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The day the Youth Project was crowned in all its magnificent glory.



Jack Wilshere joined Arsenal aged 9,

JET joined Arsenal aged 9,

Jay Simpson joined Arsenal aged 9

Henri Lansbury joined Arsenal aged 9,

Emmanuel Frimpong, joined Arsenal aged 11 (we were a bit late there, but to be fair he had just come from Ghana)

Craig Eastmond joined Arsenal aged 11 (ditto – must be  a late developer, but not ditto the Ghana bit)

And across the globe the North Korean Arsenal blogs pump out their daily grind that the Youth Project has failed and we should be spending billions of North Korean Pobble Beads on new players because none of the Youth Project players ever get into the team.

And of course I admit those six won’t all be in the first team next season, but the oldest of that bunch is 21, and most are around 18, so there’s time.

The fact is that we don’t just have six players who were signed aged 9 or 11 who can now hold their own in a pre-season game among the big boys, it is that two of the above (Wilshire and Frimpong) were the absolute stars of the game, and that behind them and not playing today is another raft of soon to be mega stars.

And as if that were not enough a number of other players around were signed just a little later in their lives.  (I would personally count a player who is signed at 16 part of the youth project, but you know what these North Koreans are like – if you can’t divide the age by the amount of grain produced through the communal harvest programme in kilos and get an answer under the square root of a triad, then its not worth the candle, as they say in Yorkshire).

And of course I also know that we were not playing with any of our world cup squad players, nor with our current band of injured or ill players.  Eduardo and Denilson had minor knocks in training and Almunia had a bug.  So none of this represents our true first team, but then that just shows how the pressure is not going to be on these lads.  They can take their time.

And here’s a strange thing – Simpson got a game because Eduardo was withdrawn at the last moment.  Could that strange accident of fate have changed his entire life, so that instead of being transferred to the Kingdom of Fife or somewhere, he actually goes on and plays for us and becomes the greatest player in the history of the universe?

(Sorry seem to have got carried away a bit there but you know what I mean).

(actually perhaps you don’t, given the problems experienced with my deep and glorious match report, so we’ll move on swiftly).

Actually there is one amusing thing that they have on Arsenal’s web site – after each game you can vote for your man of the match.  I went on about 10.30pm BST and had a look and saw that Almunia who was not playing had got a 4% vote.  I am not sure if that is a bunch of genuine mistakes or just because he is first in the list, or the North Koreans making a point so subtle that I can’t actually understand it.   Anyway, when I looked the top three by a clear distance was Arshavin, Wilshire and Frimpong, with which I would wholly agree.

Here’s another stunning thing.  This brilliant bunch is for the most part English, and indeed there is plenty of chance for Frimpong to change his mind and play for England instead of Ghana, although he might well be better of with Ghana.  But none of them is being picked by England to play!  What a bunch of turnips.  (England selectors that is, not our players).

So thus it is that I hereby take it upon myself to proclaim the Youth Project the most stunning and overwhelming success in the history of AFC.  It is real, it works, and it will take us to the most overwhelming glory ever seen in the… (well, you know the rest).

Just look at the players who were involved…

  • Nacer Barazite
  • Johan Djourou
  • Craig Eastmond
  • Jay Emmanuel-Thomas
  • Lukasz Fabianski
  • Emmanuel Frimpong
  • Kieran Gibbs
  • Conor Henderson
  • Henri Lansbury
  • Ignasi Miquel
  • Havard Nordtveit
  • Armand Traore
  • Theo Walcott
  • Jack Wilshere
  • Wojciech Szczesny.

22 comments to The day the Youth Project was crowned in all its magnificent glory.

  • Sean Spillane

    Glad to see Conor Henderson get a run-out today. Despite being born in Sidcup Conor has declared for Ireland. Well done Chippy Brady in persuading the young man to join the Republic set-up and I wish Conor a long and successful career, both for club and country.

