What now for Project Youth?

Written by Gooner in Exile

Some time ago I wrote an article slightly jokingly about the vines that Arsene had planted and how we were now seeing them produce some wonderful fruits. A few months on and with another trophyless season under the belt there is a serious question to be asked.

I am not talking about the current squad, they are mostly at an age where they should be delivering on the Premier League stage week in week out (except for Little Jack and Rambo who are still learning their trade).

I am concerned mainly with the youngsters out on loan or kicking their heels in the reserves last season the remnants of the FA Youth Cup winning side of 2008-09.

The players starting both legs were as follows:

  • James Shea
  • Craig Eastmond
  • Thomas Cruise
  • Kyle Bartley
  • Luke Ayling
  • Henri Lansbury
  • Francis Coquelin
  • Gilles Sunu
  • Jack Wilshere
  • Jay Emmanuel – Thomas

Emmanuel Frimpong started the first leg but was replaced by Sanchez Watt after an early injury. Sanchez Watt started the second game.

Of that group of players at least seven impressed me enough to think they may have a future at the club…..Bartley, Wilshere, Lansbury, Coquelin, Sunu, JET, and Watt. I didn’t get to see enough of Frimpong due to his injury. All are 20 except Wilshere and Frimpong both 19.

Only Wilshere so far has forced himself into a regular starting berth, Watt spent the end of last season on loan at Leeds, Emmanuel-Thomas at Cardiff, Lansbury at Norwich, Bartley at Sheffield United and Rangers whilst Sunu and Coquelin were at L’Orient. Frimpong had to make do with a season on the treatment table as a result of the knee injury picked up in pre season.

On top of these lads there are now another bunch of youngsters pushing though, headed up by Afobe, Aneke, Murphy and Henderson.

The majority of these lads have a love of Arsenal they have been raised here since young, the club is in their blood, the lack of this is one of the most common complaints about the current squad. A Tweet from Frimpong recently proclaimed

“I will never leave Arsenal even if I get released I will beg on both knees to stay they gonna have to escort me.”

Additionally they have all been brought up on the Wengerball philosophy, the kind of ball control and ability to pass so absent from the recent England Under 21’s they could slot in to most positions on the pitch if required.

However if Wenger fields these players I am sure the same detractors would also complain that they are not experienced enough.

The other thing you frequently hear is we don’t have enough winners, well this lot have done it:

Three questions remain:

Are these boys good enough for senior level?

Will Wenger give them a chance?

Will the fans accept it if he does?

If as expected we see some of the squad players moved on this year we should expect the vacated positions to be filled by these youngsters, they must be given a chance to play (Carling Cup and possibly the FA Cup). They need Premier League experience too how many of our players who have been loaned to lower league sides have actually improved as a result?

In turn when they are on the pitch they must be fully supported by all in the ground, no groans, no moans, these are young lads they are our future, they are The Arsenal.

For those who didn’t see it here are the first leg highlights of that teams success.


“The catalyst the playmaker once again Jack Wilshere” thats a phrase we will hear for many more years I am certain, but what about the rest, what do we do with so many youngsters?

112 Responses to What now for Project Youth?

  1. TotalArsenal says:

    Great Post GiE, a joy to read and loved the highlights as well 🙂

    You wrote:
    ‘In turn when they are on the pitch they must be fully supported by all in the ground, no groans, no moans, these are young lads they are our future, they are The Arsenal.’

    I could not agree more, not just for our up and coming youth players, but for any player who wears the Arsenal shirt and is giving it their all.

  2. sirarselot says:

    balance is key. we need to mix youth with experience wisely. its great that we can produce fantastic youth talent but we need to blend it in with experience. youth alone will win us nothing on the senior front. hope that wenger buys established proven talent this year!!!!!!

  3. Red Arse says:

    Hi GIE, 🙂

    A thought provoking non-virginal Post which stands up on its own merits!! 🙂

    It is a bit sad for many of the youngsters at this time of year, as they face the chop from the various age range teams.

    Of the team you have shown above, many have already gone or will do shortly if they don’t buck up. These include, Eastmond, Cruise, Ayling, Sunu, Coquelin, JET. Others like Bartley and Lansbury might decide that it is time to go because they are not getting chances.

    That would leave Jack and Shea and I’m not sure Shea is going to stay either.

    Realistically, AW has said that if they get one successful kid thru’ every season or so that would count as a success for the youth system. Seems that Jack is that one.

    There are a number of very promising kids coming thru behind the above, and if they put their heads down and work on their skill and attitude, it could be promising.

  4. Red Arse says:


    Really enjoyed your one liners yesterday! 🙂 Thank you.

  5. Rasp says:


    Interesting post GiE. At a time when most are clamouring for new players, it is relevant to look at those we already have. I would hope that more than one of the three youngsters we have already signed this season make it through to the first team. Jenkinson has clearly been brought in with that in mind and who’s to say whether our two young Spaniards will become Cesc or Merida?

  6. WiganGooner says:

    Nice article GiE, it shows even the most depressed Gooner that the future could well be in safe hands.

    The step up from the youth game to the premiership is huge and I don’t expect all of them to make it. The likes of Muamba are indicators that they might make it in the Prem, but not necessarily Arsenal.


  7. Red Arse says:

    Goedemargen TA, 🙂

    Hoe gaat het vandaag.

    That has wiped out 1 million of my remaining 1 million and 10 brain cells.

    I read an article that followed on from the Cesc transfer nonsense, praising the Barca youth training set up from which he graduated. The system was modelled on the Dutch/Ajax total football concept of players being educated not just in football matters but also general education regarding maths, Spanish, literature etc.

    Very impressive for both Holland and Spain/Catalan. 🙂

  8. evonne says:

    GiE – great choice of topic, well done!

    If anybody is in doubt if we should give youngsters a chance, should look at Barca. The key to Barcelona’s huge success is the youth academy. I believe that many of AW principles originated at Nou Camp, the youth project being one of them.

    Sadly, there haven’t been that many quality players that came through Arsenal’s youth project, not enough anyway. Unfortunately given the pressure Wenger is under, he is not likely to experiment this coming season.

