Just How Weak were we against Sheff Wed?

By Pete

Had a look at the squads on Arsenal.com and it seems we played players who are probably 4th or 5th team level.

This is what I have:

1st Team Squad who Started Match (Total 9)

  • Cech
  • Debuchy
  • Gibbs
  • Mertesacker
  • Chambers
  • Flamini
  • Oxlade-Chamberlain (injured during game)
  • Giroud
  • Campbell

Academy Players who Started Match (2)

  • Kamara
  • Iwobi

1st Team Squad on Bench (3)

  • Walcott (came on, then injured)
  • Gabriel
  • Monreal

Academy Players on Bench (4)

  • Bennacer (came on)
  • Bielik (came on)
  • Macey
  • Sheaf

1st Team SquadPlayers Rested (6)

  • Koscielny
  • Bellerin
  • Cazorla
  • Ozil
  • Coquelin
  • Alexis

1st Team Squad Players Injured (6)

  • Ospina
  • Rosicky
  • Ramsey
  • Arteta
  • Wilshere
  • Welbeck

1st Team Squad Players on Loan (7)

  • Jenkinson
  • Sanogo
  • Hayden
  • Gnabry
  • Szczesny
  • Akpom
  • Martinez

Academy Players on Loan (5)

  • Zelalem
  • Crowley
  • Toral
  • Wellington
  • Maitland-Niles

Academy Players Unavailable (2)

  • Willock
  • Adelaide

I make the total number of 1st team squad players, including those on loan and injured, plus academy players on loan/unavailable, to equal 38.  It is unclear (to me) who in the Academy is injured, if any.

It is not a perfect assumption, but I think that the Academy players who started are behind those 38 in the pecking order. So Kamara, Iwobi, Bennacer, Bielik, Macey and Sheaf would normally be on the cusp of the 4th and 5th XIs!  I felt particularly sorry for poor Bennacer – just 17 – who achieved the extremely rare feat of playing for the Arsenal 1st team while being someone of whom I had never previously heard!  I can not remember the last time that happened.

There has been some criticism that the 1st team squad isn’t big enough.  I disagree.  Everyone in the 1st team squad needs to have some realistic prospect of game time otherwise their development will stall and they will become frustrated.  The 1st team squad players on loan include plenty of quality – but it is unrealistic to expect them to come back but hardly ever play.  The 1st team squad at the club is 24 which I think is fairly optimal.

The problem, once again, is injuries.

More specifically, just as we struggled greatly at left back one season several years ago, so this time we are struggling badly in midfield. And perhaps the worst affected position of all is wide-right midfield.

It looks as if Campbell is in line to play in the next round of matches (and it is good in some ways that he will get his chance) – but I suggest it is plausible that Ramsey, Ox, Walcott, Wilshere, Rosicky would all have started ahead of him had they been available.

Another option would be to play Flamini alongside Coquelin and push Cazorla out there – but I suspect we will see Campbell on Saturday.

Given that Gnabry isn’t getting much gametime at West Brom, is it worth recalling him?

More annivesaries

  • 29 October 1892: Royal Arsenal almost emulated their FA  cup record victory with a 10-1 defeat of City Ramblers.  Booth, Elliott and Henderson all got hattricks, with the other goal coming from George Alexander Davie.
  • 29 October 1932: Arsenal 8 Leicester 2, continuing a run of 9 wins, drawn 2 and lost 1 in the league.  Hulme 3, Bastin 2, Coleman 2, Jack got the goals in front of 36714.

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30 Replies to “Just How Weak were we against Sheff Wed?”

  1. As long as the semi final in the league cup is played over two legs, I would never go for this competition. It only brings more distraction and more injuries. In fact it is the competition for smaller teams to aim at.

  2. The team lacked communication because it did not have the ‘brains’ of our team. The midfield were new & had no direction. It took a while for Arsenal to begin forward momentum but it ws too late to make an impression. The Owls were a much better cohesive team & it showed.

    The Arsenal youngsters were brilliant as individuals but needed time to gel with their first team players. There is a bright hope for Arsenal in that these youngsters will gradually be included into the first team.

