IPSWICH, January 13- Arsenal's hopes of winning their first trophy since 2005 were dented when Championship side Ipswich Town beat them 1-0 at Portman Road here on Wednesday in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final.A goal in the 78th-minute from recalled forward Tamas Priskin gave the home side a deserved victory, although the Premier League team will still be regarded as favourites to overturn the deficit in the second leg at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday, January 25.
But they will have to play better to do so after Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, had named a very strong starting line-up with Cesc Fabregas, the captain, recalled to join a host of internationals, for the first leg.
The early chances fell to the visitors, although Andrey Arshavin, having been picked out in the box by Fabregas, shot tamely wide from the first.
Ipswich’s first reply of note saw Priskin, operating as a lone striker, let fly from long range and the Hungarian’s curling effort landed only just wide of Wojciech Szczesny’s left-hand post.
Priskin put the ball in the Arsenal net five minutes before half-time with a well-executed overhead kick but it was ruled out, correctly, for offside.
Connor Wickham, the 17-year-old who has already been linked with moves to Arsenal and Tottenham, was also looking dangerous and fired a powerful drive over from outside the box soon after.
Ipswich — struggling in the second tier and thrashed 7-0 in the FA Cup by Chelsea last time out — were applauded off at half-time by a Portman Road faithful that was pleased with the way their side were standing up to their Premier League opponents.
They started the second half strongly as well and won a corner when Wickham’s drive was deflected behind.
Mark Kennedy attempted an audacious lob from all of 40 yards having spotted Szczesny off his line but the Pole recovered to make a comfortable catch.
Arsenal had not threatened Marton Fulop’s goal for a long time and Fabregas tried to find a team-mate in the box when a shot was the better option.
Ipswich were more than holding their own and Wenger made a double substitution with just over 20 minutes remaining with Jack Wilshere and Nicklas Bendtner replaced having made little impression.
Marouane Chamakh and Alex Song came on and straight away Theo Walcott almost opened the scoring. Fulop denied him however, coming out to block his attempt to lift the ball over him from an angle on the right.
Fabregas put Arsenal’s best chance of the game over the bar from close range just before Priskin opened the scoring by outpacing Johan Djourou to reach a through-ball from Colin Healy and slotting calmly past the goalkeeper.
Fulop was required to make saves from Chamakh and Walcott to preserve the lead but Arsenal can have no complaints.
Ipswich looked nothing like a side that had been struggling in recent weeks, a fact that cost Roy Keane his job last week. Ian McParland took over for the FA Cup thrashing at Chelsea, and presided over this one.
The Scot will now make way for new manager Paul Jewell, who watched from the stands and will no doubt have been impressed by his new charges.