    I think it was Micky that said about Barca ‘it only costs them the nappies’ to bring up a new player 🙂

  9. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Well that is certainly the type of idiotically simplistic thing I may have said. What I could have added was that they compliment those homegrowners with zillion euro type quality.

  10. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Now we know the real reason you don’t sleep. Great work.
    I am going to have to think about this on the grounds that I never watch or follow the progress of our youth players.

  11. Gooner in Exile says:

    Morning all, until recently the players coming through the academy were not good enough. The players Arsene acquired at 15-18 were speculation and if they succeeded like Cesc great but if they were not up to standard Larsson they were moved on.

    Now we are talking a different prospect the youngsters (English residents) now reaching 19-21 have been at the club for 13-15 years studying the skills required to become experts at the beautiful game.

    For me it seems a shame to be satisfied with one ir two a year, there seems further plans from FIFA to increase the homegrown rule we could be talking 6 players in the starting line up, if that’s the case we need to make sure the players we have spent so much time and money developing are given a chance. Buying homegrown players from other PL clubs will become even more prohibitive.

    I’m sure we could all name 5 players that we wouldn’t miss from the squad, these youngsters could fill their boots and bring fresh impetus to the squad without breaking the bank.

    Bartley – Squillacci
    Frimpong – Denilson
    Sunu – Rosicky
    JET – Bendtner
    Coquelin – Eboue
    Lansbury – Vela

    Add to that a couple of top signings we have a rebuilt squad with little investment.

    TA …. I also believe that we should give total support to the players wearing red and white although last season the expression of disatisfaction spread to the youngsters, one of the home FA Cup games (Leeds or Huddersield) saw some misplaced passes by Henderson receiving groans, I have always been proud of the Arsenal fans for giving youngsters over encouragement and praise in early appearances and the reactions surprised me.

    RA. I am not sure why Evonne marked it a virgin post I can only assume her mind is elsewhere.

  12. TotalArsenal says:

    Ook een hele goede morgen aan u, Red Arse! Het gaat heel goed! En hoe gaat het met jouw gezondheid?

    The Ajax way of bringing through youngsters is indeed impressive. The only problem they have nowadays is that, unlike Barca, they are not able to keep hold of their players. Ajax cannot compete with the salaries on offer in the UK, Spain and Italy. VdVaart, Suarez, Vermaelen,
    Sneijder, Huntelaar, Nigel de Jong, etc have all been sold in recent years alone. Ajax are now a selling club, but hopefully for them (and for Dutch club football in general) they can turn things round now, under the new management team (technical and board).

  13. London says:

    You make a great deal of sense GIE.

  14. Red Arse says:


    Ik ben blij dat je OK bent. Ik ben goed, dank je. 🙂

    Proportionate to the size of its population, Holland has, and still is, producing so many wonderful players. No wonder Barca copied the Dutch total football system.

    I hope we are too?

  15. Red Arse says:


    I know it was not your first Post, that is why I described it as a non-virginal Post, but it is still very good, and gives food for thought. 🙂

  16. TotalArsenal says:

    Time for some poetry by the Dutch, contemporary poet R. Campert. A poetic warning for those who want Wenger out.

    We wanted light more light
    so we cut the tree down its longing
    stood in the way of ours
    creaking groaning screeching
    and with a furious swish of leaves
    its last splinters sundered
    and down came the tree –
    the wind that had played on it
    fled in panic

    At last we had light in our room
    in that light we gazed at each other
    and saw our irreparable face

  17. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Being clever and using my powers, I know that here “Ik ben blij dat je OK bent. Ik ben goed, dank je” you are talking about Darren Bent, and frankly, I totally disagree.

  18. awesome post.
    very well done.
    I’ve shifted my blog again to the old one:

  19. TotalArsenal says:

    Very funny Micky 😆

  20. Big Raddy says:

    GIE. What a privilege it is to have you posting on AA.Not just theory but the fatcs to back up your arguments, and today is another fine example.

    As I see it, the problem is always fan expectation. The fans will not allow a player to develop slowly in the first team. They will just call for AW to open his cheque book and buy finished product. Sad but a fact of PL life.

    We can no longer survive with good quality PL players because we dine at the top table and as such need world class players. Can Bartley etc achieve such lofty ambitions? Only time can tell but I doubt it.

  21. TotalArsenal says:

    RA, Arsenal are doing very well with their youth system, especially now that youngsters go on proper, season long loans at clubs where they will get a chance to be in the first team. I know it is a bit tacky, but I still say it: the future is bright, the future is red and white.

  22. Big Raddy says:

    Really Micky? I thought it represented your Bent viewpoint in a succinct and unambivalent manner.

  23. Big Raddy says:

    TA. I would love to read the feedback from the loan clubs about the prospects of our players.

  24. Red Arse says:

    Micky, you are a scream — I always seem to read your stuff as i am about to take a swig (?) of coffee, with near disastrous consequences! 🙂

    You are a natural. 🙂

  25. Red Arse says:


    What a terrific and contemporary poem. Did you translate it, or was it written in English?

  26. Jamie says:

    Good post, always worth a chat about the younger players.

    I am possibly a bit short on patience and bit grumpy for project youth today. My sense of humour was last seen somewhere off the Kings Road with some sherbet vodka.

    But the point about giving Lansbury, Frimpong, Thomas, Gibbs etc. games instead of the dross, from our second string is very valid. You would have to say that they must give you more tahan Squillaci, Denilson and Bendtner. Though i have to admit feeling sorry for Bendtner a bit, there aren’t too many 6ft 3 wingers are there?

  27. TotalArsenal says:

    BR, me too. It would also be great if we develop a bit more structure to loaning out players. Owen Coyle / Bolton seem to like getting top-4 youngster on loan. Jack really benefited from it, where JET has struggled to get a proper opportunity of regular play. Why not loan a young player every season to Bolton?

