An exquisite Nathaniel Clyne strike saw Arsenal’s League Cup campaign end at the third-round juncture for the first time in 12 years as Southampton secured a maiden win at the Emirates Stadium.
Many, including Arsene Wenger, had expected Saints to implode after a summer in which they lost manager Mauricio Pochettino and a host of key players.
However, Ronald Koeman’s side continue to confound the doubters and won a fifth successive match in all competitions at a sold-out Emirates, where 5,000 visiting fans roared Southampton on to a 2-1 win against the Gunners.
Wenger made 10 changes for this match, including giving injuryplagued midfielder Abou Diaby his first start in 18 months.
The only survivor from the league win at Aston Villa was Calum Chambers, facing the club he left in the summer as part of a back four with just 54 Arsenal appearances between them – the majority by Francis Coquelin, playing out-of-position at left-back.
Wenger called Saints “miracle workers” in the build-up to the third-round tie, which looked likely to be beyond them when Alexis Sanchez fired home a wonderful 25-yard free-kick with just 14 minutes on the clock.
The visitors did not wilt, though, and Sadio Mane, belatedly making his debut after work permit problems, quickly earned a penalty off Tomas Rosicky, which fellow summer signing Dusan Tadic coolly slotted home.
Graziano Pelle clipped the woodwork as Southampton continued to boss Arsenal’s inexperienced defence, which could only watch on helplessly as Clyne thundered home a wonderful goal from 30 yards.
Debutant David Ospina could not get a hand to the fierce drive, although did well to keep his side in the game with a fine save to thwart Steven Davis and then Tadic.
Saints – second in the Premier League – had to defend resolutely as the match came to a close but held out for a first win against Arsenal since 2002, continuing Wenger’s wait to get his hands on the one domestic trophy to have eluded him in his 18 years at the club.