Analysis: Four debutants as Arsenal suffer deeply disappointing defeat to Sheffield Wednesday


Image: PA

Image: PA

Arsene Wenger gave senior debuts to four youngsters this evening, but it was some of the more senior players that struggled most as Arsenal suffered a deeply disappointing 3-0 defeat away to Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup.

Glen Kamara and Alex Iwobi both started the game, with summer arrival Ismael Bennacer soon pressed into action as an early substitute in place of the injured Theo Walcott, who himself had only just been brought on for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Krystian Bielik replaced the struggling Kamara in the second period, whilst Matt Macey and Ben Sheaf made the bench, but, overall, it was a hugely frustrating evening for the Gunners.

The defending for all three of the goals was diabolical, with experienced players such as Mathieu Debuchy and captain Per Mertesacker particularly culpable.

In addition Mathieu Flamini struggled throughout and often conceded possession with meaningless long balls. Joel Campbell again struggled, although the Costa Rican did at least demonstrate a desire to attempt to win the ball back on several occasions.

As far as the youngsters are concerned, Kamara started well enough as he kept the ball efficiently and made a couple of neat tackles, but the Finland U21 international became overrun in the second period and was subsequently withdrawn, with Bielik helping to add a little more assuredness to proceedings.

Iwobi tried his hardest but struggled to create many openings, save for one shot that was off target. The winger played a couple of clever passes but was afforded little time on the ball by a Sheffield Wednesday side that was resolute in its defensive work.

Bennacer, the diminutive midfielder plucked from Arles-Avignon, enjoyed a few encouraging moments, but also seemed a little overwhelmed at times, which isn’t very surprising given that he has barely even played for the club at youth level. He does, though, seem a very good prospect for the long term.

Bielik, as alluded to, fared rather well, even though he did concede possession on a couple of occasions. The youngster was used in midfield despite the fact that he has featured almost exclusively as a centre-back at U21 level this campaign.

Arsenal are out of the Capital One Cup, but, such is the depleted nature of the first-team squad, this may not be the end of the opportunities for youngsters at the club this season.

Arsenal already had six players (Mikel Arteta, David Ospina, Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere) out injured going into this fixture, and that list has now been added to following the problems suffered by Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott.

Several key players were completely rested tonight, with Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Hector Bellerin, Santi Cazorla, Laurent Koscielny and Francis Coquelin not in the squad and Nacho Monreal and Gabriel remaining unused substitutes.

At present, though, there are only 16 available senior players, so there is a strong chance that at least one youngster could make the bench for the Premier League game against Swansea City this weekend.

12 comments

  1. our worst performance of the season, not one of the fringe players done anything to suggest they should be starting BPL games for us. the defending on all 3 goals were a disgrace, lack of focus and effort was there for all to see. Was a bit disappointed by Wenger saying that none of the young lads are ready for this level of football. A bit harsh, when none of the older lads were any better, are they ready.

  2. Couldn’t believe wengers post Match comments about the youngsters, he should know they are not ready and he should not be putting them in the situation, like lambs to the slaughter.

    Our squad is simply short in numbers and too short on quality to run for 4 trophies. But the injuries too ox and theo are the biggest blows. It will mean that iwobi and one or two others simply cannot head out on loan until these injuries have cleared. As we see tonight, iwobi bielik and kamara need loans, campbell is way behind the regular first teamers, whilst Bennacer needs at least 1 full season of u21 football.

  3. Ridiculous to chuck Bennacer on, imo. Barely played for the youth teams, yet chucked on in a game we weren’t exactly on the front foot in.
    At that stage it should have been Monreal on and Gibbs moved forward.

    Thought Iwobi showed some nice glimpses of quality, should really be moved ahead of Campbell in the fight for a first team squad place.
    Kamara showed some good tackling and strength, but we were swamped and he got over-ran.
    You could see from his sub performance why Bielik is being used as a CB. Needs to strengthen up, but showed a bit of his potential.

    1. Monreal? 2 of our senior players were injured playing and now you want Wenger to risk another player. Be serious. It’s the league cup not the champions league playing another one of our senior players was not worth the risk.

      1. Two injury prone players got injured. Monreal is not a worry in that respect.
        And apologies for not wanting Arsenal to get humiliated by an average Championship side. I guess I am on my own when it comes to wanting Arsenal to win!

  4. Personally, I think Wenger’s selection was spot-on. We played a Back 6 that were all Very Accomplished players with International experience, we played an amazing keeper, our first-choice striker, and we tried to give a struggling first-teamer (The Ox), a game to shine.

