Declan Rice in then Who Goes Out: Elneny, Xhaka or Partey?

There have been some strong speculations that Declan Rice will come to Arsenal this summer, or maybe even sooner than that. Who knows?!

The more serious sources in football, BBC and the Guardian, have both reported that Arsenal have had a meeting with Rice, including where and how they would see him fit into the team. Rice appears to want to move to Arsenal but money talks of course, and many a club will want the 24 year old English international to join them. Moreover, the way we are now playing, the very rich clubs with oil-deep pockets will want to stop Arsenal even getting better than we already are. But West Ham will want to help Rice to make the move he really wants such is the respect for him, a player who has played almost 200 games for them and is clearly too talented to hold on to. Arsenal can pay competitive wages so there should be no problem at all.

But the most appealing thing Arsenal will have to offer to him is to become part of the Arteta evolution; and boy is there a more exciting prospect in Europe right now?!

The big question is where would he play in our team: what did Arteta and Edu discuss with him? My short answer is he will play in Partey’s position and either Partey or Elneny will move on.

Thomas Partey has been very good recently and many believe he is making the biggest difference. He is positionally strong and has great presence on the pitch. There are two issues with Partey, however: prone to injury and not a great passer. The former is part of my prayers and the latter is an area where I cannot see him improve anymore. Thomas has three or four bad, unforced passes every game, and this is exactly where Rice will offer an upgrade. Arteta’s evolution is all to do with pressing (which TP does very well) and quick and accurate passing in tight spaces and under pressure. This is where we need to improve in the deeper midfield position imo.

Rice is mainly right footed and plays mainly on the right side of midfield. Xhaka is left footed and plays on the left. They would make a very strong couple in midfield. I believe that Zinchenko is Granit’s natural DM replacement and that Trossard and ESR will replace him in the more advanced position. Mikel rates and loves the almost always fit Xhaka and I cannot see him go anywhere. Finally, the fans have noticed this as well and he is getting the respect and love he truly deserves.

Comparison Partey/Rice:

Average number of passes: 65.1/61.3

% successful: 86.6/89.4

Key passes: 0.9/1.3

Tackles: 2.3/2.3

Interceptions: 1.2/1.6

Dribbles: 08/0.3

Who would leave if Rice becomes a Gunner?

Well, if Partey is happy to play less going forward – in the end he will become 30 this summer – then I would imagine Mo will move on. Maybe Mo has had enough of playing so little these days and will want to have a go somewhere else. A swap with West Ham maybe? However, Elneny seems very settled with his role at Arsenal and Arteta rates him highly. So my guess is that Thomas would move on if Rice joins us this year.

What do you think?

By TotalArsenal

63 thoughts on “Declan Rice in then Who Goes Out: Elneny, Xhaka or Partey?

  • Why would any of them need to leave? Regardless of winning the Premier League or not we’ll be in the Champions League next season, therefore we’ll need top quality cover for the two CM/DM positions to cover playing every 3 days or so.

  • Your kiwi had walked past my ageing neurons completely unnoticed, Stu, sorry I missed your beat – and thanks, Eris, for turning my light on so elegantly.
    So, Rice. He’s a very good player, obviously. There’s nothing to add to your above-assessments, TA. I think Tom would be the one going out, too, and for the same reasons. But …
    West Ham will want to bleed us dry on this – and rightly so, given the state of the market. But, as brilliant at it as he may be, Declan is “only” a DM. So, if this club has indeed insane amounts of money to spend on an English midfielder, I’d rather we didn’t rule ourselves out of the race for Bellingham. With him, the upgrade on Tom wouldn’t be marginal, but very significant imo.

  • Eris, Thank you for the comment – I’m happy that you enjoy the competitions it make it more worthwhile when it’s appreciated.

  • Sorry Partey is a not a great passer?

    Don’t know what you are watching.

    I’d advise you watch better. He’s actually the most important player we have at the moment. He’s the platform that makes others tick.

  • Who would leave if Rice becomes a Gunner?

    My feeling would be Elney (who I like) as Party (even given his passing shortcomings) has made himself an integral part of the team and in many ways has made Xhaka a better player.

    If we do get Rice I think the change would be gradual with Party becoming the back up to Rice.

    Even as good as Rice’s stats show him to be it would still take a while for him to become fully cognizant of Arteta’s method’s – in the meantime “why fix whats not broken”?

  • Legall, all agreed. Bellingham is a truly superb talent. Would love to have him but it will not happen.

    Is Rice a DM? Yes if you mean ‘Diesel Midfielder’ 😁 He has such a great engine and purrs along all over the pitch. Great for transition as well as sealing off our press in front of the central defenders. He can become as important as Davids to Juve, Busquets to Barcelona or indeed Vieira to Arsenal.

