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Is Carlos Vela not a little too old to be playing for Arsenal

By Tony Attwood

Carlos Vela was 21 last March, according to my maths, and yet it seems like he has been here for centuries.

In fact he came in in 2007/8 but didn’t start playing for us until the following season.  Year on year his stats are

  • 2008/9 – Starts 10 – Subs 19- Goals 6
  • 2009/10 Starts 6 – Subs 14 – Goals 2
  • 2010/11 Starts 0 – Subs 3 – Goals 3

Of course it is last year with the injuries that made it feel like he had been and gone, and it non-breakthrough made that goal against Sheffield United in the Diddly Cup seem so 20th century.  But seemingly without my noticing he did actually pop up 20 times and get a couple of goals.

This season so far he’s got two sub appearances in the league plus a wonderful goal against Notlob, and now here is again scoring twice last night.

As you’ll know, some goals at a game you don’t see particularly well (mostly because they are scored 10 miles away up the other end and the old eyesight isn’t what it used to be) but by chance the last goal last night was perfectly situated from where Johnny Neale and I were sitting, and it was quite extraordinary to see.  It really looked as if he was not expecting to get the ball, saw it and thought “ah the ball” and put it about six inches inside the post.  Utter perfection.

He looked rather pleased too.

It is, of course, a funny old game, but it really does seem as if we have another striker sitting there firing on all cylinders.

According to the official web site we have five strikers,

  • Van Persie
  • Walcott
  • Bendtner
  • Vela
  • Chamakh

which as I have noted before does not include a certain Mr Arshavin, who is listed as a midfielder.

If we put our Russian pal in the list, and take out those who cannot play just now we have, by simple deduction and advanced calculus

  • Vela
  • Chamakh
  • Arshavin

which actually seems like quite a decent line up, up front.  A fair old front three you might think.

Except I don’t think we are playing 4-3-3 at all at the moment.  It is 4-2-4, with two of the front four dropping into midfield when the need arises.

In fact sitting in block 99 what struck me was the way people kept popping up all over the place.  Nasri as the last line of defence, Nasri moving foward, Cesc as centre forward, Eboue as Eboue; it was really quite varied.

But back to Carlos. Was it just the injuries last year?  Has it (injuries aside) been a natural progression from 18 year old to 21 year old, now ready to show us what’s what?  After all just because Oor Jack started scoring bendy goals for the reserves when he was four does not mean that everyone can.

(I did an interview with Jack last year in which I asked him how long he had been playing football professionally.  He said, “Since the age of four.  I don’t know what I did before then.  Just mucked about a bit I suppose.”)

(actually I didn’t and he didn’t but it would have been nice if it were true).

I guess the awarding of the number 11 shirt to Vela says quite a lot, and if Vela keeps up this level of performance it will be like having signed a fourth player in the summer.  Well, actually a fifth, because there’s Jack.

And then there’s JET. He has just scored four goals in three games for the reserves – which I know is only the reserves, but this game was against Manchester City Elite, as their reserve team are now known.  Here’s what the excitable Arsenal web site said.

“Emmanuel-Thomas took one touch before curling a wonderful shot into the top corner past the outstretched Gonzalez to make it 1-1.”

Ah the old wonder goal.  Good stuff then.

Picking out the future Carlos Vela (as in young man who will burst upon the scene) is a pointless and fruitless exercise which I indulge in with vigour.  I think he is now here, arrived, on the scene, ready to play regularly, and all that stuff.  A winning goal in the cup final perhaps.

But to change tack once again, the team from the 1-1 draw with Manchester City Elite included Wojciech Szczesny, Johan Djourou, Ignasi Miquel, Craig Eastmond, Chuks Aneke (c), Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Roarie Deacon, Benik Afobe.

Leaving aside Djourou who is obviously in the game to get some match practice, I think there are seven names there to conjure with.

How curious the world is. We actually seem suddenly to have quite a bit of talent when last year were total rubbish and couldn’t hit a barn door with a hedgehog (I know that as I read it on a web site so it must be true).  And what on earth will we do when all the dead and injured (people not hedgehogs) return and expect to get a place in the games?   That of course is when we need another club in which everyone can play.

Pedro Botelho, our left back left winger on speed, plays for FC Cartagena and was in the team that beat Barcelona II 5-1 last weekend in the Segunda Division where Barca B (or Barca II – the names seem interchangeable) play.  If only Arsenal were allowed to have a team in the Championship, then we could really see some development.

That we can’t do this actually goes back to a time in the 19th century when Woolwich Arsenal were the only pro league club in London and the Southern League was being formed at the fifth attempt.  Arsenal attended the meeting and proposed that the numbers could be made up with Arsenal Reserves playing in the League.  It was turned down by the other giants of the game (teams like Ilford) as being “wholly inappropriate and unwelcome”, and its been a non-goer ever since.  But I think it really does hold us back.

Anyway, three home games scored 16 let in 1.   Not bad.  And one lovely abiding memory from last night (apart from stupidly losing my car keys on the train on the way to the ground, and having to get a neighbour out at 11.30 to meet me at the station upon my return to the wild wastelands of Northamptonshire) was a Braga free kick in the second half to the left of the penalty area as I look at it from behind the goal.  Almunia wanted a wall and he got one.  Jack Wilshere and Andre Arshavin.  Two giants of the game.

