Arsenal set 11 year record against West Ham - Transfers inevitable or freak occurence?

Rosicky Defends

Arsenal fielded their oldest side in 11 years against West Ham, with the youngest outfield player being 27.

Arsenal set an 11 year club record against West Ham last night, but it wasn't necessarily a good one.

A club renowned for giving chances to young players, lined up with their oldest Premier League side in more than a decade.

The youngest outfield player who started the game was Olivier Giroud, who is 27 and celebrates his birthday in September.

He was joined on the pitch by  Bacary Sagna (31), Laurent Koscielny (28), Per Mertesacker (31), Thomas Vermaelen (28), Kim Kallstrom (31), Tomas Rosicky (33), Santi Cazorla (29), and Lukas Podolski (28).

Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (23) was the exception.

It's a rarity for Arsenal to field a team of this nature, and was brought about by injuries to key players, including Theo Walcott (25), Jack Wilshere (22) and Mesut Ozil (25).

And niggling injuries to Aaron Ramsey (23) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (20) restricted them to the bench.

For so long in recent years Arsenal have been a side which have been criticised for being young and inexperienced during their trophyless run, so in some ways it is refreshing to see the Gunners line up like this, but with so many criticising a lack of pace in the side, it sums up their problems.

The Gunners also named teenagers Yaya Sanogo, Hector Bellerin and Chuba Akpom on the bench along with Carl Jenkinson (22). At a crucial stage of the season, Wenger clearly felt unable to throw them in.

So was last night just a freak occurrence, or does it suggest transfers are needed in the summer to freshen up the squad?

The rarity of the record being broken, and the long injury list, and vital time of the season suggests it is the former - and it will probably be a very long time until a side this old is fielded by the Gunners again.

Wenger admitted after the game that it was more a case of needs must. He told "I trusted the experience of the players because… tonight it was an unusual around-30 team, and that experience of course helps when you are a little bit backs against the wall."

But it did highlight there are areas the club need to improve in the summer. Wenger clearly does not trust Carl Jenkinson, playing Bacary Sagna again in the position at right-back so soon after the cup semi-final, with the French international looking unlikely to sign a new contract this summer - the club will have to come up with a solution.

In midfield, Kallstrom will not be around next season surely, and it's likely the Arsenal boss will have to look for a young defensive midfielder to add to their options in the summer instead.

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