Should AFC follow the Chelsea model?

October 12, 2018

LB recently wrote (briefly) about the efficiency of the Chelsea model i.e. buying every youngster from anywhere, lending them out all over Europe, and not using their Academy to develop players.

Arsenal, however, choose to take a different path; bringing young players through the ranks at the Hale End Academy with the intention of giving youth a chance. So far we have some exciting players who have come through – Smith Rowe (Lab), Iwobi, Nketiah, Nelson and Maitland-Niles (Cons) have all been with the club since childhood. Add in Catwalk who arrived as a 16 year-old and we can see this appears to work.

But will it bring us the Title?

Unknown.jpeg

The Chavs sign world class players as men and they have delivered the PL. Does it matter that they are mercenaries with no Chelsea connection? There is no JT or Butch Wilkins. Even the very best of their imported youth doesn’t get a sniff (Christensen the Danish CB is a wonderful player – are you listening Unai?)

Man City are hoovering up the best of the World’s academy players and lending them out but I expect City to use some of these Wonderkids, and they have promoted Foden into the first team squad which is good for Ingerlund and City. However, it does not stop them from having €30m+ players in every position.

Liverpool are interesting. €70m+ for a CB and Gk, shitloads on strikers and MF’s yet 3 players from the yoof and lower leagues in defence. But they have spent hundreds of millions to get where they are and have yet to win any silverware.

Spurs? Who cares?

In my opinion, the days of a club winning the PL with homegrowns is well gone. We must hope that the mix of Academy players plus World Class imports like Terrier, PEA and Laca brought in, will bring us a title. Though sadly, I doubt it.

written by Big Raddy

Advertisements

Arsenal’s Balancing Act

October 3, 2018

Many things in life are cyclical, and as Arsenal are life, I went looking for some cycles (calm down LB  🙂 )

courtesy Getty Images

Cycles are recurring patterns, and while the most important pattern is the recent winning run, there are deeper more subtle ones. Like the fact that we perform better after oranges.

I’m getting bored of repeating the same old mantra during the first half. That being, our play is lopsided. Towards the left. A couple of tweaks usually take place at the break, as we saw against Watford when Auba came out on the right, however it’s not until the substitutions that balance is fully restored.

Both goals on Saturday came from the right, and both substitutes (Danny and Alex) played parts.

Now I don’t want to labour the Ramsey imbalance thing as I’ve been doing it for years, but, whether Mesut is shunted out right, or on occasion Ramsey, the result is the same. Both drift central, pushing the one who should be central further over to the left resulting in the aforementioned left side congestion and imbalance.

The obvious question is whether this is part of some clever containment strategy, to somehow drain the opposition of the will to live before thumping them with fresh, fast feet to wallop their left flank late on.

I don’t think it is, and it is time we set off from the whistle with this issue addressed. We are winning, but it’s only just, and we need these next fixtures to settle team selection and strategy that sorts this out. The last gasp winning is fun but it will come a cropper as we’re leaving the opposition with way too much hope for way too long. 2-0 by half time is the goal, not at 80 minutes.

Inevitably this leads to questions about selection and formations.

However good Watford were, and I was impressed, we gave them far too many good chances. I know, heck we all know, the central defensive pairing still wobbles, but it will get sorted out I’m sure, and we know Unai will stick with four at the back

Ahead, I think we can now all agree Torreira starts. This now becomes an exercise in filling in the blanks. Before discussing the midfield, I will base my suggestions around my belief that Auba and Laca need to play closer together and that Mesut needs to provide the ammo from just behind. Bingo, the answer therefore has to be a midfield three (3-5-2 can achieve the same thing at the sharp end, but I feel we would have seen Unai play this card at some point by now).

Sooo, in short, with the front three, and Torreira, Unai can alter both his offensive/defensive strategy as well as addressing the right/left balance issue, through the selection of the players either side of Torreira, and he has some great options:

Stay solid: Xhaka and Guendouzi

5-0 by half time: Mhki and Iwobi

Their jobs are to connect midfield to attack, create width on occasion while assisting Lucas in his defensive duties. Both must possess speed as will have to cover back when the wingfenders make their forward surges.

