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Arsenal’s young guns set the standard

November 4, 2009

Arsenal are a rather special team, for many reasons. Manager Arsene Wenger has been in the job for more than a decade, which is an achievement in itself. In a day and age whereby managers come and go like candidates to be Sir Alan Sugar’s apprentice, 10 years in the job deserves a gold medal.

Secondly, the players he possesses in his vastly-talented squad. Down the years Wenger has constructed a young, agile, attacking side and has received a lot of criticism for not having a big ball-winner in the ranks. Especially since Patrick Vieira left. However, evidence this season suggests that Wenger knows exactly what he is doing.

Arsenal won the FA Youth Cup last season, which goes a long way to underlining the enormous potential that the next generation at the Emirates possess. Now, most of those players have gained some form of first-team experience, whether as a late substitute in the Premier League or even Champions League, or maybe starting in the early rounds of the Carling Cup. At some stage, that potential has been on show, and boy have people been impressed.

The recent 2-1 victory over Liverpool in the Carling Cup completely emphasises where Arsenal stand in relation to other sides in the League when it comes to their ‘second string’ team. Compare the likes of Craig Eastmond, Kerrea Gilbert, and Kieran Gibbs to Liverpool’s Damien Plessis, Philipp Degen, and Emiliano Insua, and the Arsenal guys are streets ahead in terms of talent and ability. Even though Degen and Insua are full Internationals, the standard of Arsenal’s teenagers is far higher than that of Liverpool’s.

Throughout the age groups Arsenal’s youngsters are taught nothing but how to keep possession of the ball. There’s very little on anything else. Credit must be given to the backroom staff and Academy coaches at Arsenal who clearly do a wonderful job of improving these youngsters and making them exceptional footballers. At times during the Liverpool match, they kept the ball for 20+ passes whilst playing one and two touch football; just an incredible thing to be able to do at the age of 17/18/19 against Premier League opposition.

Arsene Wenger is without doubt the best in the world at getting the best out of his young guns, and inspiring them to play out of their skin. Year after year more talent is brought in from abroad, and brought through the youth ranks to compete at the highest level, and year after year they impress. It’s like a conveyor belt of outstanding talent.

So Arsenal have set the standard when it comes to their Youth development system and the players they bring through. The question is, will anybody be able to compete with them in 5/10 years time?

The fact that Arsenal haven’t won any silverware in the last 5 years may suggest that all the hard work pumped into the academy is going to waste. However, it takes time to develop a side of such raw talent into one that will become world-beaters if you like. Take Cesc Fabregas for example. A couple of years ago he was an outstanding player, but there were still aspects to his game that needed improvement and honing. Now he seems to be the complete player. With several players of similar potential to Fabregas coming through, if they can reach maximum potential in the next few years then Arsenal have a team full of superstars in the making. 5 or 6 Cesc Fabregas’ in the side makes for a cup-winning generation.

It’s worrying for the other sides in the Premier League that they don’t have the same potential. It’s unquestionable that Manchester United have a world-class youth setup, and the same goes for Chelsea, but neither side has brought through the kind of talent that Arsenal are showing off, perhaps with the exception of Federico Macheda. As for Chelsea, well their side is made of over-30’s with very little youth being filtered through. Roman’s billions have obviously blocked the route for youngsters through to the first team. That’s probably another area that Arsenal have got right.

The Gunners have spent money on recruiting players from around the world (e.g Andrei Arshavin, Thomas Vermaelen) but they’ve also left plenty of room to enable them to filter through their youngsters in order to give them invaluable experience at the top level. It’s an area that other teams can take example from in order to progress their homegrown footballers.

One thing that will be interesting to see this season with Arsenal, is that if they make it to the final of the Carling Cup or FA Cup with the youngsters they’re putting out, will Wenger stick with them for that crunch game against, say, Manchester United with the Rooney’s and Berbatov’s? One thing’s for sure; Arsenal will be a side to look out for in the next few years, and they’ll have a few players who make it very big in the footballing world.

