Arsene Wenger said it wasn’t about who was chosen to play in Arsenal’s 2-0 loss to Southampton in the EFL Cup quarterfinals, rather how those players performed in the elimination.
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Criticized by some fans for his lineup choice — Wenger picked Rob Holding, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, and little-used goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez amongst others — the manager said his players just weren’t up to the intensity.
“We were not incisive enough. They defended deep and were sharper and fitter than us. With a two-goal advantage they defended very well.”
“When you look at the team we had, I don’t think that was the problem. We didn’t have the right urgency from the beginning of the game.”
Wenger’s been on-point much of this season, but his “fitter” comment backs up the lineup choice. Throw in Lucas Perez and Carl Jenkinson, and Arsenal had few players getting regular run in his Starting XI.
Should Wenger have used more first-choice players in the chase for hardware, or is the Premier League chase far more important to this season? There was a better way for Wenger to go about choosing his lineup, although weekend opponents West Ham also sat several key players.