  • A, he is certainly important to us. I recommend that you watch the games again and count on your fingers the number of unforced bad passes by Thomas. I rate him a lot but I there is a reason behind Arteta wanting a new a RMD. Remember we were also after Leicester’s RMD for a while.

  • That’s an interesting article on Kiwior, TA, especially with regard to how he responded when released by Anderlecht. It’s easy for most of us to be despondent and lose motivation when we have a setback. I admire those, like Xhaka, who use it to make them stronger. Eddie seems to be another in that mould, he could have seen the recruitment of Jesus as a negative as it pushed him down the pecking order. Instead, he has clearly learned from and been inspired by having GJ around. And look at the results.

    Coming back to Sambi, he hasn’t made anything of the few chances that he has been given and unless Mikel is seeing real development and progress in training it may be best for him, and the Club for him to be sold or loaned to a team that can offer him more game time.

  • GN5, thanks for your response to my enquiry in the revious thread. That explains it then. 👌

    Kev has been in top form and now being joined by LeGall. Nice going.

  • TA, important topic. In my view, no way is Arteta giving up Partey for Declan Rice; both players are on different planes, with Partey on a higher level. Partey may not run all over the place as Rice would do (Arteta won’t let him do that as our style is more cultured and positional with only Ode and the full backs allowed to swith to inverted wing-backs, on occasion), but his reading of the game, his influence at steadying things and general eye for protecting the back 4 is unassailable by Rice. Partey makes others better (how many times has Arteta said this?) and has the eye for the intricate passing too, when required.

    Stats can be deceptive as a team that is constantly under pressure to defend may have stats indicating more defensive action. Because of limited skill set in the team, Rice may have the extra task of passing forward more. With the forwards we have, Partey seems to be under strict instruction to patrol the area in front of the defence, unless we are chasing the game.

    In any case, Rice’s role seems to suit the Xhaka mould more. While Rice can play both defensive midfield and box to box, Partey seems better suited to the DM role, even though he plays central midfield for his country, hence scoring a few times for Ghana.

    In summary, we can do with all the midfield help we can get, as we enter the long forgotten territory of CL football next season.. I agree the casualties of such upgrades will be Lokonga and Elneny (him, with honours) .

  • Thanks GN5.

    Blackburn Rovers v Birmingham City H
    Bristol City v West Bromwich Albion A
    Fulham v Sunderland * 2-0
    Ipswich Town v Burnley A
    Brighton & Hove Albion v Liverpool * 2-1
    Bayern Munich v Eintracht Frankfurt * 3-1

    Eris, Kiwi players have made the grade in the European game. Last century Wynton Rufer starred for Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga, where he won a total of four major titles and finished the top scorer in the UEFA Champions League 1993–94 season. He was voted Oceania footballer of the the Century by FIFA.
    Goalkeeper Peter Whiting became something of a trailblazer for New Zealand football in 1967 with second division side Charlton Athletic.
    Two played in the 1st Div; Lee Norfolk at Ipswich Town & Danny Hay at Leeds.
    We have had four players in the EPL; Ryan Nelsen was at Blackburn (club captain), Spurs and QPR, Simon Elliot was at Fulham, Winston Reid at West Ham, and Chris Wood played at Leicester, Leeds, Burnley, Newcastle and now Notts Forest.
    I also played for Arsenal virtually every night in my dreams.

    Re: Declan. His would be a fabulous signing to strengthen our squad. I don’t think he would replace anyone in the first 11 at the moment. With Thomas and Granite both nudging 30, next season could well see him claim a starting spot. We could well keep our energetic Egyptian as games will come thick and fast with the expansion and our hoped for involvement in the CL.
    Re: Thomas’ passing. I think the stats favour Declan because West Ham play a different game to us. The Arsenal play an astonishingly quick range of passes as they progress up the pitch. Our midfielders receive the ball often in very tight situations. Their first touch, awareness of opponents position, vision and sheer audacious skill mostly allows for this to prosper. At times timing, touch or opposing pressure can lead to an errant pass. (Few and far between). Thomas is no exception but is probably my favourite player in this team (I played most of my football at DM) and the one I would regard as the most indispensable. If that volley against the Spuds had gone in, every Sangoma in Africa would have bid for his shin bone to add to their muti.

  • Eris, that is a fine and passionate comment, and I agree with a lot. Let’s see whether I am right with my prediction.

    Rice is young and will be worked into a role in the first team. It will take time. You make a good point that he might be more like Granit than Thomas. But still I feel that he will play as RMD if indeed he is to join us.

  • All good points, Stu. And you made me laugh with your fantasy of playing for the Arsenal.

    I get your point about different playing style etc. Yet Thomas makes these unforced, inexplicable errors a number of times each game. We got away with it mostly until now as the turnovers have been dealt with effectively.

