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


Do Arsenal REALLY need a star striker?

August 12, 2015

2 games, 2 goals, that’s the record of two Arsenal youngsters currently playing their football in the Championship. One of them is now an ex player in Benik Afobe, the other is very much an Arsenal player in the making in the shape of Chuba Akpom, but will either of these talented young players ever be given an opportunity to perform at a big club?

Over the last few years we have seen a massive shift in the way modern strikers play. Previously, they would work in tandem, usually with a big lump and a speedster seen as the ideal pair. Now, however, the striker position is one of the loneliest on the field, with many clubs, especially the big ones, preferring to play with a lone front man. I believe this is a massive reason as to why there are a lack of quality young strikers available on the market, and why someone like Benik Afobe didn’t get a chance at Arsenal.

If you look back at the debuts of some talented young strikers who went on to make it at big clubs, you will see an obvious pattern. The likes of Owen, Anelka and Rooney all started young, and all made their debuts playing as one of a pair alongside a more experienced striker. These days though it’s almost impossible for a young player to get an opportunity when there is only 1 striker position available.

What we see now are the likes of Sturridge, Welbeck and Morata having to play in a wider role to try and prove their worth. All these players were eventually moved on by their giant clubs as they opted for more experienced and trusted options to lead the line.

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule, such as Kane, Berahino and Ings, but these breakthroughs tend to be at smaller clubs like Tottenham and West Brom, and only after star signings such as Soldado, Adebayor and Ideye have failed.

With Arsenal constantly being linked to the likes of Benzema, Cavani and Lewandowski, my questions for you are how do you think the signing of one of these star strikers effects the chances of Akpom? Do you ever see a situation where a huge club, like Arsenal, can put their trust in a young player to lead the line when the demand for results is at an all time high?

Also, if it’s not formation, what do you think, if anything, is to blame for the lack of quality young striking talent in Europe?

Written by FatGingerGooner


The (Curious?) cases of Joel Campbell, Akpom and Sanogo

June 24, 2015

Here are three relatively young players that AW rates highly…

Joel Campbell had an outstanding WC2014 and then had some decent appearances but he was never really outstanding when playing for us or when going out on loan. Clearly, he is a talented player and he is highly viewed by many. The question is – what shall we do with him? Keep him, loan him or sell him?

Akpom has got the pace and a decent eye for goal. AW rates him and he has had a good career with your youth system like Afobe. Again what shall we do with him? Keep him, loan him or sell him?

Then comes the case (maybe the most curious) of Sanogo. A touted French striker that unfortunately suffered a horrific injury early on in his career…He then recovered and joined us on a free…He has again some potential but he is clearly not ready for Arsenal yet…So what shall we do with him? Keep him, loan him or sell him?

Looking forward to your answers

Written by RC78


Do Arsenal Really need another striker?

June 5, 2015

Well, do we?

There will be many posts through the summer which regurgitate what is trending regarding our FA Cup winners 😀  This is just the first ….

It is the same old argument about Arsenal’s front line but hopefully with a different slant because I do not think we should sign a striker – we have enough.

Let’s look at the menu …… Welbeck, Sanchez (or is it Alexis?), Giroud, Podolski, Sanogo, Walcott, Campbell, Akpom. That is 8 players vying for 2 or 3 places. We have the numbers but do we have the quality?

Podolski is a busted flush, the US League football beckons

Campbell is still young but has struggled at Villarreal – and if he struggles there then he has little chance of establishing himself as a force in the PL. If we can get a couple of mill for the lad, sell, sell, sell.

Akpom. An exciting prospect. Keep him at AFC until January and then loan him to whomever is at the top of the Championship.

Sanogo? I just don’t know. The chap has the physical attributes to be a target man but has he the skills; can he learn them? His loan at Palace was a qualified success, as in he got some pitch time and scored in the FA Cup but on the other hand he could not force himself in the first team. His scoring record for the France U-21’s indicates there is a decent striker in his lanky form. I would keep him and give Sanogo another loan at  – say, Norwich.

Which brings us to the 4 main strikers:

I don’t care what you say, OG is a fine striker and is in the world’s top 10 CF’s. Is he as good as Aguero – No. Suarez – No. But neither is Costa or Cavani or Falcao. It is an unfair comparison. Is he a 20+ goal a season man? Yes, he is. Does he create chances for others? Yes, his link-up play is comparable with anyone. If OG had been fit during that horrible start to the season we would have been closer to the Chavs, of that there can be little doubt.

