Arsenal’s pre-season starts today

July 19, 2014

Morning all

Pre-season kicks off today with a game at Borehamwood’s Meadow Park where they have just had a new stand built and Gooners get to watch a match featuring some of their idols.

fa cup pic

I started to think about who would be playing and as the boss mentioned that he would change the team for both halves I wondered if we could have a stab at a couple of teams.

I’ve had a good look at the pictures from the training ground, there’ll be some fresh faces on show this afternoon – always an exciting prospect.

Coquelin is back with the squad, Zelalem too. Gnabry should feature and I hope we’ll see Eisfeld.

The FA Cups – Mens and Ladies – will be on show and I’m sure all the Gooners that are going will give Aaron Ramsey and all the players a massive welcome.

Here’s my stab a team

Szczesny – who else is there?

Jenks  Miquel ? Gibbs

Matthieu

Gnabry Rosicky Arteta Coquelin

Yaya Sanogo

Can anyone help out with another centre-back?

If you’re going to the game have a great time. If you’re watching it on Arsenal.com then come and chat about it afterwards and let us know what you think.

peachesgooner


BT Sports ad to help push Arsenal to success

July 17, 2014

The new BT Sport ads appear to have been deliberately chosen to wind us up by highlighting some of our darkest days from 2013-14.  First out of the traps was an ad featuring our 5-1 thrashing by then-flying-high Liverpool, with alternating visions of exuberant Scousers and depressed Gooners, supposedly taking in the events in real time.  And BT Sport followed that up with a number based on the worst of all, our 6-0 humiliation at the Bridge.

Some (including our very own Evonne/Eddie) took umbrage and have complained about the bias at BT Sport their choices appear to betray.  (Chas even posted something suggesting that the senior marketing bod at BT Sport was a paid-up Spud.)

I understand the feeling, every one of us was horrified to watch those games, plus the 6-3 capitulation to a referee-assisted Man City and the 3-0 slump to Everton.  Even the defeat at Old Trafford, although only a single goal, was embarrassing in its own way, given how many lesser teams went there and got one or three points last season. It is painful to see moments such as those again.

But I’m pleased that BT Sport chose to highlight some of our heavy defeats.  It is a fact that we were hammered in those games, and it is also a fact that we fell short in the race for the title in large part due to our abject failure to take many points from our top-seven rivals, especially away from home, where our record was a pathetic P6 W1 D0 L5 F5 A21.  If we are serious about challenging for the title in the coming season, and right to the end, not just up until March or April, our record against the other top sides simply has to be improved.

Of course, our remarkable consistency last season against sides from the remainder of the league is something to respect, but each one of the five away defeats to rivals that we suffered last season is a reason for revenge.  We should be pleased that those defeats are being rammed down our throats now; next season I want to see the players and the fans take those defeats and avenge them with better performances and better results, against those rivals, home and away.  To use a footballing cliché, I hope that someone like Steve Bould pins a list of those results to the dressing room wall and challenges the players to find motivation in them.

So I won’t be doing any complaining to BT Sport, in fact I may send them a thank you note.

Written by 26may1989


At last, you don’t have to leave Arsenal to find silver.‏

July 16, 2014

Morning Gooner’s

The title says it all, Arsenal players taste victory without leaving. Arsenal players were heavily involved in this last World cup even if they haven’t even donned our shirt, as Young Campbell proved, Ok he never went on to win the world cup but he played his part and opened our eyes into the possibility that he may just wear the red and white of Arsenal.

Mesut, Poldi, and Merts, 3 of Arsenals finest were in the German team that picked up the World Cup, the biggest trophy in world football and Arsenal football club is recognised once again. We also had many of our stars feature for their respective countries, maybe not getting to the final but good enough to be part of their squads.

Every player who takes up the sport, wishes that one day, they will be able to pull on their Countries shirt, that is the pinnacle of most footballers career’s. This year has been the first for some, and others got to taste it again. Arsenal footballers have in fact had a good season. winning the FA cup and featuring in other competitions as well, even looking to win some of them. Only a few of our players never got to kick a ball in Brazil but surely their time will come.

