Arsenal’s Youth Policy: Does it Serve Our Needs as it Should?

Discussion Post–Arsenal’s Youth Policy; Does it Serve Our Needs as it Should?


Thanks, in advance, for reading…As an “incentive” for getting through all these words, I’ll preview the conclusion… A shift towards a more aggressive (in my opinion) youth recruitment policy might be a chance for the club to move Arsene Wenger OUT of management and into a new role…

Here at Bergkampesque, a more “participatory” blog than most, there’s been a large drop off in, well, participation.  In part, I think, this can be attributed to the frustrations many Gooners are feeling with the very disappointing start to the season after a reasonably promising summer.  Our depleted squad has been tested–repeatedly–and found wanting.  Now we face a week off before our next make or break run of fixtures.  Will we go on a run and get back into sniffing distance of the league leaders (if they stumble), or will the couple of nice results before this little break be just another false dawn for the Arsenal?  The recent convincing wins–both by the same 4-1 score lines–albeit in a meaningless Champions League group match, and against a not very motivated looking Newcastle team, perhaps overly chuffed with beating some other London club the week before…may have dulled the points on the pitchforks, but certainly haven’t mollified the masses…

On this site, although there is a diversity of opinion about the manager, there is also an acceptance that nothing will change quickly, mostly because the board and the principal shareholder seem perfectly pleased by financial results.  Additionally, we have a small cadre of writers (including myself) who do not have a great tolerance for the usual arguments and highly repetitive one-liners trotted out after each disappointing result.  As such, those would-be new members of the BK community who come here to “blow off steam” or otherwise rant about our “woeful” situation are sometimes challenged.  It doesn’t mean we’re a happy lot but just that we attempt to take a wider view.

After all, how many different ways can we point the finger at the manager and suggest that all would be solved with a new man at the helm?   A lot, it appears…

The winner this autumn has been the myriad variations on the criminal activities of the manager at the rear positions.  Despite spending 16 million pounds on Calum Chambers and 12 million on Mathieu Debuchy (not to mention 4 million on David Ospina in goal),  “Should’ve bought defensive cover” is the mantra of the I-know-more-than-the-manager brigade.   It replaces that chestnut of the past few years, “Fire the physio,” even if the new guy in that arena, Chad Forsythe, is walking a tightrope as twangy as Aaron Ramsey’s hamstring or Laurent Koscielny’s achilles tendons.  Good public relations work, in naming dates for a couple (of kissing?…) French fellows (Debuchy and Olivier Giroud) may yet save the German as they both came back early and strong.  If his countryman, Mesut Ozil, comes back on schedule (or ahead) and makes a good contribution in the New Year, those Gooners looking to blame the boss may have to buck up their ideas and find a new way to aim invective at the manager.  Already, however, the twin tines of  “We didn’t (or we won’t) spend enough (in the Summer or January),” seems on the tip of many a Gooner’s (pitch) forked tongues…

What’s interesting, around these parts at least, is that a small group of writers with a heavy interest in the development of young players and especially the development of young English players, has emerged.  Despite the troubles we’re having meeting the club’s expectations this seems a very good time to take an interest in Arsenal, if you enjoy watching these sorts of players and trying to predict who will make it on the big stage.

Arsenal’s overt recruitment of young British talent, even at oftentimes inflated prices, has yet to truly yield tangible results–both in our first team and for the National set-up–but the signs appear promising.  Clearly, finishing 3rd or 4th in the league is tiresome for Arsenal supporters, much as merely qualifying for the International tournaments is not enough for supporters of the Three Lions.  Still, players like Walcott, Gibbs, Welbeck, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Chambers are already, or likely will be, core players for both club and country.  Guys out on loan, notably Jenkinson and Aneke, are huge contributors at their current clubs, while very young guys like Chuba Akpom and Dan Crowley are pouring in goals in the U-21 and U-19 matches.  A real favourite amongst many (see the proposed starting line-up mooted for the Newcastle match) is Isaac Hayden, a guy who surely would’ve made his league debut given injuries to our back line, but for one of his own.

Of course, many Arsenal watchers don’t limit their support of the youngsters to Englishmen.  19 year old Spaniard, Hector Bellerin, with 90 minute outings in the hostile environs of Dortmund and Istanbul, and a great display Saturday vs Newcastle, which included a 60 yard run capped by a stunning assist, will surely see more time with the first team despite his age.   17 year old Gideon Zelalem (who has yet to declare at full International level but seems to be leaning towards the crowded group fighting to play for the world champion German team) got another run out in Turkey after last year’s league cup debut.  Other international players are doing very well at the academy, including Semi Ajayi who took up a bench seat on a couple of occasions even if he hasn’t made his full bow yet.

All of this, of course, is merely review for the guys who watch the coverage of the reserve team or follow the excellent blog “Jeorge Bird’s Young Guns.”  And it is to you fellows I’m reaching out.

Arsene Wenger, who sometimes has been ridiculed for his, er, use or support of young players in the songs of opposing crowds, has also been skewered by his own for statements along the lines of, “We don’t buy because it would kill (insert name of player)…” or “We were a bit naive because we lack experience,” etc., etc.

Playing young players, especially too many all at once, can be a double edged sword which cuts deeply.  Additionally, the acquisition of young players (and then sending them out on loan) and the building of academies is a real frontier in the Wild West of football finances.  Benevolent owners can hide losses in such policies and projects under current Financial Fair Play rules while developing their own future stars AND a revenue stream from sales of the ones who don’t quite make the grade.  Moreover loan rules, which (in my opinion) desperately need reform, allow clubs down the financial pecking order to employ and develop players away from the (often harsh) floodlights of their home clubs’ stadiums.  This spares those who spend the relatively lavish sums to buy a seat at places like the Emirates or Stamford Bridge (Princes and Emirs themselves, at least relative to the more working class wages of the football fans of yesteryear) from having to watch young players “learn on the job,” as it were.

Chelsea are stockpiling talent and working the loan system at an unprecedented level.  Their group of players out on loan (26 in total, including some older guys, like 50 million pound purchase, Fernando Torres) could probably compete adequately to win the English Championship or other less powerful leagues.  Manchester City are augmenting their buy-him-to-try-him system (with a shadow squad of Bridges, Barrys, Rodwells, Johnsons and Sinclairs, etc.) to this:

In the decade since our last league title (won in spectacular, invincible style) and the move to the new stadium, Arsenal have endured a period of relative financial austerity, especially when compared to the lavish spending in South London or up in Manchester.  In this period our focus on youth development has been a bit of a bright spot.   Things looked especially good in the first season after the stadium move with an appearance in the final of the league cup and a narrow 2-1 loss to Chelsea.

Since then, however, things haven’t seemed as rosy and the second time we made that final, and also lost by a similar score line, it was to a club (Birmingham City) which would soon be relegated.  That one may have actually been a sizeable set-back, given that would-be young leader Szczesny, and Koz, were at fault for the loss and left the pitch in tears, respectively, surely not signs of maturity, in deed nor action.

This season has been a further test as injuries to experienced players like Ozil, Giroud, Debuchy, Koscielny and Arteta have given extended chances to many a young Gunner.  Results have been mixed (at best), and Arsenal approach the festive period in 6th position in the league and already eliminated from one of the kids’ best venues–the League Cup.  Even a moderately kind draw in the Champions League group stage didn’t result in substantial opportunities for the younger players.

In my opinion, we’re actually getting the worst of all worlds.  We spend big (relatively) on young talent but still spill points or otherwise sacrifice immediate results in the hopes that the young players we are using can come good.  We’re forced to use players who are too young or are hopelessly below Arsenal standards and we put them in situations which probably carry too much pressure given the demands of the fans who sit in the (famously) “highest priced seats in all of Europe.”  Now, even our travelling support have grown tetchy.  Hostilities on difficult trips no longer end at the final whistle.  Recent video footage, amidst shameful treatment of our manager, contained the hilarious warning to a young player, Joel Campbell, to wise up and leave the club.

That warning (“Get out while you can”) begs the question: what should Arsenal do with its youth players?  

Some here (notably a writer named “Steve”) seem to favour playing many of them, most all the time, no matter the results.  Others, including our own man of the horses and dogs, Gerry, scouts them like a handicapper and sees opportunities as the first team is challenged with injuries.  Still others demand that we recall players from loan spells as individual positions are depleted.  With the recall of Coquelin (and his appearance late on vs Newcastle this past Saturday), it appears management concurs.  As we’re not privy to the individual deals made with other clubs, it’s difficult to know what’s actually possible.

Certainly, between transfer windows, at least, bumping up kids from the under 21-s IS the way to go and sometimes, if they’ve got the inherent quality and they’re given enough support, a player can make the step up.  Given the success–and versatility–Hector Bellerin has shown in his last two outings, I’d expect him to be a regular presence on our bench (and in the FA Cup matches).  Given continued development he seems a very plausible back-up and successor to Debuchy (28 now) at RB.  (Calum Chambers, a young but expensive player, has by and large made the most of his opportunities, too, and may be Debuchy’s long term successor, if not used more in other positions.)

Bellerin and Chambers, however, I think, are exceptions to the rule.  Arsenal, if we aspire to become a world class club will likely need world-class players in every position, or as Jose Mourinho famously stated when he was awash in money during his first stint working under Russian Oligarch owner, Roman Abramovich, “I (we) want two world class players at every position.”  If Arsenal aspire to such heights, we likely need to buy or otherwise develop our players to the point that they are world class on the day they make their Arsenal (first team) debut.  If that means loaning out our most promising youth players, at the highest level possible and to clubs who might buy them, then so be it.  It’s not a sign that we don’t support our guys by suggesting that they must make a career elsewhere.

Personally I love to see guys like Seb Larsson–a guy who never played for the first team at Arsenal–find success at a club like Sunderland.  I much prefer his story to that of guys who played for us, but ultimately didn’t make the grade, and quietly moved on.  Where, for example is Larsson’s fellow Scandinavian, Nicklas Bendtner, this season?  This is only my opinion, of course, and others may have very different views.  This is a discussion post, after all.

Overall, until loan rules are changed, using other clubs (who have more immediate first team needs) seems the best way to develop and vet our best young players.  It’s a balancing act, of course, and an act of speculation on the player in question.

Buy low and sell high is the mantra of Capitalists and our owner (one of the best, in this realm at least…) and managers must try and follow this course.  We need to play this game at the highest possible level and also assume that our money allows us to treat almost all players at almost all clubs as if they’re on loan.  Yes, to get adequate players we may not get our exact favourite.  We may have to play one potentially world class player off against other would-be recruits and, be willing to lose them to offers from the clubs willing to pay (waste) even more money to hoover them into their shadow squads.  Still, I think we can likely improve upon options already at the club or among the small group of players we have on loan.