Theo. We have to keep him. The prospect of a fluid and very pacy front 3 is exciting. Walcott’s injuries have stopped us seeing just how good his partnership with Ozil can be – IMO Ozil will make Theo into a 20 gaol a season man IF he can stay fit. I have always supported Theo and remain convinced he can become one of the PL’s very best players.

So that is already 40 goals

20 more from the Sensational Sanchez or the Amazing Alexis.

Welbeck is more puzzling. The man has so much and yet is lacking so much. He does it for England so can clearly find the back of the net but where and when does he play? As a stop gap whilst Sanchez rests? Can he actually play through the middle? Was Mr Wenger looking at the way Welbz cuts in from the left as a signifier he can become another TH? Perhaps he can. I love his workrate, his enthusiasm and his pace. But.

Let’s be realistic. We are not going to sign Higuain, Falcao, Yarmalenko, the German chap, or even at the French fellow. It is fun to speculate about them but we have some terrific strikers at the club and there are other areas where we can improve.

We have 3 strikers who, if fit, will score 60 goals+ between them. We have MF’s who will score at least 25 between them and defenders who can add another 10. That is close on 100 PL goals. We do not need to spend €50m on a striker (but it would be nice, wouldn’t it?)

 


Akpom. The New Anelka?

September 23, 2014

We are at home. The tickets are cheap. It is an autumn night. There are few expectations. We have a big enough squad to play some top players mixed with exciting youngsters. Southampton play expansive, attacking football.

Wish I was going.

Given the size of our squad and the strength of our bench I believe our B team can win the Capital One Cup. It would be a fine addition to the trophy cabinet and something we haven’t achieved since Rasp had hair …. without looking it up, when were we last League Cup Winners? (see bottom of post).

Reading Koeman’s pre-match thoughts it appears as though S’ton are going to play a very strong team, as close to the first team as possible. I can understand why because winning a piece of silverware – any trophy at all – would be huge for S’ton whose last trophy win was back in 1976, almost 40 years ago!

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S’ton, 6th in 2nd Div. beat Man Utd at Wembley with a goal by Bobby Stokes 1/5/1976

How will Mr Wenger respond? Well, we know that Diaby will start and I wish him all the best. He is such a good player whose career has been hampered by injury, at 28 he still has the chance to achieve his ambitions.

Ospina will start his first match for the Gunners. This is a strange signing for me – a fine signing for the club but weird for Ospina. Perhaps he believes TPIG is not very good and that he has a chance to usurp him, I think he is mistaken but I guess he is earning a far higher wage and is happy to ride the pine for the foreseeable future. As I say, an odd decision for a much in demand International class keeper.

Another point of interest will be the progress of Akpom. Chuba has played and scored for England at every Youth level, he is the fastest player over 10 yards in recent AFC history (beating both Walcott and Henry) and recently scored a hatrick for the U-21’s. He looks excellent when playing in the U-21’s but it is a huge step up to play with the Big Boys. Ray Kennedy did it, Anelka did it, can Chuba Akpom?

Then there is Isaac Hayden. Could he be the reason Mr. Wenger didn’t buy a back-up central defender? He did well in his previous outing with the first team when he played the defensive midfield role and looked very composed in the recent U-21 win over WBA.

It is upfront where we have so much in reserve. A forward line of Podolski, Akpom and Campbell is dangerous, add in the attacking midfield of (I assume) the Ox or Rosicky and we should score goals. The problem, as ever, is in defence.

Possible team:

23rd sept

This team could be a bit light defensively so perhaps Akpom will be on the bench and Ox play on the left with Campbell through the middle. Another alternative is Flamini at left back rather than Gibbs. Why? Because there is a rather important game on the weekend and we do not want to risk an injury-prone Gibbs.

So …… did you recall the last time we won the League Cup? Yes, it was in the 1992/3 season when we won the Cup Double against Sheffield Wednesday. I went to all 3 games at Wembley and this was the first. It was the Coca-Cola Cup in those days and we won 2-1. Sheffield scored first, the Merse equalised then Steven Morrow scored the winner. It was the famous occasion when Tony Adams broke Morrow’s arm whilst celebrating

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Morrow’s Big Day Out and a pre-recovery Merse.

Win this and there are just 9 PL teams left in the draw. Lose and we free up some game-time. Here’s to an entertaining match.

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy