LONDON • Arsene Wenger delivered a scathing assessment of his young players after Arsenal suffered a humiliating 0-3 League Cup defeat at second-tier Sheffield Wednesday. But the Gunners manager admitted that given another chance, he would have put more youngsters in the starting XI.
The Frenchman fielded a starting line-up comprising 10 international players despite making eight changes, handing chances to teenagers Glen Kamara and Alex Iwobi.
But Wenger was far from impressed after watching Ross Wallace put the Championship side ahead in the fourth-round tie after 27 minutes and then teed up Lucas Joao for the second goal shortly before half-time. Sam Hutchinson completed the victory early in the second period on Tuesday.
The hosts had more goals than the Gunners had shots on target (two) - with 29 per cent of the ball.
"The level was too high for the young players," Wenger said.
NOT ARSENAL'S CUP OF TEA
Arsene Wenger has now tried and failed to win the League Cup for a 20th time as Arsenal manager
This was Arsenal's biggest defeat since losing by the same scoreline to Everton in April 2014
It is the Gunners' biggest loss to a team in a lower division in a domestic Cup competition in 56 years
Arsenal have not kept a clean sheet in the League Cup in 12 games
The last time Arsenal made it past the last eight in the League Cup
"They are not ready to play at this level. There are many good players in the Championship and to play young players against Championship players is very difficult because the level has gone up.
"If you play with not a lot of experience, you don't have a chance to win the game."
Two Gunners with experience - England internationals Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott - left Hillsborough injured, adding possible long-term damage to short-term embarrassment.
Even with the youngsters, Arsenal had a starting XI worth £74.7 million (S$159 million). Sheffield Wednesday's? About £1 million.
"Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott are two muscular injuries," Wenger said. "How big the damage is, I don't know as we need to wait 48 hours to have them scanned.
"It was a bad night at the office. We lost the two players and, after that, we were not good enough.
"But we have a big game on Saturday (against Swansea), a game at Bayern (Munich) coming up and already we are short, so to lose two offensive players tonight is damaging for us.
"I have to manage the workload of the players and I still think I brought too many experienced players here. I left six players at home and I still lost two to injury."
That takes Arsenal's injury list up to eight - with midfielders Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky, second-choice goalkeeper David Ospina and forward Danny Welbeck also sidelined.
While Wenger was left to reflect on a night of losses, Wednesday - 27 rungs below Arsenal in the English football ladder - celebrated their second Premier League scalp in this season's competition.
"When you play against a club that beats Bayern Munich (in the Champions League), they have a squad full of internationals, they are near the top of English football, there is a big gap," said Wednesday manager Carlos Carvalhal, whose side beat Newcastle in the third round. "There is still a big gap. We know they are nine times better than us as a minimum. On the pitch, we were better than Arsenal tonight but we are not better than them."