We need mature players, ready to take their chances.  No more “learning on the job” or making allowances for players simply because of their youth.  We shouldn’t have one standard for youth players and one for older guys.  If Mertesacker (or Arteta or Flamini) can’t race back or rise up and make a decisive intervention why do we cut him less slack than we do a guy like Bellerin or Chambers?  (It’s called age discrimination, if you’re wondering…) Time to “bed in” and get used to the league and its players, is one thing.  Playing young guys who clearly lack the physique or stamina or technique to play at the appropriate level is just as bad (or even worse, perhaps) than playing guys who are clearly past it.  

Moreover, this type of player acquisition seems an ideal way for a great man, with a great eye for young talent, to travel and find future world class Arsenal players.  Arsene Wenger is surely already trying to do this while he does his off season commentary work for French television.  If he were to continue this work (and perhaps–while he continues as our manager–brings a younger manager our way who might succeed him with the first team…) it might suggest a way he might continue to contribute to the growth of his–and our–club.

As such, youth policy might (indirectly) suggest a direction for management policy or for handling the inevitable retirement of our iconic manager.  Sorry, if that’s not really the Wenger Out conclusion I promised, but there you go… 😆

What say you, fellow Gooners?

Written by; 17highburyterrace

125 thoughts on “Arsenal’s Youth Policy: Does it Serve Our Needs as it Should?

  • Great discussion post and, as always, very well written. 🙂

    Plenty to think about and I might have to sleep a night over it. Integrating young up and coming talents is so much harder than buying ready made. Debuchy and Alexis slotted in straightaway and added real value on a consistent basis. With young talents, you just cannot expect this. The exception, as I remember it, is LvGaal’s mid-nineties Ajax, where the likes of Kluivert, Seedorf and Davids held key positions whilst still teenagers and still won everything that could be won at club level.

    On the other hand, nothing is nicer than seeing a young talent making the grade and becoming a force to reckon with. This seldom happens smoothly – like with Fabregas – as the younger they are the more they are prone to long-term, career-interrupting injuries. Even Barcelona who initially build their successful team around the young, up and coming players (Van Gaal…) gradually swapped throughflow of youngsters for ready available talents.

    I guess the main reason for this is the oilers having added so much competition now. If we are to beat them we just have got no time to bed in (too many) youngsters. They will have to be exceptional, like Jack, Chambers or Ox, to get a chance. Even that might be costing us right now….

    I am seeing Wenger gradually buying more and more ready made with max two or three squad opportunities for new talent every season. New talent will have to take their chance quickly or they will be moved on. I reckon that is the best way to do it if we are serious of fighting for the title and CL. That is why I wrote a critical post about Ox recently, as I felt he had not taken his chance. Since then he has played better, although without positively affecting some of his key stats (goals and assists).

    In an ideal world, Arsenal2 would play in the Championship, so our young players can develop whilst playing proper, meaningful games on a regular basis. PSV and Ajax have such teams in the Dutch second highest division: it works a treat.

    Well these are my initial thoughts. Lets see what others come up with! 🙂

  • Great topic and article 17HT! Correct that, a fantastic one. 🙂

    regarding the points you have raised – My impression is that we do a fairly decent job of loaning prospects out to improve and vet their abilities. Perhaps we are more acutely aware of those who did not make it because we follow Arsenal more closely? i.e. we see only the successes from say Barca and don’t take into account the number of failures there. Having said that, it does feel like the academy success rate (for all the talk) is not very high. Southampton seems to do a better job at developing and brining young players forward. So, I would say that (as I think Jonkers also said), the academy has to do a better job in player development. Some of the stuff he said were quite encouraging…about the academy working more closely with the first team to help the players transition into first team roles…which are in line with what you are saying.

    I agree with you regarding the strategy that CFC and MCFC have taken. It is a very creative way but also reflects more their absence of a youth development policy, which Jose alluded to recently. So, I think that they will eventually migrate towards Arsenal’s approach with this being a stopgap. They will of course have their own wrinkle on it.

    I doubt very much if Arsene will migrate towards talent spotting. In my opinion, when he leaves, he needs to move as far as possible from Arsenal just to give the succession team enough room to implement their own ideas. If he were in the building, and given the level of influence he wields with the board and everyone, it would be too much back seat driving (even if unintended) for the next manager.

    While there is the “he must have bought defensive cover” is a valid point, I think it is magnified more in hindsight. Many have already commented on us being one CB & DM short. There was a bit of a gamble that the versatility of Chambers & Monreal would provide sufficient cover. The cover is not too dissimilar to a lot of other clubs. For instance, take a look at the backups for the Chelsea back 4. None of the backups would be called world class. But, their back 4 are remarkably consistent in their appearances and (curses) never seem to be injured. IMO, the high injury rate at Arsenal is definitely baffling and is absolutely killing us. I feel that this year the lack of consistency among the back 4+2 has been the main reason for the slower than expected start. Until we figure out if it is the training, the style of play, whatever, I fear that we will continually be saying “If only…” 😦

    But, here’s to a glorious comeback starting from this weekend that sees us get into the mix for the title (despite Wenger ruling us out)!

  • Winning cures a lot of ills, it doesn’t matter what level you choose or discuss. If in fact that is what is wanted and needed, all the while we incorporate the best young players in to the first team, then it starts with winning at ALL levels. Youth and senior. That CAN lead to negative football, as well as giving the less physically able and adept prospects an opportunity for advancement, but it begs the question…Sanogo or Afobe and or Aneke??? Maybe all three SHOULD get a chance, but we all know the word COULD, is out of the equation…Ain’t happening. Meanwhile, it sounds like we MIGHT purchase a 16 year old Polish defensive midfielder. Is he better than Hayden??? Maybe…Does it matter??? Should it matter??? Maybe we shouldn’t be looking for THE BEST all the time at youth levels, when we don’t even truly know what the fuck we’ve got already in the ranks. It drives me nuts…Settle on a youth side for each level and play them. Do NOT advance them. Why should a 16 year old play in the under 21’s??? Why??? It should be that if each level has a definitive level of play or standard, in the end that 16 year old could actually be PROMOTED TO THE FIRST TEAM, as you KNOW he is better than anyone his age in the under 16’s, under 18’s and under 21’s. We got half of each team being of approximate age, while the other half is underage. How are you supposed to form cohesion or WIN like that??? How. It’s been going on for years AT BASICALLY EVERY CLUB. We need to look after our closet. Just because no one else has restructured, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. It’s like every club is trying to boast of successfully promoting the next 2 or 3 or even ONE wonder kid, while it’s possible for them to potentially form a GREAT side, with a bunch of NOT GREAT players, but very good players, who know how to perform with each other. Next wonder kid??? Getting tired of that story. I don’t usually bother commenting on the youth, or anything for that matter, as my views are so vastly different from those of everyone else, never mind the bloody club. I’ll admit it…I THINK I COULD DO BETTER. We won the 2009 FA YOUTH CUP. Wilshere and Szczesny are the only ones left at the club. That COULD compromise my argument, but I actually think that was a one off. That victory beat the system. We need to start winning at all levels now. And before anyone mentions anything about “paragraphs”, this basically has followed one vein of thought, besides this final “paragraph of an insurance policy regarding the demeaning of my literacy skills”… If you wanna read it, bloody beautiful…If you see the author’s name and don’t want to read it, you’re dumb. Just my opinions.

  • Bed time here and just catching up… Cheers TA for publishing my piece and giving your thoughts. I think you’re right and that the pressure for results is such that very few–one or two per season at most–can actually break through with the first team. My point is that probably that is about right, if we’re really attempting to recruit players and become a top 10 or therabouts (in the world) club…

    I think we’re in danger of becoming a bit myopic when it comes to our youth players. There’s no harm in working this vein and getting excited about these guys but we have to be honest about the success (or failure) rate and maybe get a little more subtle about things… For me, a guy like Seb Larsson is a success, even if he never kicked a ball for the first team. A guy like Jay E. Thomas, who maybe had more potential, isn’t as satisfying…

    (A)VCC, thanks for the comment…It’s intriguing that you perceive the silly money clubs following our lead when it comes to youth policy. Even billionaires get tired of wasting money, I guess… Overall, I think something needs to change in the loan system. If top teams are going to underwrite lower clubs with players out on loan they likely will demand access to those players if needs present themselves. In other words, the top clubs will likely create minor league clubs (much as in American baseball) where they can “call up” talent–at any time–to fill gaps in the main squad.

    On the other hand, Milo makes a fine point about players developing together in the youth teams which might create the holy grail of a “Golden generation.” It’s somewhat possible we’re doing just that with the English lads (all 25 and younger) in the current squad. I’ve got my doubts, of course, but it’s possible. Football is a unique sport and (I think) we’re in a unique moment. The focus is heavily on individuals (propelled by the fantasy football craze and all the media hype around transfers and individual highlights) yet smaller clubs can still take down ANY big club match to match. Togetherness and group cohesion can outmatch a group of galaticos… Patience, however, is ALWAYS in short supply and it takes fewer good (or bad) results strung together and all kinds of things can happen. All told, it makes for an incendiary situation and (very) high drama. Likewise, as much as we want to stand out in our individual writing we also have (perhaps…) an even greater desire for connection and being part of something bigger than ourselves…

    Yin and yang, I guess, to borrow from an even (much) more foreign culture…

    Overall, I think we don’t quite get all the information we require about the youth teams and players and policies to really know what’s going on. As such, I appreciate all viewpoints and think there’s a lot to be had from merely wanting to know more…

  • Oh dear HT, where do I start?

    I think I am going to be brief for now, and then do a ‘TA’, and think about it while I am out with the dogs.

    In fact, I will just open up with a few more questions.