    Looking forward to the next match with anxious expectancy. COYG.

  3. I agree with Menace, we did not have a midfielder who could command the attack until Bielik came on (3-0 down). The player he came on for, when he received the ball just kept passing the ball backwards even when he had lost his markers. He lacked confidence in his own ability. We could have used route one long ball to Giroud or wings.

  4. There was no cohesion on the pitch too many disparate bodies that have not really played together. The difference of playing matches and playing in practice games is considerable .The lack of proper reserve football doesn’t allow for team building and in a situation where so many changes take place it is more than likely going to go pear shaped.

  5. Correction to above: I overlooked Welbeck as a potential right-sided attacker. Makes the whole thing even more startling.

  6. The year of the left back campaign was 05/06 where we used 7 left backs on our way to the CL final, now we have the year of the right wing (sorry Tony) where we have Theo, The Ox, Welbz, Jack, Ramsey, and Rosicky (that’s 6 if you are counting), all out injured, so whoever plays at the weekend and probably the next 3 matches to come will effectively be our 7th choice RW, CL final anyone… ?

  7. AW’s way of managing is not to prescribe exactly what players are supposed to do in all situations but to develop a player and a squad able to adapt to any situation. In this case, given that many of the players were unfamiliar with each other, a more prescriptive approach may have worked better…who knows?

  8. Good question to finish with. If Pulis can not assist with a player trying to recover from a long injury lay off then I would like to see Serge back here. I find the article very pertinent to the situation and would have welcomed more people understanding that fact. I think it was an earlier article that mentioned Bielik. I thought the same as the author that he did look comfortable in most of what he did. I think we should remind the main stream media that it is not long since theories regarding the lack of playing time for youngsters at the top clubs were the flavour of the week. Or was it three days before they lost attention. I watched the game with the same attitude as a pre-season game. It was going to be a bit experimental, some kids would get a game so we could get a look at them in first team action. Having put the spuds out in the previous round all would still be acceptable at the end of the game. I could not help but to think of our loanees and what ifs regarding their potential contributitions. It may prove to be a vital reminder to all players ahead of a big week that nothing should be taken for granted. So back to winning ways Saturday then.

  9. Interesting analysis Pete. Tough for so many kids against a physical side, and a ref who saw nothing wrong with a two footed tackle right in front of him. And tough for our first teamers left on the pitch who read the smoke signals and wisely elected to stay out of it, especially our one remaining striker.
    I wouldn’t go near this competition in the future, could,be wrong, but don’t think this cursed cup is commerated on the clubs honours list around the stadium?
    The injuries are a concern…..but cometh the hour, cometh the man……it has happened twice over the last couple of seasons, no reason it will not happen again. Joel, it just could be your time. Gibbs, Debuchy or whoever, Flamini, a time to regain a place , maybe a time to end up with a medal.
    And yes, I would recall Gnabry, and maybe others if need be.

  10. I wonder whether the inexperience of the second stringers was brutally exposed following the dramatic departure of two key players so early in the game.
    In cricket parlance, they were “on the back foot” much too soon in the contest. 😉

  11. As I understand it, Gnabry went on a season loan.
    It’s not possible to recall any outfield player on a season loan.
    However in view of Crowley coming back to us from Barnsley, It may be possible for the ‘borrowing’ team to cancel a loan.

  12. After watching the highlights it seemed to me that;

    1)Wenger placed very little value on this competition and on us advancing,
    2)There was a sense of relief that we had one less competition to worry about,
    3)The two injuries were freakish and typically AFC….but are they really serious injuries?
    4)Wenger saw this game as a trial and error experiment, he needed to see what the current youth are capable of….he saw that they aren’t ready for the big time just yet….mission accomplished,
    5)He also saw that Debuchy, Gibbs,Chambers and Campbell need a lot more game time if he expects them to make a difference in the EPL,

    What did it cost us to learn the above, two minor injuries and the usual meltdown by the ever-eager press to demonize AFC and Wenger and celebrate our missteps. Mission accomplished!

