Serge Gnabry looks unlikely to break into the first-team set-up at West Brom anytime soon, with manager Tony Pulis revealing he does not feel the Arsenal winger is currently good enough to play for the club. The 20-year-old signed a season-long loan deal at the Hawthorns in the summer, yet has featured just once in the Premier League in the 2015-16 season as a 78th-minute substitute in the narrow 3-2 defeat to Chelsea in August.
He has not even featured on the Baggies' bench since late September, with his only other fleeting first-team appearances coming during the respective cup matches against Port Vale and Norwich. While such a lack of regular football for one of Arsenal's most highly rated developing talents may prove a great source of frustration to supporters and Arsene Wenger, Pulis clearly does not believe he is yet in a position to help his side compete in the top flight.
"Serge has come here to play games but he just hasn't been for me, at the moment, at that level to play the games," he told the Express and Star prior to the home encounter with in-form Leicester City on 31 October. "He's come from academy football and not played much league football.
"Does academy football really prepare players for league football? And we're talking about Premier League football here. As a manager you pick a team that's going to win a game of football. You pick your best team, you don't leave people out because you don't like them, because of this, that and the other."
Questions over the readiness and indeed the application of Arsenal's younger players have become particularly pertinent following the Gunners' dismal 3-0 Capital One Cup fourth-round defeat at the hands of Championship side Sheffield Wednesday on 27 October. Wenger handed full senior debuts to academy products Glen Kamara and Alex Iwobi on a cold night at Hillsborough, with midfielders Krystian Bielik and Ismael Bennacer also introduced as starting duo Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott both sustained first-half injuries.
Although it was arguably the club's more experienced players who were most accountable for such a disappointing showing that ended an impressive run of four consecutive victories in all competitions, a frustrated Wenger did not hold back in his criticism of his budding starlets. They struggled in the face of an attacking Wednesday side who have not tasted defeat since early September under the guidance of well-travelled boss Carlos Carvalhal.
"They are not ready to play at this level," he claimed as reported by BBC Sport. "We lost two players and after that I had Gabriel and Nacho Monreal on the bench but I couldn't bring them on because I couldn't afford to lose any more players."