Arsenal legend Paul Merson has slated Gunners boss Mikel Arteta for fielding a weakened team in Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round defeat.
The Gunners headed to Southampton hoping to take a step further to retaining the trophy they won last summer.
However, Arsenal are also in action on Tuesday night, taking on the same team at the same ground in the Premier League.
With that in mind, Arteta opted to field a team without some of his usual starters and in-form players.
Thomas Partey and Bukayo Saka made the bench, while Emile Smith Rowe was left out of the squad completely.
The likes of Mohamed Elneny, Nicolas Pepe, Eddie Nketiah and Willian all got a start, and they all played poorly as Saints ran out 1-0 winners.
Although Saka, Partey and Alexandre Lacazette all came off the bench in the second half, they were unable to mount a comeback.
“I don’t know what he’s doing,” Merson told Sky Sports.
“They’re not going to win the league, they’re not going to get in the top four of the Premier League unless they went on one of the best runs in the history of the league.
“This is the one that made Arteta last time around, he came to Arsenal, he had a great semi-final and a great final [in the FA Cup].
“And I honestly can’t believe it, this is a more important game than the midweek league game. They’re not getting relegated and they’re not getting in the top four.
“You don’t really want to end up getting sixth or whatever again and then you play in the Europa League on Thursdays, that just sends them back. So for me, bad decision.”
As bad as Arsenal were against Southampton, Arteta was very much between a rock and a hard place with his team selection.
If he played his strongest team and was then unable to call on some of those players on Tuesday due to injury or fatigue, he’d have been slated for that too.
On paper, the team wasn’t particularly bad – Elneny was decent earlier this season, Nketiah is a promising Hale End graduate, and Pepe and Willian are big-money players.
However, none of them emerged from the game with any credit, so the problem here is that Arsenal’s strength in depth isn’t good and some players just aren’t doing well enough.
Come the summer, hopefully there will either be some big improvements from those players, or if not, some movement.