  28. TotalArsenal says:

    RA, it was already translated in English, from the original in Dutch (just as well: translating poetry is an art-form in itself!). 😉

    Glad you like it though! I love the simple way in which he ‘paints’ such a vivid picture. Remco Campert is ‘big’ in the Netherlands and reasonably well-know abroad, but apparently not so in the UK/USA. The link below provides some background on Campert and some more poems (for those who are interested).

  29. TotalArsenal says:

    Jamie, 6ft 3 wingers 😆

  30. Red Arse says:

    Thanks TA, 🙂

    Got to go out for a while will catch up with the link later.

  31. MickyDidIt89 says:

    “Bent viewpoint”..oh bollocks. Rumbled!
    Raddy, I am beside myself with excitment right now, as for years I have hunted Lobster wirh a bloomin’ snorkel and have just found some collapsible pots, so can carry along with other clobber to camp with children on the coast. Home dining is about to change dramatically for the good.
    Stand by for some serious bragging.

  32. Goonerjoe says:

    Having seen a lot of there play this year I would say both chavski and spuds have overtaken us as far as the young players go,young Harry Kane at spuds is class:-( I mean the kid is diffo going to make it(fergi likes him so maybe he will not b there long),as for chavs they have some class coming along now (there all on megabucks even at this age).I hate saying this but on the whole it’s not working out for us even or older players like jet are not pull up trees in the championship as spurs send out players like the two kyles noughton was class in the championship and walker is fucking top class and is faster than bale.plz don’t have a go I am just calling it as I see it.

  33. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Damn, its meant to be a football site.
    I was umming and arring about our youth system, and then I realise that we have JW and think to myself “to hell with the cost, this works for me”.

  34. MickyDidIt89 says:


  35. TotalArsenal says:

    Sorry to do this to all you three lions on a shirt fans, but it is exactly 25 years today, that Maradona announced himself to the football world with a superb display:

  36. Gooner in Exile says:

    Jamie I think you are wrong I can think of at least one 6ft 3 winger…..Jonah Lomu….ok different sport but ….. 🙂

    As for the suggestion that JET isn’t pulling up trees he is 20 are we expecting too much too young……very few players are the finished article at 20 or even able to compete at PL level.

    I think TA has it right with loan spells to PL clubs… ones that try to play football but would also offer an insight of what it takes to succeed or even survive in the PL I wouldn’t mind betting Jack learned a lot from someone like Kevin Davies a player who has forged a good career in the top flight from a limited skillset. Sturridge is now reaping similar rewards. What did Vela learn at WBA. Or JET at Cardiff apart from how to drink?

    If they are going to go to the lower leagues they have to be in teams with managers that will continue their development it is pointless sending a small centre midfielder to a long ball team or an attacking full back to a dogmatically defensive side.

    I also think that some players (Eastmond, Randall) have gone to these lower league sides and been a bit big time charlie and been found wanting.

  37. Gooner in Exile says:

    On a side note I have just watched the United drama aired on BBC earlier this year around the events of Munich 1958, it’s a tough watch for any football fan I guess. Even as a non United fan you have to have a great deal of respect for the way those involved carried on.

  38. SharkeySure says:

    Thanks for the lastminute.com post GiE. Do we still refer to them as ‘by candlelight’

    The standouts in that team (for the wrong reasons) were Eastmond and Cruise. I was stunned when Eastrmond started appearnig in thefirst team. I just couldn’t see how he had bypassed more talented players, such as Coquelin and Frimpong. The fact that (to me) he was a RB playing DM only compounded my sense of bewilderment.

  39. kelsey says:

    I know this isn’t directly related to today’s post but those who want Wenger out kindly read this.

    Since sacking Claudio Ranieri in June 2004 to appointing Andre Villas-Boas in June 2011, Roman Abramovich has reportedly coughed up over £69m in various compensation pay-outs to managers and clubs (including the hiring of director of football Frank Arnesen). During the same time, London rivals Arsenal have kept faith with Arsene Wenger and made a profit of £20.56m on transfer fees.

    It should also be pointed out that, during this period, Arsenal have won a single FA Cup, while Chelsea have won three Premier League titles, three FA Cups and two League Cups. Both clubs have also lost a Champions League final.

    Who do you think has got better value for money? Have your say by commenting below and take a look at the stats, here…


    Claudio Ranieri (sacked June 2004) £4m compensation

    Jose Mourinho (hired June 2004) £1.7m compensation to Porto

    Frank Arnesen (hired June 2005) £8m compensation to Tottenham

    Jose Mourinho (sacked September 2007) £18m compensation

    Avram Grant (sacked May 2008) sacked £5.5m

    Luiz Felipe Scolari (sacked February 2009) £12.6m compensation

    Carlo Ancelotti (sacked May 2011) £6m compensation

    Andre Villas-Boas (hired June 2011) £13.3m compensation to Porto


    2004/05 net spend: £2.55m profit

Players in: Arturo Lupoli £0.2m, Manuel Almunia £0.5m, Vito Mannone £0.35m, Emmanuel Eboue £1m

    Players out: Giovanni van Bronckhorst £2m, Martin Keown Free, Ray Parlour Free, Kanu Free, Francis Jeffers £2.6m, Igor Stepanovs nominal, Sylvain Wiltord Free, Rami Shabaan Free.