  • On Rice’s stats, I actually think they are phenomenal given the low position WH are in. When we played them recently I thought he was excellent, by far the best Hammers’ player.

  • My two cents are Elneny is about to leave. I love Mo, he is one of the greatest guys when it comes to mood and personality, but I honestly think he can no longer keep up with our ambitions.
    Lokonga and/or Patino will go on a loan, and we’ll head out with 4 CM/DMs.

    I expect Partey and Xhaka keeping their starting places, but to be fair it is indeed risky to rely on both of them playing all the important games. So my view is that the 3 of them (including the new guy, our first real marquee signing) will rotate the midfield roles among them, and the 3rd guy – who played the least games – will start the cup fixtures and the less important CL games with Lokonga/Patino.

    By the way, world class CM/DM signings.
    I think Declan Rice is among the very best, and I think it would be great and also reasonable from all parties if he would sign for Arsenal. But there are no guarantees that will happen, so if we look around the market there are a few alternatives worth mentioning.

    3 of them will not join due to their crazy salaries. Even if we can afford their transfer fee, it wouldn’t – and shouldn’t – happen, although Jude Bellingham, Frenkie de Jong and Aurélien Tchouameni are indeed among the very best of the midfielders. And there are a few who are start players of bigger/richer clubs, and will not be for sale: Rodri, Pedri, Goretzka. For Barella it is unsure if moving to Arsenal would be considered a step up for him.

    The guys who could makes sense to pursue if the Rice bid fails are – in my opinion – are Sergej Milinković-Savić (Lazio), Eduardo Camavinga and/or Federico Valverde from Real Madrid, Gavi from Barcelona, and maybe Carlos Soler from PSG. (Look, what prestigious clubs did I list where we could strengthen our team from.) And we are often rumored with recent World Cup Winner midfielders Fernandez and Mac Allister. Still I think Rice would be the best choice, but Camavinga, Valverde and Gavi are also top class midfielders.

  • Cheers PB, a fine list of alternatives. Plenty of options and there is Tielemans for free too this summer.

    I just feels like Rice is going to happen.

  • Hahaha! Stuart. What Arsenal shirt number do you wear in your dreams, I wonder? 😅

    TA, I will be very pleased for Rice to happen..

  • It changed over the years, Eris. When I was 10 it was Charlie George’s number 11, then when we signed Alan Ball it became number 8, later it was Liam Brady’s and David Rocastle’s number 7, Tony Adams number 6, Bergkamp’s 10, back to 7 for Tomas Rosicky… Strangely I have almost always been a 4 for my clubs, but cannot ever remember dreaming of being a 4 for Arsenal.
    What about you? What’s your favourite playing position in a team? Perhaps we can put together a BK X1. Fill in the gaps boys. I’m claiming DM. 4-2-3-1 formation

    1. GK:
    2. RB:
    3. LB:
    4. DM: Stu
    5. CB:
    6. CB:
    7. LW:
    8. B to B M:
    9. CF:
    10. AM:
    11: RW:

  • Blackburn R v Birmingham C….. H
    Bristol City v West Brom A…………A
    Fulham v Sunderland…………… H (3-1)
    Ipswich Town v Burnley………..A
    Brighton v Liverpool………………D (2-2)
    Bayern M v Eintracht Frank…. H (4-1)

  • By the end of the season, we could get N’Golo Kanté … for free
    He’s the same age as Partey, is a very intelligent, happy-go-lucky guy, has a fabulous mentality – just like Tom – I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be too hard to have them sharing games (not so sure about Rice accepting to occasionally play second fiddle).
    He’s a late bloomer, N’Golo, didn’t play top-tier football until he was 23, so let’s not be fooled by his latest injury record, he’ll come back and his engine will keep on purrin’ for quite a few years.
    Lastly, under such circumstances, Bradley Ibrahim could be given time to mature … I’ll get back to this.
    Pb pointed out the wages we’re not able to afford. Maybe we could if the club bought only when absolutely necessary. GN, the voice of reason here, reminded us that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. We’re about to be champions or runners-up with the youngest squad in the League – there’s so much room for improvement in it no one can fathom the exact volume of it.
    But if we can’t afford the wages these boys will soon be in a position to demand, this squad will implode. Martin, Bukayo, BigBill – to name only three – will be gone, it’s as simple as that. Not to mention Mikel himself; I think we’re deluding ourselves if we believe he, just like Arsène did, will turn down Real, Bayern, PSG, or … City, just because he loves The Arsenal so much.
    We’ll have to bow to these guys’ demands, so whether it be to buy new boys or to hold on to what we have, the “wage problem” will pop up at some point. So unless this club has unlimited resources now, I think it’d be wise to “put money in our purse” in order to not only keep our top guns on the payroll, but also be in a position to buy and pay the cream of the crop, the very few guys who’d take any team in the world a step further: Bellingham, Fernandez … and yes, De Jong, as far as midfielders are concerned.
    This is the very last time I mention this, but the job that’s being done at Hale End should help us do this. At the moment, there’s ten graduates we should look after as though they were the apples of our eyes: Okonkwo, Walters, Norton-Cuffy, Sousa, Lewis-Skelly, Cozier-Duberry, Balogun, Patino, Nwaneri, and … Bradley Ibrahim.
    Signing up Kanté would buy the lad the time he needs to come of age, buying Rice would kick him out … Then again, this’ll be my last mention of our academy, I swear, but all the transfer speculations goin’ on, as though these boys simply didn’t exist, will never cease to amaze me.
    COYG (whoever this “G” (will) stand(s) for)

