Arsenal’s reserves implode – just like the first team

 Another Saturday and another Arsenal friendly for your humble scribe (having made the trip to Underhill last weekend with the ArsenalArsenal crew), but thanks to the vagaries of the M25 I missed the first 20 minute or so of the pre season friendly against Blue Square team Welling United, known as ”The Wings”.

The aged turnstile attendant told me “Its one-one mate” as I finally arrived at the Park View Ground  in Welling, one of my old stamping grounds(my school was a misplaced Bendtner shot away from the Danson Park end of the ground); technically in Kent, but in reality an outer London borough that borders north west Kent. It is also a short five minute drive away from the original home of the Gunners, Plumstead Common, so you could say we were back to our roots in this game.

The feeling in the ground that the £11 admission was a bit steep and the quality of the play, certainly from us, tended to support that view. To their credit did say that is was very unlikely any first teamers would feature so I suspect it was Welling United who were responsible for the pricing.

Having missed the first two goals, a screamer from Gavin Hoyte and a supposedly generous penalty for the Wings after a chap called Pires was upended in our area; the remainder of the first half saw the Arsenal X1 keep possession fairly well in the centre of the park but as usual over elaborate as the penalty area was approached.  No one especially impressed and in particular Randall seemed quite content to stroll around midfield waiting for opportunities to play the odd flick or lofted pass. He barely seemed to be out of breath at any point in the first half.

With the first half being fairly lack lustre you would have thought the second half would see Arsenal come out with renewed vigour after a Liam Brady rocket had been placed up their  complacency.

What I saw was a Welling side fighting for possession in the midfield and at any set piece a hesitancy in the defenders which screamed out that we would concede with a corner or a cross -which sure enough we did.

To my eyes it seemed the centre backs were waiting for each other to clear the ball and on one of those occasions a Welling player pounced for a tap in. One of the centre backs, Ignasi Miquel, is another one of those Catalans we stole from Bankruptalona against his will. Should he come good then it would behove us to return him “home” as long as the DNA test proves we have a moral obligation to do so.

Of the last two goals one was as a result of a forward having a try from distance, surely that’s not allowed? The other goal was a goal keeping error as the goalie fumbled and an opposition player pounced and scored from the rebound.

Now does that not remind you of the first team somewhat?

I’ve heard it said that one’s greatest strength can be ones greatest weakness also. Arsenal’s possession game is played from the top down, from the first team to the reserves and the under 18’s, which – when it works is all well and good –  so in that respect all our teams have a consistent approach which I don’t have any complaint with.

However our lack of decisive defensive play leads to a more willing and industrious opponent being able to exploit counter attacks when the possession game falls apart. This was very much the case in the second half.

It didn’t help that I had a Welling supporter behind me bellowing “Break his legs” whenever one of our midfielders brought the ball forward, the fact that  none of our players reacted to that taunt from only 10 feet away shows we expect to hear that sort of goading. He then crowed “Who are you?!” when the fourth goal went in. Ah, the joys of the terracing.

So the problems of the first team were mirrored here – namely centre backs who don’t cut out crosses and make effective headed clearances and a reluctance to shoot (although I believe Chuks Aneke did try his luck with a few shots towards the end of the game.)

I was hoping to see this game in order to watch a glimpse of our future; however the problems of the present were flagged up again.

Still, the upside was the new home kit still looked smashing and I’m looking forward to member’s day when I can see the next stage of Arsenalisation at Ashburton Grove.

Written by charybdis1966

74 Responses to Arsenal’s reserves implode – just like the first team

  1. charybdis1966 says:

    Morning all, not a match report in the strictest sense of the term, but more a reflection on seeing the Reserves suffer from the same failings as the senior team.
    The other upside of Saturday was a smashing pint of cider I had post match, when it was sunny and warm.
    Looking out of the window today it seems a Bovril is more the order of the day.

  2. Rasp says:

    Morning chary,

    Excellent post with some classic lines as usual. It is worrying to acknowledge that the defensive frailties are endemic throughout all levels – does anyone know has the responsibility for hands-on defensive coaching if it is not Arsene?

  3. tommystout says:

    morning charey, thanks for the report, maybe they are all hungover at not making the plane to austria….
    glad you enjoyed your cider!

  4. tommystout says:

    people keep banging on about this moscow keeper akineef, he’s only 6ft1, no thanks…
    mind you i’d take him if kelseys 0600 comment is on the mark!