Theo Walcott stands out for me, a young lad who was introduced to World Cup football by Sven Goran Eriksson, a strange choice in my opinion when the lad had hardly done anything for Arsenal or his country, and had I been an English forward at that particular time I would have had the right hump with Mr Eriksson’s choice. Theo as it turned out, was only taken to a world cup for experience, he didn’t even play one game, and that was at a time when English strikers were thin on the ground. Maybe Eriksson was thinking of the future but as we know, Eriksson was moved on, and Theo has had another World Cup watching only. Theo will probably have one last chance but for a young man with so much promise maybe he’ll never get to play in a World Cup.

I also feel for Oxlade Chamberlain, injured for this world cup, but was in the squad, a little reminiscent of Theo really, there but not there. Both these players are very talented, but also injury prone, now if that does not change, they may never be included in World cup finals.

Arsenal has been in the doldrums for quite a few years, and although Arsène Wenger has pushed our teams as hard as he has, its only since player buying has improved that we are seeing a difference. The Premier league has attracted many fine players. Rumoured to be the best league in the world, and also paying wonderful wages. Arsenal’s debts have decreased and the money has started to become available, although we have a Manager that can find players and get the most out of them, we have also needed that Marquee player who make the cogs turn.

Mesut Ozil has been our first Marquee signing for quite a few years, and although his first season with us has shown his talent, he hasn’t exactly excelled. having said that he has helped Arsenal win their first trophy for years.I also feel he is pivotal for new marquee players to join. Arsenal are showing intent, in the space of a season we have 2 marquee signings, high wages and bonuses makes this an expensive intent, but I don’t believe we are finished yet.

Many asked for players during the last transfer window, and as I remember 3 or 4 was the preferred number. Wenger left it late in the window and caught a cold. He had hoped for Suarez but that fell through, what a buy that would have been, we offered £40m and a pound, a season later he is sold for £75m.

It has to be said that, in the past, we have sold very good players who have gone on to win trophies, but its also true that we also have a lot of youngsters who are also very good.  Gibbs, Gnabry, Theo, Ox, Rambo, Jack, Ya Ya and also not forgetting Joel, with the inclusion of Mesut and Alexis we are beginning to look like a young Germany. They have years of fruitful futures, and, not forgetting my own countrymen, so do we.  England didn’t have a good World cup but the potential is there for all to see.

Arsenal have become a side that can compete, with a manager who strives for success, a club with impeccable credentials and finance, we are going to turn heads without a shadow of a doubt. Arsenal are back and we intend to stay there for the foreseeable future.

Written by Steve Palmer

 


Arsenal’s next Captain

July 15, 2014

The other day LB wrote an interesting post entitled “Is Thomas Vermaelen still needed? This led me to think about the player as a captain and conversely the captain as a player.

Before looking at individuals in those roles I got to thinking just what should we look for in a Club Captain, note the capital letters, in my opinion the Club Captain is equally as important as The Manager, The Chief Executive or The Owner.

So the candidate should be of sufficient stature, not just in a physical sense, but in the status he holds in the game as a whole. To attain the necessary status he must have been around a while, he must be a good enough player to command a starting place in the club’s first team and preferably in his National side as well. He should also have earned the respect of not only his own team but also opposing players and particularly the on pitch officials. Needless to say he must also be media savvy, articulate and able to offer rational answers to irrational questions at times of both elation and disappointment in post match interviews for example.

tony adams

Looking back, I can recall Frank McLintock, sleeves rolled up barking out orders to players, organising his defence at corners and free kicks and generally running things on the pitch. Similarly with Tony Adams and of course Patrick Vieira. Arguably the best Captain I ever saw was the incomparable Bobby Moore, calm authoritative and respected throughout football.

Latterly the armband has been a bit of a poisoned chalice, not only at Arsenal but also at international level with England. Fabregas and van Persie were appointed only to depart shortly after, Vermaelen suffered both a shocking loss of form and a series of injuries and could soon follow the other two out of the club and there are rumours that Arteta could also go if someone of the stature of Khedira or Bender are signed. In the England team the captaincy has, disgracefully, been swapped around more times than at a kid’s game of pass the parcel.

At the moment it appears to me that should Vermaelen leave, the only rational candidate would be Per Mertesacker, but for how much longer can he command that starting place in the team? Longer term we can all hope and expect the appointment of Jack Wilshire, but will it happen?