  • 1. GK:
    2. RB: 5. CB: 6. CB: 3. LB:
    4. DM: Stu
    8. RM: 7. LM: Total

    10. RW: 9. CF: 11: LW:

  • My favourite position was RW, but since I scored goals most coaches ended up playing me CF, which my ankles didn’t like much (end of the 70s-beginning of the 80s, always had two buffalo breathing down my neck, and doing all they could to mow me down). They probably did so because of my size, too, but it was deceptive because I was actually poor in the air (timing, power, … never got the knack of it).
    Take your pick, coach.

  • We need some flair on the wing, so we’ll put you in your favoured possie, LG. You can carry a buffalo gun. I’m intrigued to see where you all play(ed) fella’s. We can change formation to suit…

    1. GK:
    2. RB: 5. CB: 6. CB: 3. LB:
    4. DM: Stu
    8. RM: 7. LM: Total
    10. RW: Le Gall 9. CF: 11: LW:

  • Lol, Stuart. Looks like you have had virtually all the shirts. I play from the left wing and have always had me the No.7 (after Pires and then Rosicky) on my shirts.

    Have me down as LW.

  • LeGall, I know you have vowed not to mention the subject anymore (and you may not react to this, as such) but I have a few thoughts on it, not necessarily contradicting yours but rather (hopefully) complementing it, somewhat.

    I think as a club, Arsenal have managed the balance between promoting academy graduates and plugging gaps with established buys in the transfer windows, of all the top clubs in the EPL. We have been recruiting the right admin staff for the academy and appointing well too, the managers of the various age-group teams, which suggests we are trying to instil some culture/values in the lads. Fact is not every one of the boys would cut it in a top club/league and it is the job of those who have nurtured them to alert the first team management to the “diamonds in the roughs” amongst them. We have given a sniff of first team involvement to some of the lads, culminating in the showpiece introduction of Nwaneri as youngest player to play in the EPL. It sends the right message. It is still okay to sell-on those who can’t be accommodated.

    We are in a peculiar position at the moment. The club needs UCL footie urgently and are in a good position to achieve this on a consistent basis if we stay top 2 at the end of this season; if we win the title, it makes it even better when the kids are introduced into a performing team, where they have “big boys” to look up to, rather than the setting Bukayo faced with him carrying expectations (he is a great lad as he seems to relish his top dog role, this season) of the team last two seasons. That’s a rare quality as kids usually end up staying average (see Iwobi) rather than reaching for the best they can be, when thrust into such situations.

    I think we can trust the club’s management to do right by the kids and the club, fingers crossed.

  • Wonder team coming together. Eris and GN5 you can alternate on the left. You should have plenty of overlapping in you at your sprightly age, GN5. 👍
    Looking for a keeper, three defenders, a right mid and a striker…

    1. GK:
    2. RB: 5. CB: 6. CB: 3. LB: GN5
    4. DM: Stu
    8. RM: 7. LM: Total
    10. RW: Le Gall 9. CF: 11: LW: Eris

  • It’s looking good, Stu. Come on BKers, put yourself forward!

    I didn’t know that MO is injured actually, which really is not good news.

  • Yeah, TA. Injured long term. Not good news, at all. Lokonga cannot go out on loan now.

  • That’s very good, Eris
    A while ago, another thread about PL managers had me holding my ribs:

    About the kids, I hope you’re right about the “balanced” position of the club’s management between promoting and buying, I really do. We’ll know that soon enough, which is one of the reasons why I thought it was pointless to keep writing about this.
    What happens to Balogun and Patino next season will give us the answer; if they don’t become integral parts of the first-team squad, it’ll mean that the balance has definitely tipped towards the buy-buy-buy strategy.
    Mo’s serious injury is very bad news indeed.
    Time for Ryan Gravenberch on loan? What did I just hear? “stubborn”? “dogged”?