  5. charybdis1966 says:

    Thanks TommyS; Raspers I’m not sure if there is a defensive coach there, there’s only ever bewen a specialist goakl keeping coach till recently so I assume it’s down to the managers/coaches of the respective teams, be it under 18s, reserves or first team.
    Maybe someone has an insight into the defensive coach situation.

    The other aspect of the game seemed to be that when ytou thoguht Arsenals superiotr fitness should have shone through, the Welling players were still looking as fresh and willing, while ours wilted.
    Perhpas the lure of impressing against glamorous opposition spurred them on.

  6. Deano says:

    Can I just say, the back four was made up of two 16 year olds, 17 year old and a 19 year old so you can forgive some of the them for being a bit defensively naive. This is after all only one fixture and one result and only the second pre season game for nthe reserves so they may all be slightly rusty.

  7. charybdis1966 says:

    Yes Deano, it was only the second game, but I doubt whether Welling United have played much either this year.
    I’m hopnig it was a case of being ring rusty, which is fair enough but it was more the manner in which the paniced whenever a cross came in and that they were usually second to all the knock downs and rebounds.
    Having said that, a lot of the intricate midfield passing was in evidence occasionslly so I wasn’t overly worried after the game.
    I was only struck by how similar to the first team that their weaknesses were.
    However thanks for the comment and out of interest did you go to the game?

  8. charybdis1966 says:

    Oops, lots of typos there – the coffee hasn’t worked yet !

  9. Walking Wounded says:

    Mornin’ All

    Although I don’t believe they had particularly good games, the game changed when Randall and Aneke got taken off after about 50 mins, when Simpson and Barazite came on and gave a decent inmpression of CantbeArsedness, and when Hoyte and Boateng were together there were really no troubles in defence. When Miquel replaced Boateng, then the Defence fell apart.

    Players and my opinion.

    Shea – Not really at fault for any of the goals, and made one great save tipping a shot onto the bar.

    Angha – Got taught a lesson all day long, maybe out of position, but certainly out of his depth.

    Meade – Excellent effort and industry from someone who is shorter then Ronnic Corbett.

    Hoyte – Not good enough. Excellent shot, but I thought he was supposed to be quick!

    Boateng – Gave away penalty, no complaints. done nothing but Defend

    Aneke – Never looked like he was trying but popped up everywhere, needs to understand the simple game, before trying the brilliant.

    Randall – As expected, a waste of talent in someone who only ever gives 60% effort.

    Oyzakup – Good industry and passing, good all round game, but overrrun in midfield second half

    Watt – Primadonna, expected the Ref (an old friend of mine) to give him every decision and the toys came out of the pram, didn’t really do anything of note.

    Murphy – Worked hard, but no end result

    Afobe – Excellent as a striker first half, looked lost as RM second half but worked hard.


    Barazite – lazy and selfish, from someone who seems very talented, witha good attitude will come a great player, but he must have had his chance by now

    Simpson – Not quick enough or big enough to do anything and didn’t really seem to care.

    Miquel – looks good with the ball at his feet and with time on his hands, but don’t think he knows how to defend.

    Evina – untroubled by opposition, looked quick and solid in defence but did nothing of note

  10. Deano says:

    I didn’t manage to make the game ubnfortunately just reading up on match reports such as yours. I feel with our young players we know they are talented otherwise they wouldn’t be at arsenal, but its hard to expect them to be co0nsistently good as they are still learning the game. Having said that, we do have some really promising players in afobe, aneke, miquel, angha, ozyakup but they are all similar ages so they rely on the experienced players to help them through the game which by all accounts they didn’t do(e.g Randall and Hoyte)

  11. Walking Wounded says:

    The “experienced” players were mostly at fault, as if they are not playing for a the first team, they should be playing for a transfer elsewhere, but on that performance, Simpson, Randall, Hoyte and Barazite should all look at ta career outside of football.

    I think the blame has to be pitched at the Arsenal system and they are all paid too much and there is no incentives, to play regular football.

    I repeat though that Oyzakup and Meade played well.

    Chary, how tall do you reckon Meade is, he seemed to be no more than about 5 foot, but I never saw him once get knocked off the ball.