What are your views on both the Captain’s role as, should it be largely ceremonial, tossing the coin, handing over a little pennant and posing for a snap with the officials or, as the Manager’s voice on the pitch and the players representative off it. Surely there must come a time when a stop is put to the absurd situation of referees being mobbed by a group of angry players, then only the Captain should be allowed to approach the officials, and that will require a calm sensible approach, one more attribute needed for the job.

Who should our next Captain be?

Written by Norfolk Gooner

 


Who has got to go? Its all about the quotas

July 14, 2014

On the back of the signing of a player, we Arsenal fans have become used to players leaving to balance the books, with quite a few released at the end of the 2014 campaign, there may not be the normal rush from the club to make this happen. Arsene has reiterated over and over again that its just as important to keep the squad together as it is to bring in new talent.

But there are parameters within which we need to work, those set down by both UEFA and the FA in terms of homegrown players. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that our recent acquisitions have not fulfilled these quotas, in addition to the new arrivals we have players who have now matured into a “need to be named” age, only three or four years ago I would have been unfussed about our squad quota’s Jack, Aaron and Carl are now of an age where they have to be named, this reduces the available squad places on offer, although they do fulfil the homegrown quota.

Or do they? One of the issues now confronting clubs is that there is a different set of rules for Europe compared to the Domestic League.

I’m sure I have written enough posts on the subject by now that I don’t need to go over the rules again…….oh……ok well pay attention this time!

Premier League Homegrown Rules:

Maximum squad size 25
Maximum Non Homegrown Players 17
Complemented by Under 21 on 1 January of the year the season commences. So under 21 on 1 January 2014 (born on or after 1 January 1993)

Definition of Homegrown : those players who irrespective of nationality or age, have been affiliated to the FA or Welsh FA for a period of three seasons or 36 months prior to 21st birthday.

Simples!

Now what about European Competition?

Well UEFA have got clever with the rules, in principle they are the same except the 36 months rule applies between the ages of 15 and 21, 4 of the 8 home grown quota must be club homegrown.

I actually thought this was why Liverpool buying Lambert was a masterstroke, but having checked wiki he was not there past the age of 15…….so answers on a postcard please.

Anyway back to the main point, where is our squad now in relation to the rules above?

Key below : HG – Association Homegrown, CG – Club Homegrown, U21 – work it out

Disclaimer I am only adding U21’s that have featured in the first team.

Name Status Contract To
Wojciech Szczesny CG 2018
Kieran Gibbs CG 2018
Jack Wilshere CG 2018
Aaron Ramsey CG 2018
Francis Coquelin CG 2015
Theo Walcott CG 2016
Carl Jenkinson HG 2018
Per Mertesacker 2017
Thomas Vermaelen 2015
Laurent Koscielny 2017
Nacho Monreal 2017
Tomas Rosicky 2016
Mikel Arteta 2015
Mesut Ozil 2018
Santi Cazorla 2016
Mathieu Flamini 2015
Abou Diaby 2015
Lukas Podolski 2016
Olivier Giroud 2017
Alexis Sanchez 2019
Ryo Miyaichi 2015
Joel Campbell 2016
Gedion Zelalem U21 ?
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain U21 2018
Yaya Sanogo U21 2017
Serge Gnabry U21 2018

Anyone care to explain what is going on with Djourou? He is still on the club website as an Arsenal player, but there were reports last year that he had sealed a permanent move to Hamburg….if he is still ours he would count as Club Homegrown.

So thats the list and what can we do with it.

Well lets assume we want a full 25 man (over 21) squad, we need at least 4 club homegrown for UEFA purposes, well as you can see we are actually well covered in this area, that Mr Wenger isn’t stupid is he?

Out of those listed 5 could be considered to be first team quality:

Szczesny, Wilshere, Ramsey, Theo and Gibbs.

All good for that UEFA minimum requirement, and because we have one more than required we only need a minimum of three other homegrowns, well this is perhaps from last years squad where we struggle, Jenkinson is in there but are we really going to include Coquelin as well? If Djourou remains then he would make the full 8 player quota. But the chances of both players being in red and white this season are slim. Although I personally have always liked Coquelin, an unfussy midfielder able to tackle and move the ball.

