Arsenal 1-2 Southampton
Capital One Cup third round
Ronald Koeman could not have warned Arsenal any more than he had done. The Dutch manager, charged with succeeding the incredibly popular Mauricio Pochettino at Southampton, said he'd be taking his strongest side to the Emirates for the Capital One Cup third round tie.
Having sold over £100 million worth of talent, football fans were fearing for the growingly popular St Mary's outfit ahead of what promised to be a turbulent season. Fast forward a month and the picture is far more rosy on the south coast.
They sit second in the Premier League and beat Arsenal in their own stadium and at their own game to reach the fourth round of a very winnable cup competition.
The game started off with a lively pace. As promised, Koeman turned up with a full strength Southampton side. Not only that, but they came with the intention to attack.
Despite early pressure from the Saints it was Arsenal who broke the deadlock thanks to Alexis Sanchez. The £35 million summer signing picked out a perfect free-kick from 25 yards in the 14th minute. Fraser Forster was left standing as the ball flew into the top corner.
Undeterred, Southampton continued to push forward with their main outlet coming from the rapid Sadio Mane. He caused Arsenal's makeshift defence all sorts of problems but it was captain Tomas Rosicky who succumbed to his wizardry, fouling him in the box to invite Southampton back into the game just six minutes after Sanchez's opener.
Dusan Tadic scored past Arsenal's debuting goalkeeper David Ospina. The game continued to flow in Southampton's direction and that pressure told on 40 minutes when the ball fell to Nathaniel Clyne 30 yards from goal.
The full-back took advantage of Arsenal's delayed response to pressure him and hit a stunning shot past Ospina. Southampton fully deserved their lead at the break.
Little changed after the break as both teams took their turn to keep possession and counter-attack. The 5,000 Southampton fans were in full flow, helping their team towards their first win over Arsenal since 2002.
Wenger confirmed his intentions to win the game by bringing on Santi Cazorla for the returning Abou Diaby and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the ineffective Joel Campbell. They helped, turning the screw in Arsenal's favour, but Southampton were dangerous off the break and slowed the game down whenever possible.
Sanchez was denied from close range to a superb Forster save, who did his England chances no harm with an outstanding all-round display. But he was certainly assisted by Southampton's defensive unit in the closing stages of the second half.
Wenger threw Chuba Akpom on for Hector Bellerin for the final few minutes, but in reality, Arsenal never looked capable of winning the game after going down.
It was a famous night for Southampton, who treated their superb travelling fans to a deserved victory.
Arsenal will play in, and lose, more important games this season. Their sights are looking beyond this cup competition and onto the bigger picture. Wenger won't weep over the loss, but Southampton will certainly celebrate it.
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