Arsene Wenger has come in for yet more criticism as he leapt to the defence of his decision to play a largely inexperienced side in their League Cup defeat to Southampton, the Daily
Wenger was left with his hands tied defensively following a series of injuries that led to him playing a back four with just 49 appearances for the club between them – with Francis Coquelin holding 39 of those.
Nacho Monreal and Mathieu Debuchy were definite absentees for the game while Kieran Gibbs and Per Mertescaker were only fit enough for places on the bench.
This meant the defence was made up of Isaac Hayden, Callum Chambers, Hector Bellerin and Francis Coquelin, who is a central midfielder by trade.
But Wenger insisted that the game was not lost because of their youngsters.
He said: “We lacked a bit of experience at the back. We gave a lot, and it’s frustrating not to be able to score in the second half.
“We are a bit short at the back, yes, because of the injuries. You sit there and think: Gibbs had a little hamstring problem and we could not play him, Mertesacker is a bit on the edge, and then we have no choice.
“I think if we lost the game tonight, it’s not because of Hayden, not because of Chambers and not because of Coquelin. You have to be realistic.
“It’s disappointing because we had a good start and we made two un-needed errors on the two goals, and big ones.”
The Arsenal boss has been dealing with a defensive crisis for over a week now with fans criticising his inability to sign defensive cover during the transfer window.
With Debuchy injured, Callum Chambers is required at his natural position of right back meaning their main central defensive pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have no senior back up.
And with Nacho Monreal struggling, Kieran Gibbs is the only left back cover Wenger has too – with the Englishman also struggling to overcome a hamstring injury of his own in recent weeks.
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