On Ramsey, PEA, Friendlies and Youth.

This international break succeeded where others failed: it’s broken my perspacity.

Arsenal are in Dubai for “warm weather training” which must hack Aaron Ramsey off given he’s been sent back to the club due to a thigh injury. “Hellooooo…” echoed through the empty Colney corridors in his dulcet Welsh tones. Spare a thought for the medic whose stay in the sun ended abruptly with the news of Ramsey’s injury.

On the pitch, there has been one upside so far. Gabon failed to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations finals so Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will get next summer off. Not that it will be a long break. The players return to training in early July and play either Bayern Munich on the 17th or, if we finish sixth, the second qualifying round of the Europa League.

That will queer Stan’s pitch in the US next summer if we finish that low. And it would be pretty embarrassing for the club as the ICC friendlies would be canned. I’m surprised we committed to them but presume that we have an escape clause because there’s no way we’re playing a first leg UEFA match and then sending the team off to the USA for friendlies. It’s madness to think that and an incentive for the players to finish in the top four this season. As if they needed another.

England’s thumping win over the Czech Republic drew attention to youth and exuberance. The Golden Generation, who are now all pundits, ran around like The Scousers telling everyone to “Calm down! Calm down!” as excitement levels rose.

Quite right too. It was a good performance but let’s see if they can keep it up. Nonetheless, it’s good to have an England team which isn’t monstrously overhyped and is just being enjoyed for the football.

Young Hearts Run Free

At the Under-21 level, Reiss Nelson played well in England’s draw with Poland, grabbing an excellent assist for Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s goal. His time with Hoffenheim hit a ‘rocky’ patch when he was dropped for disciplinary reasons. Julian Nagelsmann described the action as ‘educational’ which suggests it was a series of minor infractions totting up to one too many.

It’s a learning curve for the player, one which previously was almost all-positive. Recovering from this is part of that process, getting him ready for the Arsenal first team squad next season. I don’t think he’ll anything more than a bit-part player, a substitute for Iwobi – who was criticised for his performance for Nigeria – or Mkhitaryan.

That’s the problem with youth; it’s so unreliable when judging a player. If you think back through Wenger’s reign to all the promising youngsters who were going to be the next ‘big thing’ in the first team, how many actually made it?

Very few with Gedion Zelalem the latest to move to pastures new, joining MLS club Sporting Kansas City. Whatever the ‘x’ factor is, it’s good enough for other clubs but not for Arsenal. Our standards are higher, it seems.

Then again, while the primary objective of an academy is to bring through players for the first team if they are good enough, a close second is to be a source of income. Does history mean we’ll be any less excitable in the future. Of course not; seeing a player break through the ranks and make the grade is almost a holy grail in football that no amount of television money and cocking around with the kick-offs can wreck.

The international break is one day closer to finishing and that end cannot come soon enough.

’til Tomorrow.

32 thoughts on “On Ramsey, PEA, Friendlies and Youth.

  1. Thanks for the post yogi

    If the goal of our academy is to provide first team players for Arsenal then it’s not done very well. I honestly don’t think there is a single player that has lived up to the hype. You could argue wojo has finally made it but it took him about about 8 years. Gnabry may be on the way but it’s taken him about 5 years. With regard to Reiss Nelson he had a fantastic adrenaline fueled first couple months but since then just like nearly all of the previous heavily hyped academy products he has fallen back to earth with a very loud thud. He hasn’t scored a goal and he has 3 total shots on goal since early November and he has 0 assists this whole season and he has had disciplinary issues. I am not suggesting he is going to turn out to be another bust but I think it’s safe to say he probably isn’t ready to help our first team and he probably needs a couple more years on loan.

  2. Welsh Corgi

    I will give you Bellerin this season. The past couple seasons not so much. Hopefully the good version of Hector will be the one who comes back from the injury. As far as Iwobe, I agree with JonnyGunner. I doubt he would not be playing much on any of the worlds other big teams. At the most, he should be a squad player but I don’t think he is not good enough to be getting regular first team minutes.

  3. Bill,

    Ok,sorry for late reply. Though my reply was to your post regarding academy not doing well.

    If academy promotes two players to first team in 3 years (which it has in Bellerin and Iwobi). Wouldn´t you say thats quite good?

    If we go some years further back then we have Wojo, Jack, Le Coc. 5 academy players to the first team in 10 years.

    I think thats ok and I´d even go so far as to say that the 10 million GBP we got for Wojo (schezney, I cant spell) is probably close to 5 years funding for the academy (running costs, not interest, mortgages etc).

  4. Bill,

    You are missing the fact that Nelson waa actually out injured, then they had their winter break and even aftet that was still out injured before being dropped. Lets also not forgot he is a 19 year old kid who is in another country so he isn’t just getting adapted to the futbol, but to life in another country as well.