  • Eris, I’m also doing my best not to sound like a broken record when I share Le Gall’s views on the academy. (My other mantra is the small squad, of which I am still content at the moment, but as so-called pundits and rumor mills demand 3 more signings in January, I’m not sure how far I can hold it back. My point is that Arsenal are not doing that good this season despite having a squad size of 23-24, but exactly because of the small squad they can keep even the fringe players somewhat excited and motivated.)

    However let me reflect on some of your arguments from your response to LG. When you say “Arsenal have managed the balance between promoting academy graduates and plugging gaps with established buys in the transfer windows”, you are partly right. But not in the way of they finally found the balance, but rather compensating for the doubtfully sustainable practices of Wenger and Emery. We all know that Arséne was half-father of his players, and sometimes followed their interest even if it was in conflict with the club’s short-term priorities. And while Emery managed to fill his shoes I’m not sure that is the path has to be followed by any means necessary. But it is hard to argue that Arteta is on the other extreme of the scale. During his reign the number of minutes he provided with Hale End youngsters who haven’t been given first team debut beforehand is 318. (For the record, as I might have left someone unintentionally: Azeez – 7, Cottrell – 13, Patino – 79, Hein – 90, Balogun – 209) And I should further deduct 70, as Folarin wasn’t introduced to the PL as showing faith, but only because Lacazette was injured and Auba got the Coronavirus. Anyway even without the deduction we are talking about less than 90 minutes PER SEASON for the entire academy..

    That’s why I said it brings Arsenal back in balance on the average of the last decade (!), but I seriously doubt that you could find a single club with such poor results. And I’m not saying randomly; even intentionally you couldn’t find a single club with worse figures. And I’m not talking only about top EPL teams, but clubs who traditionally and ‘culturally’ spend a fortune on signing players, like PSG or Bayern give more opportunities to their academy boys. Painfully few though, but still 3-4 times more thane Arsenal.

    So when you say that Arsenal finally finding the balance between new signings and academy promotion, it is mostly wishful thinking, as it is factually incorrect. And I fully understand the desire behind it: you appreciate/value/like/love/worship Arteta (each of could pick our preferred verb, I’ll go with ‘like’, but it’s a free choice), and we are all amazed about the unexpected and unprecedented performance and results of this season. So it would indeed add unnecessary (?) complexity to the picture admitting that Mikel is TERRIBLE with the academy, but that doesn’t make it any less so.

    I would be happy to admit that it is a matter of perception or opinion. But it is not. We have all the evidence to support it, and you have none. There are some clichés about good signings for the administrative staff and trusting the club’s management, but they all refer to the big picture. And on the big picture we have no debate. The progress is visible, positive, nobody demands that heads should roll. But that doesn’t contradict about the undisputed neglect of the academy.

    There are 2 aspects which are indeed matter of opinion, perception, values and philosophy. First if it is a good thing or not. Maybe relying on the academy is so XX. century (boomer) concept, that it would never bring silverware. I don’t know, and even if I have a view, that is just an opinion. The other area of debate is the reason behind shutting down the academy path to the first team. When you say “fact is not every one of the boys would cut it in a top club/league” we are in perfect understanding, but neither Le Gall nor I demand to promote everybody to the first team. The question is, are there no actual talent – as you said “diamonds in the roughs” in the academy, or is just Arteta who is too impatient (or distrustful?) to mine and polish them when there is the chance and funds to buy them from the open market.

    I already asked why would anybody in their right mind prefer to sign Fresneda for 15-20M when we have Brooke Norton-Cuffy at the club, who is not only free, has Arsenal DNA and familiar with the UK playing stlye, but also would patiently accept to be the #2-#3 RB, and he is probably a better player than Ivan. However the last part is obviously subjective. I have data from TransferMarkt and WhoScored, but that’s far from the full picture. So anybody can and should challenge me on that. Nevertheless 99% of those supporters who are excited to sign Fresneda and demand to reinforce the right flank (where we are on the verge of selling/loaning Cedric, as he is practically unemployed) have never seen a single game where Ivan played, or even a match highlights where Valladolid did good. (And I probably rounded it down with the 99% guesstimate.) It is just the primitive instinct of football fans – regardless of the team – that if the club is spending money it means they are serious in their ambitions. And also what fun it is to snatch a player ahead of Newcastle and Borussia Dortmund, irrespective of any real demand for the underlying reinforcement and the academy players available for the same position.

    To summarize this long and boring comment, welcoming anything and everything coming from the Arteta/Edu duo as they obviously know what they are doing is a dogma. Which might work most of the time, but disregarding evidence or even denying the entire (academy neglect) phenomenon is the result of a strong bias in favor of this two. Which some might say “rightfully so”, but my ars poetica (deepest core value) is that a bias can never be appropriate, especially against hard evidence.