    No reason why we shouldn’t have been able to defend. Lacking creativity is one thing, but everyone bar Kamara in our defensive set-up thinks they should be playing champions League football. So if they can’t defend 2 set pieces and an obvious counter-attacking move, then that’s on them! Not the Manager. I’m glad they got the opportunity and are reminded of how much work it takes to defend.

    Desperately hoping Walcott and Ox aren’t out for more than a week or two. Hope Campbell looks better in a first-team squad… he worked hard tonight with some good tackles and dribbles. Sadly little else, but we’ll see.

    I don’t mind painful defeats in the League Cup if people learn from it. Hopefully our players do that. Wenger chose a pretty strong side, and they being swept away reflects poorly on them. On to Swansea,

  5. When I first saw the selection, I could not believe that Glen Kamara got the nod ahead of Bielik. In all the games that I have seen, Glen Kamara has shown to be out of his depth even at youth level. At youth level, he got by by using his superior athleticism, but against grown men, he could not rely on that to bail him out. The problem was that his teammates quickly realised that and started avoiding passing to him. Moreover the opposition realised that by putting him under pressure, they could retrieve the ball in dangerous area, so they started to target him even more.
    As soon as Bielik was introduced, the midfield got better. More composure, more forward passes.
    Reine Adelaïde, Iwobi and Bielik are the only ones who seem ready to be near the first team. The rest are either not ready physically, not ready tactically or not good enough to play for Arsenal first team.
    In hindsight, moving Mertesacker to the left side of the defense was also a bad move. He never adjusted to being on the left. Chambers was good, but he needed somebody who could organise the defense. Unfortunately The BFG was too concentrated on his own game to be able to help others. Chambers should have played on the left. He would have adjusted more easily than BFG.
    Regarding Debuchy, rumours that AFC were willing to sell him and replace him with either Jenkinson or a youngster with potential are bound to resurface after such terrible performance.
    I felt sorry for Giroud who I am not sure touch the ball more than 5 times per half, for Campbell who was basically left on his own device and for Iwobi who was trying too hard.
    Others have already said, but it is really a shame that we cannot recall Serge Gnabry from his loan as he is wasting his talent playing U21 for WestBromwich. Tony Pulis is well known for never play young players. He always favour average, over the hill seasoned veterans over upcoming talent. Lower reward, but less risky. Why anybody in the Arsenal academy thought that was a good idea to loan him to the former Morodor’s master (long ball/rugby tackling Stoke infamous coach) is beyond me.
    Sanogo is another who better hope to have a brilliant pre-season 2016-2017 if he still expect to have a playing career at AFC.

    1. Went out at the weekend. Played 3 games in a short period, and then travelled back from Chile. Do you really expect them to be ready to just go straight into the first team?

  6. I think it’s very frustrating to listen these comments from Wenger, like: “They were faster, sharper and more decisive than us,” or “We could not create anything. We were very naive when defending.” He just have been very naive himself for not to strenghten the squad in summer, when he had the money but didn’t do anything. We would have needed to add att least a defensive midfielder, one more quality striker or winger and i think we should have brought one more central defender to bolster our squad to the level which would have send the message that we are after it in this time. And then in these kind of games we suddenly see that we ain’t got squad at all, and Wenger himself is telling that to us. Now he’s saying: “With the squad we have got now, we cannot keep in all the competitions.” I can’t believe it, just few months ago he didn’t saw that we need to strenghten the squad. I think it’s Arsene, who’s been very naive. We are now so thin for premier league too, and it’s only just october and Arsene himself’s saying “We are short now with the injuries”.

  7. Any idea why Dan Crawley’s loan was terminated prematurely?
    Any truth in the rumour that Dan Crowley’s loan was terminated for Big Charlie attitude syndrom?
    Or is it that suddenly Barnsley has decided to go the big physically dominant bone crunching tackler (whom Dan Crawley is definitely not) route?
    Whatever the reason, hopefully that and the crushing defeat may act as the right kick up the backside that some academy players needed to wise up to what is required to make it as a professional footballer. I am not even talking about making it at Arsenal. Some like Iwobi were already thinking that they should be nearer to the first team. They have not made it yet, most will not make it at Arsenal, many will not even make it as league footballer.
    Tony Pulis has surpassed himself: Gnabry is not ready to play premiership football. This a player who before his injury Joachim Lowe was thinking of selecting for the World Cup in Brazil. World Cup that the Germany won. I would trust the German coach’s judgement a lot more than the Long throw’s abuser.

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