I know that we don’t have to fill the entire 25 spaces available, but wouldn’t it be good from a rotation point of view to have a bit more experience and nous around that adds to the squad.

So where does that leave us, well we now have 17 berths to fill, go on add up the non home growns above….15….so 2 spaces, the under 21’s have a free pass to play so can avoid the knife.

Most of us think we need at the very least one experienced keeper, one defensive midfielder and an experienced right back, thats one more than we can acquire if the rest of the squad is retained, unless we can find some homegrown (by definition) talent to fill some of those gaps.

In the past it would be easy to identify the chaff to be separated but now it is not so easy probably Miyaichi who hasn’t progressed due to injury and Diaby who hasn’t played because of injury are prime lambs for the slaughter, that gives us four available spots for non home grown talent.

I always finish these kind of posts with one thought……screw being a manger with these rules and limits in place, you need to plan three, four or five years ahead to stay ahead of the game, you have to look at your youth and decide who will be able to fulfil roles going forward that others will vacate. Thank goodness its not my job, and thankfully we have Arsene, someone who isn’t just planning for todays successes but also for future one’s too.

Anyone else think they have a decent plan to get in the players we need without destabilising the squad with simultaneous departures?

Written by Gooner in Exile


Does Arsène Wenger have sun-stroke?

July 13, 2014

Morning Gooner’s

Has Arsène been out in the sun to long? Playing Volley ball on a Brazilian beach in searing heat, God he even had a smile on his face. Here we have a man who for all the time he has been with us, he has only ever had Arsenal football club on his mind, and now we see a demented 64 year old prancing on foreign shores in, wait for it, swimming trunks of all things, bearing his ripped six pack, and ogling Brazilian beach babes, bugger me, he thinks his Ronaldo.

Sun stroke can affect people in different ways, some are sick as a dog, some have hallucinations, and some spend money which is not normal to them. Well Hallelujah, Wenger needs a holiday like this before every transfer window. I have to wonder what he does at night but I don’t think I would believe it.

Here we have a man who has always spent Arsenal’s money like its his own. He is known as the tightest Premier league manager, he goes down in the world of football Managers as one of the most steadfast boring buggers you could wish to meet, but a bit of sun and the man has turned into a jet-setting  spending machine, someone said he also offered to buy a drink.

We have to get him back, and get him back quickly,  as the way things are going we will start to look like a club that have ambition, people will start to talk, the press will have a field day. I can see the headlines, Wenger on his hols, drinking and partying into the early hours, and low and behold, scantily clad babes rumoured to be on the same floor at his hotel.

What of Arsenals future? The stiff upper lips of Arsenal FC, I can see their faces, What the hell is he up to out there, prancing half naked on the beach, without a tie, what is he doing, just glad he hasn’t an Arsenal logo t shirt on.

Arsène Wenger is showing us, that there is still life left in the old dog. He has signed that new 3 year contract and when people of his age take time out and start enjoying life they start to realise that its not always best to carry on the same way you always have. Life is very short and if you don’t start grabbing the bull by the horns you can easily slide into oblivion.

Arsène has had a taste of victory with our latest FA cup win, 9 years he had to wait, sometimes he may have thought he would never see another. After a bad defeat on the opening day of the season he bought us Ozil.

Arsène, as normal, came out and said this was a disappointing result but we are focused and we have belief and we are together. Many of us thought O my God not another season of misery, don’t lie that’s what you thought. Well low and behold Arsenal dug in they started to pull together, within a few weeks we pulled that defeat back and was heading the table, yes it was touch and go at times and the top of the league changed hands a few times but we were always there, come Christmas we were still there, we had seen the so called big clubs all have catastrophes and we were still up there in fact in front of them.

Injuries of course is what stopped our progress and injuries just as we hit the top so called teams, a few high scoring results against knocked everybody’s socks off and heads went down. We lost our top spot and to be honest we never came near to getting it back, but we did hang in there, we got fourth spot and we won a cup. That is a lot more than many thought after the Villa game, and look at us now FA cup holders and now in the market for 30 odd million pound players.