Funnily enough, one of the players richest in all these attributes is Maitland-Niles.

mickydidit89


Who partners Torreira? – Poll

August 29, 2018

Having sorted out Arsenal’s right side rearguard and assisting flank provider yesterday, today we turn our attention to the midfield pivot.

Everyone is clamouring for Lucas Torreira to start just in front of the back four. Surely the only reason for this not happening so far is due to fitness and/or acclimatisation. So Torreira is a given.

The question then arises, ‘who partners him?’ or, in fact, ‘can he handle the job on his Jack Jones?’.

Let’s take a look at the candidates………………..

Granit Xhaka – building up some decent experience of Premiership skirmishes, Granit possesses a fine left foot. His passing range is good though eye of the needle passes are rare. He’s more of a spread it wide to the wingfenders kind of midfielder.

Mo Elneny – economical, functional and effective, Mo does his job with a minimum of fuss, shifting the ball to others in better positions to deliver a telling pass. Has a great engine and is very mobile.

Matteo Guendouzi – his storming pre-season earned him a place in the team for our opening fixtures. Has a keen eye for a pass and really does like to play the ball forwards into dangerous positions which makes him stand out. Let’s hope the occasional misplaced pass so far, doesn’t knock his confidence too much and he continues to shine.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles – it has been mooted that A M-N could be an effective element of a double pivot. Fast, confident and excellent in the tackle, he does seem to possess the necessary attributes. Has become a bit of a utility player with Arsenal’s need for an auxiliary left back and others suggest his natural position is further up the line providing ammo for the strikers.

Aaron Ramsey – could Aaron find the discipline required to remain in that central area of the midfield? Or maybe Lucas requires a partner with more of a box-to-box feel.  Perhaps Aaron might partner Torreira against particular types of opposition? Though maybe Rambo’s creativity and eye for goal are wasted playing in a deeper role.

Mesut Ozil – perhaps Unai has asked Mesut if he fancies becoming more of a Pirlo-style midfielder, conducting the whole orchestra from a deeper podium and that has caused some consternation. Apparently Mesut has had the highest number of turnovers so far of anyone playing in Emery’s new Arsenal high press.

What do you think? Perhaps you don’t think Lucas Torriera will be the first name on the team sheet even when he has got used to London and the English Premier League?

Maybe Unai Emery already has a good idea of his ideal team members and all with be revealed in the fullness of time.

chas 


Ok, your turn. Be Arsene – How do you play the rest of the season?

March 3, 2018

Obviously, full focus on The Europa.

Moi? I’d use the league games to discover who I wanted in next season’s first team squad so that I knew exactly who would be surplus to requirements before the summer window opens.

I’d want to see more action from Iwobi, M-N, Nelson and Nketiah.

Out of those, I reckon it’s time to really nail down M-N’s ideal position

Finally, that brings me to a dedicated Holding Midfielder/DM. Do we have one?

Written by MickyDidIt89


If Maitland-Niles is the answer….what the hell is the question?

January 16, 2018

Ok that headline is pure click bait, and I predict we will see a number of comments from people who haven’t read the post telling me that I should leave our homegrown talent alone and that he is a wonder kid in the making. Let me be clear I won’t disagree with any of that and that is why I am writing this.

I’m sure I cannot be alone in being a tad discontented with Arsenal performances of late (understatement of the decade), what have I had to get excited about? Well in all honesty three things give me faint hope that we could still turn this slump round and become a force to be reckoned with again….step forward Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson and Jack Wilshere. Homegrown, super talented, unphased by the game at this level and the hysteria that sometimes surrounds our club.

