Wenger praise for babes
Arsene Wenger heaped praise on his players after seeing the youngest side in Arsenal history thrash Sheffield United.
Last Updated: 24/09/08 7:33am
Arsene Wenger heaped praise on his players after seeing the youngest side in Arsenal history claim a 6-0 triumph over Sheffield United.
The Gunners are now renowned for blooding their best prospects in the Carling Cup and that was again the case at Emirates Stadium on Tuesday evening.
But few could have expected the outstanding display that followed from the XI - whose average age was just 19 - as they defeated Championship Sheffield United in their third round clash at a canter.
Nicklas Bendtner grabbed two before the interval whilst 16-year-old Jack Wilshere scored his first senior goal for the club.
But the star of the show was Mexico international Carlos Vela who bagged a brilliant hat-trick on his full debut.
"The spirit, the individual performances, the team performance everything was right and you could see it was a great Arsenal performance," Wenger told Sky Sports News.
"I was very happy and very proud of the players tonight."
Wenger refused to single out Vela as he thought his whole team performed well.
"Of course he scored the goals but in every position everyone played well but he finished well, as did Bendtner," Wenger continued.
"You can see he is a clinical finisher when nobody expects him to be.
"I integrated Wilshere into the first team sometimes last season when he was 15 and he did not look out of place and it is natural for him.
"I was not surprised because I see them every day, but you never know on a big stage how they play.
"They did that with the belief we want them to have and the spirit we want then to have.
"Now for us the biggest challenge is to keep them together and slowly integrate them into the first team. Some have done that already.
"When you are under immense pressure to buy in every transfer window, when you know that you have these players behind it would be killing the work we have done."
Eyes on the trophy
Wenger maintained there was no reason why the young Gunners could not go all the way to Wembley, having reached the final in 2007 and lost in the semis last season.
"We want to win the trophy this season, whether Tottenham or anybody else comes along in the later rounds," he said.
"We can go all the way and win it. Why not?
"The only pressure you have is that when you go through the rounds towards the semi-finals, everybody says 'now you have to change all these players'.
"So what do you do? Let them play like they have tonight and then say, 'sorry, you do not play anymore'? For me, that is not serious.
"No matter how far we go, we have to stick to our policy.
"These players do not play like kids. They play with intelligence, talent and with spirit.
"They can beat many teams and I would not be scared to play any individual in the Premier League."
Sheffield United boss Kevin Blackwell admitted his side could did little against the Arsenal side.
"We knew they were a good set of lads, but nobody knew how good they were," he said.
"They were awesome at times and would have beaten most teams. A lot of people would like to know how Arsene can do it.
"He has gone around the world to pick out the best - but there are also four or five top-class English kids in there so that can only bode well for the future of the national team."