Arsene Wenger has usually come underfire for producing a lack of Englismen for the first team and more recently an attack on his youth policy by Michel Platini however the squad announced for the Carling Cup match against Sheffield United features no less than 11 British players, 10 of them English.
It is true Arsenal often pinch some of the best players from around the world but the academy is now starting the produce our own top class players. Jack Wilshere is an example; making his debut at 16 and becoming the youngest player to have played in the league for Arsenal and is now tipped for big things. But it is not just Wilshere who are breaking through, Randall and Gibbs have both made their senior starts while Gavin Hoyte played in the pre-season camp in Hungary.
The Gunners have a harder task than most clubs in producing talent as the best ones must be able to be top four material.The absurd comment by Fabrice Muamba, ex-academy prospect, accusing Arsenal of producing Englishmen just to sell them at a profit while also stating that some of them were good enough to play for the club. Of the best that left Ashley Cole was a first team regular, Bentley was too impatient, Sidwell moving to Chelsea when not ready and Upson (not academy player) followed Bentley’s path. Apart from Cole none of them you would say have proved they are good enough to play for Arsenal. It normally takes ten years for an academy to start producing and we are starting to see the fruits of the labour. Credit must go to the coaching staff which includes Liam Brady and Steve Bould among others which boasts a hugely promising U16’s and 18’s side.
As the premiership becomes more foreign owned clubs look likely to buy muy overseas players but this seasons stats show the trend has bucked as the number of Englishmen has increased to 44% up by ten. It is no less helped by the promoted clubs in Hull and Stoke but clubs are starting to take more care in their youth policy. Chelsea wanted to buy the world’s best but have realised youth is the importance and have invested more greatly in this area. Newcastle wanted to adopt a similar policy under Mike Ashley but that now looks unlikely. The truth is most clubs envy the Gunners and want to adopt a similar youth model and indeed a business model, i.e Lyon.
One of the Problems
One of the problems we have (English teams) in producing talent are laws that state academies only register U12-U16 players within one-and-a-half hours travel time. This has surely increased the amount spent on foreign imports at a young age rather than develop the small amount you have here. A young prospect could live in Bournemouth but will not be allowed to join Arsenal therefore losing some of the years of development. It is said the best English youngsters should train with the best players. You could also argue London is the best best place for finding English youngsters as there is a higher population and a more diverse amount of people. Arsenal have always placed importance in English youngsters under Wenger and it is starting to pay off as the kids are challenging for a first team spot.
Arsenal v Sheffield United
G.Hoyte – Djourou – Song – Gibbs
Wilshere – Ramsey – Randall – Merida
Bendtner – Vela
Subs: Vito MANNONE, Francis COQUELIN, Jay EMMANUEL-THOMAS, Henri LANSBURY, Abu OGOGO, Jay SIMPSON, Emmanuel FRIMPONG
One to Watch: Carlos Vela- One of the senior men at only 19, he is a full Mexican international and will not look out of place. Has great balance for one so young and is very composed.
Weak Link(s): G.Hoyte and Gibbs– Good players but not natural full backs by trade but could make it their own. Hoyte is only bettered in pace by Walcott and is a central defender while Gibbs is a winger but in the same fixture last year put a composed display setting up a goal.