Arsenal boss admits errors with team selection in Capital One Cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday
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Arsene Wenger admits he misjudged his team selection at Hillsborough – claiming he fielded too many senior players in Arsenal’s Capital One Cup drubbing by Sheffield Wednesday.
Wenger made eight changes to his side for Tuesday’s fourth-round tie and handed four teenagers their competitive debuts as the Gunners were blown away 3-0 by their Championship opponents.
Yet the Frenchman’s plan to protect his more experienced players from injury backfired as both Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott limped off early in the game.
And Wenger, who has long held an attitude towards the tournament that borders on contemptuous, insisted he should have put out an even weaker team against the Owls.
“I have to manage the workload of the players and at the end of the day I still think I maybe brought too many experienced players,” said the Arsenal boss.
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“We lost two players and after that I had Gabriel and [Nacho] Monreal on the bench, but I couldn’t bring them on because I couldn’t afford to lose any more players.
“I am concerned – we have a big game on Saturday, we have Bayern [Munich] in the Champions League coming up and already now we are short.
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“To lose two players is damaging for us, two offensive players. Ideally we would have loved to win, but with the squad we have got now, we cannot keep in all the competitions.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain pulled up with a hamstring strain just two minutes into the match and was replaced by Walcott – who followed him off the field due to a calf problem less than 20 minutes later.
And Wednesday took advantage of their visitors’ turmoil to score twice before half-time, with Ross Wallace rifling past Petr Cech from the edge of the box before Lucas Joao headed home a cross from the left.
Tom Lees set up Sam Hutchinson to score the Owls’ third goal early in the second half and, although Per Mertesacker went close to reducing the deficit, Arsenal were comfortably beaten.
Wenger, who expects to learn today (Thursday) the extent of the injuries to Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott, praised the home side’s performance.
And, somewhat bizarrely – given that he is the man who selects the Arsenal team – the manager concluded that his youngsters’ lack of experience had given the Gunners “no chance” at Hillsborough.
“Sheffield Wednesday deserved to win,” added Wenger. “The level of quality in the Championship is rising all the time.
“For [our] young players to play against them is very difficult and becomes a big challenge.
“Our youngsters had no experience of this type of game and that meant we had no chance of winning.”
Wenger’s midfield options for Arsenal’s Premier League game at Swansea this weekend were already limited, with Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky also sidelined by injury.