West Ham manager David Moyes insists the club must invest in midfielders in the January transfer window to build a competitive squad.
The Hammers were bundled out of the EFL Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday as they failed to register a shot on target in a 1-0 defeat away to Arsenal.
Teenagers Declan Rice and Domingos Quina both started in the middle while the likes of Joe Hart and Javier Hernandez also earned opportunities.
While disappointed with his side's defending for Danny Welbeck's scrappy first-half winner, Moyes believes his problems can be solved further afield.
"We need to add quality and you can see that tonight," Moyes told Sky Sports.
"The club know. I think they knew before I came in that they needed it.
"We had to start with two 18-year-olds in midfield and against Arsenal. That is always going to be difficult.
"We have players in other positions, quite a few of them, but at this moment in time we are short on midfield players."
Moyes conceded it was difficult to pick a team for the Emirates Stadium clash due to the importance of the Premier League survival battle, although he remained frustrated with the defending that allowed Welbeck to poke home at the second attempt.
"We gave a really poor goal. It certainly was not an Arsenal type of goal to give away, that is for sure," he said.
"We should have defended it better. I cannot think of many clear chances after that."