By Tony Attwood
I’m not sure that Arsenal actually needed any additional publicity among the football playing fraternity in order to ensure that the players the club wants, want to come to the club, but if they did, then achieving the FA Cup records they have just gathered ought to do it.
Everyone must know it is the second successive final, and anyone who bothers to look behind the wild extravagances of the campaign that suggested that Liverpool and Gerrard had some sort of divine right to be in the Cup Final, will also know that the forthcoming cup final gives Arsenal all sorts of new records such as
Highest number of finals for any club – 19, with the highest number of victories at 12 should we win
Highest number of finals for any manager: 7
Possible sixth cup victory for Wenger – equalling the record of George Ramsay between 1887 and 1920 – with Aston Villa, who of course we play.
Here’s the manager’s record in the finals thus far
|2013-2014||Arsenal 3 Hull City 2, aet|
|2004-2005||Arsenal 0 Manchester United 0, aet, Arsenal won on penalties|
|2002-2003||Arsenal 1 Southampton 0|
|2001-2002||Arsenal 2 Chelsea 0|
|2000-2001||Liverpool 2 Arsenal 1|
|1997-1998||Arsenal 2 Newcastle United 0|
But of course success one year is never enough – it has to go on and on which is why those fixated on transfer rumours are full of all the players we are about to buy.
But one should be a little cautious over such matters, for it was only this past January when numerous blogs and papers were suggesting who Barcelona would buy – forgetting that they couldn’t buy anyone having been a trifle wayward with the children. There have also already been one or two over excited slip ups concerning this transfer window – they are still banned of course – but it is best to let that pass and contemplate something a little closer to home.
For the fact is that we still have the “25 player rule” in force, and if we buy even 1% of the players with whom we are now linked we are not going to be able to register them all – unless we sell.
By my reckoning if we keep all the players we have now at the club we will have no difficulty with the home grown rule, but we will only have one place available for a new player – and that is assuming that Sanogo, Jenkinson, Podolski and Campbell don’t return to the fold. If they do we are full to bursting, and it is the sales that will make room for the new players.
Part of the problem for me is that I always get confused over the 21 year old rule, so I may have got some of these wrong, but I think the squad of over 21 year olds for next season (as it stands at this moment) is that listed below, with the home growns indicated with an asterisk.
- Arteta Amatriain, Mikel
- Cazorla, Santiago
- *Coquelin, Francis
- Debuchy, Mathieu
- Diaby, Vassiriki Abou
- Flamini, Mathieu
- *Gibbs, Kieran James Ricardo
- Giroud, Olivier
- Koscielny, Laurent
- *Martinez, Damian Emiliano
- Mertesacker, Per
- Monreal, Ignacio
- Ospina, David
- Ozil, Mesut
- Paulista, Gabriel
- *Ramsey, Aaron James
- Rosicky, Tomas
- Sanchez, Alexis
- *Szczesny, Wojciech Tomasz
- *Walcott, Theo James
- *Welbeck, Daniel
- *Wilshere, Jack Andrew
- Alves Da Silva, Wellington – (now 22)
- *Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexander Mark David – (now 21)
Now I have added in Oxlade-Chamberlain as I believe he no longer will be an under 21, and Wellington, who is being talked up as finally coming to Arsenal. But, I am not at all sure about Wellington’s ability to get a visa, so that is still questionable.
Anyway, taking the list above that gives us one place spare. Of these players, I guess the two most likely to leave are Flamini and Diaby – although I think it is also possible that if Diaby can train solidly through the summer and do the pre-season, he might just be given a low-salary contract with significant bonuses for each game.
Without Wellington, Flamini, Diaby, Jenkinson, Podolski and Campbell, we have 21 players – which means lots of space for new entrants. Keep any of them, and the number starts to rise up to the limit of 25. We can’t keep all of them and our loanees.
Of course part of my calculation does depend on the age of the under 21s we have in the current squad. If any of these will qualify as over 21 then they take up some spaces too. I think there are ten youngsters currently at the club who could get time on the pitch, from the obvious Bellerin and Chambers, to players who are still very much in the academy teams. I have put in some birthday details where they seem relevant to me (remembering the player doesn’t suddenly drop out of the squad upon hitting 21, it is how old he is as of January 1).
So I reckon that these players will qualify as under 21s for the whole season.
- Akpom, Chuba – 19
- Bellerin, Hector – 20, 21 in March 2016
- Chambers, Calum – 20, 21 in Jan 2016
- Crowley, Daniel
- Gnabry, Serge David -19
- Hayden, Isaac Scot – 20, 21 in March 2016
- Maitland-Niles, Ainsley
- Ormonde-Ottewill, Brandon
- Toral, Jon-Miquel 20, 21 in February 2016
- Zelalem, Gedion
If I have got any of these ages wrong, and the player does move into the first team squad, that takes up another place – and I am sure I shall be told most clearly by correspondents with more knowledge than I.
But in short, when we look at all the players registered to Arsenal at the moment we have to get rid of some of our players.
There is also the issue of the goalkeeper, with a fair amount of talk about our pal Szczesny being past it. Personally if he does go I think that Oooospina is the obvious first choice, and Martinez the back up, which means that we would promote one of the youngsters to third in line to the sticks. With such a scenario that would make another place available.
And don’t forget, everyone brought in at a top price wants an assurance that he will get regular games.
I don’t know what the latest aaa ranting is on all our useless players, but the reality is that although our injury level is low at the moment it could rise again – one only has to remember last autumn. Most certainly the kickers and the cloggers will be out to cripple us once again, and although the focus on referees is much stronger now, no one should believe that next season will be a paradise of fair play.
We need a squad, and we need back ups, but we have to remember that the very, very top players want to play each game.
Fortunately, another cup final and a record breaking manager gives us a certain credibility.
From the anniversary files…
20 April 1966: Sunderland 0 Arsenal 2; one of only two wins for Billy Wright in his last 16 games in charge. During that run Arsenal scored just 12 goals.
20 April 2014: In a match delayed by advertising hoardings blowing across the pitch, Ramsey and Özil returned after long lay-offs as Arsenal easily beat Hull away, proving if it needed proving, how important these two players were. Ramsey scored and Podolski got two.