Arsenal 0 Southampton 2
Clasie 22, Bertrand 38

Arsenal were knocked out of the EFL Cup by a clinical Southampton side who struck twice in the first half. Jordy Classie and Ryan Bertrand goals earned the Saints a semi-final berth and continued the Gunners’ miserable run at this stage of the competition. Arsenal’s last three home League Cup games against Premier League opposition have ended in defeat, and with just one goal scored. That sequence was unlikely to change in a starting line up which saw Arsene Wenger make ten changes to the side which prevailed over Bournemouth in the Premier League last Sunday. But credit must be given to the visitors who themselves made eight changes from last weekend. Arsenal failed to test Fraser Forster’s goal until it was too late and then found the Saints hold firm.

Having seemed assured in their last two rounds with wins over Nottingham Forest and Reading, Southampton put those Arsenal wins into perspective with a a display which was reminiscent of the type of game which we would usually see from the Gunners.

They passed and moved, executing their game plan to perfection as well as ultimately executing Arsene Wenger’s chance of winning the only cup which has eluded him in his 20 years in England.

With their first sortee on the Gunners’ goal, Southampton took the lead. Clasie struck from distance and Emiliano Martinez was beaten with the Gunners defence no where to help. The called for immediate response from Arsenal didn’t materialise, with missed passes and mis-communication the order of the hime side with ten changes from Sunday’s Premier League win over Bournemouth.

Only Mohamed Elneny started here, but his evening was about to end prematurely as he was replaced by Granit Xhaka just minutes before the break. Wenger later revealed that Elneny had been sick ahead of the game, but had declared himself fit to play.

By that juncture, the Saints had gone further ahead after 38 minutes. Carl Jenkinson had taken an earlier knock, and looked to be feeling his way back. However when he was robbed of possession deep in his own half, the Saints responded rapidly to switch the ball to Bertrand. He took aim to score with a low drive past the desperate dive of Martinez.

The Gunners lacked any precision or cutting edge and that would need to change in the the second half.

Alex Iwobi’s tricky run fed Aaron Ramsey but Lucas Perez’ effort didn’t trouble Forster. The move signalled a new attacking intent. Ramsey now arced his shot but again Forster gathered.

Ramsey is still trying to rediscover the form which saw him shine at the Euros, and he earned the free kick which Xhaka teed up, The Switzerland midfielder caught the ball with a powerful drive, but again Forster held.

Still the Saints came back and only a late excellent Rob Holding clearance denied the visitors a third goal. Sofiane Boufal then exposed the Gunners’ rearguard with a strong run and a shot which Martinez deflected for a corner.

Wenger took off Jeff Reine-Adelaide and brought on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The England man has enjoyed a three goal tally in the EFL and he was desperately needed to further add to his total here.

Firstly in perhaps his first telling contribution of the night, Lucas Perez produced a turn and shot which was deflected over the bar for a corner. Perez is a busy player when he doesn’t have the ball, but much more is needed from him if he is to force his way into a regular Premier League reckoning. Taking corners and free kicks should not be his duty, as Arsenal would invariably profit with him on the end of such set plays.

Francis Coquelin now surged forward with a powerful drive which went just wide of Forster’s upright.

Steven Davis responded with a looped effort just over Martinez’s bar, and then Shane Long held off Gabriel, but shot wide when it seemed easier to score.

Time was ticking away for any Arsenal response, but Oxlade-Chamberlain skied an effort when clear through, and late on Forster acrobatically denied Kieran Gibbs’ header.

The Gunners have progressed from just one of their last five League Cup quarter-finals, last doing so in 2010-11 with a 2-0 win over Wigan. Having gone down to an early two goal deficit here, that stat was never really looked likely to change as Southampton progressed at the expense of the Gunners.