These three have been at Arsenal for much of their life, combined they have 40 years big club experience, and 15 years international experience at their respective levels. They have seen the good times and bad at the club, they have experience of what it’s like to play for a club that the minnows want to beat (even if that’s in youth leagues and cups). I’m sure there are plenty of others through our ranks with similar attitude. The biggest compliment I can pay Maitland-Niles is that his teammates never worry about giving him the ball, compare that to when they look at some of their other teammates and turn away to find a safer option.

Whats my point? Look at some of our recent signings for what is frankly silly money these days (insert your own choices here) can you honestly say you wouldn’t rather be watching homegrown talent in those positions……yet still the only solution offered by many fans and pundits to our current malaise is sign more players, where exactly has that got us in recent seasons? As far as I can see more discontent on the terraces and more disjointed performances on the pitch.

I have often speculated that not all of our recent signings have been purely football related, I think there is such a clamour to sign players that the club has got itself into a belief that any signing is better than none, keep the fans and media off their back, “there you go we are spending some f***ing money”.

We need a change of mindset, we need to get back to what made us different but also led to enjoyable attacking football that the supporters enjoyed watching with a team that played with freedom and without fear.

As depressing as the League Cup Final defeat to Birmingham was that side was better to watch than this current team, and if we could have kept it together had more chance of winning titles. Perhaps most importantly it had one player who was a star when we signed him, and he was already on the wane for us. Over the four years leading up to that final we had a transfer net income of £31m.

The team that started against Birmingham….Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Djourou, Clichy, Nasri, Song, Wilshere, Rosicky, Arshavin, BSR. (Cesc and Theo both injured).

Ok not home grown but assembled for very little money, Jack was the first to emerge from a youth setup that had been given a root and branch overhaul on the type of players it valued and the style of play. Arsene had bought cleverly in the post stadium move/Abramovich/Sheikh era when the big hitters left for big money he assembled a side for relatively little money still able to compete. No they didn’t win titles, but neither is the current side, that over the three years preceding and including this season has cost £165m to assemble (without managing to get £30m plus for Ox that could have been nearly £195m). Has it been well spent? Is spending more now going to bring us any more chance of success or bring better football? Won’t we be throwing good money after bad chasing the elusive final piece of the puzzle. Unfortunately our jigsaw seems to have been spread far and wide with many bits lost down the sofa. You may also need to consider what our competition has spent in that time….City £479m, United £438m, Liverpool £75.5m (helped by recouping £108m for Coutinho), Chavs £36.2m (their youth acquisition policy very helpful) and Spuds £9m. Probably explains why we are lagging behind City and Untied, not so much why we are lagging behind Chavs, and obviously Spuds benefited hugely from discovering a £50m striker in their youth setup.

I hate to look across at Spuds and say I wish we could be like that, but they have a side more akin to our 2010/11 team than ours is now, they play uninhibited football and work bloody hard and even their best player hasn’t yet got too big for his boots that he is demanding the club buy players to match his ambitions, they have been able to build that side because their fans have been beaten into submission by years of abject failure that expectation or entitlement to be challenging for titles is not present in the fan base, they are enjoying the ride and why shouldn’t they.

What have we as a club really achieved in recent years that leads to such high expectations? High expectations that when you look at the spending of United and City is more often than not going to be kicked in the b******ks.

I think it’s time for the club to reset, and get back to basics, whether under new management or current, give the kids some game time and forget about superstars for a while until we find our identity again. I’ll have much more fun watching Maitland-Niles and friends bring some joy back to watching Arsenal than sitting there eternally disappointed that the last £40m midfielder we signed can’t actually track a runner from midfield and has worse attack and defence stats than a £12m midfielder bought 4 years earlier, or a £47m striker has as good a goal to shot ratio as the much maligned £12m striker from a few seasons previous who in my opinion actually brought more to the overall play of the team.

If our support was influenced only by titles there would be many bloggers that frequent this site that would have given up in the 60’s and again in the 80’s. They didn’t because football isn’t all about the trophies, first and foremost it should be enjoyable to go to or watch, to achieve that you need to reset your expectations.

