Gunners and Saints go head-to-head for EFL Cup semi-final place
Gunners and Saints go head-to-head for EFL Cup semi-final place

Arsenal take on Southampton in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup at the Emirates Stadium tonight (7.45pm kick-off UK time).

Both sides are likely to make a number of changes to the teams they fielded in wins in Premier League matches on Sunday.

Arsenal beat Reading 2-0 to seal their passage into the quarter-finals.

Southampton reached the last eight of the competition thanks to a 1-0 win against Sunderland.

The Gunners last three home League Cup games against Premier League opposition have ended in defeat, with just one goal scored.

Neither side possesses a good record in getting past this stage of the competition in recent years.

Arsenal have progressed from just one of their last five League Cup quarter-finals, last doing so in 2010/11 with a 2-0 win over Wigan.

Southampton have been eliminated at this stage of the competition on each of their last seven attempts. Not since 1986/87 have they progressed to the semi-finals.

The Saints will be backed by a sizeable away support tonight after being allocated 5,806 tickets for the match.

This is a competition that Arsene Wenger has never won. Arsenal were beaten finalists in the competition in 2007 and 2011, losing out to Chelsea and Birmingham City respectively.

The Gunners will be looking for a win tonight to join Liverpool and Hull City in the last four. The other remaining quarter-final tie is also played tonight between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford.

Head-to-Head

The Gunners have lost just one of their seven League Cup matches with Southampton (W4 D2).

The Saints though came out on top the last time the sides met in the competition. They won 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium in the 3rd round on the 23rd September 2014.

Arsenal opened the scoring with a goal from Alexis Sanchez, but the Saints came back to win with goals from Dusan Tadic (penalty) and a stunning strike from Nathaniel Clyne.

That victory for Southampton is their only win away at Arsenal in their last 23 trips to Highbury and the Emirates Stadium in all competitions (D6 L16).

Prior to their injury time 2-1 Premier League home win in September 2016, the Gunners had gone three games without a victory against Southampton.

The Saints dented Arsenal’s title bid last season with a 4-0 win at St Mary’s and a 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium. in North London.

Key Men

Former Saint Alex-Oxlade-Chamberlain has starred for Arsenal in the earlier rounds of this competition.

No player has had a hand in more EFL Cup goals than Oxlade-Chamberlain this season (4 – three goals, one assist).

He has also scored each of Arsenal’s last three goals in the EFL Cup.

Southampton will look to their top scorer Charlie Austin (9 goals this season) and Nathan Redmond (3 goals this season) to trouble the Arsenal defence.

If the Saints decide to rest Austin, who scored the winning goal in the Premier League win over Everton at St Mary’s on Sunday, then Shane Long is likely to lead their forward line. Long has caused problems to Arsenal in recent Premier League meetings with his abrasive and hard-working style of play.

Pre-match comments

Arsene Wenger, said.

“They (Southampton) have certainly been the most prolific producers of top talent in England in the last 15 years.  They have not only produced talent, but top talents. We have some examples at our club, with [Theo] Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Calum Chambers.  But don’t forget they’ve also produced top quality players like Gareth Bale, Adam Lallana and of course others.  They do not only produce quality players, they scout very well as well, because they scouted players like Sadio Mané.  We will play a mixture of players with youth and experience, but still go with 90 per cent of the first-team squad,”

Arsenal keeper Emi Martinez, said.

“The boss told me that I would play in the League Cup at the beginning of the season and I trust him,” Martinez told Arsenal Player.

I’m playing every game so I’m really looking forward to Southampton. We have had two big games already, with Forest away and Reading at home, and Championship sides are tough sides in this competition because they’ve got nothing to lose.

Now we’re in the quarter-finals and it’s a big game for us at the Emirates. We want to go to Wembley, we want to go all the way.

I dreamt of [winning] it the first day. When we played Forest away I thought, ‘If we beat Forest then we’re one step closer to Wembley’.

We’ve only got three more games now so I’m really looking forward to playing Southampton at home.”

Southampton boss Claude Puel, said.

“It’s an opportunity to try to win silverware. The last game against Everton was a fantastic game, with good intensity and a good physical level.

“We know Arsenal. They keep the same identity in their play. It’s a mix between experienced players and young ones, but it’s an important competition for them also, because it’s an opportunity for them to improve with their young players and it’s an important objective for us also. I think it is the same way for us.”

Team News

Arsenal

The Gunners are once again set to field a side mixing experience and youth.

Emi Martinez, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Jeff Reine-Adelaide are all set to start as they did against Nottingham Forest and Reading in the previous rounds of the competition.

Lucas Perez returns to the squad after an ankle injury picked up in the fourth-round EFL Cup win over Reading five weeks ago.

Olivier misses out with a slight groin problem, while Mathieu Debuchy is out with a hamstring injury.

“Mathieu has a scan today [Tuesday] but we don’t have the results yet,” Arsène Wenger told Arsenal.com.

“Lucas is in the squad and will have a mixture of youth and experience, but still 90 per cent of the first-team squad.

Southampton

Dušan Tadić is out with an injury.

Sofiane Boufal is available after a knock, as is Steven Davis (illness).

Josh Sims, 19, is likely to be rested after making his senior debut in Sunday’s 1-0 Premier League win over Everton.

Match officials

Referee: Kevin Friend, Assistants: Jake Collin and Matthew Wilkes, Fourth Official: Mark Clattenburg

Prediction

Arsenal to progress 2-1, but it might require going to extra time.

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