    1, Is it right or wrong that the wealthy clubs can ‘buy up’ the best youth talent when they reach an age to sign professional forms?
    2, The recruitment of the players is restricted by means of a geographical area area the recruiting clubs. In London there are several ‘high profile’ clubs, and a myriad of smaller ones, not to mention those between the two extremes. In Manchester it is similar, with two high profile clubs, and a great number below them. In the central south, Southampton have become a high profile club, and in singularity, mainly due to the mismanagement of their local rivals. So whether each club can succeed in their youth policy can depend on many things, but I would suggest that in more rural areas surrounding the clubs, the kids who sign up for coaching are not necessarily more gifted, but have less distractions (to give up on) in order to concentrate on what might be their future career.
    The big clubs have thousands of young kids coming for trials. Decisions are made, and why the vast majority have to look elsewhere. Those discarded ones can be picked up later, if they are less precocious than some of their fellow contenders, but develop later.
    The next stage is signing ‘Youth forms’, which ties them to whatever club. Arsenal, I believe have over 60 youngsters on this level. Now every end of season there is a ‘cull’. The question is, ‘Do this many young players get a better grounding at a skill level than they would competing in smaller numbers elsewhere?’
    That ties in with that is the shortage of really good coaches of course. Not every ex-player makes a good coach, but there could be a way to use the vast knowledge and experience that retiring top players have so they don’t just drift away, or go into media work?
    However, the major problem is that too many quality youngsters can get lured to big clubs in such numbers that they are never going to get a chance to play for the club of their choice, at least not without changes on squad regulations. Playing time is one thing that could/should be added? And Arsenal are not immune from collecting promising youngsters from elsewhere. Currently chasing a highly promising year old from Norway.

    3, The loan system is flawed.

    Finally, I disagree HT with your final ‘highlighted’ paragraph, as to whether there is one rule for the kids, and another for the first team, in your desire to get to ‘No more learning on the job’ position. A totally false one I might add.
    What you were actually saying in that paragraph was about ‘criticism’ not about playing.
    Of course there is one rule for the seniors when it comes to playing. The ones you name are but a few, who have had, and will continue to have poor games, but the differential is that they still get picked to play week after week. What you were suggesting is that if a kid has a bad game, it is ‘Good night Vienna, back to your own age group’?
    When we make an excuse on the grounds of inexperience, we are modifying the criticism. Not that the player has lost all his skills and should go back to the classroom and start again. If we do not allow them to make mistakes then we are stuck with under performing seniors.
    Bellerin is a fine example. I said after the Dortmund game he would come back stronger. He did. Chambers, having been ‘hung out to dry’ in one game, came back stronger. Bellerin again, struggled in the Stoke game, out of position in Turkey, came back and dazzled. Hayden, last season, made a really bad tackle in the first half, came out second half and did not put a foot wrong. He has continued to develop ever since. If he makes a horlicks of it on his return to the first team he too, will use that as part of his education. It does not make him a player who is never going to be up to the level of experienced players, but he will be a lot closer next time.
    Pretty soon he will be better than those holding down the position, of that I am sure.
    It does not work any other way.

    That is me being brief ….

  • Milo, Gerry 🙂

    It is an unwritten rule on Bergkampesque to thank the author for making the effort to put their thoughts into a (well written and thought through) post… it is a lot harder than writing a responding comment.. 😉

  • Well I know that TA, and it was the first thing on my agenda, before HT starts with his early morning expresso.

    However, in my defence, slim as it is, It is only because it was such a wonderful post that I stopped to write anything at all. I had a number of urgent things I needed to do this morning, and my brain is getting more and more frustrated with my worn out body that it cannot find the energy to do things when they should have been done …Yesterday!

    My anger is still riding high having done two dog walks in drizzly, but very windy conditions, not sure if I have missed the ‘bin men’ for the third time in row, and having got drawn into writing more than 3 or 4 lines on said post, making everything later than it should have been … Seeing your reminder has not improved mood 👿

  • 17HT – See, you are to blame for everything! I am now going to read your fine and wonderful, and well written and well thought out post a second time.
    Like you say, you have written a more interactive post than some that get posted, mine especially. However, I do feel you are baiting Steve again? Having responded so well 😀 last time I doubt if he will bother again?
    I am still not entirely sure if it is you taking his all youth, all English sides as a prescription for our current ills, and ignoring his repeated answers that they are the future ‘down the line’, or you just like to tease him with this stance?

    Before I go and read again, there is a fascinating video on the BBC/Sports/Football page, slightly hidden towards the bottom, below all the text stuff.
    Entitled ‘The secret of the creative No10’.
    I’ll put the link up when I come back, as it is well worth a watch. Totally off topic, but it might explain the difference between Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil … Rugby is to blame.

    In the meantime, please accept my apology for not following my opening line …

    ‘ …with such a wonderful post’

    Very remiss of me. Slapped wrists

  • Gerry 🙂

    You wrote: ‘Of course there is one rule for the seniors when it comes to playing. The ones you name are but a few, who have had, and will continue to have poor games, but the differential is that they still get picked to play week after week. What you were suggesting is that if a kid has a bad game, it is ‘Good night Vienna, back to your own age group’?’

    Who are the senior players that have continuous bad games and will continue to have poor games? This is at the heart of the problem of those who feel we should play the youngsters rather than the failing experienced players. Sometimes an experienced player has a bad game, but Wenger would be daft to then say, ‘okay that is it, Mertesacker, Ramsey, Flamini, Arteta: you a had a shit game and I might as well play a youngster from now on’. Clearly, he does not work like that, and very few top managers work like that, yet it is sometimes suggested on this blog.

    Wenger sticks with those players and makes sure they regain their confidence by not being demoted to the bench. On top of that, he protects a failing youngster too, in a similar way as he does with the seniors…

    17HT can talk for himself, but I don’t think he is suggesting to dump youngsters after a bad game. He is readdressing the balance a bit, that is all. Over emphasis and confidence in our younger players is in his view not a healthy thing to do and neither is writing off experienced players after they had one or two under par games.

  • Here is the link I promised: ‘The secret of the creative No10’

    HT, I know you have had this thought on ‘Youth Policy’ in your head for a little while now, but I find on second reading the opening part, taking ‘the wider view’, is a little distracting from the subject matter. In the same way that Milo’s point that winning cures many ills, does. Many a struggling club produces a gem in their youth ranks, who may be only get their opportunity out of necessity. Such as might be the case with Arsenal right now?

    However, there is a confusing mixture of inputs into any clubs academy make up.
    First you have the local recruitment from an early age. Indeed there is a video available on the Arsenal Player at the moment, on Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who has been with the club since he was 7. He has been with the club longer than any senior player I can think of who came, by way of a transfer fee, over the age of 21. He describes his sacrifices with his early bed times and 6 o’clock starts, and little social life that other teenagers enjoy, out side of his football life. He is a lucky one, as he lives locally, with family members. Dan Crowley has to commute to my home town to see his parents. He of course, is the next level up, as a 16 year old joining away from the area restriction, along with the mostly European youngsters that join at that sort of age. So they have to overcome even greater challenges.
    Of course they enjoy a lot of fun times with their fellow academy players. The Tafari Moore video is proof of that. Their accommodation when they travel is also way above package tour level. This is the good side of the youth program.

    Where it fails is not preparing players for a job in football, as football players, wherever that may be. It can be narrowly focussed on being successful at one club, and when that falls through, so many just drop out of the game completely, even though there ought to be a place for them within the league with the skills they have?
    I am with you on the Seb Larrson level, Mannone too, at the same club. Henry Lansbury at struggling Nottingham Forest. is another. Sadly Nico Yennaris cannot get into the Brentford side, and Jon Toral is also struggling to keep his place on loan there. I sincerely hope Afobe signs for MK Dons and becomes a hero for them, instead of a 5th choice bench warmer for us?

    The next step beyond that is bringing in players who are young, but expected to be immediate reserves to first team players. These are the real ‘blockers’ to aspiring academy players. Older players signed tend to give a more time for the youngster coming through, as they will likely move on when the time comes, especially if they have taken the slot of somebody else leaving. Monreal is an example of someone who might have blocked Gibbs path? Mings from Ipswich, if we sign him, will really challenge Ajayi’s position for a CB spot? You name him, for whatever position, and they will have an effect on the future of some of our current youngsters gaining a foothold here. But I do think Arsenal’s Youth policy is different to that of Man City and Chelsea, in that we try develop players who will play for us one day, rather than capture very skilful players who are full of potential, just because they are that, but use their financial clout to buy in players for the immediate need to be more ‘successful’ than their rivals, at the expense of integrating youngsters from their own ranks. Just how much of that ‘cream of youth talent’ will be soured when only occasionally one gets a chance if he is lucky?

    In order to change this madness of player hoarding, two things could be done locally in English FA domain.
    1, Reduce the size of academy players available who do not feature in the clubs playing list.
    That is to say, Clubs cannot register players as belonging to the club if they don not pass the criteria on number of games played at reserve or Under 18 level. Those players have the option of staying with that academy, but names will circulated to all league clubs to give them other options?
    2, Not only will league clubs have to name players on their ‘academy list’, but also they too should be guaranteed a number of games per season, with sub appearances counting towards the total. Every club should have to have at least two academy graduates on the bench for every league game.
    That is to say, any academy player who has played a minimum number of games in the Under 21 reserve games qualifies to be an academy graduate.

    Any failure to comply with these rulings, then these players will also have their names circulated for ‘free transfers’ to clubs who have complied. The players do not have to take up offers, but their paths will be held up if they opt to stay. Clubs still have an obligation to train them.
    In the meantime, Arsenal should follow clubs like Southampton, and introduce more young players to first team status, as and when opportunities arise, and start setting targets of guaranteed playing minutes to every qualifying player they want to keep.

    Lead by example.

  • Many good points there, Gerry. 🙂

    However, I disagree with you re your last paragraph: ‘In the meantime, Arsenal should follow clubs like Southampton, and introduce more young players to first team status, as and when opportunities arise, and start setting targets of guaranteed playing minutes to every qualifying player they want to keep.

    Lead by example.’

    We cannot afford to do what Southampton do. They have no pressure on them other than to survive in the PL and with good management and quality players – established and young – they will do that. But Arsenal/Arsene just cannot afford to do that; in fact, they already take a big risk by using far more youngsters/inexperienced players compared to our direct competition for top places: where are the equivalent player gambles like Chambers, Ox, Bellerin, Sanogo etc at Man City and the Chavs??

    Introducing even more young players, as you suggest, is not the way forward imo.

  • TA – I am see we are arguing for the same point from different ends of the telescope?

    Where do differ is on what HT was saying. Like you, I am happy for him to clarify it himself.

    I took it from his ‘no more learning on the job’ as being that of ‘a poor game, lost your chance sonny’

    A subtle difference in the ‘continue to have (bad games)’, and ‘continually having bad games’, as the former could mean, and how I meant it to mean, bad game in the singular, but over time, have another, hence the plural.

    HT appeared to me to be arguing the point that if we allow excuses for the youth players, but don’t for the senior players, then it is one rule for them and a different one for another. I simply said that if you do away with having different rules for the way both groups play, added to the ‘no more learning on the job’ statement, then it follows that experience player should lose their status as first team players? Which I agree is not the way it is.
    The reverse of that argument on crticism, if there are different rules applying, then clearly youth players deserve a bit of leeway?