    So Arteta being a great manager does not imply the underlying axiom that he is any good with the academy. Mikel is an exceptional young manager who is about to achieve something fantastic and unprecedented in his first full time managerial job, DESPITE being nothing short of absolutely terrible with the academy.

  • Gravenberch is a huge talent, Legall. Would love him at Arsenal and yes he is currently wasted at Die Lederhosen.

    Please keep posting your views on youth integration etc. I may not agree all the time but you always make your points very well.

    I keep thinking that Ben Le Blanc would be a good stand in for Partey. Would love to see it tried.

  • TA, Eris, you scared the $hit out of me when asked and confirmed that MO is injured. It is my bad, that from MO I associated Martin Odegaard, though. Obviously losing Elneny for an undisclosed time is also a blow, not in the same order of magnitude as our in-form maestro and captain.

    By the way, if you need a goalkeeper in the Bergkampesque XI, yours truly is at your service.

  • PB, ‘terrible’ is also very subjective my friend. You are not at the training ground, you are not a qualified football manager or youth developer, you do not know the bigger, let alone detailed, picture of Arteta’s long term strategy. If young players are deemed ready to make it at the dizzying height of top four PL football I have no doubt Arteta will start them, or at least play them. Give it five years and see how the strategy works out.

    How many times have we read on this blog that such and such are great Academy players who will make it big? Many of those had/have a decent football career and very few made it to the top of Arsenal. This will not change much. We are not a provisional club or play in a league where we can experiment with youth much.

    I am convinced Arteta will use the Academy when the quality is there. In the meantime, we are top of the league and a humongous battle on our hands. As I wrote a while ago, Wenger hardly used youth players in the first five years or so of his reign at Arsenal, and in my view he had mixed results with it anyway. For every star there were many who who did not shine.

    I certainly don’t want to go back to the Djourou, Senderos, Gibbs, Jenkinson, etc etc Wenger Academy days. But each to their own, and if Academy use is so important to you then I understand your disappointment.

  • Haha PB, no it’s not the Ode, although I feel we have decent cober for him. We know that Thomas is injury prone and is unlikely to stay fit all season. I think Mo and Granit could deal with such a loss to a large extent, but no Mo to cover is scary stuff.

  • TA, if you prefer, I’ll be gladly use ‘the worst in the PL and the top half of all the other top 5 leagues’ instead or ‘terrible’. It will be a bit longer character-wise, but less subjective. 🙂

    From your list only Gibbs can be considered an academy product, the other 3 were signed as complete players (at a young age), and didn’t play for the reserves more than 2 games. Apart from Jenkinson, who played 2 games for the U21 in his maiden year, and further 13 almost a decade later, but that was his multiple returns to fitness from his several injuries. But that’s just splitting hairs. As I said to Eris, I’m not saying we should go back to the Wenger days, but I was referring more to the Szczesny-Iwobi-Willock-AMN type of academy players. However if we don’t promota anybody to the first team, we further lose the likes of Cole, Wilshere, Fabregas, Martinez, Bellerin, Saka and ESR. And no, you cannot give credit to Arteta for playing Saka and Smith-Rowe (only for further developing them), as our young English duo was given the leap of faith (debut) by his predecessors, just like in the cases of Tierney, Xhaka, Martinelli or Saliba.

    No system is perfect. We already lost the services of Musah and Gnabry (who graduated at Hale End and played on the WC in December), and there are other players already established in the PL like Sam Greenwood. So the debate is not about a specific player who could be lost, like Omari Hutchinson or Amario Cozier-Duberry, but the fact that
    – no academy player has been promoted to the first team in Artetas reign of 3+ years
    – apart from Balogun’s under pressure debut the only academy player steping on the pitch on a PL game was Nwanneri with 0 minute
    – even in the (more reasonable) lesser competitions we have NO youngster playing more than 90 minute in a season (and the single 90-minute is Hein from last November)

    Maybe Le Gall and I bring Patino and BNC as examples as Charlie was named as the best academy player for this generation by multiple sources, and BNC has youth international and Championship success, albeit there might be an ongoing recruitment in progress for his position. But it’s not about this player or that player. If both Patino and Norton-Cuffy gets disposed, but Ibrahim and Sousa make the cut, then that’s fine. It would show that there is indeed a path to the first team, we were only wrong about the most likely candidate. But when you say “I am convinced Arteta will use the Academy when the quality is there” you first and foremost counter my data and evidence with a belief, but apart from that you imply that there is not enough quality in the current academy bunch. However Arsenal U21 was leading the PL” until December, and now we are behind leaders Manchester City U21 by 3 points while having 2 games at hand, so it’s safe to say that we are among the best teams in the U21 championship (or even the best using points lost). And while Arsenal used Hein (90) and Nwaneri (1) of all academy players below 21 in first team competitive games, the same number at Manchester city is astonishing 1299 (Palmer: 545, Lewis: 664, Finley: 90). I would strongly argue that more quality is there in the MC U21 team than in ours, while it is also common knowledge that the first team of Man City has more depth than Arsenal’s, despite the identical squad size. OK, you may ask that “fine, but where did it bring them?” where you were right, yet we were moving our debate from neglecting the academy to the “it does have some apparent benefits”.