    2005/06 net spend: £5m loss

    Players in: Nicklas Bendtner undisclosed, Alexander Hleb £11.2m, Vassiriki Diaby £2m, Emmanuel Adebayor £7m, Theo Walcott £5m, Mart Poom undisclosed

Players out: Stuart Taylor undisclosed, Jermaine Pennant £3m, Patrick Viera £13.7m, David Bentley £3m

    2006/07 net spend: £0.7m loss

    Players in: Tomas Rosicky £6.8m, Fran Merida free, Alexandre Song £1m, William Gallas swap, Denilson £3.4m

    Players out: Robert Pires free, Sol Campbell free, Pascal Cygan £2m, Ashley Cole £5m (swap), Anthony Stokes £2m, Lauren £0.5m, Sebastian Larsson £1m

    2007/08 net spend: £19.9m profit

    Players in: Lukasz Fabianski £2m, Eduardo £7.5m, Bakary Sagna £6m, Lassana Diarra £2m, Luke Freeman £0.2m

    Players out: Fabrice Muamba £4m, Jeremie Alaidiere £2m, Thierry Henry £16.1m, Arturo Lupoli free, Fredrik Ljungberg £3m, Jose Antonio Reyes £6m, Matthew Connolly £1m, Lassana Diarra £5.5m

    2008/09 net spend: £20.75m loss

    Players in: Aaron Ramsey £5m, Samir Nasri £15.8m, Amaury Bischoff free, Mikael Silvestre £0.75m, Andrei Arshavin £15m

Players out: Jens Lehmann free, Mathieu Flamini free, Alexander Hleb £11.8m, Gilberto Silva £1m, Justin Hoyte £3m

    2009/10 net spend: £31m profit

Players in: Thomas Vermaelen £10m

Players out: Emmanuel Adebayor £25m, Kolo Toure £16m

    2010/11 net spend: £6.44m loss

    Players in: Kyle Ebecilio £0.58m, Laurent Koscielny £9.7m, Sebastian Squillaci £3.3m

    Players out: Eduardo £6.34m, Jay Simpson £0.8m

    *Based on reported figures from established media.

  40. SharkeySure says:

    Cruise was te invisible. A frienmds son had played in the same taems as Cruise up until the gae of 16. This mate of mine said he’d hardly even noticed him in all that time, let alone thought he was Arsenal quality.

    Another one who I was very surprised to see get first team minutes. Good luck to him though, as he can say he’s played CL football and no one can ever take that way from him.

    Back later

  41. Red Arse says:


    At last someone who shares the same sentiments as me re Eastmond and Cruise!

    I used to watch a lot of youth team games, whenever I could manage to. The impression I got, especially regarding Eastmond, was that he was simply poor, whereas Cruise was sadly very slow.

    I watched the FA Youth Cup on Sentana, the year we won with them in the team. Frankly, I thought we won despite Eastmond who was truly awful.

    Like you, when I saw Eastmond preferred over much better players, I wondered what was going on. For him to play in the first team made me doubt Wenger for the first time.

    When I have said this in the past, the usual response was – well Bouldy must think he was OK, and so did Wenger, to let him play in the 1st team– so I must suspend belief in my own eyes then? Not!

  42. dandan says:

    Great post GIE, surely that should give some of the negative types on here pause for thought, the fixation for finished article purchases is understandable in some cases, but the wealth of talent boiling just below the surface of the premier league squad must be given a chance on there return from loan spells. If there is no progression how will we entice new young players to join the academy if they see no progress through the existing ranks.

    Which leads me to your post re the Utd plane crash, they were basically of course a bunch of boys most of whom had played together for a number of years.

    GIE as a 15 year old lad I was on my way home from school with a another real gooner, we heard the news at his house and were both in tears. That was not just UTD but much of the England team gone as well, when the National team was a thing of national pride, unlike today.

  43. Herb'sArmy says:

    No transfer figures for Diarra coming from Chelsea, or Reyes from Madrid, Kelsey? Abramovich hasn’t bought his ultimate dream of CL success, so far, but since his arrival at Chelsea, we haven’t finished above them in the league. The self-sustaining model is indeed very noble, but the harsh reality is that both Chelsea and Man Utd attract better quality of players to their clubs, which I’m assuming has a lot to do with AW’s choice to pursue promising youngsters. I think it would be fair to say that Chelsea have come closer than us to winning the CL during that period. In Villas-Boas they have somebody who knows how the club operate (having worked for Mourinho as a Scout).
    There’s a great deal of honest virtue in doing things the Arsenal way, not buying cups etc., and you could make a cast-iron case for it if we were seeing visible signs that the gap between us and them was closing, but in the final analysis, we were even over-taken by Man City, which suggests that you have to spend to get over the finishing line. It’s been a long time since AW has been a winner and justified his/Arsenal’s transfer policy. In comparison, the compensation that Abramovich has paid out is small change to him. The move to the Emirates was all about dining at the top table and competing with Chelsea and Man Utd in the transfer market, but despite having two billionaires on our Board, this has failed to materialise. There’s a fine balance to be struck between prudence and negligence, and AW/Arsenal haven’t found that since Abramovich took control at Chelsea.

  44. dandan says:

    The other thing that would shock today’s fans was that virtually all the football fans in the country except those who were actual Bolton Wanderers supporters, wanted Utd to win the cup.

  45. SharkeySure says:

    Red – glad to be of service !!

    DD – I can’t imagine what hearing news like that must have been like. Even with the England squad chock full of scumbags these days, I’d still be devastated if that happened. That perhaps needs re-phrasing, but hopefully you know what I mean.

  46. SharkeySure says:

    Hello Herb, don’t lose sight of the fact that all ManCity’s millions, it took an epic failure over the last ten games on our part for them to ‘snatch’ third from us. It wasn’t even snatched was it..?? We threw it away, they just about caught it. That money was spent to achieve CL football, ie 4th place, they got lucky and ended up with 3rd. Arsene’s delivered CL football on a shoestring year in year , but its not enough for some people. Its funny that you now praise them for doing just that.

    Chelsea closer to winning the CL than us..?? So its our ‘ten mins from winning with ten men’ vs Terry’s penalty slip. You, an Arsenal fan, have picked Chelski. That says it all for me.

    I gather you’ve had a bumpy ride on here of late Herb, this isn’t meant to be the start of another, but I had to respond (respectfully) to some of your points. I’m a really nice guy. 😉

  47. SharkeySure says:

    On a lighter note:
    Bill and his wife Blanche went to the state fair every year,

    And every year Bill would say, ”Blanche, I’d like to ride in that helicopter”. Blanche always replied, ”I know, Bill, but that helicopter ride is fifty bucks, and fifty bucks is fifty bucks!”

