First published: 27th October, 2015, 11.20 PM
By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Arsene Wenger defended his decision to rest a string of first-team stars in Arsenal’s crushing League Cup defeat but admitted his debutant starlets had not been up to it.
On a painful night in which Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were hit by injuries, Wenger accused his young players of being “naive” as his team were overturned 3-0 by a rampant Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
It was a crushing double-blow for a side weakened by the absences of first-team regulars like Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin and Laurent Koscielny.
Glen Kamara and Alex Iwobi, both 19, started the match and a third debutant Ismael Bennacer was also handed his first-team debut when he replaced Walcott early in the first half but Wenger delivered a scathing assessment of their performances afterwards.
“The occasion was too much for the young players,” said the manager. “They were not ready to play at this level, none of them. Two of the goals were from set-pieces. We were very naive. We had a lot of the ball but we didn’t make a lot. We were too short in midfield.
“It was a bad night at the office for us. We lost the two players and after that were not good enough. We have two muscle injuries. I don’t know how bad, we have to make a scan.
“I am concerned because we have a big game on Saturday at Swansea and the Champions League at Bayern Munich coming up, and already we are short. To lose two offensive players is damaging for us. Maybe too many experience players played here. We lost two and once I lost them I didn’t bring on others because we couldn’t afford to lose more.”