  5. Zelalem is a player who injuries have played a major part in career. When he was on the cusp of breaking through, he did his knee on duty for the US back in 2017 and then was out basically 18 months through setbacks and additional surgeries. I read somewhere it was something like 470 days out of futbol with that injury.

  6. Welsh corgi

    We got 1 good season from each of Jack W, wojo and Le coq. Wojo was an on and off starter for 5 years but other then good one season his biggest contribution was negative because he prevented us from buying a better GK while we were waiting for him to come good only to finally give up after 5 years and ship him off because of discipline issues. Arguably 2 of the most successful academy players in terms of first team minutes since Ashley cole have been nick bendtner and Kieren Gibbs but I doubt that many of us would call either of those players a success. We waited patiently for them to live up to their potential and they took up roster spots and first team minutes that could have gone to a better player like Nacho. How you look at the academies record depends on your expectations and what sort of players you were hoping it could produce.

    The reality is we probably could have done a lot more in terms of making money if we had sold players like jack w, Bendtner, Gibbs when they still had some value. The money we might have made could have been used to buy a better player. However as yogi said in his post, developing the next superstar from your academy is one of footballs holy grails and no one wanted to give up on their potential so we missed out on the selling side.

  7. C

    I don’t know if you remember this but a few years ago we bet a 6 pack of my favorite beer vs a bottle of your favorite bourbon about Gedion Zelalem. I said he wasn’t good enough to play regularly on any team in Europe and you thought he was going to be a star somewhere. You owe me a 6 pack of Fullers London Porter. 😉

  8. Bill,

    I remember, its on the way! 😉

    Guess we should of put an injury clause on there especially when he did his knee playing for rhe USA and then was out because of that for the next 18 months. He is still only 22 🤔

  9. C

    Reiss Nelson hasn’t scored in the last 15 appearances when he has been healthy so injury is not the current problem.

    I agree that he is only 19 but you can’t use that excuse if you are going to try to make a case for bringing him back and giving him first team minutes. We don’t get special dispensation for any mistake he makes because of immaturity. If he is not ready yet he should be sent on loan until he is ready. No?

  10. Bill,

    Yes, none of Jack and the others became superstars like we hoped. But thats not what you wrote as an aim for the academy. You wrote “If the goal of our academy is to provide first team players for Arsenal then it’s not done very well”.

    On the contrary it seems, as Bellerin, Iwobi, Wojo, Jack, Le Coc and as you kindly mentioned, Gibbo, made it to the first team.

    Thats 6 players in 10 years which I would say is pretty darn good for an academy 🙂

  11. Oupps, Im sort of in amnesia, but I forgot AMN who also are part of the first team these days (I´ll rest my case :-)).

  12. Bill,

    If he is going to be apart of the squad and not automatic first choice then bringing him back and embedding him into the team just makes sense. There will be plenty of chances for him between yhe domestic cups, busy winter fixture and what not. I get what your saying, but he is learning not only futbol wise but personally in a new country.

    I would gladly sell Mhkitaryan and give his mins to Nelson next season.

  13. Welsh corgi

    Fair enough. I did say that. My comments should be more specific. If you are happy with the first team contributions we got from Gibbs bendtner wilsjere wojo etc then more power to you The bottom line is yoyr view in success or lack of success depends on the expectations.

    I think most fans would say we made a mistake holding on to jack w when we could have sold him for big money at one time. I wonder if we will end up regretting not selling Hector or Guendouzi if someone is actually willing to offer big money. Sevilla made big money when they sold Dennis Suarez at his most valuable point and they must be very happy right now.

  14. If the goal of academy is to provide 1st squad players , at best, something is probably not right. You need to unearth a gem every once in a while, the kind of player to lead a team. Then you build around that player (or players) thru the free market, and trades etc.

    So then i do agree, the academy is producing some decent players (does bellerin even count? didnt we buy him from barca). I dont think any of our young players have gone on to have really solid careers elsewhere. Maybe gibbs but where is he? Theo? Jack? Ox?

    I think if these players were really good you would see them have long fruitful careers elsewhere. Like Gael Clichy and Sagna, they went on to play a good 3-5 more years winning titles (with $hitty but still those guys were solid pros). The players we are discussing here have faded away into the depths of MLS soccer :p

  15. Instead of trying to find the next ballerina lightweight CAM/winger in our academy I wouldnt mind seeing some big boys coming thru the ranks as well. Once you hit the EPL the physicality, defense, organization are all a step above. You think Cardiff or some other mid table bruisers will let Zelalem dance his way thru a midfield? Dude would get knocked on his arse instantly. if you arent a fighter, the EPL will break you.