    One year Bill and Blanche went to the fair, and Bill said, “Blanche, I’m 75 years old. If I don’t ride that helicopter, I might never get another chance”To this, Blanche replied,”Bill that helicopter ride is fifty bucks, and fifty bucks is fifty bucks”

    The pilot overheard the couple and said,”Folks I’ll make you a deal. I’ll take the both of you for a ride. If you can stay quiet for the entire ride and don’t say a word I won’t charge you a penny! But if you say one word it’s fifty dollars.”

    Bill and Blanche agreed and up they went. The pilot did all kinds of fancy manoeuvers, but not a word was heard. He did his daredevil tricks, but still not a word.

    When they landed, the pilot turned to Bill and said, ”by golly , I did everything I could to get you to yell out, but you didn’t. I’m impressed!”

    Bill replied, “well, to tell you the truth I almost said something when Blanche fell out, but you know, fifty bucks is fifty bucks!”

  48. dandan says:

    LOL Love it Sharkey 🙂

  49. Geoff Strong says:


    I believe that what Arsene said was that if we build the stadium we will not lose a player due to wages alone. He did not say that we would be competing at the top of the transfer league. As you say, along came Abramovic and changed the whole ball game.

  50. Big Raddy says:

    SS. Top work-

  51. Red Arse says:

    Sharkey, 🙂

  52. Big Raddy says:

    Herb. It is a tough balancing act and there can only be one winner. Would giving AW billions to spend have guaranteed us the title or the CL?

    I appreciate the questions you raise. Has AW’s youth policy worked or backfired? I guess it depends upon your point of view. We have seen some great football and some dire performances, and we have seen over a decade of CL football.

    Winning with style and brio is the target but I would willingly take one season of GG pragmatism.

  53. evonne says:

    Herb – Sharkey is not a nice guy, he is resentful, unforgiving, rude, cannot even respect his eldest….but underneath all that is a diamond geezer

    Birmigham, Portsmouth, Scum – they all won trophies recently. Does it make them a better team? Does it feck. Trophies or not, we are the best team in this country and that is proof enough that AW’s policies/theories do work

  54. Herb'sArmy says:

    precisely, our epic collapse. That doesn’t happen much does it! What is it, 3/4 years and counting? And City delivered silver-ware (FA Cup). My point about Chelsea being closer than Arsenal in CL? In 2005, Liverpool were put through with a ‘goal’ that didn’t cross the line, and in 2009, after drawing 0-0 at Camp Nou, Chelsea were denied at least 3 blatant penalties before Iniesta scored an injury-time equaliser to put Barca through on away goals. Post Abramovich, 2006 remains the only year we have gone further than they have in CL. As for delivering CL on a shoe-string budget, granted AW has done that, but are we a competitive force? Man Utd have been in three years in four years. With a bit of decent money spent in the right areas, maybe we could get to that level and avoid having to squirm at our annual collapse.

  55. Herb'sArmy says:

    please, no disrespect, but Birmingham and Portsmouth aren’t rivals! I’m not advocating that AW breaks the bank, but as I said last night, persevering with Almunia for 4 years is a serious lapse in judgement, as is not getting any adequate cover for Vermaelen in January, when we were fighting on four fronts. Little things that needed attention and ended up costing us. Again.

  56. Red Arse says:


    Your 4:06

    I agree with you when you say that; “you have to spend to get over the finishing line to win the CL”, because widening it out from the EPL, the one consistent factor over the last few years is that Barca, Manure, Chelski and Real Madrid have always been big spenders on quality players, irrespective of any success they achieve domestically or in the CL.

    It is also true that each of them, according to the Bookies, at least, and most neutrals, appear to be nearer to winning the CL each season than we are, though we normally make a good fist of our attempts.

    You also say that; “Chelsea and Man Utd attract better quality of players to their clubs, which I’m assuming has a lot to do with AW’s choice to pursue promising youngsters”.

    I don’t think one thing is necessarily a consequence of the other. They are unrelated I believe.

    The attraction for top players to go to the clubs with the big bucks, as above, is down to the obscene salaries paid to them by those clubs along with the ridiiculous transfer fees they command.
    I don’t think Arsene chooses to pursue only youngsters thru’ obstinacy, altho’ he does try to promote a youth policy, but that clearly over the last 6 years he has not had any real money to spend, whether he wanted to buy established players or not.

    This summer, I suspect, AW has been trying to buy quality established players, but he faces great competition from all the usual suspects, listed above, because there is only a small pool of them available, and also their clubs are reluctant to sell unless for ridiculous fees. In addition, players know their worth in this market and ask for wage structure smashing salaries.

    Pretty difficult for him, I think.

  57. London says:


    I have been cautiously reading your comments for a few weeks now, at first I thought you were someone who had read Le Grove a few times and felt the need to share their generally negative view towards Wenger with us but I have since realised that although there are many similarities (speaking more respectfully than is natural about manu etc) you really are your own man.

    That said, I disagree with you on so many things I’m struggling to know where to start. I wonder are you a season ticket holder, do you go to games often, how long have you been supporting Arsenal because your memory of events is so different to mine and I have only missed about 12 games in last 25 years, although, before that I was a bit more serious, home and away.

    At no point did the club say we were moving stadiums in order to compete with manu and Chelsea, well certainly not Chelsea; when the change of stadium was announced they were so poor that John Terry was seriously rumoured to be coming to us. Everything changed with the arrival of the Russian.

    “There’s a great deal of honest virtue in doing things the Arsenal way, not buying cups etc.”

    Herb, prior to the arrival of Abamovich we were the richest club in London and we tried to buy as many cups as we could as often as we could.

    Can you not see from Kelsey’s comment just how much money Abramovich has been prepared to write off on managers alone? Can you not see how that limits us in the transfer market, forcing us to have to find a different way of operating — hence the youth policy.

    There is growing myth that as we now have two billionaires on the board we should expect that they spend money without any hope of recovering it in the same way as Abramovich does.
    Herb, our two billionaires are rivals, neither one has total control and no one in their right mind is going to spend money without ever getting it back without that control. What business are you in that you cannot see this?

    Perhaps, you are in your twenties or something, I mean this respectfully because if you are it would explain a lot.

  58. London says:



  59. chas says:

    Great post, GIE.