  • do do

    Frimpong was 9 when we got our hands on him, 11 when he 1st played for us

  • Gooner Gal

    Absolutely agree with you, I just think its a shame that Jay Simpson wasn’t on the Arsenal.com voting list – because that’s who I would of gone for as first choice. QPR last season was a nightmare and not the enviroment for a developing young player. I think he needs to stay mentally strong and might be a suprise.

    Frimpong has really developed from the last time I saw him and hopefully will stay injury free this season. I think the Carling cup will be very interesting based on the Barnet game for him.

  • Hartwick89

    So on my 10-11th pint oh whatever….The irony is vs. the incoming?

    I hear in your face with youth proge vs. the best plus spend?

    I don’t disagree…

    Let’s see what the season brings!

    I am excited!

  • Lee

    I hear this every year so won’t be gettn ma hopes up!!!

  • Robbie

    Clearly it’s not a failed youth project. However, these players won’t win us a title no time soon. Nowadays, the trophies goes to the highest bidder. Moratti bought the CL trophy for Inter, Roman bought the EPL trophy for Chelsea and the banks bought the La Liga trophy for Barca. Trophies don’t come cheap. Now it looks like the arabs are buying the EPL trophy for Man City. Let’s make top 4 until the financial fairplay comes into play, then we’ll crush them.

  • G5

    The future’s so bright, I have to wear shades. Also because I have very sensitive eyes.

  • alex

    Yeah, I was just thinking the same thing. The last time i felt this optimistic and certain of impending glory was the exact same time last year. How odd?
    Still, i can’t disagree one bit with the post.

  • alex

    Barca F*** OFF!.. Jajaja loved it!

  • Shane

    Arsenal sign a lot of talent. its a shame they missed out on that young Justin Bieber.

  • Ahem..don’t get carry away.
    Remember Ryan Smith, Garry Barry, Connolly, Justin Hoyte, Ayling and….. Aliadiere?

  • Merlion the difference this time is twofold…

    The number of young players coming through at once is higher than ever before

    Those players have been with us longer than ever before.

    There will be a huge drop out rate from the young players, but my point is that we have never previously seen in one team so many young players who played so well. I must admit I thought Ryan Smith was something but he was not playing in a team with other brilliant young hopefuls. If only half of my list at the top of the page come through then we have done very well.

    And we have Coquelin and Freeman already out on loan.

  • Andy1886

    I really hope some of the young players make the grade this time. What bugs me is that too many times we buy ‘average’ players for the first team and a promising youngster loses a chance to make the grade.

    Everyone mentions AW’s youth policy, but remember the GG era when we had Rocky, Merse, TA, Mickey Thomas and the like come through? (okay TA was already in the team but even so). Mickey Thomas started out as a pretty ropey right back in the team but was given a chance and repaid us in full in ’89 – would he have that chance now or would he be replaced by an underwelming import from the French league?

    Fingers crossed that the new squad ruling will give these guys more of a chance than has been the case over the last ten or fifteen years…

  • Jesper

    I think we cannot be to critical on how many player will eventually make the first team. I think we should be really happy if one new player makes the first team each year, I mean Arsenal want to remain a world class side

    If I look at AJAX -who IMO have the best youth academy in the world with players like Cruyff,van Basten, Bergkamp, Davids, Kluivert, ah well you saw them all at Bergkamps testimonial..), their youth academy recently produced toptalents like Van der Vaart, Sneijder and Heitinga but besides that there are many talents who make it at smaller dutch clubs, so the Eredivisie is filled with former Ajax talents.

    So lets be patient, and not to critical only one out of ten players makes it to the first team.
    arsene knows

  • steww

    Tony it is so exciting isn’t it? Of course a project that starts with 9 year olds will take many years to come to fruition. Isn’t it a miracle that we have achieved such a fabulous squad of young players, not broken the bank, moved to an incredible new stadium and still competed at the top of the league year in year out. Great great days to be an Arsenal fan.
    My pick yesterday was Frimpong – utterly superb – but JET looks to have added a bit more pace to his game and I think could be ‘the one’, but hey what do I know?