    The big problem with Wenger’s softly softy approach, is the get tough approach is rarely tested, except for players on their way out?

    Finally, that is what HT was balancing out, then all well and good.
    For my part, I always had confidence in Bellerin going forward. Now open to further testing?
    I am still fully confident in Isaac Hayden, but the jury will remain out until he has played a few games as far as others are concerned.
    I have repeatedly said about Chuba Akpom that whatever he does this season, he will do much better next season. He still could add something in the final minutes, even now.
    Ainsley Maitland-Niles I have said is an ideal shadow for Oxlade-Chamberlain, in style terms as an attacking midfielder who can tackle. Like Hayden, he will wait his turn and work hard for his next opportunity.
    Sadly the same for B54 for GIbbs, when, fit as a 3rd choice LB.
    O’Connor I think is not unlike Chambers at CB, but what he lacks inexperience, he is very talented, so a good 4th choice.
    Ajayi I do not think has the pace to partner Mertersacker, but is useful to have on the bench as we are short on options if Koscielny is also missing.
    Zelalem has got an eye for a pass, and has been building up his core body strength to enable him to keep the ball, as well as win it back. He too, is one for the future, and may only get limited exposure this season. Better than his Gala outing for sure.

    If that is having too much confidence, then I am guilty.
    But not guilty in writing off our experienced players Simply not my style.

  • 17HT. This is indeed a fine piece, the term wordsmith comes to mind. As twangy as Rambo’s hamstring great line! In that sama para you make mention of saving the German, are you referring to the BFG? Wasn’t quite clear on who you meant.

    As I have stated before I am a big fan of Wenger, but sometimes he frustrates the hell out of me by ignoring what seems the obvious. Chambers against Swansea was a recent example and even the most diehard fan must see that Diaby is using up a valuable squad position (as much as I would like him to prove me wrong)

    I have to be honest and say I don’t know an awful lot about the youngsters. Crowley, Hayden and Bellerin look good as does Zedalem .(although a little lightweight). I always thought that Coquelin would be a very good player

    Have to say I get a lot more pleasure seeing a youngster coming through the ranks than a big money import coming in.

  • Gerry, I feel we are less competitive with our focus on introducing up and coming players as regularly as we do. The Oilers and Manure, who might be looking to find the right balance themselves under LvG, have opted for experience in all positions in recent years, and also in their cover players, and that is what we are up against. So the choice is: do we stick to this philosophy and risk not winning anything big for a long time, or do we gamble that at one point it will all come together and we have the ‘golden generation’ that will conquer all?

    In particular, do we wait for a young CB and a young DM to come good and learn on the job, or spend good money to buy read made…. And what is Wenger going to do during his final three years at the club?

    However, I understand, and share, some of the excitement you have about our up and coming players, and I hope Arsene will be able to keep finding the right balance…. one that makes us competitive at the highest level, though. 🙂

  • Bravo, 17! Brilliant and deep article worth of reading. 🙂

    Someone wrote a few months ago that we should take a look at the age of Atletico Madrid players to see how they had managed to make a break-through, win La Liga and come within seconds of winning Champions’ League as well. Their team was consisted of players between the age of 25 and 30.

    Then again, why should we look at someone else’s garden when we can take a look at The Invincibles – Lehmann was 35, Campbell was 30, Vieira was 28 and The King was 27. That was our spine. Lauren was 27, Bergkamp was 35, Gilberto was 28, Freddie was 27, Bobby was 29. Actually, only relatively younger players were Kolo Toure (23) and Ashley Cole (23, turned 24 in December 2004). Reyes turned 21 in September 2004.

    My point is, you can win a lot with kids if you have a spine consisted of experienced players. Yes, Van Gaal’s Ajax was pure perfection on the pitch and full of hungry young lions who were roaring and eating opponents alive but they had 25-year-old Van der Sar between the sticks and two veterans – Danny Blind and Frank Rijkaard – to lead their defence and midfield.

    Maybe we expect too much from our young players.

  • ‘Morning boys… (At least for me…) and cheers on the compliments…though, TA, there is no requirement that they must be made… 😀

    On the other hand, there is probably nothing more withering than those 6 letters used in British English: “Oh dear…” More smileys… Also, even though I’m very busy myself today, I wanted to see what they were saying about cultural differences and creative #10s… Alas, I got this message…

    Cannot play media. Sorry, this media is not available in your territory.

    Gerry, there’s lot of good info in your responses, including the bit I forgot about areas of recruitment. Overall, it’s a huge pyramid scheme and the success of any player who makes it through is built on the shoulders of hundreds who didn’t. Hopefully those kids still benefit from access to a better education and some great life experience.

    When it comes to the very top tier, which I hope includes the Arsenal first team, I’m against all restrictions and want to see the very best players playing the very best football. As such I’m not at all convinced about the club’s attempt at building around a core of younger English players, though I can see the wisdom in trying to create a sense of loyalty between those players AND the supporters asked to pay the big money for tickets. My sense, however, is that it doesn’t really help us in putting out the very best product.

    For the sport as a whole, the owners (and the FAs and the players, who desperately need to organize into players’ unions, IMO) need to create a system which does not pay players NOT to play. Crazy money (and the willingness to lose it in the pursuit of vanity, i.e., winning…) creates very odd situations. A real leader and wonderful player for us, Bacary Sagna, gets a 3 year contract on 100K pounds/week to be a back-up at Man City. He made the correct decision for himself, of course, but it doesn’t seem the best for us, nor for the game. I don’t know the answer…

    TA is correct about me, I’m just arguing for a bit of balance. I see a lot of good in the older fellows and simply tire about their (premature, IMO) dismissal to the slag heap. People only give the most off-hand praise for the 3 Spaniards in our squad, yet, when fit, their production has been very strong and their refusal to seek shelter despite some (very real) lack of form has been a key factor in averting total collapse. Nacho at CB has cost us points but also secured some. Santi’s great goal vs the Toon and his even better assists at WBA and vs Dortmund have been big. It would have been easy to walk away when we were awarded pens, yet he acted a true leader by grabbing the ball to take them. Despite this, I will likely continue to see him left off preferred line-ups in favor of a guy who has relentlessly shown massive potential, but cannot seem to keep himself fit and appears a ticking time-bomb in terms of allowing opponents under his skin (JW). Like I say, I’m only calling for a bit of balance here. Similarly, Mertesacker gets left off line-ups in favor of Ajayi or Hayden who–combined–have played a total of zero league minutes for Arsenal. They may both turn out to be superstars, but, to me, based on what I’ve seen of the players in question, such preferences seem plain weird. (Btw, Retsub, the German to whom I referred, was Chad Forsythe…)

    But one observer’s “truths” may be another’s lies, and I may just be playing favorites and standing up for my geriatrics… In terms of youth policy, my big thing is to create situations where the kids can find success rather than its opposite. A half fit Gibbs, and the BFG trying to use his experience to buoy up Martinez, Bellerin and Chambers (in a new position) was a sink rather than a swim up at Stoke and, IMO, a signal to upper management and ownership that we must spend in the January window. There was a chance it might’ve worked, but, in practice, it sure didn’t. The balance seemed soooo much better in Istanbul and back home against Newcastle, but that may have been due to less motivated or weaker opponents…

    None of it proves anything, and different bounces might have us thinking very differently. Admir’s point about the ages of the invincibles points up the value in a mature squad. The wild swing towards youth so soon afterwards looks misguided in (always 20/20) hindsight. Again, balance seems the watchword…

    Just rambling now, I fear. Please carry on and, you know, discuss…

  • As far as I can see TA, the only young player we have introduced at our convenience, and then overplayed him, this season is Ox?
    Chambers out of necessity.
    Bellerin ditto.
    If we lost focus it is because of the situation?

    Ox has been brought along gently and has been a great success. Had the other two had that luxury, they may not have had their problem games.

    Even Steve only wants them to be used at the appropriate times, off the bench, and in their best positions.

    You are making it sound like a 17 year old should start any game, and then another the next week.
    When I talk about guaranteeing time on the pitch, I’m not talking 90 minutes. They will be lucky if they get 30 minutes every month, at least those who are on the edges. But those 30 minutes, even in 3×10 minutes slots, will give them more confidence than thrusting them into a starting berth against the favourites in the CL Group.

    Even this mythical golden generation can spread across a wide variety of ages and experience. When Zelalem and O’Connor are both 20, Wilshere will be 25, Gibbs 26, Woijech 26, Walcott 25, Ox 23, Hayden 22, Akpom 21, M-N, 20, Chambers 22, with a smattering of senior citizens like Ozil, Alexis, Debuchy, and Welbeck to help them along.

    I think that is what AW is working towards, and that still has 8 places to be filled by whoever comes in now, and replacements for those who leave, or even a few younger prospects that keep coming along?

  • I agree with what you are saying, but The only time I would want Ajayi of Hayden to play instead of Mertersacker is if he was already injured, or by sheer weight of minutes on the pitch that he is a gnats whisker away from being injured. Nor do I want Hayden to Kill of your ageing Spaniards. We do play a 4-2-3-1 after all. Again it is about having young players available for rotation. Which means if we buy an experienced DM, Hayden will be part of that rotating squad, Rather than being a bench warmer, may be next time, week after week.

    I don’t think in terms on nationality when it comes to youth players, as long as they are fairly offered places here, rather than the Barca alleged crimes which they are appealing against, in child trafficking.

    As for the switch to youth after the Invincible era was surely down to finance, rather than a free choice?

  • Uh, I don’t remember ever thanking any author on here for writing an article. Either you choose to write, or you don’t (like me). I didn’t rip the author or the article’s content. I just gave my opinion. No one ever thanks me for that on here or otherwise and I don’t expect that, especially on here. I don’t view this as a social avenue…I read opinions, a lot I agree with and I write opinions. I respect those who do gain social benefit and pleasure from this, that’s great. I live hundreds, if not thousands of miles away from EVERYONE on this site. I will never set foot in Europe, never mind England. I know 17 is based in the States and a couple others, but the last time I crossed the border was in winter 1997. Canada is where I live and where I will stay. It’s hard to become attached to anyone on here for me, as we can talk, talk talk, but it’s only words on the internet. I wasn’t rude for the most part, in my last post. I threw in a curse word for colour per usual, but all hell broke loose around me in my house, as well as the fact that talking about the youth (for some reason unknown to me) really gets me fired up and excited. I wasn’t angry at the author, or anyone on here in particular, not at all. I don’t pretend to be warm and fuzzy, or even half-polite. I say what I want to say, if appropriate and I don’t expect to be chastised for that, if the content is appropriate and not personally insulting. It’s only my opinion. Should I start adding smiley’s or something, just so people don’t think I’m passionate, even though that’s bullshit (oops)??? Nooooooooo…I know you wouldn’t…Or would you??? 😉 See what I just did there??? Thank you for referring me to the rules 😉 See what I just did there???? Pant, pant, pant…I’m coming around ain’t I??? I’ll be polite soon, I promise.

