Well, that wasn’t much fun was it?
Arsenal are out of the Carabao Cup and they went out in very tame fashion last night as they were beaten 3-1 at West Ham.
As expected, Mikel Arteta made changes – six of the game from the team that started against Sheffield United – but on paper it was still a side that you thought could do a job.
The likes of Ramsdale, Zinchenko, Gabriel, Jorginho, Havertz, Trossard and Nketiah all started and there were players like Vieria and Nelson who you felt had a big opportunity to impress.
But after an OK first half, which I thought Arsenal just about had the better of, they were just awful after half-time. It was a really strange second half performance in all honesty.
They were trailing 1-0 at the break after Ben White’s own goal and so you thought they would come out and give it a real go after the interval.
But instead they came out sleeping. If they really wanted to stay in the Carabao Cup, then they had a funny way of showing it.
Mohammed Kudus’ goal was superbly taken. The touch and finish were excellent. But it all came from one long ball which Zinchenko let drift over his head. It was far, far too easy from an Arsenal point of view.
The third goal, scored by Bowen, did take a big deflection. I still think Ramsdale will be a bit disappointed that he didn’t do more to keep it out.
It was one of this goals which will do little to quieten the argument that almost every shot on target that Arsenal face when Ramsdale is in goal ends up in the net.
Martin Odegaard, who was somewhat surprisingly thrown on along with Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli when the score was at 3-0 and the game was done and dusted, did pull one back in the final seconds. But by then the damage had been done.
Speaking after the game, Arteta said:
“I’m very disappointed. Obviously I’m responsible for that, we are out of the cup and we wanted to play a very different game, and especially we wanted to compete in a game like this, which we discussed for 48 hours, in a very different way to what we’ve done.
“There are no messages to send. Whatever messages we send, we send them with words, we don’t have to send them in a different way. We have tried to put out the team that we believed was the best to try to compete today in the right way to start the game, and the game took a different direction obviously because of the first goal and we can discuss that, but after that we still have to see much more from the team to earn the right to win in a place like this.”
You could tell he was annoyed. That was evident just by watching him on the touchline during that second half. But the ‘whatever messages we send, we send them with words line’ certainly suggested that today he will be letting his players know that the performance wasn’t good enough. Although I would suggest he has done that already.
Obviously Arsenal have far bigger priorities this season than the Carabao Cup. But this was still a competition Arteta wanted to win.
A trophy is a trophy at the end of the day and they are not easy to win, so you can’t just be chucking opportunities away.
And that’s what Arsenal did. They just meekly surrendered in that second half and that wasn’t good enough.
The players who came in just did not take their opportunity. Zinchenko was really poor and the fact he started says a lot about the pecking order at left-back now when it comes to big games.
Jorginho was left totally isolated in midfield and was overrun. Havertz started quite brightly but faded completely and produced another lacklustre display that left more questions than answers. Vieira was non-existent, although he did at least get the late assist for Odegaard.
It was just a really disappointing night and now Arsenal have to respond against Newcastle on Saturday.
It will of course be a very different team that starts at St James’ Park, but this defeat just puts a little bit more pressure on what is already a really difficult looking night on Tyneside.
Anyway, I’ll be back with my latest Inside Arsenal show a little bit later on so keep your eyes out for that. Until then, have a good day everyone.