    Didn’t you know, project youth has already been declared a failure by the world’s media? 🙂

    I’d completely forgotten about Luke Ayling. Saw him against Barnet pre-season before last and thought he looked quite decent. Shows what I know as he’s now at Yeovil!
    How difficult it must be to predict who’s going to make it as a pro at Arsenal? Same goes for players bought in, too, of course.

  60. Herb'sArmy says:

    I’ve been supporting Arsenal since 1970, but regretably haven’t seen them live for a number of years. As a season-ticket holder, you are closer and more privvy to first-hand information than me. I don’t approve of the colourful language on ‘Le Grove’. It is very disrespectful of you to assume I am in my twenties, but I bow to your superior knowledge on all things Arsenal. You are right, I am wrong. Hope your ego is suitably massaged.

  61. London says:


    If you were in your twenties you would not be aware of the tradition Arsenal have had over the years of making marquee signings — buying the best, but as we are both of a similar age you really should be aware of the players that go to make a very long list. That being the case you should equally understand that we have tried to buy the league as much as chelsea and man city do today which makes statements like this redundant.

    “There’s a great deal of honest virtue in doing things the Arsenal way, not buying cups etc.”

    We have been forced into the present day way of operating……..get it?

  62. Red Arse says:


    I think London was recognising, in his paragraph, that you are your own man, and I agree with that, without reservation. You are also, in my opinion, a committed and passionate Gooner.

    If we all agreed with each other, AA would be a boring site indeed. (Actually, most regulars on here don’t agree with me -especially 26!) 🙂

    I don’t think it is a matter of right or wrong, it’s an expression of opinions and yours are as valid as anyone else’s.

    Like you, London knows his stuff and you won’t find anyone more steeped in Arsenal lore than him.

    What I find fascinating is that in a group of devoted Arsenal fans, including me, there are so many different views as to what is the way forward, and what is achievable in a pragmatic way.

    You and I agree on the wish to make a really high profile signing or two to add the grit to our young side. But, and it is an important ‘but’ to me, I would not want to see Arsenal spend huge bucks on a signing, with the commensurate salary, just for the sake of it.

    Knowing AW’s track record I am sure he will give us what we are calling for, but in a financially justifiable way.

    Just on a small point, Usmanov is not on the Board of Directors, and that is probably why he wants to get to a 30% shareholding so he can become privy to the Arsenal mangements Monthly Management Accounts.
    These are not routinely available to the public.
    Without being on the Board, even if Usmanov wanted to spend huge bucks on players he could not without Silent Stan’s consent.

  63. London says:


    I know you mean well but justifying me to other bloggers?

  64. Red Arse says:

    London, I wasn’t really, just calling it as I see it. 🙂

    There is a really amusing Post, (dependent on the readers viewpoint, I suppose) with a hard hitting summation/analysis at its core, that has been written by a psychologist on “Arsenal Opinion”.

    It’s worth a read for anyone who has a spare couple of minutes.

  65. London says:

    Hmmmm, I didn’t know about that site, pretty good.

  66. chas says:


    What do you think we as a club need to do, so that we can mount a challenge for the premiership title next season?
    The reason I ask is that you always seem so sure of your opinions. Mine change by the week, heck by the game sometimes.
    If you find my question or its premise in any way wrong, then please ignore.

  67. dandan says:

    RA that is the best article I have seen in ages, Thanks for the heads up, it encapsulates and elucidates much of the positive negativity, I find so irritating in the current media/blog world.

  68. London says:


    I have a great deal of respect for you as an Arsenal supporter and think it is a perfectly reasonable question to ask on a blog.

    Give me a mo to answer.

  69. London says:


    The truth is for the first time in ages I don’t expect us to put in a serious title challenge, naturally I hope I am wrong.

    I believe that the board will tread water until the fair play rules come into force and only then with the return of a level playing field will they turn up the heat.

    I think it is impossible to compete with Chelsea or Man city in the transfer market and because of such we simply won’t, this to me is understandable.

    I don’t expect us to sign any new defenders; I expect Clichy to stay and yet again rightly so, why sell a player when the mature years have finally arrived?

    I am a huge Fabregas fan and find it difficult to imagine him going. I expect Nasri to re-sign. I expect Eboue, Rosicky and probably Denilson to find new clubs. I also expect Bendtner to go and for us to sign Geninho.

    And from all that I expect to be thoroughly entertained as a season ticket holder for another year.

  70. Herb'sArmy says:

    As you’ll know, Billy Wright brought nine of the ’70-71 ‘Double’ winning team to the club, and Bertie Mee set about breaking it up. I recall buying Alan Ball for a then record fee of £200k from Everton to replace George Graham, and paying Coventry for Centre-Half Jeff Blockley, but soon after the ‘Double’ we fell into a bit of a decline, so Mee obviously didn’t spend to win. Terry Neill arrested the decline somewhat, but signing Pat Jennings and Willie Young isn’t an indication of trying to buy the title. Yes he paid £333k for Malcolm Macdonald (who lasted 2 years!), Aston Villa paid Dundee Utd £100k for Andy Gray! And don’t forget we couldn’t keep hold of Frank Stapleton or Liam Brady back in the summer of 1980. A year later we paid £1m for Clive Allen from QPR, and before he’d played a league game for us, we’d swapped him for Kenny Sansom. Why couldn’t we have both? We did buy Paul Mariner and Tony Woodcock, who did a turn for us, but their best days were behind them, and Charlie Nicholas only chose us over Man Utd & Liverpool for the London night-clubs, hardly a ringing endorsement of someone with serious title aspirations. At least George Graham delivered, and OK, he spent, but he is the only stand-out manager of the last 40 years in terms of spending to win the title. He also won us a European trophy, and as horrible as his football was towards the end, he knew how to construct a mean defence. Don’t we deserve to be on a par with Man Utd? Are we as a club not able to attain that status?

  71. chas says:


    Thanks for your honesty.

    Your last sentence is pretty much how I feel about the coming season.