Yes Arsène and the boys have been holidaying but the time to start work has never left them, they will be coming back to training knowing that new blood is also coming and a new season awaits. Wenger would have got over his sunstroke and he will be pushing for more of the same, could this be the year for the league, keep spending Arsène and it most certainly could be.

Written by Steve Palmer

 


Is Thomas Vermaelen still needed?

July 12, 2014

Before it starts slipping from memory I want to show my respect to Thomas Vermaelen for the vital role that he played for our wonderful club last season and the inspired decision it was, to not only keep him captain, while injured, but to allow him to collect the FA Cup at Wembley; even though, he didn’t play a single minute.

Vermaelen FA Cup

We all know the football saying that you are only as good as your back up well this is where I am coming from on this one. In my opinion it was vital that TV was kept on side and happy, ready to go if called upon.

It would have been so easy to have passed the club captaincy to either Arteta or Mertasacker during the long unfortunate periods of injury that TV suffered last season; but no, Wenger persevered with him and rightly so in my opinion.

Vermaerlen is still a very good CB and could still become a vital part of a first choice paring. This may be hard to imagine with the CB partnership of Mertasacker and Koscielny looking stronger than ever.

But, let’s not forget that there was a time, not so long ago, when this site out of respect and admiration had a picture of Vermaelen leaping like a salmon placed permanently in the top right hand corner.

vermaelen leaps

The question now is what to do next? Personally, I think it is essential that we keep him others might think an upgrade is the way forward.

Over to you.

Written by LB


Alexis Sánchez – Arsenal’s greatest ever signing

July 11, 2014

OMG, however excited you were about the signing of Ozil how much more excited are you about the signing of Sanchez? This is big, Gooners, this is a great signing for us.

gun__1405013789_sanchez_trainingkit2

Come on, on a scale of 1 – 10, no actually no even starting at 1, starting at 5, how much more excited are you about the signing of Sanchez than you were when we signed Özil?

If you haven’t had a chance to think about it yet here are a few reasons why, as a Gooner, you should have a smile like the wide-mouth frog and be skipping along wherever you go today.

1. Early signing – Arsène has been on the beach for weeks and although the rumour mill has been rumbling along who’d have thought we’d have a player sorted before the World Cup final?

2. A striker – Arsène has bought us a striker, this is unusual because we really need one and often in times of need we’ve been disappointed.

3. Not just any striker – Sanchez is a classy striker, not a winger that wants to play through the middle, he’s a proven goal scorer and he’s going to be scoring goals for Arsenal.

4. He only wanted to come to Arsenal and this is what he said …….

Sanchez said: “I’m so happy to be joining Arsenal, a club which has a great manager, a fantastic squad of players, huge support around the world and a great stadium in London. I’m looking forward to meeting my new team-mates and to be playing for Arsenal in the Premier League and Champions League. I will give my best to Arsenal and want to make all the supporters happy.”

Sanchez new kit

This is what Arsène Wenger had to say about our shiny new toy (copyright LB)

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger said: “As many people have seen during the World Cup this summer, Alexis is a fantastic footballer and we are delighted that he is joining us at Arsenal Football Club.

“Alexis will add power, creativity and much quality to our squad and we are all looking forward to him joining up with us in a few weeks. He has consistently produced top-quality performances at the highest level for a number of seasons now and we are all excited to see him integrate into the Arsenal squad. I’m sure all Arsenal supporters will join me in welcoming Alexis to our club.”

Arsène has looked happy and very relaxed in Brazil and now we know why. Hopefully there are more new signings to come.

Have a very nice day 🙂

peachesgooner

 

 


Alexis Sanchez to sign for Arsenal?

July 9, 2014

Yes it’s a only a question at the moment but what would Sanchez bring to the party?

To give him his full name, Alexis Alejandro Sánchez Sanchez , so good they named him twice, 25 year old Chilean born striker who currently plays for Barcelona.

Alexis Sanchez

To start with he is a goal scorer and a provider of assists, his World Cup stats are played 4 scored 2 and 1 assist. His record in La liga last season was a .72 of a goal every game, when assists are added it becomes 1.09 goals or assists every game. Those figures put him fourth in La Liga behind Ronaldo, Messi and Bale.

He can play left, right or centre and can play deeper if needed. He has pace both on and off the ball and is expert at picking out his team-mates with clever passes. He has always been noted for his work rate and has the acceleration and outright pace to get onto the excellent balls played in by Mesut Ozil.