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. November 4, 2009 12:48 pm

    ‘Arsenal will be a side to look out for in the next few years’

    Yep heard that one before..over the last few years

    Also can you please name all this world class talent they have brought through their youth system? Keiran Gibbs is good as is Jack Wiltshire. Vela looks tasty. but who else? Where are all these other Fabregases???

    yes they play pretty passing football, yes they think they are Barcelona, yes they are nice to watch. However i will reserve judgement on them until they finally win something.

    btw i think Insua is a great talent..give the boy some time

    Not really going tit for tat, but id say Uniteds and Chelseas youth and reserve teams look better in class and depth than Arsenals at the moment. The teenagers we have produced and signed have amazing quality. The DaSilva twins, Macheda, Wellbeck, The Evans brothers Jonny and Corey, DeLaet, Gibson, Possebon…and we still have the likes of Pogba to come thro…so i really dont buy into this Arsenal are the greatest youth team of all time ever… fact only one team has ever won anything with kids in it…Alan Hansen knows who.

    Also some of Chelsea’s kids are frightening!

    That concludes my Wenger bashing for the day…he will be happy with third in the league this year, and that tells you everything.

    • maserati4200 permalink
      November 4, 2009 2:30 pm

      “so i really dont buy into this Arsenal are the greatest youth team of all time ever”

      The article doesn’t suggest anything of the sort.

      If you’re going to be chippy, let’s have some accurate chippiness.

      I’m a Spurs fan btw.

  2. Aris permalink
    November 4, 2009 3:33 pm

    In the next few years, Arsenal will have the strength as a strong team. Fabregas and the others will be around 25-years of age. At that time Man Utd old players would be too slow to catch the young guns.

    So Rob, don’t be so sure what’s gonna happen in the next few years. Who knows this season would be ours OR Man Utd won’t even win anything.

    • Aris permalink
      November 4, 2009 3:38 pm

      Rob, I think you have heard about this, “we don’t buy quality players, we turned unknown players into a world class.” – There are too many Arsenal legends to mention here.

    • maserati4200 permalink
      November 4, 2009 3:48 pm

      I agree.

      Wenger is building a team for the next 2 years and beyond. This is a much more sensible and sustainable model than the stuff that’s going on elsewhere in the PL.

      Chelsea – ageing team, funds reduced/reducing, no real quality in the ranks to replace the stars.

      Man Utd – GK, Rio,Vidic, Giggs, Scholes – all nearing the end or under-performing. Owen and Berbatov – transient. The youngsters have been held back for too long and have a steep learning curve.

  3. November 4, 2009 4:11 pm

    Is it a dangerous thing to have 2 Spurs fan thinking high and mighty of the young Gunners? I am a Spurs fan 1st and football fan 2nd and the football side in me believes many of the young gunners may not be world beaters, but many will last in the EPL for much longer than many of the Liverpool youngsters.

    As for United, perhaps the type of players they produce are not the slick passers of Arsenal which is why the media don’t really talk about them. I don’t see Jonny Evans passing the ball around, but that doesnt make him a bad player.

  4. November 4, 2009 4:54 pm

    oh my word a Spurs fan a defender of the Gooner faith!

    Glenn Hoddle would be spinning in his grave..if he were dead.

    Yes we shall see. I have faith that United will compete in the future..we create team after team. When Arsenal went the whole season unbeaten all i heard was how they would dominate for the next 10 years….theyve hardly won jack since

    So let Wenger carry on with his master plan. I know which club id rather be following at the moment. I will laugh my socks of when Fabregas leaves at the end of the season..but at least then there will be space for the other 6 Fabs they have waiting in the wings. Bull.

    For some reason, Wenger does not instill any sort of loyalty in his players..Flamini, Hleb, Adebayor, Petit, Overmars…shall i go on? All wanted out when their club could have really done with them. Thats Arsenals problem. Bye bye Cesc

  5. maserati4200 permalink
    November 4, 2009 5:21 pm

    It’s about objective, mature debate.