  • Admir 🙂

    Great comment. VdSar being 25 does not make him experienced for a GK. Rijkaard played CB most of the time. It was a miracle back then, especially for the Dutch. Beating the big, experienced Milan twice, in the group and in the final, was just unbelievable.

  • Gerry

    We played Chambers far too much, which we agree on. Ox is still a work in progress but let’s give him the benefit of doubt in terms of his value to the team this season. Also, we had so many first team players injured in midfield that we simply had to play Ox a lot this time round (he comes after Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Theo, Arteta, Cazorla and Flamini in the pecking order). Then we had to play Bellerin as well, which would have been okay to some extent as long as we did not need to play him with Martinez AND young Chambers in the same back-five. This should not have to happen in a top team, unless there is just too much bad luck. Had we kept Sagna or TV or replaced them with at least one experienced CB, a Collocini or Jagielka, this summer we would still have been okay against Stoke and Manure etc.

    We also had to play Welbeck and Sanogo a lot, who both have a lot of potential but are also not ‘ready made’ quality.

  • I’m actually upset. Everyone thinks I’m evil or abhorrent. I wasn’t rude to anyone. I know how good this site is. I wouldn’t check up on it everyday, if I didn’t think it was great. I learn something from here and the people on it, almost every day.

  • Milo, the only thing about your comment I found unnecessary was when you mentioned paragraphs. Or to be more precise, the lack of them.

    I am guessing that because of your strong musical influence, where one sequence glides seamlessly in to the next, it is the way your thought processes work, when you write.
    It is your style, and there is nothing wrong with that.

    On the other hand, not to care whether people can read it is a little sad too. If you have an opinion then the only reason for sharing it with others is to see their reaction, agreeing or disagreeing. it is an interaction. You can privately dismiss other peoples views very simply. But to say you do not care for the interaction with others, probably means you will not get much?

    For example, your point about the young players not playing out of their age range, I would argue is not a sound one. Age is a very crude mechanism that does not allow for different rates of development, skills or physical size. If a 14 year old is 6 feet tall and solid with it, he is not going to gain anything from playing with a bunch of midgets who he can just brush them aside once in possession. Again, a tricky youngster with tricks and flicks that fool his less skilled opponents of the same age, is not going to improve his playing level until he gets to play opponents who are wise to his movements, and so he learns new tricks?

    But if you say from the outset you are only interested in putting your opinion on the blog, then I may take your word for it.

    But none of the above was the bit I found unnecessary.
    It was you blaming your poor education for lack of punctuation.

    Education does not end when you leave the school gates behind.

    I left school with absolutely no qualifications. Which was no surprise as when I started secondary school I could not do joined up handwriting.
    I left a well paid job with BT to go to college on a government grant, aged 34. On my second attempt at University I got my degree aged 46. In English and Education, as it happens. But that does not mean I can write music. I have never tried to learn. We are all different in many ways, but as adults, we do have the power to change what our early history left us with?

  • HT i have said it many a time, i truly think me and you, a bottle of single malt, some fine cigars and a poker table next to an open fire could converse all night about probably every topic surrounding Arsenal 🙂
    It would be an excellent night of merriment and debate and i bet we would still come out the other side not agreeing on a single point lol.
    This is the very reason i look forward to (yet again) another excellently written post that simultaneously frustrates with its concepts whilst astounds with its articulation, forethought and thorough explanation.
    An excellent read bud!! 🙂
    I will need a little more time to explore all the many excellent points raised but for now (whilst i am on babysitting duties for the night :evil:) a quick comment;

    I of course disagree with many of your conclusions wholeheartedly having seen many of the players I consider being world class within Arsenal join as youth players.
    I do think we need to define more clearly what a “youth” age is though as this could be muddying the waters of serious and accurate debate me thinks.
    I personally think 21 and under is youth level and whether you can sign them successfully at the end of this stage of their career for example Henry at 21 or nearer the beginning like Fabregas at 16 the fact remains they are still youth and require further moulding into the final Arsenal type product.
    The level below youth (academy) which is around 16 and under is let’s face it a complete lottery, if even one player makes it from this stage all the way to the first team he has beaten astronomical odds. The fact that Akpom (signed at age 6), Maitland-Niles(signed at age 7), Wilshere (signed at age 9), Hayden (signed at age 12), Gibbs (signed at age 14), Szczesny, Bellerin, Gnabry (all signed age 16) are all in and around the first team squad is nothing less than fucking miraculous!!

    I feel I am getting ahead of myself at this stage though and should be concentrating a little more on why we need the youth system rather than judging how good (or I suppose bad in your eyes) it has been over the years.
    We are not a super rich club, plain and simple, we will never compete with others who are and provide the kind of two £40 million players for each position squad roster that some of you deluded fools think we should have. I really mean deluded because this fact above all else goes to the root of being an Arsenal supporter. We maintain class!! We do it the classy way, the hard way, THE RIGHT WAY! – I would never have it any other way! That’s who we are!!
    Perhaps its an intrinsically English thing but we LOVE to support the underdogs and that’s exactly who we are when it comes to the top teams in Europe, and I love it that way. If we win its through skill and class that we have developed or bought on a long shot bargain deal not through a team bought for the highest price – fuck that!

    Wenger the genius that he is saw a long time ago the only approach to successfully compete against such powerhouses was to have one out and out first team and a whole host of reserves made up of world class players at the end of their career bought at a bargain price and high level youth potential.
    What we have essentially ended up with is three teams, one first team and two feeder teams;
    (The one’s above and below should be ready and able to feed the one in the middle when necessary)

    YOUTH TEAM: (I know Wilshere and Welbeck are one and two years respectively above the 21 year old youth limit I previously mentioned but they are very much nearer that youth end of the scale)

    ———The OX———Wilshere———

    FIRST TEAM PROPER: (all but two players are within the 24 – 25 year old sweet spot of development and ability, and both Giroud and Debuchy still produce consistent high levels of energy and performance)



    Monreal——-Kos ——–BFG———–X

    Odd players left:
    Bellerin – Should really be in that youth RB spot but Jenko is just slightly ahead in terms of physicality atm. If Debuchy begins to wane in the next four or five years Jenko would be the next logical choice to replace him here with Bellerin remaining the option for the future (great little conveyor belt of RB’s)
    Campbell – very much make or break time for him, can he displace the likes of Walcott and Gnabry?
    Sanogo – Under review and needs more games for experience, an excellent candidate for a loan.
    Coquelin – the hugely undervalued utility type player that imo all great teams need around the squad.
    Flamini – only not there because Arteta is taking up the DM spot in my illustration
    Diaby – who know’s

    As you can see it is obvious where we are lacking in first team quality (the defensive spine) and I am sure Wenger was gambling on his cover holding strong until the next big summer window but that gamble failed. Koscielny would be first team every time if he didn’t have an ongoing injury that impacts his reliability as a consistent first choice option.

    Now forget your Zelalem’s, Crowley’s, Ajayi’s, O’Conner’s and Maitland-Niles’s, their inclusion in first team affairs this season is down to nothing more than a completely ridiculous state of injury woes – their future is a few years away yet, the youth team as named in the first team squad sheet is as I have illustrated it.
    The team listed first up there is your Arsenal youth team and fuck me its bristling with talent, something I am mighty proud of tbh. Its only problem is the same as the first teams, an unbalance in quality from front to back. If our injury problems had been at the front this season and we played the likes of Akpom, Gnabry and Welbeck none of you would be complaining. Likewise when the midfield got hit by the injury bug I don’t remember many of you complaining when Jack was putting in MOTM performances or at how well the OX is performing in midfield atm. No the complaints come from the inclusion of youth defenders but this is our weakest area at all levels so there is no great surprise.
    Even Chambers as a CB I think is a weak choice as he is far too short for that role but an excellent candidate to partner Hayden in a midfield double pivot should the team change to a 4-2-3-1 to shore up possession and see out a game.
    A nice long summer would see some top class young defenders join Arsenal for these positions but we have more pressing issues atm, namely the exact same problem in the first team.

    Take a look at that first team btw, it has not one but FOUR players who have been developed from youth – simply incredible! If we can add the correct players to it in the January TW it will be a force to be reckoned with, supported by two nearly full teams of quality backup.

    I can argue all day about the benefits of playing Wilshere over Ozil or OX over Ramsey etc the fact remains however in reality I am wrong and as Wenger sees it that is his first team up there in the middle but are you really going to criticize the system that has brought you the backup you see ready to support it???

    As I see more and more mistakes made by senior players not through an error in judgement or a lack of technique but rather from diminishing physical ability (be it pace, stamina, mobility etc) I recognise more and more the value of youth and there complete lack of any such detrimental factors. When the first team is full and uninjured and we gain the ability (as we once did) to incorporate the youth slowly time and time again into the first team gaining experience all the while then in about four or five years time that team in the middle will be at the bottom and the youth will be the ones you are cheering week in week out and a whole new set of youth players will be there for you to question once again.

    I look forward to taking up the argument again a few more years down the line, but you really should be ashamed of yourself for questioning both the quality and indeed the very need for our WORLD CLASS youth system and our approach on integration (under normal non injury crisis conditions) of its talent into the first team. This is how we evolve and grow as a team, we are such spoilt little brats arguing over whether Cazorla or Wilshere (youth or experience) should take the place of the injured player (in this instance Ozil) that we forget how fucking lucky we are to have both of those world class options to argue over – to offer up an argument against the system that brought us such a situation is sheer madness imo.

    I know you were probably expecting an insane defense of the very young players i have been rooting for lately like Maitland-Niles, Crowley, O’Conner etc but i feel you have missed the context in which my support has been so adamant – the sheer lack of any other choices during this crisis.
    These players are normally academy players and the only reason i support them so much atm is that they have incredibly got a chance to play for the first team and i am probably one of the lucky few here to know their ability and potential. So yes when they have the opportunity to play i like to see them get a go and in their correct position, hopefully with some seniors around them also (if there are any left) and especially if the situation arises when its a free game and the onus is on resting senior members for a future game. The only exception to this is in the Carling Cup where no matter the opponent i think youth is the way to go – as it always has been 🙂

    Creating a system where the youth team could play week in week out as a full team against strong opposition whilst still remaining completely available to the first team for further integration or for cover in an emergency is the highlight of your post HT and a point I would love to see you explore in more detail, what solid options can you come up with in this area?