For a player to score 21 goals in a season playing for a team that fields a player of the calibre of Lionel Messi takes some doing. Could Arsenal use him? A resounding yes.

If we do get him, he’ll be in direct competition for a starting place with the likes of Cazorla, Oxlade- Chamberlain and Wilshire. Given the injury problems of the latter two that may not be a bad thing. In addition, there has been talk from Cazorla’s camp that he would welcome a move back to Spain.

What do AAers think? Will he fit in? Will he put a few noses out of joint? Will he help us win trophies?

Can Arsenal sign him? At the moment it seems we are the favourites, Sanchez wants to come to Arsenal, the clubs have agreed a fee of around £32/35 million and his salary shouldn’t be a problem, but Juventus are sniffing around so it’s not yet a done deal.

We just have to wait and see.

Written by Norfolk Gooner.

 


Olympics football Part I. Youth development

July 6, 2014

This seems a somewhat strange topic to write on, given that Great Britain has had an arm’s length relationship with Olympic football. Hence some comments are in order. A couple of weeks back, GN5 wrote a fantastic post on the first World Cup in 1930, which Uruguay won. Before that date, national football was the domain of the Olympic Games. Uruguay had won both the 1924 and 1928 Olympics gold medals in football.

Encouraged by GN5’s post, I did a bit of background research on the Olympics. This turned into a Gargantuan project, and in the process I unearthed a lot of interesting insights that were largely new to me. This information I plan to organise into a series of 3 posts to fill in part of the lean “transfer” ( 😛 ) season. My general argument is that staying away from the Olympics has been to the detriment of England team’s World Cup prospects. You AAers are the best judge as to how persuasive this argument is.

Today is the first of the three, focusing on youth development. The second will focus on Arsenal stars in Olympics football. The third will be on the controversies behind, and future prospects for, British involvement in Olympics football.

What does Olympic football have to do with youth development in football? Quite a bit, I would argue. Indeed, Olympics football is now the equivalent of youth World Cup in national football. Since the 1992 Barcelona Games, men’s Olympic football has changed from an amateur tournament to an under-23 competition, with three over-age players allowed per squad. Qualification for the main draw is based on under-21 competitions.

With England’s failure to progress beyond the group stage this year, the focus is firmly back on youth development. Olympics, anyone? FA? Dyke, Pearce, Hodgson? 🙂

At the outset, let us have an Arsenal focused perspective. In the 1912 Olympic Games, as host nation, Great Britain entered the men’s football competition after a long break. Opinions on whether professional players should participate in Olympic football varied, but the mainstream view is that Olympic football is for amateurs not professional footballers.

In April 2012, David Seaman said: “[As a player] if you get the option it’s a big decision. … Obviously representing Great Britain would be a massive honour, but I was a professional for 22 years and I don’t think I would have done it. I don’t think it’s for professional footballers – I’ve always felt it should be left to the amateurs.”

A year before, Wenger in March 2011 said: “In the professional game we see the Olympics football as an obstacle rather than as a motivation. … I think the Olympic Games is not about football, it is about track and field. Football for me never looked to be a highlight of the Olympic Games.”

That may well be a valuable perspective, particularly when it relates to senior professional footballers. However, two issues remain. First, the above mainstream view is not inconsistent with a youth developmental perspective. Do major footballing nations use Olympics football for grooming young players and providing them experience at the world stage?

Second, what about scouting? Can the Olympics be used to identify young footballers who would be future world stars?

To explore these issues further, I report the uptake from Olympic squads for some leading footballing nations in the 2014 World Cup, focussing on members from the corresponding Olympics teams from the 2012, 2008 and even 2004 Olympic Games.

**************************

Argentina men’s football team participated in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, but not 2012. 7 out of the 37 players in those 2 squads were included in the 23 in Brazil 2014. Mascherano 30, Zabaleta 29, Gago 28, Lavezzi 29, Di María 26, Messi 26 and Agüero 26. Let us not forget some other prominent names from 2004 as well who were probably too old by 2014: Ayala, Coloccini, Tevez, Heinze and Figueroa.