    Finally Wenger made a lot of academy debuts in his first 3-w years. I’m not Mr. Arsenal History, I had to research myself, and have to admit that I’m not familiar with many of them. Most likely meaning that they had the opportunity, but eventually failed to break through. (However Le Gall and I are missing the opportunities to these guys in the first place. Obviously nobody could guarantee that they make the most of it.) Nevertheless here are the few U20 players who were promoted by Wenger and at least I’ve heard their names before:
    – Anelka (PL, 18, 1997)
    – Boa Morte (PL, 19, 1997)
    – Manninger (League Cup, 19, 1997)
    – Upson (FA Cup, 18, 1998)
    – Cole (League Cup, 18, 1999)
    – Pennant (League Cup, 16, 1999)
    – Stuart Taylor (CL, 20; 2000)

  • Thanks PB, I understand your points. It would help if you were a bit more succinct, though ☺️ ☺️ ☺️

    The reality is the now and again a really good player makes it to the Arsenal top. Wenger had many misses and a few successes and Arteta will have some as well. His recent ones are Saliba and Eddie. Other ones will follow when deemed good enough by the young master. All the rest is principled stuff which you are entitled too, but I respect Artetas choices here.

  • Man city may be giving more time to youngsters but this underlines my point. Once a team is established and the youth system is fully up to speed with Arteta ball, we will see the same at Arsenal. I bet you. But Arsenal are in a different phase of development to Citeh. Patience my friend (s). 😊

  • Total agreement about Ben being able to deputize for Partey, TA … We no longer hear about it (we did, at some point), though.

  • I had to look up the word succinct in the dictionary.
    But in hindsight if I had possessed this trait I probably wouldn’t have to. 🙂

    Back to Gravenberch, he is indeed a marvelous player, but unfortunately he belongs to the Mino Raiola / Rafaela Pimenta agency. And they are known to be greedy and confrontational beyond the respectable interest of the player they represent. I would sadly give up on any player from their club, including Simons and Gravenberch, because their clubs always regret that.

  • Blackburn Rovers v Birmingham City H
    Bristol City v West Bromwich Albion H
    Fulham v Sunderland * 2-2
    Ipswich Town v Burnley H
    Brighton & Hove Albion v Liverpool * 2-1
    Bayern Munich v Eintracht Frankfurt * 2-0

  • I’ve just read this:
    The guy has been Reims’s headcoach for four months. To say that Folarin is under top-quality supervision now would be an understatement. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team transformed by manager change as Reims have been since going from Garcia to Will Still.
    Watching Garcia’s Reims was an ordeal, now I can sometimes forget I’m watching them to see how our lad’s doing in champagne country. It’s not ALWAYS brilliant of course, but you can feel the ambition of the setup, the confidence and belief of the players, who’ve gone from “let’s put our bodies on the line and maybe, just maybe, with luck, we’ll be staying up eventually” to “we’re going to show everyone that we’re quality. Not only is going down not an option, but even though we’re not going to win everything, we’re going to be the better team on the pitch, week in, week out”.
    Very impressive indeed. Will Still, I salute you.

  • PB, that was quite the long read and you make good points, being the man with the stats/evidence, anyway. I like that you brought into my recall a few of the names Wenger introduced too; pertinent to state that none of Boa Morte (20), Manninger (20), Anelka (18) and Upson (came in at 19 years, though) were academy graduates, as these were brought in to play with the first team from the get go. Stuart Taylor came in at 17 and played with our academy though.

    Now, if you are going to take away the credit for giving the likes of Nelson, ESR and Saka a chance from him, then I have not much of a case to make for Mikel. At least, you can give him some credit for believing in Wenger’s judgment and persisting with them, keeping Nketiah to this point where we all can see how good he is. Recall Nketiah wanted out and only stayed because Mikel assured him he had trust in him.

    Like TA, I believe that when the time is right, Mikel will take advantage of the academy lads; you forget it was a key part of his mantra as espoused in his early interviews. As I stated, we have a great chance at silverware this season and building a champion-type squad. This will make integrating youth into the team an easier prospect in the near future, as seen with your Man City example. With the number of kids who Mikel has training with the first team each time and with how he would usually name one or two on the bench, I feel the signs are not as depressing as you make them out to be. The pleasure and hope the boys get from just taking part in training with GJ9, Xhaka and Co cannot be underestimated. Mikel made that so because he knows that is invaluable for the development of the boys. Charlie Patino did play for the first team in a couple of cup games and was on the bench for some League games. You can’t scoff at that.