  13. Did anyone read what the Welsh team coach said about Wenger on the injuries? So childish. He should show some respect because:
    1: Arsenal FC pays Ramsays wage not Wales FA so Wenger is entitled express his view.
    2: Show some consideration for the clubs match schedule. Wales had already qualified for the Euro so he could have rested Ramsay, plus I think they played Andorra so there’s no need to play Ramsay.
    3. I guess Wenger is to blame for Bales injury too.

  14. Too much love never spoils children. Children become spoiled when we substitute presents for presence.
    – Dr. Anthony Witham

  15. You should really stop justifying poor performances. It doesn’t matter if we have the biggest squad in the world. You said that some players who played were in the 4th or 5th line up. I disagree. Vehemently. Either you agree that we don’t have the requisite quality to challenge on three or four fronts and buy players who are better than what we have or stop making excuses when we put those players in the matches we should win. Injuries happen with every team, we are nothing special. If anything, we are to blame if we put at risk players in a cup match that you think is last in the pecking order. We should just own up to our mistakes and focus on doing the right thing. Depth in the squad has no meaning if that depth doesn’t have quality. Are you saying that players such as Sanogo, JEFF, Zelalem, Crowley, Hayden, Akpom are all ready to be able backups??? I don’t think so and neither does our club who has sent those players on loan. That is the reason why we should buy able backups when we have the chance. Fingers crossed players like Giroud, Coq, Alexis, Ozil or Santi don’t get injured now. Coz we don’t have the squad depth to deal with it.

  16. Wenger in a great man, wonder if Alex Fergus went the whole season unbeaten what title would he have gotten? He is great because he makes whorelists look dump,one news paper said’i quote how can a team beat Bayern so convincingly and lose to Sheff Wed???He makes them make news and at the same time blows their brains out,we will miss him when the time comes for him to go but i pity the guy who will step in his footsteps,Fergus who? what stadium did he build???

  17. There is 1 main issue that the tabloids do in their droves and we know it!!!
    News is only good news when it portrays someone or something in a negative light..
    News does not concern itself with facts, so please remember that when browsing it…
    One thing we also know, is that all things Arsenal is not easily portrayed positively.
    As supporters of club and manager, it is no surprise to see the knee-jerk reactions.
    As Arsenal supporters, get used to it. It is not likely to change so just enjoy!

  18. Ajinka if sanogo hayden akpom gnarby zelalem had playd dat match I bet u it wud hav been tough fr shefield.

  19. @Ajinkya – you say we should buy more for squad depth, but how many more? We shouldn’t everytime there is an injury we should go out and buy more replacements for just incase, we should be finding out why our players keep getting injured and fix the root cause. If it’s the training methods than we should change the training method etc. We don’t have the same level of money like ManC, ManU, or Chelsea to keep buying players and to maintain the ongoing on costs. You need to realize we don’t have infinite money so need to be financially prudent otherwise the club can go broke eg Leeds United.

  20. @marcos: we had 9 internationals starting that match. it should already have been tough for sheff wed.

    @polo: I didn’t say buy more.. I said buy better.. Every team gets injuries.. Instead of blaming Wales, its time we did some introspection and wonder if injuries to Ramsey, Ox and Theo were avoidable..

  21. Ajinka – buy better – like Chelsea? Like Man U? Or just mortgage the club and buy like Man C?

    Maybe you have not read the many analyses we have done about purchases. Only 25% of the big name purchases really make it and justify their price. It is at best a risky business, at worst a catastrophic business.

  22. You cant have world class cover in every position, that only works in Fantasy Football AManagement.

    All three Champions League teams lost in the Capital One Cup. Coincidence?

    As i said yesterday, lets look at the issue of ‘”spend the £70m’ and this would ‘guarantee’ us anything.

    Manchester Utd have just spend a quarter of a billion. How did they do in the COC? Lost at home to Middlesborough. LVG said he had to rest players, there are too many games and he had p-layers in the red zone. The same team invested £80m on Falcao and Di Maria.

    What cover do manchester City have for Toure, Kompany, Silva and Aguero? Last season they probably would have won the league had they not lost their key players.

