The Europa League draw is made which as I’m sure you know leaves us in a group with Sporting Clube, FC Qarabag (to be renamed FC Paper Bag in UEFA’s attempts to be eco-friendly, just don’t mention the trees), and Vorskla (Ukrainian club, dontcha know).
No reunion with Winterslag, Celtic and Rangers drawn elsewhere and not one problem qualifying. That’s my not so humble opinion of the draw.
And, of course, we are now going to win this trophy; the omens tell us that the only time we did in one of its’ previous incarnations, we beat Sporting Clube along the way. It’s written in the stars…
With Brentford coming out of the hat in the Carabao Cup – if we don’t win that one, will it be another Arsenal Stadium Mystery? – Unai Emery will be making the fullest use of his squad in coming weeks. Arsène took the opportunity to use the early stages of both as a testing ground for youth. I expect Unai to do the same.
The defence in those circumstances picks itself although left-back will be an interesting choice until November. Kolasinac, according to the last medical update, is back in training in October, while Maitland-Niles and Koscielny return in November. Cohen Bramall is an obvious choice but we shall see.
The first games are in three weeks time and plenty can change between now and then, especially with an international break imminent. Not that it makes much difference; most of our squad aren’t internationals anyway. Retired or overlooked, Emery has a good squad at his disposal for a fortnight. Hopefully, the time spent will be used to iron out the multitude of glitches which arose in the early games.
So, You are Colin??
Before all that, we visit Cardiff and Unai’s press conference takes place as I type. An hour-long embargo to allow dot com to get their stories typed before the rest of the world means Arsenal get to stay ahead of the curve for about five minutes. Then it just spirals out of control as per usual.
It’s his first meeting with Colin W*nker and oh to be a fly on the wall for that one. A 20-minute of ranting on the touchline where his rough, tough, manly Cardiff men are bullied by Arsenal is surely met with Emery’s best “Que?”
More of those larks over the weekend. There’s an interesting claim in the Heil today that “Unai Emery personally vetoed plans to send Emile Smith Rowe out on loan because he wants the teenager to stay with his first-team squad.”
If true, it backs up the claim made at the time of his appointment. His task is developing youngsters as well as sorting the senior pros out. ESR made a promising start in the first team on tour this summer and is another for whom hopes are high. Could he be the one to break into the first team after the false dawns of Jeff, Chuba, and a host of others?
Reiss Nelson is signing for Hoffenheim today with everyone assuming it’s a loan deal. No word from the club about whether he put pen to paper which is surprising. It’s a routine annoucement and makes me wonder if he’s about to walk on a free.
Loan deals are mostly to put players in the shop window, a ‘try before you buy’. Except we don’t do so well in shifting players on and are saddled with their wages for a few years.
One in a Million
There are those where we hope the youngster comes back a better man. There’s no guarantee it works that smoothly. Jack Wilshere did well at Bolton, Bellerin bombed at Watford, but both made the first team. Cohen Bramall and Carl Jenkinson barely made a dent at Birmingham with less than 20 first-team appearances between them.
We can go back through the years – before Wenger – to find examples of successes and failures. The squad system now encourages stockpiling of players – Chelsea have 31 on loan at the moment – with the chances of success at big clubs greatly reduced. The demands for success are such that young players are a footballing widget; to sell as many as you and hope you find one good ‘un.
It’s a strong contributing factor to the decline of ‘attachment’ to youngsters who do come through. Back in the day – cue old fart mode – few young players made the first team and fell away. Or at least that’s how it feels now, maybe they did, but when they broke into the XI, it was with a sense of anticipation with genuine disappointment when they disappeared – Andy Cole is a prime example.
There’s a myth in football that you can build a team through the academy system. It won’t happen. At best, you might get two or three first team players breakthrough at varying times into the same XI but that’s a good year. So for now, it’s more £300m contracts, Ivan. A transfer warchest doesn’t build itself, you know.