  12. charybdis1966 says:

    Thanks for your more detailed views on each individual players W Wounded – I agree that Barazite was very disappointing and Simpson a shadow of the player I saw at Underhill.
    Another thing I failed to mention was that Arsenal conceded the 3 goals playing uphill and the pitch itself was very bumpy and uneven. I’m not making excuses for us but I’m sure the playing surface is far different in quality to what they use at London Colney.

  13. Livers says:

    I don’t believe we’ll see the likes of good centre backs coming through until they are around 23-24..

    Gone are the days where we’ll find a Adams or Keown through the youths and for them then to be given a chance early doors. Remember even Sol Campbell at the Spuds was primarily used as a forward as a kid

  14. charybdis1966 says:

    Deano, it occurred to me how much the reserves suffered in the same way as the first team do for lack of leadership in defence or on the pitch overall, in that respect you are right to point our how much Randall disappointed in that respect, and to a lesser degree Hoyte.
    W Wounded – Meade seemed to me to be Arshavin height(possibly an inch or two less) although he probably looked shorter due to his stockiness.

  15. London says:

    Morning Chary

    Excellent read as ever. It’s interesting how almost everyone says the same thing about Randall and his apparent lack of determination….you would think he would be busting a gut to try and break into the first team squad……this my be a bit unfair but he seems to have a touch of the Bentleys about him……..superb talent but close to wasting it due to an over exaggerated sense of self worth…….silly boy.

  16. charybdis1966 says:

    Hi London – yeah it’s strange that the boy has talent but seems to have an attitude about him. I must have been a good snapper as I managed to get a pic of him actually running, but wait it was him running off at half time !

  17. 26may1989 says:

    The result and scoreline against Welling don’t mean much; I’m much more worried about the poor attitude of some of the more established names who appeared in this game. I wasn’t there and haven’t seen any footage from it, so I can only rely on others but Walking Wounded’s comments echo the report that Liam Brady tore into a number of the players after the game.

    Do the likes of Mark Randall, Jay Simpson, Nacer Barazite and Sanchez Watt really think they can afford to do the prima dona thing? They ought to remember why they were playing Welling and not out in Austria with the first team squad like JET, Nortdveit, Frimpong and Wilshere, or at the U-19s championships like Cruise, Coquelin and Sunu. I.e., they’re not good enough yet. They have plenty to do and need to get serious about it if they want a crack at the big time. I assume Simpson will be leaving soon anyway, but the Arsenal careers of the likes of Randall and Barazite aren’t looking any healthier after the Welling game.

    Re Akinfeev, he’s a top keeper (I’ve searched out a few CSKA games on Eurosport over the last year or so). The only trouble is he’s only 24, and signing him would create issues for our younger keepers, Szczesny in particular. The question is: would we be happy to bring in an established, quality keeper with CL, Russian league and international experience who would almost certainly block our great young hope, who has looked good but has only been tested at Brentford? It would also likely mean having to shift Fabianski as well as Almunia (less of a problem for many, I suspect). Personally, I think it’s unlikely to happen, it’ll more likely be one of the older options.

    Interesting to see Arshavin being so positive about both Arsenal and London, given comments of his in the past.

    My theme for the coming seson: I hate Man City. No, scratch that, I detest and loathe Man City.

  18. charybdis1966 says:

    True 26May – it was only a friendly agreed, it was just that is was revealing in a way that related to first team deficiencies.

  19. 26may1989 says:


    You made good points about the lack of defensive nous being something that may well afflict players throughout the club, and a lack of defensive discipline was a real feature of our first team performance last season, even when individual performance of the likes of Vermaelen, Song, Gallas and Campbell were decent. You’re right to draw attention to the reserve players being affected, that underlines the potential seriousness of the situation.

    But my comments above were about attitude, and whatever their failings, the first team players don’t make me think they don’t care or aren’t taking each game seriously. The fact that we have some reserve players who appear to lack the drive to get the best out of their talents is a real concern – and if they don’t change, better to get rid of them.

  20. charybdis1966 says:

    Again, agreed 26May – there seemed to be a general malaise and an unwillingness to work hard in the way Welling Utd were.
    It seems like there was a worrying complacency in the majority of the players on Saaturday.

  21. jena says:

    great article. We can expect more of the same from our first team this season. Lots of possession with no results in the end. Our manager will never change his tactics to suit the game….and that will remain our major downfall as long as he remains as manager

  22. London says:

    We live in hope jena, that’s what supporting a team is all about.