    I love going to watch the Arse. The whole ritual gives me a buzz I can’t get anywhere else. Sometimes the actual games have been the worst part of the trip down to London last season, but I’ve always enjoyed the day out. Having said that, some of the home performances have had me walking on air for days and days afterwards.
    I truly love going to away games though it’s not always easy to get tickets unless you have 10-15 plus away credits. Birmingham away on New Year’s day was my favourite trip. 3 goals and a wonderfully positive way to start the new year. The away crowd were magnificent, too.

    My simplistic answer to my question would be to mount a similar challenge as we have done in previous season’s but to somehow find a way to finish the season strongly as champions always do. Cheers.

  72. London says:


    As I said, you should be aware of the list and quite clearly you are.

    The irony as I see it is that due to being unable to compete in the transfer market as they once did (sound familiar) manu are now charging around trying to buy the best youth players that are available. We are ahead of them in this respect; our young players have had time to bed in at the club and should come to fruition quicker than their latest batch.
    So the answer to your question is, I see nothing to envy at manu as I expect them to fall from grace in the near term.

  73. London says:

    Right, I am off to the Alps tomorrow on a cycling trip so enjoy the calm without me until next Wednesday.

  74. chas says:

    Good luck with the trip, London.
    Can’t believe I put seasons with an apostrophe s.
    One of my pet hates. Must have been thinking previous seasons’ challenges.

  75. Herb'sArmy says:

    Hopefully you are right, London, but they’re already buying for the future, as you know, Ferguson doesn’t let the grass grow. Smalling, Jones, and he definitely got the best of the two Mexicans (Hernandez/Vela). But my question still stands: Are we as a club able to attain the same status as Man Utd? And do you think we’ll ever be a big enough club to win the CL?

  76. Herb'sArmy says:

    Good luck for your trip London.

  77. goonermichael says:

    Going back to an earlier on of your comments herb. It can’t only be about money otherwise the chavs would win everything. Having 2 billionaires means nothing as the club is still share based. We need to buy some ready made players though. I think it is totally within our means (with the manger we have and the funds) to win something. I wish I knew what was holding us back

  78. London says:


    Do you really need an answer to the last part of your question?

    Now, I am really off.

  79. Gooner in Exile says:

    Herb as you like history you’ll realise that Porto and Villa have won the CL (albeit in different guises) are we a bigger club ….. Yes …… Do you have to be a big club to win the CL…..No.

    Good luck on your trip London.

    Chas your 8:50 is how I feel about travelling down to the games too.

    Are Chelsea a big club if so it’s nothing to do with history and only money then I’m not really bothered about being a big club. Try googling “Greatest Moments in Chelsea History” or similar themes, basically the first pages are all about post Abramovich, now do the same with Arsenal, Liverpool.

    Uniteds status is as much to do with Busby Babes as it is anything to do with the current side. As DanDan said earlier a nation grieved for the loss of those players who made up the England team too.

    Maybe one day they will talk of Arsenes Apprentices (too Sugar/Spuds reference?)

  80. goonermichael says:

    Has anyone heard any news on Nasri? Is he staying?

  81. goonermichael says:

    I’ve just read on the bbc site that young is almost at the mancs. Nani must be going

  82. goonermichael says:

    oh well

  83. goonermichael says:

    hattrick and bye

  84. Jamie says:

    Football is not just about money and that is not what Arsenal lack.
    It is about courage, A courage that Wenger used to show in the transfer market and now doesn’t. I trust the man. We should all trust the man. He knows that he has to get it right this time.

    Let me just say if Arsenal are not ready in August this year then Wenger is in real trouble. If he gets less than 5 out of his first 9 points and doesnt get through the Champions League qualifier then he will be seriously on the ropes.

    Myself i think he will get the results he needs.

    We must keep Fabregas and get Nasri to re-sign and we have to get Samba or Cahill. I would like to see Song given competition with the signing of Scott Parker. Arshavin needs a kick up the backside.

    Project youth isn’t dead, but youth can’t suceed alone.

    Keep the faith (there i go with the song titles again).

  85. SharkeySure says:

    “he definitely got the best of the two Mexicans ” – this is when some Arsenal fans start to lose me.

    The need to constantly do down our manager/club does my head in. I didn’t see anyone saying we should have bought Hernandez. during or after the WC when Vela seemed to be the main guy for Mexico. Hernandez has had a very good first season and its used to beat Arsene over the head with.

    When you talk about not covering injuries, or persisting with Almunia for too long, you’ll get little or no argument from most people, but when you start going out of your way to rewrite history just so that you can have a sly dig, it all gets a little bit pointless,

    If we’d paid £10m for someone who appeared to be Vela’s national team understudy. I suspect you wouldn’t have been too happy. Likewise if Guadalajara (?) had any clue that Hernandez was going to have the season that he just had, then don’t you think they’d have demanded more than £10m.

  86. Herb'sArmy says:

    Excuse my manners RA, hope you are well.
    The CL has changed completely since the days of Villa and Forest winning it. Now you do have to be a big club to win the CL.

  87. evonne says:

    Herb @6:26 – you are wrong, we were in competition with Birmingham, Portsmouth and Tottenham. Season after season we are in competition with 19 other teams in PL alone and we are better than at least 75% of them

  88. SharkeySure says:

    If competing means we should sign the likes of Jordan Henderson for £20m or Carroll for £35m, or have our £32m striker sat (fit and able) in the stands for the CL final, then I’d almost rather not compete.

    Its very heartwarming to me to see Song run rings around his more expensive counterparts. To see the genuine love that RVP (£2.75m) has for the club, not to mention watching him score practically every time he took to the field, whilst some Spanish bloke who’d cost 20 times as much struggled to complete 90mins, let alone score. Likewise to see the potential in our young Poles, even more so in Fabianski’s case.

    I’d been in a state of complete inner turmoil if I was a Man City or Chelsea fan, watching my team trying to buy a history overnight. Watching players sign a contract knowing that they only needed to stay 9mths in Manchester before getting paid off and moving on to a club that they actually want to play for.

