Although Arsenal fans, players and manager will be disappointed to have been knocked out of the Capital One Cup at such an early stage, there were some real positives to take from the game against Southampton. At least it was a Premier League team that beat us, just like with Chelsea last season, and there is no shame losing to a strong and in form Saints team.
The return of Abou Diaby to the starting line-up for the first time in 19 months was obviously a great boost for him and the club, but I think perhaps the biggest positive for us was the performance of Isaac Hayden at centre back. The 19-year old from the academy actually outshone Calum Chambers, who is also 19 but has had much more big game experience.
Hayden was making only his second appearance in the first team but I thought he took it all in his stride and showed good strength, speed and ability on a really tough night. And the youngster is a versatile player as well, able to play central midfield which we all know is a position where Arsenal could do with more options.
Hayden spoke to Arsenal Player after the game, revealing how much he enjoyed his first game in front of the Emirates crowd and how it has given him a taste for more.
He said, “Despite the result, it was obviously fantastic to play at the Emirates. It’s the first time I’ve played in front of a home crowd which was good. I’ve been on the bench a few times so it was good to finally get on the pitch.
“It’s a great starter, a great first taste and you want more of it. That’s the aim, you want to be playing at the highest level of professional football that you can.
“It was a good learning experience for me tonight, playing against Graziano Pelle who’s a very good forward. It’s good for me and Calum, both being 19, to learn against such good quality opposition. Graziano’s a big strong guy but I did my best, that’s all I can do. Give 100 per cent each time I play for Arsenal.”
With the defensive problems currently at the club, Hayden may well get his wish to play more in the coming weeks and months. So Gooners, do you think this young Gunner could be the next player to break through from the Arsenal academy?