    I suggest we suspend judgment on how the manager sees youth integration until after all those he kept and sent on loans return for pre-season. Hopefully, we are champions at the time. For now, not many of us would subscribe to youth experiment for the sake of it, unless we identify some precocious talent we can all agree upon. This is easier when the team is delivering.

  • Eris, we agree in practically everything here. Thanks for the response to my prolonged and wearisome comments.

    I do give Arteta credit for sticking to Saka and ESR (and even to Tierney, Saliba and Martinelly who were all Emery signings). And I’m taking away the credit of promoting our 4 young Englishman though, but not because I’m a mean bastard, but factually Nketiah and Nelson were “discovered” by Wenger, Saka by Emery and Smith-Rowe by Ljungberg. Arteta kind of discovered Balogun, but that’s a slightly different story.

    I also agree that since we indeed have a great chance at silverware this season that should be the top priority. No question about that. I think the CL spot is already in the bank, but if the boys are persistent and keep up the hard work and togetherness we might have a shot to the first place. It is still not the minimum expectation, yet to be honest I would be disappointed with the third place now, but that’s just me. However I don’t see fringe signings like Fresneda, Bamba or McKennie would contribute much (or any) to our title challenge. And while both Caicedo and Onana are decent midfielders, they are a level or 2 below Rice, so I wouldn’t sign them instead of Declan. And if we sign any of them besides Rice, then the Arsenal career of Patino, Azeez and Lokonga are practically over. So I stick to my preference on no more January signings (unless Rice, Kvaratskhelia, SMS or Valverde are available).

    Furthermore I don’t see the connection between winning the league and “integrating youth into the team an easier prospect in the near future”, but me don’t seeing it doesn’t mean there is no such context. Anyway, I won’t mind waiting a year more to see if there is any change in that regard. However when I talk about neglecting the academy players in competitive games and ceasing the fast track for the very best from the academy into the first team is not a judgement by any means; that’s an observation. If it will change in the next year and the half I’ll be happy to admit that (albeit that wouldn’t mean I was wrong now, just acknowledging the progress). But I demand the same from you, Kev and TA: at some point you have to admit the rupture with the academy, regardless of the perceived depression/satisfaction on fringe signings. The “Arteta will use the Academy when the quality is there” is not a card that you can use indefinitely.

  • “taking you to ever higher plateaus of cosmic insight and tactical epiphanies. Exhausting.” Good giggle, LG.

    PB picks up the gloves. Where’s Kev? Hiding out from PB’s wondrous superfluity of verbosity in the back of his taxi. And the OX? Either of you Centre forwards?

    1. GK: Peter
    2. RB: 5. CB: 6. CB: 3. LB: GN5
    4. DM: Stu
    8. RM: 7. LM: Total
    10. RW: Le Gall 9. CF: 11: LW: Eris

  • Hi Stu, I’m afraid that I was a full-back, either side, who just loved bashing up wingers, goalscoring wasn’t my forte.

    Unfortunately it seems that Smith Rowe has a thigh injury and is out of this evenings visit to Manchester.

  • Although I loved playing in a kick-around, I wasn’t that good a player. If encouraged I might have developed into a CF in the mould of Frank Stapleton or Malcolm Macdonald though (I’m 6′ 3″). I was made to play rugby from the age of 11 so if you need a second-row forward I’m your man!

  • That’s it OX10, had a Welshman as my sports master at secondary school so it was rugger all the way and yes very much in the bloody scrum.

  • Afrer the Mudryk debacle I’ve decided not to speculate about transfers online anymore, just as TA warned me not to, so I’m staying schtum about the news today…

  • Turner
    … Discuss

    I see there’ll be quite a few of us interested in what’ll happen in France from the first victory of “Les Bleus” on sep 8th 2023 (I write this as Stu is sound asleep, wouldn’t want to hear him calling me names) to their final triumph on october 28th …

    No FAC live for me tonight – celebration of our youngest daughter’s 20th birthday (january 20th it was, actually). Couscous-Paella on the menu; let the sunshine in

  • I am doing a short preview, Legall, so I will include your suggested lineup 🙂

    Happy birthday to you and your daughter. Comment s’appelle-t-elle?

  • LeGall, that line up is desirous but, as far as the backline is concerned, that selection is akin to us giving up before a ball is kicked and will be sanctioned by the FA.

    Pep will not play a weakened side so, I imagine, neither will Mike. We may see a good mix of first team players with a few (no more than 4) not-so-regular players and, perhap one new buy, at a time. I would like to see Bukayo, Partey, Zinchenko and Ramsdale rested; or on the bench, at the worst.

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