  23. 26may1989 says:

    Mancini was talking about the need to cull the stupidly big City squad, and there was a suggestion in the report I read that Nedum Onuoha might be one of the players shipped out.

    Onuoha wouldn’t be the first player I would have thought of to shore up our back line, but I’ve always thought he’s a pretty decent option. If he were available, what would others think of going for him?

  24. J.C says:

    I suppose this explains Randalls grovelling apology on Facebook.

  25. Danish Gooner says:

    There is a disease in this Arsenal set up it is called overelaboration.

  26. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Morning Chary 😉 What am I saying 🙄 Evening chary. From what I hear Liam Brady said, the resi’s carried on like upstarts.

    Hi peaches, thanks for the info yesterday re Finsbury Park Station. That is exactly the one, where I came flying up the stairs to get on the wrong train. I do remember being able to look over to Highbury Stadium while sitting waiting for a train there. The Emirates must look an absolute treat, especially when lit up @ night. Dare I say it, but, what a great legacy of the Wenger era that must be.

  27. charybdis1966 says:

    Hiya Gnarley – nice to see you here, as ever.
    Jena – cool log on name there, it reminds me of one of my childhood crushes, Jenna from Blakes 7, what a babe she was.

  28. Rasp says:

    Unfortunately Randall looks like another Bentley in the making, Henry Lansbury however seems to be taking his career much more seriously and was impressive at the Barnet game.

  29. charybdis1966 says:

    Thanks 26May – my favourite pic is B6, the sound that outfit made is something I’ll never forget.

  30. Morning all

    Clearly chary’s not the only Jenna fan 😉

    Hi gnarley – I’ll try and get a photo of the Emirates at the next evening game from the Finsbury Park platform to post – it’s very impressive

  31. dandan says:

    Morning all. Good report Chary no doubt some words have been said this morning if lack of effort was the key.
    Rasp I have liked the look of young Frimpong he has energy to burn and likes a tackle,
    No doubt AW will raise a few quid with some sales before the window closes

  32. I always thought that Lansbury was going down the Bentley route but he has turned himself around, Randall probably thought he was above playing that game and couldn’t be arsed

  33. charybdis1966 says:

    Hi Peachy, yeah Jenna was an absolute babe – I was distraught when they wrote her out of the series after season 2.
    One of my school friends met her(Sally Knyvette) at a convention once, he was disappointed to find out she was a smoker though.

  34. 26may1989 says:

    Peaches, I resemble the implication of that remark – at no stage have I had feelings for any of the cast of Blake’s 7. Ever.

  35. Morning dandan – Frimpong is definitely one to watch – if he has a good final ball he’ll be a great addition to the squad.

  36. 26may1989 – would you like me to edit your comment so that it says ‘resent’ and I’m sure you haven’t 😆

  37. Rasp says:


    You’re not like one of those trekkers are you? – dressing up in Blakes 7 costume and attending conventions with other saddos 🙂

  38. 26may1989 says:

    Peaches, that’s one of my dad’s “corny dad” jokes – as I get older, I find myself using his lines more and more often. A bit depressing really!

    Frimpong does look the business – with him and Eastmond coming through, increasingly I don’t think we should be signing a DM.

  39. charybdis1966 says:

    I never did the dressing up part of it Raspers, although I did go to one Convention to see what it was like.
    This was where I had a chat with the guy in my avatar. I also got to see Katy Manning too as well as, bizarrely enough, Don Estelle, I mean wtf ?

  40. Ok, I leave it in then and assume you weren’t at all offended 😉

  41. 26may1989 – would you like a shiny picture next to your name – if you email me who you’d like I can set it all up for you.

  42. If is the voice of Arsenal FC why have they got a Transfer Link page that doesn’t reflect the views of Arsenal FC????????

    Anyway Skeletonberg – or whatever his name is has just been flagged up on – just adds to the confusion really, I’d rather stick to the default of disbelieving the Daily Mail etc

  43. chris says:

    bloody hell

    when did you start a blog,

    great to see you mate

    chris (ireland)

  44. charybdis1966 says:

    Chris, do you mean me? Are you the guy that found me the avatar pic I now use?
    If so, great to see you also although this is not my blog, it’s Peachy and Raspers who are the guvnors here.
    I just submit for posts occasional, disjointed ramblings. 🙂

  45. RockyLives says:

    Excellent reporting by Chary, well backed up by WW. To be honest, it’s left me feeling a little queasy.
    I accept all the caveats about it being early season, just a friendly, bumpy pitch etc but… in my darker moments I worry there is an attitude problem running right through our club. Not everyone is afflicted by it, but a proportion of the squad seems to be. It’s a combination of coasting, not being bothered to get up for less important games, too much money for average players, lack of fight, lack of leadership.
    I’m probably over-reacting but it does worry me.