Gooner in Exile


Don’t Underestimate Arsenal’s Emerging Talent

February 6, 2016

I think I speak for most people when I say I was glad to see the back of Project Youth. As much as it helped us through the stadium move, it was also massively frustrating to watch young talent that never quite reached its potential. The likes of Vela, Szczesny, Bartley, Djourou, Miyaichi, Merida, JET, Afobe, Frimpong, Eastmond, Bendtner and countless others have come and gone without quite being the answer. Thankfully though, the financial restrictions on the club are now lifted and we can afford to buy ready made superstars like Özil, Sanchez and Cech. But where does this leave our youngsters?

It’s been a while since we had a wave of talent coming through, with Bellerin and Coquelin the only real success stories in the last 5 seasons, but it does look as though we may have another group ready to burst onto the scene. There was a lot of talk during the transfer window about us needing to improve our forward players and today I wanted to have a look at some future stars and see if anyone thinks they could be good enough to break into the first team squad in the summer and give our current crop a run for their money.

Chuba Akpom (age 20) on loan at Hull

Striker

Apps 19(9)

Goals 7

Whoscored rating 6.61

Born in Newham, Chuba came through Arsenal’s Hale End academy before making his debut along with Mesut Ozil in September 2013. He signed a new long-term contract with the club in 2015. An England youth international with a true goalscoring instinct, he scored a hat-trick against the Singapore Select XI during the pre-season Barclays Asia Trophy.

Jon Toral (age 21) on loan at Birmingham

Attacking Midfielder

Apps 19(7)

Goals 6

Whoscored 6.78

An expert dribbler who can play on either flank or in the No 10 role, Jon (full named Jon Miquel Toral Harper) was involved with the first-team squad for last year’s pre-season tour to New York, and also played in the friendly against Borehamwood.

Wellington Silva (age 23) on loan at Bolton

Winger

Apps 15(3)

Goals 2

Whoscored 6.91

Despite producing match-winning performances Wellington (full name Wellington Alves Da Silva) could not rescue Almeria from relegation, but his impressive individual performances were rewarded with a first call-up to Brazil’s under-21 side in November.

The tricky forward became very popular with the Spanish side’s fans for his inventiveness and ambition going forward.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles (age 18) on loan at Ipswich

Centre Midfield

Apps 21(5)

Goals 2

Whoscored 6.82

Immensely talented midfielder Ainsley was a key figure in Arsenal’s academy sides last season, and will spend this season on loan at Ipswich in the Championship.

Known for his tricky feet, sharpness and lung-busting runs, versatile Ainsley is nominally a midfielder, but can also play on either wing

Jeff Reine-Adelaide (age 18)

Winger/Attacking Midfielder

Possessing great pace and close ball control, the youngster has excelled in wide attacking midfield positions, but Arsene Wenger believes the teenager has all the attributes to become an all-round central midfielder.

Serge Gnabry (age 20)

Winger/Attacking Midfielder

The skilful winger did not feature for the Arsenal first team last term due to a knee injury, but made eight appearances for the under-21s, scoring three times.

Alex Iwobi (age 19)

Winger/Attacking Midfielder

With nine goals in the under-21s’ final nine games of the campaign, powerful forward Alex was the academy’s form player in the second half of last season.

Naturally a winger, the Lagos-born attacker – who is the nephew of former Bolton star Jay-Jay Okocha – was converted into a central striker and caught the eye with a hat-trick against Stoke City at Emirates Stadium.

As you can see we really do have an excellent crop of youngsters waiting in the wings. Personally, I believe these players have a better chance of making it than some of those that were used in Project Youth because they are being given the opportunity to learn their trade out on loan rather than having to play in front of 60,000 frustrated Arsenal fans every week.

It’s great to see new signings walk through the Arsenal door but I think there is nothing quite like seeing one of our own pulling on the red and white shirt. I reckon a few of these lads could be doing that on a regular basis next season, but what do you think?

Written by FatGingerGooner