  • Hey man, believe it or not, I am cultured and I have retained most of the grammar thrown my way. I’m out of here for good. I haven’t commented on this blog for a while and all this patronizing isn’t for me. I don’t need this. I don’t try and figure you all out. Everyone keeps labelling me and speculating as to what sort of person I am. You wouldn’t ever find out regardless if I stuck around or not. It’s completely stupid to think otherwise. I don’t pretend to know what kind of people are on here, nor do I care. I wanted someone to tell me whether they agreed or not. NOT to use my manners.

    I’m actually not sad or angry, as this is absolutely nothing compared to what I get at home, from my own family. You can say it’s me, it’s my fault, go buy a mirror…all that, I’m well used to it. Actually you already have and I keep writing. Not any more.

    Seeeeeeeeeeee ya.

  • TA – I am not sure we are disagreeing that much. We agree that we have played a number of young players this season. My point is that only OX had the few games from the year before, as well as a few sub appearances. Chambers was thrown into as soon as Debuchy was injured.
    In that sink or swim method he did okay, but got into a few difficulties later. A similar thing with Matinez. Bellerin very nearly sank in the deep end first time, and it is only because he got further opportunities due to injuries have we come to see him in a better light.

    What we are now talking about is youth policy, not emergency rescue. How to involve the academy players to help their development, so they are better equipped to handle a starting position should they be called upon. Hayden, as I have said before, I believe is ahead of the others, and will hold his own, once he is fully match fit. Em’and’En I think will be able to do some late subbing if we are 3-0 up and cruising, and so help others from playing beyond their limit. Akpom too, but more for his style of play to jump ahead occasionally of others. We have still got to get Gnabry up to speed too, but if Sanogo and Podolski are set to depart,then openings will appear for him. It will likely be next season before 3 of these players start a game, if you include Bellerin in this group. So no mass takeover, just baby steps with the odd 20 minutes here and there.

    I am not in favour of loans out. Very few make a positive difference, imo. I think the Under 21 route is a great benefit, but it has it’s limits.

    The other thing is what many commented on in our last game was we had ‘better balance’ to our side. As we have found to our cost, our best 11 players do not make the best team? A point I think Milo made. One lesser player can make difference?


  • Milo, I did say I was guessing at your reason for non- punctuation. You don’t care whether people read your stuff, why read the replies?
    Why suggest that you think people think you are evil. Good grief, I got the same slap on the wrists. I am sorry I came over patronising, it must be the way you try to defend your actions.
    As to to your writing style in the above, it may be one thought in the same vein, but read it aloud and see where you take deep breaths, I think you will find they are linked thoughts?
    Just ignore me, it is past my bedtime.

  • Evening Steve, Just read your blog size reply. You have expanded on your previous thoughts rather well. I’ll have another read in the morning.
    No comment on your Milo image … in case your vision extends to some elderly guy standing behind him giving him a helpful prod with his walking stick ….
    Night all ..

  • Milo, you are a much valued blogger on here and I always like your comments. They are full of insight, irony, and you name it. Sorry, if you feel I was patronising you… sometimes things get lost in the written word, and smileys do not compensate enough. Hope to see you back soon. 🙂

  • Wow Steve, even though you have an extra finger to type, that is a hell of a comment. 🙂

    Will get back to you and (naughty) Gerry tomorrow.

    Night all. 🙂

  • I will get in quick before TA scribes his rebuke.

    Yes I was very wrong to reply to Milo having watched ‘Good Will Hunting’ only last weekend.
    There are parallels between the the fictional character and Milo, but that is another story.

    When Milo writes on here, he is usually emotionally charged. Sometimes with anger and outrage, such as his thoughts on Ozil’s not so private life. Last night it was with excitement for the topic, as indeed I was.

    However, in his writing he does often leave things in his post which any reply to will bring about an angry response. What he wasn’t prepared for was your pick up on manners. That initially brought about a response, but he had to change tack from the confrontational response. Your simple reply left him with no where to go, so he leaves another trigger, ‘Everyone thinks I am evil’
    Well silly me, fell for it. Yes, my psychobabble was out of place. He is right. I do not know him. But I get the picture of him through what he writes, and in the way he writes. He is basically an isolationist. When he tries to connect with the world, in his own words, he is ‘not warm and fuzzy’. Instead, he just wants to return to his world of isolation … but he needs that to be somebody else’s fault.

    Milo, you are not evil. But using this site as your punch bag is not the answer.

  • Steve, I have re-read your reply. Believe me, that would have made a fine post.

    I know you had your reasons for not including Mertersacker and Koscielny in your ‘current first team’, but that is where they belong.

    The real problem is that we haven’t got any experienced back ups, or close to experienced youths to bring on.

    I also think you are blurring the lines on where academy and youth levels begin, at least they should be blurred, but not by age. See my response to Milo’s point about age ranges should play at their own level. This also ties in with the idea that you can have a Youth team playing regularly, at the same time as supplying the first team with back ups. Who fill the gaps while they are playing, or on first team bench duty? Yes, the Academy players from the Under 18’s. Who fills their gaps? The 16 year old’s. Hence the blurring. We regularly get the17 year olds in the Under 21 squads, and it just shows how bare bones we have been that they have been on the first team bench.

    This does drift away from your key point as to where we are in short supply, and your team layouts point to this clearly. I will be surprised if we only get 20 year old Tyrone Mings, currently playing as LB. I think we need one experienced guy in the 23-25 age bracket who can successfully drop in to either CB role right now. We do not know how Koscielny’s tendon problem is going to be long term. My guess is they will try and use him sparingly until the end of season, then may be surgery? But we need someone to relieve Mertersacker before its too late. I also think you are writing him off prematurely. I can see him still playing regularly for at least another two seasons, hopefully with Kos by his side.

    Mind you, I went 3 years ahead with my list of players we could have available, whereas you think 4? You also have Jenks ahead of Bellerin, I do think we will see either at RB in 4 years time. I don’t think Jenks will come back from West Ham, and Bellerin will be a midfielder.

    On such dreams we live for …

    OGAAT … Sunday

  • Wow. Wow. Wow. You guyyyyssss…. I really dont know where to comment from. Theres the really Awesome post and then all these mini posts in the comments. Head is too full to make a lot of coherent analysis. I do take some points fromt he lot of you though. Milo’s talk about age grades make a lot of sense to me. Gerry and TA also have points that eventually lead to the same destination albeit from different perspectives. I like steve’s cos it clarifies his stance about his team selection and youth thingy’s. lol.
    Its a thought provoking post though but in the end i think i agree with steve about how well our youth setup has been. at least in terms of bringing up gifted players to the first team. Well i’ll just continue getting enlightened. Yáll keep it up 😀

    And milo..milo..milo… Please do come back. Dont make us have to beg with pictures of man boobs first. 😀

  • Gerry, my point is we rely too much on inexperienced, yet promising prospects in our team/squad and it is costing us once again. If we want to move up we have to be very selective with youth players and buy more ready made quality. Moving away from having too many inexperienced players in our squad is therefore essential. I would send Ox, Bellerin, Hayden, Gnabry, Akpom all out on loan for the rest of the season, and get a CB and DM of quality in January.

  • Gerry

    Please let’s not label other bloggers who we really don’t know. If you don’t like Milo’s comments just ignore them, and if you find some parts unacceptable just email me privately. 🙂

  • Steve, once again great comment. If you integrate the first team with the experienced, older team, we are almost there. Buy one or two more quality, experienced players in January and reduce the usage of your youth team and we are getting there.

    The idea that we cannot compete now with our main competitors for top prices is no longer valid. We generate a large income now and are financially healthy, and Wenger knows how to spot value for money. Expect Wenger to move away now from over reliance on producing our own talents and buy ready made more and more. It is the only way to move to the next level and win top prices Imo.

  • haha TA could you imagine if we could actually have a decider to this argument, that would be incredible!!
    The game of the season to decide the best policy 🙂
    who wouldn’t pay to see that??!!!

    Youth players and players who have developed through that youth system


    Ready made bought players

    Or in other words:

    ———Wilshere———–The OX–———



    Place your bets 🙂

  • hahaha a fit Diaby 😆
    what should i fill his water bottle up with… Unicorn tears?? 😆

  • Early morning here but I’ve got a bit of energy and soon enough the espresso machine will pop on…That’s when things might get interesting… 😀

    Overall, I think we need to move on…Big match with Liverpool which sets the entire tone for the matches ahead. I’m starting to get concerned that we’re looking at the easier points on offer and rolling the dice for the trip to Anfield, much as we did with the trip to Stoke. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

    Milo, for what it’s worth, I had zero worries about rudeness and I was pretty sure TA was joking about the need to compliment writers. Like you said, it’s all just words on the internet and we’re all (I shouldn’t speak for others, but I will…) writing for our own entertainment. I like to connect with others and, even if we never meet, there is a sense of that (for me, at least). Being a part of something larger balances with isolation. (There is no place where I live to collectively watch or discuss Arsenal…) Responses (and interaction) with other bloggers are important, I think, and tough tones and words evoke them. Sometimes, I get pretty riled myself. Anyhow, I just want to go on record to say that I don’t believe you’re evil or abhorrent or any of that sort of thing. I hope you continue to post here… After all, part of the reason I waded into these muddy waters re: the thread topic was to try and inspire MORE participation here, not less, and your comments seemed perfectly reasonable… In truth, I’m not sure how things spiraled down so quickly, but it doesn’t make me happy…

    Like I say, more participation not less was the goal… which leads me to others…(Where’s 007? He was a main “target” for the post and I was hoping to hear his thoughts…)

    Like Gerry, I had to re-read Steve’s long one so as not to drift into lovely images of whisky and cigars and long chats by the fireside… Very nice! Can I consider myself invited?… 😀 Also, I think I’m starting to understand your perspective a bit more. Sometimes the hyperbole can obscure a radical but indeed more balanced perspective. By the same token, I can see how the post might make me seem less than fully appreciative about the youth set-up we have developed and somewhat hyperbolic myself. Thanks for taking the time/energy to explain your thoughts more fully…and getting me into a more appreciative spot re: the youth set-up…