Indeed, what a remarkable collection of stars? I have included current ages in the list above so that one can have a sense of how the Olympics were used for youth development.

Ah, well, the sceptic among you may say, maybe Argentina were a bit different. Not in the slightest. Here are some other national sides.

Brazil participated in the 2008 and 2012 Games. 7 of the 35 players in those two squads are included in the current World Cup team. Thiago Silva 29, Fernandinho 29, Marcelo 28, Hulk 27, Neymar 22, Ramires 27 and Jô 27. Similar pattern to Argentina.

Mexico. Of the 36 players in the Olympic squads for 2004 and 2012, 7 are included in the 2014 World Cup squad. Ochoa 28, Herrera 24, Peralta 30, dos Santos 25, Jiménez 23, Reyes 21 and Ponce 25.

Italy. 2004 and 2008 Games. 7 out of 38 players in the 2014 World Cup squad. Chiellini 29, Candreva 27, Abate 27, Marchisio 28, Barzagli 33, De Rossi 30 and Pirlo 35. Similar pattern, but note the difference in the ages. Is there a transatlantic divide? Perhaps not, just the fact that the current Italy side is getting on a bit.

Belgium, only the 2008 Olympic Games. 7 out of 20 in the current squad. Kompany 28, Vermaelen 28, Fellaini 26, Mirallas 26, Vertonghen 27, Ciman 28 and Dembélé 26. Yet again, youth development in focus.

Uruguay. 7 out of the 18 in the 2012 Olympic Games squad. Coates 23, Cavani 27, Suárez 27, Ramírez 23, Hernández 23, Lodeiro 25 and Ríos 32.

For Switzerland, the current World Cup squad has 5 members out of the 18 in their 2012 Olympic Games. Benaglio 30, Mehmedi 23, Drmic 21, Rodríguez 21 and Schär 22.

Portugal. Only 2004 Games. 5 out of 18. Meireles 31, Alves 32, Costa 33, Ronaldo 29 and Almeida 30.

Spain participated in the 2012 Games. 4 out of 18: de Gea 23, Azpilicueta 24, Alba 25 and Martínez 25.

Costa Rica, only the 2004 Games. 3 out of 18. Umaña 31, Myrie 26 and Díaz 30.

At the other end, the Dutch under-23 team competed in the 2008 Games. However, none of the players are included in the current 2014 World Cup squad.

*******************************

What about England? Great Britain does not usually participate in the Olympic men’s football event. But they did so at home in 2012. Here is the squad.

Great Britain 2012 Olympic men’s football squad (starred players over-age): Jack Butland 19, Neil Taylor 23 (Wales), Ryan Bertrand 22, Danny Rose 22, Steven Caulker 20, Craig Dawson 22, Tom Cleverley 22, Joe Allen 22 (Wales), Daniel Sturridge 22, Craig Bellamy* 33 (Wales), Ryan Giggs* (c) 38 (Wales), James Tomkins 23, Jack Cork 23, Micah Richards* 24, Aaron Ramsey 21 (Wales), Scott Sinclair 23, Marvin Sordell 21, Jason Steele 21

Only one of the above 13 eligible players (5 players in the Olympics squad were Welsh) were included in England’s 2014 World Cup squad. Daniel Sturridge 24. Most importantly, several players who would have been eligible were not included in the Olympics squad: Wilshere, Welbeck, Smalling, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Sterling, Barkley and Shaw.

Why was the Olympics competition not used to groom young English players for the World Cup? Was this a missed opportunity? It seems so. Stars of the 2012 tournament included, among others, Peralta and dos Santos for Mexico and Neymar and Oscar for Brazil. Likewise, the stars of the 2008 Beijing Olympics men’s football included Aguerro, di Maria, Lavezzi and Messi (Argentina), Ronaldinho and Jo (Brazil), Dembele and Mirallas (Belgium) and Kalou (Ivory Coast). Whither youth development, FA?

Finally, here is a question for Arsene. We know you are having a gala time in Brazil. We also recognise that you take pride in developing young players. The World Cup has largely established stars, and hence is perhaps not particularly suitable for scouting. But, what about the London Olympics in 2012? Where were you at the time Arsene? Did you watch football in the Games? Who did you see and admire? Which of those young stars are we signing?

Written by Arnie