A lovely touch.

Finally, a word of apology from Billy the Dog.  Billy rather childishly predicted a 5-1 win in his column yesterday, and of course was completely out.  It was just like that time a year ago when he predicted the opening match of the season as Everton 1 Arsenal 7.   I don’t know where he gets these wild flights of fancy from.

If you have been, thank you for reading.

Arsenal, Braga and the issue of the missing apostrophe. Phil Gregory’s preview

Arsenal vs the Arsenalistas. Billy the Dog’s match preview and commentary on the issue of the players’ car park.

Have we really improved? An early comparison between seasons

How Arsenal promoted themselves in 1934

What Arsenal was up to in 1910

35 comments to Is Carlos Vela not a little too old to be playing for Arsenal

  • Yunusa okonkwo

    Vela is the best finisher in arsenal presently he never miss 1on1 chance look at those goals yesterday wow!

  • baron84

    Isn’t it a beautiful time to be an Arsenal supporter after nights like last night? Was wonderful to watch and I was so proud.

    I’ve been constantly skeptical about Vela since he started playing for us. He seems to get an awful lot of leeway compared to our other young starlet up front, who up to this point has achieved immeasurably more. Being a rather ‘blinkered’ (according to friends) Bendtner fan I think I have a tendency to feel a bit put out by the Vela love in amongst other fans.

    Sometimes I feel the lack of criticism has held Vela back, and kept him out of the spotlight. I really expected him to be moved on this summer and was puzzled by the award of the number 11. Le boss obviously has faith in him, and as usual will probably be proven right when he bangs in 15-20 goals from the bench this season.

    However, does anyone really see him cementing a first team place? I just don’t get that vibe from Vela. He’s a good finisher but I don’t think he adds that much to the team.

    Which brings me on to another point. I had a conversation during the game with a friend and we came on to Man Utd and specifically players like O’Shea, Brown and Fletcher. Admittedly the latter has made a lot of progress recently, but these are players who for years who have been on the fringes of the Utd. squad, never being first choice players. However, they have stayed all their career.

    Now, with such a glut of youth talent coming through at Arsenal, do you think the loyalty of being born and bred in a club can give players the inclination to stay, being happy playing their supporting parts? We came to the conclusion that if the club is successful enough and winning trophies then yes, they will. If we can breed players like this, with a loyalty to Arsenal for a number of years who don’t expect to be automatic first teamers I think a period of dominance could be on the cards.

  • Adrian

    why, if vela can continue on his present form and step it up a gear maybe he could get into the starting XI. it seems arshavin has got some good competition there.

  • IndianGooner

    I now understand why Arsene let Dudu go.. He knew Vela was ready and Dudu would block Vela’s development as well as Dudu having problems getting back on form..

  • gbenga

    Saw him played for Mexico U-17 side in 2005 like Cesc did for Spain in 2003 U-17 championship. Vela, like Fabregas, can only get better n better till perhaps Barcelona starts tapping him up like the r doing to Cesc right now.

  • Aris

    That’s what i’ve been thinking these past few days. He should start more since he has been showing good form since the past few seasons. If Arsene doesn’t wanna start him or play him as a sub until next season, he should move to another club. His talent shouldn’t go to waste.

  • Terence McGovern

    Anybody who has dared suggest that Cesc isn’t happy where he is or isn’t at his best should go out back, dig a hole, get in it and cover themselves over.
    The man has never EVER had a hattrick in his career and when the time came what does he do?

    He passes it to the better option in a manner that makes the term unselfish seem totally inadequate.
    What a player. What a captain. What a team.

    Bring on Sunderland.
    I don’t know about the rest of you but I am hoping for a Liverpool revival at the weekend. I doubt that Liverpool are a title threat but if they can beat Utd, it will show that the sun has set in manchester and is now rising gloriously over North London.

  • Yunusa – Jonny said to me at the game yesterday, “Carlos Vela must have the best chances to goals ratio in the league. He’s had 3 attempts in two games and scored three goals. I am not sure if there were others, but he is an utterly remarkable finisher.

    Thinking about why he has not started games sooner, I wonder if Wenger is just being very cautious with him as an amazing talent, and with regard to last season’s injuries.

    I haven’t looked at Carlos Vela News yet (the petty detail of work gets in the way) but the guy who writes that must be in the stratosphere.

  • IndianGooner

    Terence,

    I stopped listening when People says “Cesc’s heart is not at Arsenal”. He loves playing with this team and yesterday was another fine example.

    I’m hoping for Pool-ManIOU draw. I hate Pool because of Reina.

  • “However, does anyone really see him cementing a first team place? I just don’t get that vibe from Vela. He’s a good finisher but I don’t think he adds that much to the team.”

    Yes me.

    I see a time when we will either have Theo or Carlos out wide. I am not comparing them as players – that’s not the point. The point is that the opposition won’t know how to deal with the change. One day Theo starts and taunts them with speed for 60 minutes then Carlos plays an utterly different but just as effective game.

