night? Between the match last night and you reading the blog this morning, there is one less sleep till Spurs. Now that is something to be joyful about.