  46. charybdis1966 says:

    Cheers RockyL – I happened to be in the area so I thought I’d have a peek. I think you are right to have a scintilla of worry about the concerns you have, but I suppose we have other more poressing issues to worry about, namely a new GK, a CB and a back up to Song.
    One hopes by the time the season kicks off in earnest( a small town in Rutland)the squad will be fully switched on and up for the fight.

  47. RockyLives says:

    Chary, I know Danson Park well – used to play pitch and putt there when I was a kid!
    Also went to a few Welling games when I was growing up in S. London.

  48. irishgunner says:

    Hello everybody….

    Nice post Chary, proper dedication going to that game although they are interesting to see the young ‘uns.

    Deepak is going to do another post for us, although I’m not sure on what, should be interesting.

  49. charybdis1966 says:

    You know the school in next to the park at the Welling/Blackfen end, that was my old school, Bexley Grammar.
    I’d like to say I enjoyed myself there, but sadly up till sixth form I had a miserable time there.

  50. charybdis1966 says:

    Hello Maire, as I said to RockyL I was in the area visiting my parents and thought I’d look at the Ressies.
    Have to say, still disappointed with Barazite and Simpson, but I expected Randall to be a waste of space, and he duly was.

  51. Hi irish – Rasp and I were talking about Deepak the other day. Would be great to have another post from him thanks.

  52. irishgunner says:

    Chary – Randall is another Bentley as has been said by many. He has got plenty chances both at Arsenal and elsewhere and doesn’t seem to want them so maybe time to ship him out?

    Peaches – Yep, he contacted me through facebook so I’ll see what he has in store and will either e-mail it or stick it into drafts.

  53. chary – I was surprised that Simpson was left out of the Austria squad – he knows where the goal is even though he doesn’t look like an Arsenal player does he – too stocky to be a first choice for Arsene.

    Barazite must have really disappointed Arsene in some way not to be included…………

  54. Good plan.

    I may have missed alfa’s techy expertise with regards to the Fantasy Football, I’ve put all the info into drafts if you have a look, do you want to see if you can work out how to do it? Otherwise I could be cheeky and ask Pedro 😉

  55. charybdis1966 says:

    Peachy, yeah Simpson must have blown his chances big time.

  56. irishgunner says:

    I thought Simpson was told about a month ago he could leave the club on a free even though he has a year left. He was linked with a club in Cyprus.

  57. irishgunner says:

    Where in drafts Peaches, I had a look and couldn’t see anything.

    I’ll win anyway 8)

  58. It was funny when we were watching at Barnet last week as we all thought Simpson had been let go and wondered who the player was that looked just like him that was banging in the goals.

  59. Its called Fantasy Football Info 😉

  60. irishgunner says:

    I can’t find it – must be somewhere I can’t see LOL

  61. OK, I’ll update your status – don’t touch anything else 😉

  62. Have a try now ……..

  63. kelsey says:

    Good Afternoon,

    Have i missed something.

    Who is chris ?

    Where are my controls peaches ?

    Where is Welling ?

    And we won the Summer league today with a match in hand, which unfortunately is tomorrow Great way to lose a few kilos 🙂

  64. irishgunner says:

    It worked bar the attention grabbing picture

  65. RockyLives says:

    Chary – ex grammar school boy eh? Me too – Colfe’s GS in Lee (although it’s now a private school I believe).

  66. irishgunner says:

    Woohoo there it is

  67. charybdis1966 says:

    Yeah RockyL – Colfe is private now – I turned out for their 3rds team once playing at right back. I only lasted the first half – I had no stamina !

  68. kelsey says:

    I like talking to myself, I am extremely well practised . 🙂

  69. hi kelsey – you’re in too xx

  70. 26may1989 says:

    Peaches, thanks for the offer re a pic – am considering my options and will drop you a line once I’ve finally made up my mind….

  71. charybdis1966 says:

    Morning all, I hear there is going to be a rather incendiary post today.

  72. Morning all

    Theres a NEW POST

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