    Where we disagree, a bit, are in some of the premises. You suggest we are not (and never will be) a super-rich club and I must (respectfully, of course…) disagree. We may never be a money-wasting club, which limits us, but the hope is that clubs which are will be reigned in by either FFP or by owners simply tiring of losing money and that a more equal footing (with those clubs) can be found. Competition is necessary as are predicable financial structures. The “big” English teams benefit from shared TV revenues and, as our Sheik-o-Garch pair of table toppers feel more secure, they also benefit from loaning or selling their players to the lesser clubs, which, of course, helps those clubs and the league as a whole. It makes every game competitive, which is only a good thing…

    Arsenal supporters ARE being sold the idea, however, that we can compete with City and Chelsea, even if it must be upon the backs (wallets) of the ticket buying support. The stadium move was concocted to compete with United and their income from Old Trafford and, all things being equal, it would’ve propelled us to that level (and above the likes of teams at old holes like Anfield and Stamford Bridge) all the while making further inroads against the biggest continental clubs in that “league” which is really just a tournament. The landscape has changed, but, if we’re attempting to compete at the very highest level while remaining fiscally responsible, the question then becomes, how do we do it?…

    Youth development seems a logical way forward and all the big teams are doing it because it helps get around the FFP and it might even yield a good (or great) player every now and then. It’s true, we need to excel in the spaces they leave behind, including exploiting the (two way) loyalty by developing and nabbing up quality younger English players. A downside there, is that we may plow big chunks of our resources into these characters who may (at the very highest level) be found wanting. In other words, Golden Generation or misguided notion? I think we’ll find out over this current Wenger contract (i.e., the next couple of years). Can the older French, German and Spanish players (and the new guy from Chile) get us to the competitive level that wouldn’t make each disappointing result another call for the manager’s head? Not without almost all of Walcott, Gibbs, Szczesny, Ramsey, Welbeck, Wilshere, Sanogo, Ox and Chambers coming good…

    Overall, I think Wenger is taking a reasonable gamble on this mixed group. Still, the commitment to these players is pretty staggering and the sum of the parts has got to be greater than what they’ve shown as individuals thus far. When I look at the team I see potential but I also see potential for (massive) disappointment. Add in that most supporters have zero patience and each match is a referendum…played in a pressure cooker…

    I (desperately) want to see the group come good (which, by the way, would probably limit access for other up and comers from the youth set-up or from those out on loan…) but I can also respect the more cynical view that it’s all fantasy football. Buy low, sell high and share the wage bill (i.e., loan ’em out) while you’re deciding. Give an education, football and otherwise, to kids from our area of England (and all over the world) at the academy and hope the odd kid can step into a gap or a group of two or three come good at one time and represent a bit to build around. (Recouping the odd million or half million with a few sales per year also helps underwrite the project…) At the highest level, until meaningful reforms occur, buying trophies by buying players is the name of the game, I fear. I would love to see Arsenal at the forefront of such reforms, and helping to grow the sport in a healthier, more bottom-up manner. If we could also show that playing a core group of younger, home-grown players can get you to the very top it would be great. Doing so would mean winning a whole lot more than the odd domestic cup and getting back into the early stages of the CL… As such, I suspect that our youth policy will have to become more aggressive, i.e., more cynical and more global and, in fact, less “youthy.” In other words, fewer young, not fully formed players, learning their craft in front of the (high-paying) fans at the Emirates. It doesn’t mean no youth at all; it just means a broader perspective on how it happens. And…Who better to run it than Arsene Wenger? 😀

  • Ah man, just when I thought I was getting on the same page (or at least beginning to understand his book)… Steve wants the kids to try to play against the Oldsters… Why divide the team when we most need togetherness? Instead of playing hypothetical matches why not get a first 11 (and 7 fit subs) to stop by the hospital/physio room and visit the next 11 (or 18) on their way to Anfield?…


    Truly, Mr. F11ngers, I see what you’re saying about the glory of the home-grown players, but a balance seems best… The best hope the (youth) back 5 has of stopping the likes of the oldsters’ attack, would be if Alexis colides with Giroud in a puddle of the collective saliva they would all be dribbling in facing such a group. It gets no better once Szcz gives up the pen and gets himself sent off…

    On the other hand, the young attackers, if they don’t wave the white flag after the first 10 goals, will probably score a couple themselves, you know, when the old guys need to take their naps…


  • haha HT that was just a bit of fun hypothetical match, me and TA were just having a bit of a laugh in the morning 🙂
    He produced the zinger of the day with suggesting a “fit Diaby” 🙂

    All good out there in the mountains bud?

  • TA, you’ve got mail…but, luckily for everybody…it’s nothing you can publish… We need that preview…

    In other news, or at least scanning the headlines on Newsnow–always dangerous–it seems they’re reporting that Sanogo will go on loan in January…What then will we do when Giroud’s personal shenanigans hit the back pages and we’ve got matches to play? Anything else?… We’re well crocked heading into the festive period, but Pool’s team is just as bad? Mingolet and Lovren dropped or injured, Sturridge shipped to Boston for treatment, Sterling tired from his efforts in the kiddie cup? Balotelli looking to break out or hopelessly frustrated (by De Gea last weekend) or frustrating?…

    Speaking of moving on and New Snow… We need some here in the mountains…Not enough so far what with the holiday hordes coming…So little in fact that we may have to travel the opposite direction…

    Anyhow, apologies, again…

  • Simul-posting with F11ngers… 😀 … Great minds think alike, even when they think very differently… 😀 Or think at the same time, at least, or something…

    Yes, indeed, a fit Diaby… That’s what I’ve been asking Santa for (and the all the other gods to whom I pray)…

  • like you (and i) say HT its all about balance. The problem is i feel the focal point of the balance should be refocused towards the correct balance between attack and defense at all levels rather than just the youth vs experience of the first team.
    Like you highlighted the oldsters would destroy that young back five but i fear the young front line would do the same to the oldsters back five.
    The problem in both scenarios – the back five, therein lies the problem me thinks, get this sorted and we are laughing 🙂
    TW coming up – fingers crossed!!

  • hahaha complaining about not enough snow – spoilt bastard 😆
    Try living in England, we’ve got… well… rain, rain and rain, some more rain, heavy rain, wind, wind and rain…
    Oh and more rain 🙂
    Not enough snow! whatever next!!

  • like i said HT, two minds, think the same, conclude the opposite 😆
    Single malt and those cigars are beckoning 🙂

  • HT – If you are still there, I would like to quickly explain that video on Creative 10’s

    What Pat Nevin was looking at was comparing the way our No10’s operate compared to those on the continent, in particular Spain.
    He showed clips of games where our 10’s would often get crowded out by several defenders, as well make for the box at the earliest opportunity.
    Compared to those in Spain who were more likely to have their areas they like to operate in closed down, but they would pass and move until they see the right moment to get to the key area behind the striker.
    What he then suggested was that if you look at the second most popular national sport, in Spain it is basketball, here Rugby. Then look how the creative player bides his time on the edge of whatever that strike area is in basketball, before he moves. Then look how Rugby is played, where defenders pile in and the creative player has to get forward in the shortest possible route.

    So now you see what I hinted at, Rugby is to blame for Wishere being a blundering idiot, and Basketball makes Ozil and Cazorla brilliant 😀

    Good job I am having an early night with TA about ha ha.
    I have been working on the UMF side, getting the Boxing Day sheet all set up.

    So UMF reminder time – Still a few missing, JB and Terry to name but two.
    Gameweek 18 fixtures have been repeated as I miss one off, but Eagle Eye spotted it, so entries for that are also welcome.

    Cheers and ‘Night all …

  • Hey, what’s wrong with a blended whisky, F11ngers? Now and again, you know, if needs must… (Or if you’re down to nothing but the mustiest of your single malts…) 😀

    The American Whiskeys can be OK too…Bourbon tends to be too sweet, but there’s a real revival going in on in rye…The doods can enjoy them neat (or with soda) while the ladies enjoy them in a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned or whatever they’re drinking at $10 or $15 a shot (and up)… Another reason to travel down to hipster land although they’re building a “liquor emporium” across from the grocery store… In fact, a bottle of this now stares back at me from the recycling…

    I haven’t enjoyed a cigar for a while, but I’ve been known…

    Big match up there in Anfield…And another good one for the youths… Who will win the battle of the So’ton sales? Young CC-21 or Llala-Lambert? Meanwhile, the club which sold them stares down at both of the bigger ones with a Chelsea on loan guy (Bertrand) in the Luke Shaw spot…

    Inneresting, I think, and on topic, kind of, too…

    Gerry, I am around…but I should get my day started here before it evaporates… I’ll do my UMF here shortly…

    Thanks for the explanation of the vid…and it makes sense having played some basketball (as a short person) myself. Here in the States, it’s all about getting rid of the ball before being clobbered or sacked, in our own version of the throwball (American football). Ref protection is the key, but also, unfortunately, IMO, influenced by the culture…On that note, Shawcross off to Rome (not so happy with Kostas, maybe…) was a headline I saw somewhere (the Guardian maybe)… If Jack could get some calls, or get better with his off foot (not just for finishing), or just get healthy and a little more burst on his “burst of pace” we’d have a real contributor on our hands… As Steve suggests, however, he’s still young… Better spacing and threats from out wide into true forwards helps. Having watched Arda Turan score the goal (from JuanFran) while Falcao and Diego Costa fluffed their chances and stood around, I can attest that that IS how it works in Spanish football…

  • what a fab post and a different one from you my Amigo – not sure if I can add anything to what’s already bee said or covered

    but yes, you are right – Chelsea are reaching new levels when it comes to using the loan system to their advantage and as from what I am hearing, they will have a few more players go out on loan – possibly to liverpool, strengthening them so liverpool can help chelsea in return by taking a few points off from their direct rivals .

    speaking of which, am happy that Yaya,S will be going out on loan soon as well, I hope we do the same with Chuba as well , after he signs the contract extension .

    get back Benik = sorted ?