  • Interesting wider perspective on youth teams is on the Guardian website at the moment in which they talk about Watford. Clearly Arsenal have the ability to sweep up all the best talent in and around London, so trying to put together a youth policy in Watford FC is difficult to say the least – especially given their recently high profile money problems.

    but what they have done is set up a link with a local secondary school so that they encourage their academy players all to attend the same school – thus making it easier for them to work with the kids and fit in the schooling.

    Not specifically relevant to Arsenal, but I think it is a good move by Watford

  • walter

    If Arsenal keep on working in this way we can have in 5 years time a teal that is half filled with kids like the one mentionned above (or other names) and the rest with players that have been here from age 16 to 21.
    And yes most will not make it in to the first team but most will can be sold to other clubs and can be succesful over there. And they will know that it was Arseanl that have given them the chance to get that far.
    And another thing is they will be players who play the game in the right way. They will be no butchers kicking around like madmen against our players. They will try to play a game based on their skill and maybe will bring more football in the teams they end up.

  • Realistic Alien

    You’re all mad!

    These are boys – they won’t all succeed, and then what do you do with them?

    Football’s youth policy is dangerously close to child abuse.

    OK, have your hopes for Arsenal, and believe in the club’s “policy” if you like – but please don’t kid yourselves that this is a “good thing” on anything but exploitative grounds.

    Someone should be publishing some research on what has happened to the several hundred players dropped by Premier League clubs over the last 5 years, before fans start “celebrating”.

  • steww

    Unrealistic – I guess they’ve gone on to do other jobs just like anyone who doesn’t succeed at their chosen profession. Now perhaps you’d actually like to explain why we’re all mad. Any actual cogent point to make?

  • Richard B

    @Andy 1886 – good point re Mickey Thomas being a ropey full back. But the key to his success was a switch to midfield (like Peter Storey before him) and such positional changes are Wengers forte.
    Generally agree re Tonys post – but I do think that JET could turn out to be the best of the lot. And doesn’t Hendersons style remind you of Edu?

  • Realistic Alien

    Steww, I think the point is – you don’t know what happens to the discards, and that implies you don’t care.

    9 year-old boys know nothing of the world, but can easily believe that one day they will play for Arsenal and be very successful. If that were my son, I would be at great pains to ensure that he didn’t presume this to be true, and I suspect I would actually not permit it to happen.

    I would want to ensure he had a proper education above all else, and that he developed a rounded view of the world.

    Of course, given the talent he would be displaying, I would be keen that it was given a chance to blossom, but not at the expense of other more funamental concerns.

    Imagine if your son was targeted by, say Shell, as a bright lad, and future geologist at the age of 9. This would imply some influence over his education and upbringing in line with that expectation. However, when he gets to 18 Shell says – we don’t want you – good-bye.

    What would you say then?

    It’s just a question – but I’m not as keen as you are on the idea of grooming 9-year olds, it seems.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Err……..

    Nothing new there. These boys mostly played in the Carling Cup before. Simpson scored two against Wigan when they won 3-0. Barely got a kick after that.

    Playing against Barnet isn’t the test of whether they will be Arsenal players or not. Playing against Blackpool, Wigan, Bolton, West Brom, Newcastle etc etc might be.

    No-one expects them to jump to the top of the queue when Man Utd are in town.

    But if you want youngsters to get Premiership experience, then blood them in games where the chance is most likely that they can show what they can do.

    Because if they can’t do it in those kinds of games, then they’re not ready for the EPL yet.

    Wenger didn’t seem scared to do it with Diaby, Denilson, Traore, Senderos, Djourou.

    I guess we’ll find out soon enough whether he’ll do it with these guys. He did with Gibbs after all.

    And if he did, then maybe the top boys will play slightly fewer games (40 not 50) and get slightly fewer injuries which will be good come the run in at the end of the season.

    Wouldn’t it?