    All that said, Ainsley is still a twig out there but he has shown some fight in really big games. He has taken some abuse and rough tackles, he bends but doesnt break. Lets hope his health and good play continues. Also eat some f**king pies and hit the gym mate. bulk up a bit so next time you can put Danny Rose or Trippier on their arse.

  16. Thrillbo

    Wojo and Gnabry are probably the one 2 out of the hundreds of players who have come and gone from our academy that I wish we had back. The problem with Wojo was we gave him 5 years and other then 1 season he was highly inconsisten. We kept hoping he would finally come good instead of buying a decent the GK we really needed. The ceiling for the vast majority is similar to Fran Merida or Zelalem or Benik Afobe.

    C

    The problem with having someone like Nelson in the squad is whether we like it or not we really need to buy a better wide forward who is more productive, but if we buy a new player then Nelson will hardly get any minutes especially if we still have Iwobe on the squad. How will not playing help Nelson’s development? Its the same conundrum we have with Iwobe and the hundreds of young players over the years. We need to have a productive player in that position but if we buy the player we really need then we will essentially be taking away all os Iwobe’s minutes. However, if we continue to wait patiently for Iwobe to make his real breakthrough then we can’t buy the player we need and it hurts our results.

  17. Like it or not, using first team minutes to develop young players and winning are often competing goals especially you hold off on buying the experienced player you need because you dont want to block the path to more minutes for a young player like Iwobe

  18. We did not buy a player like Nacho for several years because we were convinced Gibbs was the next great left back and that cost us points.

  19. Great post YW

    Bill I knew you were a man of taste and distinction! “Fullers London Porter”, now you’re talking!

  20. On a personal note, I’m sad to see Zelalem depart and hope he comes good in the future. He was always a bit light weight, but he had that Cesc esq. vision and pass. My colleague knows the family personally and I don’t know if you guys were aware that he suffered a family tragedy during his time at the Arsenal, whereby his sister was killed in a car accident. Not saying that’s an excuse why the lad didn’t break through but what with the injuries, his age and physicality and the loss of a sibling, it’s a lot for a young player to deal with.

    Good Luck Gedion, I wish you all the best mate.

  21. On the academy front, surely the way forward is the Chelsea model. Just sell them at the point of their highest forecast value with an option for buy back and first refusal. You’ll find very few that you’ll actually want to buy back or have first refusal on and maximum return on investment. Clubs are paying stupid money for young player’s nowadays with no real clue whether that player will actually become a first team regular.

  22. Buying Torreira probably ended any chance that Elneny or Maitland-Niles will ever be more then back end of the squad players which some would say is unfortunate. However from the standpoint of our results I think buying Torreira was a good move.

  23. HenryNorrisDialSquare,

    I was thinking similarly. If the goal of our academy is built produce players with tons of hype and sell them off for profit instead of giving time in first team? Look at Torreira. He is still young , but he came ready made and proven in a good league (he was in Italy i believe?). His price tag was around 20m or so right? If we could convince someone to scoop up some u20 players right now (guendo included) for tens of millions we should probably take that gamble.

    With the current squad we arent really in a ‘rebuild’ mode. We have deadly strikers, decent keeper, decent midfield, meh defense. I am over simplying things here but lets keep our current attack force and bulk up our D. If we can remove ~10 goals from our ‘goals allowed’ think of how many points that can be. We are still a ways off from pool and city , we would need to go -20 on goals allowed to be on their pace.

    The stat lines for City and Pool are pretty astounding..

    Pool has only 1 loss, 70 goals, 18 allowed for a +52
    City 4 losses, 79 goals, 21 allowed, +58

    Our beloved gooners are in a close 4th place in goal differential, tiny toots are at +25 and we have +24. I was saying we need 20 goals less, we will need 20 goals less and 10 goals more to keep up with those two at the top.

  24. Bill,

    If we sell Mhkitaryan I am ALL for buying an improvement (Sarr is top of my list) and I have said we should bring in a quality winger. That doesn’t mean Nelson won’t play, we are in 4 competitions, you don’t think there will be mins. Plus, having Sarr, Iwobi and Nelson is 3 players rotating on the wing which keeps them hungry, fresh and is good for us. Look at Citeh for instance, you think they said, ‘lets not buy Mahrez and loan out Foden because Silva, Sane and Sterling’, no, they said, we are in 4 competitions and Foden will get plenty of match time to develop PLUS injuries, suspensions and busy fixtures mean he will see match time.

  25. Bill,

    What I’m talking about is different than what your saying. Your not hearing me say, ‘we don’t need a winger’ instead I’m saying, ‘sell Mhkitaryan, bring in Sarr and have Nelson too’. Lets not also forget that we need a CM and probably a CB soooooooo.

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