There’s been a lot of talk about using Academy players to plump up the squad as we seem to have run out of money … thanks Stan for not putting your hand in your pocket to help your team!
I find it worrying that often when we talk about buying players we agonise over not disrupting the squad and yet there are legions of fans wanting to sell more than half of our current first team.
Back in 2008 we had a fabulous set of players in the Academy/Under 21’s and Arsene Wenger knew that he was going to need to use some of these players in the First Team. Anyone remember a stunning victory in the Carling Cup against Sheffield Wednesday at the Emirates Stadium. The game ended 6-0. A hattrick for Carlos Vela, a brace for Nicklas Bendtner and a goal for Jack Wilshere, making him the second youngest Arsenal scorer. It was a night of fabulous football, I was there as our boys tore into the Blades and I can tell you I was excited at the prospect of Bendtner and Vela playing together in the First Team.
I’m not sure they ever played together in the First Team, I remember that van Persie got injured and Bendtner became his replacement. But the special way that they had played together that night was never seen again.
Last season we witnessed another night similar to that one in 2008 when several young guns lines up against Vorskla away in the Europa league in November.
We won the game 3-0 with goals from Emile Smith-Rowe, Ramsey and Joe Willock. Eddie Nketiah also started the game. In the second half more youngsters were given a chance of game time with Medley, Saka and Charlie Gilmour replacing Holding, Ramsey and Guendouzi. It was a fabulous display, the young guns knew how to play together and it showed on the pitch. We saw some of them individually later on in the season but not in numbers. They’re used to playing together, they know how to read each other, I feel we need to use them as a group.
What I’m trying to say is that they have to be given a chance to play regularly if we are going to reap the rewards of the fact that they’ve been playing together since they were tiny tots.
Arsene Wenger wasn’t brave enough to do this consistently but maybe Freddie Ljungberg will be and Unai Emery will listen to him. I hope so.