Arsenal: defence and transfers exposed as Kroenke takes £3m
Southampton knock Gunners out of the League Cup on a sobering night at the Emirates
Arsenal fans experienced a sobering evening at the Emirates as the Gunners fell at the first hurdle in the League Cup for the first time in 12 years, as an impressive Southampton side got the better of a strong Arsenal outfit.
The game was won by a thunderbolt from defender Nathaniel Clyne, enjoying an unfettered run in the Saints first team since rival Calum Chambers left to join the Gunners. His strike came after Dusan Tadic scored his first goal for the club from the penalty spot to cancel out Alexis Sanchez's opener.
The result raised questions over Arsenal's recruitment policy this summer. With an injury crisis at the back, Arsene Wenger fielded a back four featuring three 19-year-olds in Chambers, Hector Bellerín and Isaac Hayden plus 23-year-old midfielder Francis Coquelin.
"The ease with which [Southampton] got behind their makeshift back four underlined the club's lack of defensive depth," says The Times.
It does not bode well for the Gunners. "The season is less than six weeks old but the gaps both in Arsene Wenger's defence and transfer policy have already been prised open," says the Daily Telegraph. The Gunners started the season with only six senior defenders, it notes. Two are currently injured and Wenger revealed that Per Mertesacker and Kieran Gibbs had been left out because of fitness concerns.
Arsenal's woes are thrown into sharp relief by Southampton's ebullient start to the season, says the Times. "The strength of this performance spoke volumes about the quality of the squad [Ronald Koeman] managed to assemble despite enduring a turbulent summer. The Dutchman has shopped carefully and judiciously across Europe, with the result that Southampton could give... a lesson in how to avoid frittering away a windfall."
The mood of Gunners fans was not improved by the news that the club has paid owner Stan Kroenke £3m for "strategic and advisory" services. Details of the payment to his company, KSE LLC, appear in the club's full accounts. The money relates to services provided to Arsenal's broadband division, part of its media department.
The move "has gone down badly with Arsenal supporters," says The Guardian. "Coincidentally, the £3m figure tallies with the amount the club raised from a three per cent rise on season-ticket prices for this season."
It was a "touchy subject on a night when Arsenal tickets were capped at £10 for the Capital One Cup tie against Southampton, a gesture of goodwill at a club with notoriously expensive tickets in the Premier League".