Arsenal vs Southampton: Arsene Wenger 'disappointed' with lack of urgency in EFL Cup exit to Saints

Wenger far from impressed with his players after poor defeat to much-changed Southampton at the Emirates

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger bemoaned Arsenal’s “lack of urgency” after watching them limp out of the EFL Cup with a 2-0 home defeat to Southampton. Wenger said that his much-changed team could have played for hours without scoring as they failed to make any impression at home against Southampton on Wednesday night.

While Wenger made 10 changes, he refused to use that as an excuse and pointed to the first-team experience of many of his players, especially in midfield and defence. He was not shy in his criticism of his players after they failed to cause Saints any real problems.

“We had a disappointing performance, particularly in the first half,” Wenger admitted afterwards. “I think we were not good enough defensively and gave cheap goals away in the first half. It was better in the second, but it was one of those nights where you look like you could play two hours without scoring a goal.” 

Wenger admitted that Southampton, who made eight changes themselves, were “sharper and fitter” than his team at the Emirates. “We didn't have enough urgency in the first half and were weak in some departments. We paid for that. We were not incisive enough in the first half especially. They played deeper in the second half and were sharper than us and fitter. If you give someone a handicap of two goals, against a Premier League side it's difficult.”

While Wenger could have used the inexperience of some players as an excuse, he refused to. “In midfield we had Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey, Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka,” Wenger said. “We had Alex Iwobi, one of the regular players in the first-team. The problem wasn't there. We had players who are used to top level competition. But we didn't have the right urgency.”

Wenger confirmed that Danny Welbeck, out since April with a knee ligament injury, would be back in full training next month. Cazorla’s return from an Achilles injury still does not have a timescale. “It's just inflammation that could go in two days or two weeks,” Wenger said. “It's stable.”