    Yuri Zhirkov, signed for Chelsea knowing that Ashley Cole and Flo(!) Malouda were already there. Thats called Pension planning, its nowt to do with football. Its horrible.

  89. Herb'sArmy says:

    Hernandez cost £6m, and apparently he was on Wenger’s radar. Has Vela had the same impact for us? No, we sent him out on loan again. Not quite sure what you mean by trying to re-write history to have a sly dig. I was responding to a point London made about us historically buying the title. And I haven’t been Wenger-bashing, I merely pointed out that a few minor issues that he didn’t address cost us dear.

  90. Gooner in Exile says:

    Herb football has changed completely, we dine at the top table (not head of but we’re on it) and we have gathered our produce from the Tesco Value range….I applaud it you seem to wish we were more like Chelsea and City and dined there having bought in Fortnum & Masons.

  91. V.C.C. says:

    Late entry to this debate but ….
    GIE = I think Bartley and Lansbury look the real deal, here’s hoping. You are dead right get rid of the dead wood and promote the guys who want to wear the shirt.

  92. Herb'sArmy says:

    within the PL there are about 3 or 4 seperate divisions. Some clubs start the season hoping to avoid relegation, some hope for the security of mid-table, some hope to challenge for a Europa Lge spot, and the elite few challenge for the title. Do you really need that pointing out?
    I genuinely believe that with a couple of big signings in the right areas we can dine at the very top. As with everything else in life, you get what you pay for. Buy big, you compete for the big prizes.

  93. Gooner in Exile says:

    Herb I agree we need a couple of new players in the squad but I differ on the type of signing I don’t know if I can define a “big” signing.

    As Sharkey pointed out it’s not all about the money paid, look at Torres as example no 1.

    Do I agree with Samba and Cahill? Definitely not. Samba 27, Cahill 26. Liverpool could do with a centre back as could Chelsea back in January they signed unknown to most of us Sideshow Bob, if they’re not good enough for them why good enough for us. Had anyone heard of Vidic before Fergie signed him or Vermaelen before Wenger signed him.

    The best players are on big contracts already it’s up to the managers and coaches to find value in the Market especially as London says with FFP round the corner.

    I don’t believe we can do much in the Market until we know what is happening with Cesc. Keeping him and Nasri are number one priorities, shifting some deadwood is second to allow room for some youngsters,, then it’s a case of bringing in the players that Wenger thinks will strengthen us.

  94. Herb'sArmy says:

    Benzema is my idea of a big signing. I believe Torres will come good again if Chelsea play to his strengths.
    Vermaelen has only had one full season, and was part of a defence that conceded 41 goals, so I’m reserving judgement on him. Whoever we get, let’s hope it’s someone vocal who can organise the back-line. Newcastle(a), Liverpool(h), Man Utd(a) plus CL qualifiers will definitely test our mettle early-doors, so it’s imperative we get it right. Maybe it’s time to promote Kyle Bartley.

  95. Gooner in Exile says:

    Bartley may have been hampered by knee ligament damage when he was getting going at Rangers so I think we will see him on loan again unfortunately.

    Benzema will cost big he has 4 years left at Madrid and cost them €35m. The only way I can see that happens is with Cesc or Nasri being sold.

  96. Herb'sArmy says:

    How long can we keep sending him out on loan before he’s ready GiE? If we don’t find a place for him soon he’ll be off, and another promising youngster will slip through the net.
    Benzema wasn’t a Mourinho signing which makes me think there’s a small chance with the right offer it may just be possible. It would definitely be a signing of intent.

  97. evonne says:

    Herb – no, it is you that needs pointing out to that there are more positives than negatives to be taken out from last season. You are obstinately trying to impose your negative views on us, but I am glad to see that you are outnumbered.

  98. evonne says:

    Morning all
    Is Chary back?
    Kelsey? Any news?

  99. Gooner in Exile says:

    I have finally found out what my Olympic Tickets are:

    Football (at Coventry City)

    Lots of tickets still left for quite a few events, seems most people applied for the cheapest seats. I really want done basketball tickets so I may have to go back and get those.

  100. evonne says:

    I wanted basketball and boxing, got none 😦

  101. evonne says:

    GiE – you are coaching in goalkeeping, aren’t you? Would you say that most men with right physical attributes have potential to become good goalies?

  102. dandan says:

    Oh dear, I feel unworthy, but with all those extra flights coming into the country, many will be flying back empty, my wife will hopefully be through her operations by then and if I time it right, we should get some real bargain flights to the States or Canada.
    If I want the Olympics I guess the TV in our hotel rooms as we travel will oblige.
    The thought of London with all those extra people is a nightmare, god help the poor commuters who have got to go to work..

  103. evonne says:

    Morning Dandan
    Best wishes for your wife and you! Hope everything goes tickety boo xx

    I used to work in Docklands; I travelled 2 hours each way on the public transport or 45min by car. Public transport in London is severely overstretched, hell knows how they will cope next year

    Mind you, same applies to Poland with next year’s football

  104. goonermichael says:

    Morning all
    They are having “executive” lanes and transport for athletes and sponsors only during the olympics.. I hope I’ve finally left London by then. Half of Hackney marshes have been torn up for them. Disgraceful.

  105. Gooner in Exile says:

    They’re putting on special Olympic trains and buses that you can only use with a ticket.

    Evonne there are lots of boxing and basketball tickets in the resale just not at the cheapest tier there’s some around £35 though.

    As for goalkeepers I’m not a coach but it was my position. In my opinion the answer to your question is no. As well as being 6ft etc, they also need bravery, quick decision making,calm head, reflex reactions. I’d say 80-90% of goalkeeping is in the brain (especially for a long career). When the mobility drops a level you can no longer compensate for poor decisions.

    Neville Southall, Pat Jennings, Seaman, Brad Friedel are all examples of keepers who could play into their 40’s as they had good positioning and good decision making.

  106. Rasp says:

    Morning al…..

    …..New post…….

  107. jeremy says:

    Once upon a time Arsenal played great football and used to win . No more. It’s time Wengers puts emphasis on winning ugly if needed.

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