  • 17,
    Good post , plenty to think about and lots of good comments.
    What i think is is a mixture of TA’s first comment and my thinking in that we have possibly the best manager on the planet in Arsene Wenger for spotting and bringing though great young talent.
    But as TA so rightly said the Oiler’s have set him back by the huge sums of money they have spent on there teams, so in order to compete he has had to play his strongest and expirienced players instead of bedding in the young guns.
    I still think Wenger is the man to bring as some though.
    Bellerin is looking the next. Zaleam if he can stay fit might make it. Sanogo to is still young and if he stays fit can be a huge star imo.
    Really it was a shame we got knocked out of the COC so early

  • no, not a shame but a blessing in disguise that we got knocked out so early of the COC @ PG

    and you will see what I mean this sunday when we have won 7-0 at Anfield :evi;:

  • 007,
    The game on Sunday is a big 1 mate.
    We ned to win it badly and should do.
    I am going to go for a a bold 4-0. not as bold as yours but i think it is a score we can achieve.
    Mini Hulk to have a stormer lol 🙂

  • Liverpool might nick 1 but i really cant see them scoring more then that.
    4-1 or 4-0
    Who would you start up top 007?

  • i think i would like to see

    Podolski…………..Giroud…………..the OX
    …………………….mini HULK……………..
    ……………………the great Szcs!

  • up top ?

    ========= ox/Santiago helping the Flame

    Ox /Santiago interchange —————- Alexis————————Welz


    sorted !

    revenge will be very very sweet !

  • Poldi will get his chance against his favourite team aka West Ham UTD

    we play them soon and he will again score 2 and create 2 🙂

  • I like 007, Very attacking and strong. I just want Podolski to get a start lol, his goals per minutes ratio is awesome and i think he deserves it, even though your line up is probably better.
    I don’t know he has to start a league game 1 day surly .?/ lol

  • Yeah hopefully 007, i remeber the game v the hammers last boxing day like it was yesterday, that was a good game.
    Do you know if Diarby is fit and ready to play?

  • no, not yet – he’s another 3 weeks away – has a chance for the FA cup one , as does Ramsey – don’t expect them returning before that .

  • OK man i am gutted for him, if i was him i would just play though the pain.
    His career depends on it, i am rooting for him.
    Get well soon Diarby, give it all you got, what do you have to lose.

  • If he was at Chelsea they would just give him pain killing injections and tell him to get on with it and give 100 %

  • most of us are gutted for him and want him to do well, I believe that he will play no less than 10 games for us this season and we will probably give him another contract extension on a pay as you play basis or along them lines .

    Flamini’s contract is also ending at the end of the season, we have a clause to activate the 3rd year but we shall see – am liking the Flamini of the past few games, he is having far less brain farts and hasn’t earned himself a booking either – if he can keep this up with another solid performance at anfield then he deserves the 3rd year .

    I think Debuchy will have a great time this sunday on the ring wing and Giroud will be a very grateful and happy striker 🙂

  • Good to hear JB, i too believe in Flemini. When he is on it he is a great player.
    As you say cut out the silly mistakes and unessersary bookings and he is a great player to have in the squad.

  • ahahahahahhahaha

    am not so sure about what they would be giving him at Chelsea, I mean the Physio there must be giving them something “magical” , ha (Glics/TCM would have loved this one – I miss the bugger as well as VCC and TMHT, I guess the trio of them are supporting Glics on his unfortunate tussles and clashes with the higher ups .

    This new American doctor seems to be doing his thing rather well, even though the injuries may tell us differently but soon everyone will begin seeing the results, I reckon – in Feb – we will be in a far far better shape as a squad , compared to years gone by .

  • Me too geez and Fozzie and even the old cookie monster ha ha ha.
    That is the truth about pain killing injections Jose told the media when he was at Inter.

  • yep, he’s a utility player we don’t have that very many of them – he can probably play anywhere at the back, if need be and can also man mark, if AW wants to deploy him that way in any game in the closing stages .

    I would give him another 2 years, sure .

    how are you doing ? am going to place a quid on a 4-1

    what you reckon

  • also, what betting sites have the best odds/rates – have not used one for quite sometime now .

    I have accounts everywhere though, ha

    which one would you recommend , for accumulators and so on

  • i’M uuhm ok ni suppose you know how life can be mate.
    Long time no talk it is god to speak to you again.
    As for the bet i will put a few quid on 4-1 and maybe a couple on 4-0 as well. we should get pretty good odds as well, and that is the key

  • I just have an account on betfair now mate the beauty is you can cash out. I find the odds to be ok as well

  • something relevant to the post me amigo posted – people talk of Zelalem and I talk of Dan Crowley.

    in my opinion, keep an eye out for Crowley – he is a big match player and will do very well in the next 2 years – the lad is a superstar in the making .

  • If you are playing te cash out the 4-1 will always be the best way to go . They can alway nick a goal and it covers you for that case .

  • yeah, don’t have a lot of time these days to contribute and also the lack of Glics and old timers is a contributing factor sometimes but I do read the comments .

    Xmas time soon, so looking forward to the break .

    you went to the FA cup game last season, are you planning on going again this time ?

    ok, betfair it is then – cheers

  • I am going to Villa at home in Feb mate, i was at the United game last month 👿 gutted we should have won that.

  • no, not that one but his Dad used to play with an ex boss of mine from Birmingham (Coventry) and he had been hpying him up since the last 2/3 years, this was before he joined Arsenal – and that guy knows his stuff, even though he is a spudie .

  • Oh and to stay in control you can always set up deposit limits on that site. Worth doing.
    I am up on my football bets but was spending to much on the slots so put a limit on that said i won 3300 on that last week of a £10 so it is a good site.

  • nice one !

    will give it a go .

    yeah, how on earth man utd keep on winning is beyond me (not really, they have a decent goalie and that’s what goalie’s are meant to be doing )


  • Oh i shall keep my eye out mate.
    We have got some awesome kids coming though. i think we are more then well stacked except defenders lol

  • I know you dont like Szcs but i see similarites between them his shot stopping, if only he could stop his rain farts then he could be on par, fingers crossed. That said i like the look of Martimez he could turn out well. Fingers crossed again

  • Right mate i am going to give my eyes a rest and chill out in front of the telly and get an early night.
    Speak to you while the footie is on if your abour.
    Good luck with your bets, if we miss each other some how then, Merry Christmas have a nice time with your family, have a few beers and a laugh

  • I just want Ospina in goal, my patience with Sczny has sort of run it’s course – he’s been given ample of chances to prove himself at the top level but he’s not cut out to be the first choice at one of the biggest clubs in the world .

    you either have it or you don’t – you see players like JW, OX , Ramsey and you could see that they have that swagger and something special in them – had it not been for injuries, they would be at the next level . Sczny has no such excuses .

    yes, I also miss David Seaman and his pony 🙂

  • the same to you matey, be well and all the best wishes over the festive period to both you and your family .

    I’ll be around for the GDC – I hate Liverpool and their supporters , not as much as the spudies but they are right up there along with the mancs when it comes to being deluded .

  • Seaman was amazing the first time i saw him play, he was playing for QPR v Luton, he saved a penalty to earn QPR draw even at the age of about 10 i could tell he was going to be a special player.
    Englands number 1 Englands Englands number 1

  • No match preview?
    O.K heres a good reminder of what we’ll be missing when we take to the pitch on Sunday;
    Chew on that for a bit 🙂

  • Steve, your video selection shows more of who were are missing than who will be playing tomorrow?

    PG – You do slots??? No hope for you then …

    JB – If you want to check best odds singles, go to Oddschecker site. They give the current odds for 18 bookies, including both Betfair sites. Still a mugs game from what I see of advertised odds. For our last game it was 9/2 for Alexis to score the first goal? Apart from there being a possibility of a nil nil scoreline, you are betting against all of his own team mates scoring, and the other side too! Work out the true odds on that before you bet eh?
    ‘Cash Out’ is all the rage at the moment, and they advertise it when they are giving SINGLES odds? The thing about ‘cash out’ it is not like they pay you the money into your bank account, it goes into your betting account … in their hope that you lose it later, as you surely will?

    I am putting this up for the benefit of others,btw, these two are part of a lost generation 😀

    I too can claim big winnings on my horse racing betting history. I had a £2 win bet on Betfair at 1000/1 (999/1 really) that Snow Fairy would win The Oaks at Epsom. She did.
    Do you know how many I have placed a similar bet?
    Not once!

    I am not betting at all at the moment as the dogs take all of my spare cash. Plus I have no time to study. But I try never to take false odds.
    You can guarantee if bookies are advertising it, then it is too short.

    Have a nice day …

  • UMF update –
    Henry – I found yours on recheck.

    The other three all have a big G!

  • No preview for the Liverpool game?

    Anyways, hope Ox is fine for tomorrow’s game, if he ain’t fit, I suspect Calum to play alongside Flam.

  • Gerry, yes mate that’s exactly what i said lol, “heres who’s missing”
    Just a bit of fun before the match lol

  • Shrillex, who will play RB then – Bellerin?

    tbh i hope we keep the same one DM approach we have been taking recently and forget the double pivot stuff. so Flamini on his own with OX and Cazorla either side of him (just like against Newcastle).

    But i never call the right team so what do i know lol 🙂

  • Steve, it honestly depends on whether Ox is fit to play. if Ox is playing then I wouldn’t mind Calum at CB and Debuchy at RB. But if Ox isn’t fit I would feel more comfortable with another person to reinforce the midfield, in this case Calum

  • Haha Total. I’m in the car on the way for lunch at this very moment. If I have time when I get home then I’ll write a preview. If I don’t submit a preview during the next two hours then don’t expect me to submit one. I’ll try my best though

  • that’s some fab advice and tips @ Gerry (even Glics wasn’t that good when it came to giving advice) ; )

    appreciate that a lot actually but as you probably already know, am not that big on betting myself.

    I did bet throughout the world cup though, I started with 1 pound – got upto £121 and then cashed out the £100 .

    left the £21 in there , which I all lost on Cricket eventually (bugger).

    so now am gonna start once more as I feel we are going to be winning a lot from now on 🙂

  • JB – Taken in the spirit it was meant. You will be fine, if you keep to a few simple rules.

    1, Keep your stakes small, and that includes total money staked.

    2, When you win, never ever think that you are playing with the bookies money. It is yours, treat it. like it is.

    3, When you lose, don’t chase your losses. There will be other days to try and win some back, but not when your brain is clouded by ‘unlucky’ defeats. Keep your cool.

    Just looked at the training pics. Lots of pictures of players that might play. Not so may of the ones that usually play. Methinks the squad will have a surprise or two?

    I shall miss the preview as I am off to watch the ‘Strictly’ final, so I will save my comments until morning.
    Night all.

  • roger that Gerry !

    Yes, am with you on that one – would love a surprise which involves Sczny sat on the bench with Ospina playing 😀

    but yeah, the pics didn’t give too much away – couldn’t spot a lot of players, and I suspect, we might all be in for a shock or two ; )

    by the way –

    how do we like this for January …

    Yaya + Joel on loan + Cash = Morgan .S

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