Arsenal 0-2 Southampton: Saints march into EFL Cup semi-finals
By Oliver Yew at The Emirates
Last Updated: 01/12/16 6:24am
Southampton reached the EFL Cup semi-finals for the first time in 30 years by beating Arsenal 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night.
Claude Puel set up his side to play on the counter-attack and the tactics worked brilliantly, Jordy Clasie firing the visitors into a 13th-minute lead.
Arsenal, who made 10 changes from the side that beat Bournemouth in the Premier League at the weekend, went further behind six minutes before half-time after another swift attack which was finished by Ryan Bertrand.
Granit Xhaka and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were introduced from the bench by the hosts but the changes did not have the desired effect for Arsene Wenger with Southampton continuing to create opportunities on the break.
Steven Davis and Shane Long both missed chances but they did not prove to be costly as the Saints held on to book their place in the last four of a major cup competition for the first time since 2003, Liverpool their semi-final opponents.
Arsenal, who had their 19-game unbeaten run ended, have now claimed just one win from their last six EFL Cup quarter-finals as Wenger's wait to win the trophy continues.
Before the match got underway there was a minute's silence held in memory of those who died in the Colombia air crash with Arsenal's Brazilian defender Gabriel holding a tribute banner with the message 'Força Chape'.
Arsenal bossed the opening exchanges, but it was Southampton - making eight changes of their own from the weekend - who got the early advantage with Clasie opening the scoring.
Sofiane Boufal's shot was initially blocked but the ball dropped to Clasie on the edge of the penalty area, and the Dutch midfielder drilled a brilliant effort past Emiliano Martinez and into the corner of the net.
Despite the set-back, Arsenal continued to dominate the ball but sightings of goal were proving difficult to come by as Lucas Perez failed to trouble Fraser Forster after being crowded out inside the Southampton penalty area.
Southampton, who made eight changes of their own from the weekend victory over Everton, were looking to catch the Gunners on the break at every opportunity with Shane Long the main threat, but the striker's slack pass failed to pick out Davis.
The game plan did work, however, in the 38th minute with the visitors winning the ball off Carl Jenkinson high up the pitch before working it out to Boufal on the left. The Frenchman slid the ball into the box for Bertrand, who took a touch and then fired into the bottom corner from 15 yards.
Arsenal were forced into a change just before the break with Xhaka replacing the injured Mohamed Elneny and they flew out of the traps early in the second half with Perez and Aaron Ramsey both denied in quick succession by Forster.
With Wenger's half-time words ringing in their ears the Gunners were on the front foot and Forster was forced into action again in the 54th minute, keeping out Xhaka's powerful long-range drive.
But Southampton were still a threat on the counter-attack and Boufal should have put the game to bed after skipping past a couple of challenges, but his shot was deflected wide.
From the resulting corner Clasie also fired wide, prompting Wenger into bringing on former Saints star Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ainsley Maitland-Niles for Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Jenkinson, who left the field to ironic cheers from the home crowd.
However, Southampton continued to create chances on the counter with Davis' volley landing on the roof of the net before Long fired wide when one-on-one with Martinez.
Arsenal finally created a clear cut opening in the 79th minute and it fell to substitute Oxlade-Chamberlain, but he fired over the bar from 12 yards.
Wenger's men continued to push forward in the closing stages but it proved to be in vain as Southampton held on for a famous victory.