  6. George permalink
    November 4, 2009 6:08 pm

    Rob did you see Craig Eastmond and Fran Merida play against Liverpool? We’ve never seen Eastmond before on Sky Sports and he played like he’d been around for years. Merida the same, seen him a few times, and he’s been top-class every time no matter who he played against.

    Everyone’s raving about Sanchez Watt as well. He played earlier on in the Carling Cup and looked a very tasty prospect. Vela too. Gibbs. Coquelin. Randall. The list actually goes on. My point is, if they can play like they did against Liverpool at the age of 17/18 then what can they do in 3/4 years time? Yes we may have heard it before, but that doesn’t mean the same thing will happen again.

    • November 4, 2009 6:53 pm

      point taken George…lets see Wenger unlease them on the Prem and then we will judge me feels

  7. November 4, 2009 6:35 pm

    Rob does have a point there about loyalty. One of the reasons Arsenal dont win jack shit is because the players keep changing, whether they came through the system or not. I look at Adebayor, Toure, Henry, Flamini et al and all I see are players who were either unknown previously, or did not live up to expectations. Sure there were some successes, but they were few and far in between.

    I also think that Cesc will leave, and so will Arshavin (I think he mentioned leaving barely 6mths into his tenure at Arsenal!)

    Perhaps that is the reason now why the likes of Wilshere, Ramsay, Gibbs etc have been brought in. To maintain some of that loyalty which the foreigners clearly lack. Then again I digress, as this will turn out into a British vs Foreign debate rather than about bringing through the kids. Although having seen Cashley bank in on the money, the policy isn’t fool-proof.

    There is something about Man Utd and SAF in particular that he manages to instill loyalty in his players. To keep Ronaldo and Beckham that long in England was a massive success in itself. And from the current crop of players, I see O’Shea, Evans, Fletcher as the pick of the bunch to do a Giggsy.

    • November 4, 2009 6:59 pm

      i dont think its a question of nationality as such. Its about what a club can offer that player in the long term. All the players that have jumped the Good Ship Arsenal in the past ten years tells me that there is a core problem. What it is i do not know..maybe ask Flamini or Hleb. Two players who would have progressed greatly at Arsenal but went to play for other teams and sat in their reserves mainly.

      We pride ourselves at United that our players stick normally only leave when the manager doesnt want you anymore. Ronaldo was a unique situation, where Real offered stupid money we couldnt turn down

  8. George permalink
    November 4, 2009 7:09 pm

    Am I not right in saying that Kolo Toure stayed at Arsenal as long as Ronaldo? As did Henry – longer in fact. So I’m not sure that your argument about loyalty is justified.

    • November 4, 2009 7:14 pm

      i dont think ronaldo is the standard bearer. our players leave when they are not wanted anymore in general. Arsenals have all been developed then gone on to ‘further their careers’

      Liverpool also have that loyalty..look at steven gerrard…almost definitely gonna retire without a Premier League winners medal because he is so loyal. Maybe he could pop over to Phil Nevs house and he can have one of his? ;-)

  9. George permalink
    November 4, 2009 7:10 pm

    p.s. I’m really proud of you boys at United for having loyal players.

  10. November 4, 2009 7:43 pm

    Arsenal look good AGAIN this season and AGAIN are playing attractive football, but AGAIN like the last few years I don’t feel they have enough to put a big challenge in. But I like to be proved wrong (sometimes).

  11. Aris permalink
    November 4, 2009 10:55 pm

    I don’t think Fabregas will leave just yet. At the moment, we have Arshavin who may return to his old club before he retires.

    It’s true that Kolo Toure, Adebayor, Flamini and Hleb are not loyal to the team but Wenger has better replacements for every each players who moved out. We don’t regret their leave.

    Generally, Ronaldo thought leaving United at a such young age was a good idea. Staying at United would be a waste of time.

    Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Thierry Henry, Marc Overmars and Ian Wright leave Arsenal when they were about the 30-years of age. So I wouldn’t say that they are not loyal.

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