    Our cover is pretty good but we’ve been unlucky with injuries. Wenger was right in leaving our key players at home but bloody unlucky with what happened with Theo and the Ox. He knew SW would be highly motivated and are a physical side, so he did what he did. Sensible.

    You know I hate this competition. Sandwiched between a Champions league campaign and the Premier League fixtures. A stupid two legged semi-final, who was the moron that agreed this. Seriosuly, CL teams should be allowed to opt out.

  23. it’s clear there has been a vast overreaction to the tuesday wednesday defeat…..

    i think people are annoyed that our squad has become soo thin so quick..

    rosicky’s injury went unnoticed.



    has completely ripped the spine of our second string….

    We are in a very very dangerous position..

    I feel for wenger, i really do but this was all quite predictable….. Obviously Arsene was thinking of Wilshere as backup to Coq and it’s worrying there is no return date set for him. I expect Wenger was thinking of using Ramsey and Caz as a pivot on occasion..

    Flamini is now the one who has to step up… He has a real chance now to do something great for us…

    If Rosicky is gonna be crocked then maybe get Zelalem back?

    Is Campbell better than Gnabry….?

    A couple of injuries have really exposed what a thin squad we have right now…..

    Let’s see how we cope….

  24. MTLM
    “it’s clear there has been a vast overreaction to the tuesday wednesday defeat…..”

    Yes. But there is no justification for the level of abuse based on how well the team has done since January 1st. Best points total, best goals against over a 30 game run in the PL and joint top. Just beaten Bayern 2-0, Man Utd 3-0 – all games the people moaning thought we would lose. There is no justification whatsoever for abusing the manager. If he had take a strong teram and won he would have been criticised for over playing players.

    Look the criticsm over Tuesday is about the agenda, nothing else.

    Injuries are frustrating but that is further evidence that Wenger did the right thing resting players. Shame he hadnt rested Theo and the OX but I am sure the hindsight managers would have done that.

    But it is frustrating that unfortunate injuries could affect the run we are on. Mind you, the moaners have been slagging Theo and the Ox off all season, so its a bit odd they now complain about their loss.

    Thats the way it works. It is pathetic that we have a small number of fans for whom Arsenal comes second to the agenda they have signed up to.

  25. @Tony Atwood : I don’t get this logic. I never said buy big like Chelsea or the Manchester clubs. I just said buy better. Big is not better. I understand that distinction. But when you go through a summer without buying an outfield player then you risk your entire season given the injury record some of our players have. It would be now a matter of fate and luck if we go through the busy December without adding anyone to our injury list. Surely, you don’t believe that Flamini, as much as I love him, is as good as Coq has been playing. What happens if Giroud has to sit out even for one match? Given our performance against Sheffield, there is no way we can say that our back ups are at the same level due to loss of form or less game time and neither are the youngsters ready to play at this level to use the words of our gaffer. Please do tell me in your ultimate wisdom, how was I wrong when I said that when we start a game with 9 internationals, we have to make it tough for Sheffield if not win the game? In my humble opinion, every team, even ours, have to constantly keep on improving by all means necessary and sometimes that means buying better.

  26. P.S : Most of the times I have commented on this portal, I have met with disapproval. But I am glad we can all discuss, debate and dissent without resorting to something uncivilised.
    Hope our team kicks on and has a great game against Swansea. They defeated us home and away last season. COYG!!!

  27. Proud

    Yes but the reason the moaners are moaning is because EVERY YEAR injuries stop our form….

    YOu can debate the reasons for this but the fact is it’s true….

    With the fitness of rosicky wilshere and arteta, losing diaby i believe it was foolish not to get some mid back up….

    But if flamini can do a job against worse teams we may be ok… but that clearly wasn’t wenger’s plan. I believe wenger was planning on rotating wilshere round the cm dm positions.. Using Arteta sparingly and flamini not at all….

    I’m not saying we blame anyone for this latest injury list,,,, last year things seemed to be getting better..

    It is strange how arsene can go from publically calling for an inquest into our injuries, and now just say they are part of the game..

    Fact is Gambling with our season based on arteta and wilshere being fit especially considering artetas record last year, was fool hardy from wenger..

    Even Idiots could see this coming..

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