Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits Southampton deserved their progress in the Capital One Cup after a long-range Nathaniel Clyne’s effort eliminated his team.
The ‘Gunners’ fielded a relatively inexperienced defence alongside a strong attack, but were halted from claiming the third round all-Premier League tie courtesy of Dusan Tadic’s 20th-minute penalty, 6 minutes after Alexis Sanchez scored a “fantastic” free-kick.
“It’s disappointing because we had a good start and we made two unnecessary errors on the two goals – they were big ones,” said Wenger. “We lacked a bit of experience at the back. I agree with you but overall they did well.
“When you look at the amount of possession we had you have to give credit to Southampton. They played well and were very organised. They abused the fouls in the middle of the park but they are a good side and they played well tonight.”
With Per Mertesacker and Kieran Gibbs suffering from knocks, the French boss opted for spaces on the bench for the first team pair and fielded an inexperienced back four of Calum Chambers, Francis Coquelin, Isaac Hayden and Hector Bellerin.
While the injured Mathieu Debuchy and Nacho Monreal remain on the sidelines, Wenger looks to have experience back in his defence for Saturday’s Premier League clash with Tottenham Hotspur.
“They will be all right,” replied Wenger when quizzed on the availability of Mertesacker and Gibbs for the North London derby. “We are a bit short, yes, because of the injuries we have.
“You sit there and you think Gibbs couldn’t play because of a slight problem, Mertesacker is a bit on the edge and then we have no choice. I think if we lost the game tonight it’s not because of Hayden and it’s not because of Chambers. It’s not because of Coquelin. You have to be realistic.
“I think the first reason for our defeat is the quality of our opponent and the performance of our opponent. The fact that we couldn’t score – we scored from a free-kick but apart from that we couldn’t score. If you look at the amount of possession we had in the second half, and you play for so long with the amount of possession we had, you have to score.”
Koeman happy with the ‘Saints’
The defeat means Southampton, who sits second in the English Premier League table, continued their fine start to the season with five successive wins in all competitions.
Having sold six of their first-team players- including Chambers- in the summer transfer window, ex-Netherlands international Ronald Koeman was rather pragmatic with his starting line-up; which comprised of seven senior internationals.
Match-winner Clyne was one of those without senior honours, although Koeman believes he is good enough to break into the England squad.
“I think he’s ready,” he said. “He has a lot of experience, he is playing very well from the beginning of the season.
“He scored a great goal. I think his performance was very good and I think it’s an option for the national coach and I’m very happy to have Clyney in our team because he brings a lot of experience.
“He brings a lot of spirit and I like to have and play with offensive full-backs. He shows that quality and it’s very important for the team.”