    Next time, Carlos starts and then with 30 minutes to go, Theo comes on and destroys them.

    Given the two games in a week thing we have to do, and given that players go and get wrecked at internationals, two top players like that alternating could be an amazing trick and a half.

    With 30 minutes to go defenders tire a little, and suddenly having that change over would put enough to make some defenders’ heads drop to the floor

  • walter

    I hope Vela keeps on finishing like he does for the moment. And what a nice thought to have someone on the bench who can score any minute.

    I do think this should be Vela his break through season and I think we will see him score a few. I always loved him for the fact that he was always enjoying the game an playing with a big smile on his face. He still has this but it looks that he has realised that he needs to do more than just come on the field and play a bit. He works harder than before and I saw him make a few defensive sprints going after the ball.

  • IndianGooner

    I dream of a game few years down the line when Big Nic leads the line with Vela and Theo on the flanks. It won’t be long now seeing the improvements in Theo and Vela over the last few months..

  • Jonny

    Thanks for last night Tony – if you need a guaranteed*
    ‘Arsenal 6 goal mascot’ for future games…!

    What fun. When we were 2-0 up, I said I just hope we can get a third before the half and then there’ll be a good chance to give Vela, and few others, a run-out, and rest a few key players.

    Minutes later Jack did something very special indeed (and grated me my wish in so-doing) – that was a true Wengerball goal, eh?

    Vela has seemingly the best natural finishing instinct at the club – his last three goals carried a wonderful air of nonchalance to them. Precise. Measured. Calm.

    Simples.

    No doubt he will miss some sitters in the future but what a player he could be in 3 years time.

    At the end of last season some clamoured for him to be ‘played or sold’. Prior to this Wenger had gone as far as to clearly indicate that ‘already possessing Vela’ was the main reason he allowed Adebayor to leave. All the more baffling then when Vela was snubbed again and again for playing time, when injuries mounted so alarmingly up front.

    In this respect Tony is correct: Vela is VERY much like a new signing – Adebayor has now been replaced by the ‘hit the ground runnning’ Chamakh. And Vela has come out from under whatever rock it is he hides where he has, presumably, been polishing his shooting boots for the last 2 years. Shiny.

    So Wenger’s vision is again proving fruit and my guess is he just felt Vela was not mentally ready last season and needed kid glove treatment. But really who knows other than Le Boss?

    The CC should give him a starting berth for definite but, on current form, he must have also etched himself in as the obvious choice for ‘first substitute’ for even the biggest of games.

    For one I couldn’t be more pleased for him – he’s been a quiet model of patience and I can’t recall him ever making so much as a ‘squeak’ in the papers. A certain bolshy Dane may find himself having to up his game when he comes back from injury…

    *I use the word ‘guaranteed’ here, quite incorrectly.

  • dilshan

    I agree with you, I for one do not think we play a 4-3-3 and its more of a 4-2-4 of slightly evolved 4-2-4 used by Brazil during 1958-1970. I wrote an article on this very topic http://bleacherreport.com/articles/455546-arsenal-formation-analysed

    what Vela needed was a goal early season and now he has got it, his confidence level is very high and I think he is a rhythm player and once he gets that he will become the top quality player we all know and hope he can become

  • IndianGooner

    Nice analysis on that article, dilshan.

  • Yunusa okonkwo

    How i wish bendtner to recover i would’ve loved him to be paired with chamakh against chelsea becouse of the physical advantage

  • DFG

    First of all a great win last night and a superb team performance. I truly believe that this team (squad) is stronger than last season. Several players have now stepped up to the plate and suddenly we have more depth for all of our positions and appear to be in a far better position to compensate for loss of personnel then ever before. However, with that said we really have not added that much apart from Chamakh, Koscielny and Squillaci. Therefore this must show that Wenger’s building policy with the younger players is/has paid off. Perhaps some of those who have heavily criticised Wenger for not spending millions on so called worldclass star players can open their eyes and at least attempt to say that Wenger knows what he is doing, perhaps it is not all doom and gloom after all! Of course it will take winning a trophy to convince some people but I have said before it is not just about winning trophies. The future is very bright.

  • DFG, at a minimum we can say

    Three new players in Chamakh, Koscielny and Squillaci.

    Two emergent talents in Vela, Wilshere

    One player reborn: Theo

    That’s six, plus

    One player who just knock us all out: Ramsey

    Not bad for a summer.

  • LRV

    Tony, do not blame Billy. He was just being generous enough to offer them one (being not one for monopoly or selfishness). As they obviously didn’t want it, we appropriated it to earn us 6 (why let it go to waste?).

    Great display from all the boys. A great example of selflessness and unselfish play from El Capitan to earn Vela double Celebration. Great to see. Hope all the boys will continue to make each other look, not just great but, fabulous. Therein lie the best quality of a great team – not individuals.

  • pedro

    clichy had a bloody amazing game last night apart from that one clichy moment he had. saw JET at the game too with some other reserves and he is a giant

  • IndianGooner

    LRV,

    Spot on.. It was great to see players complimenting each other and celebrating with the ones who provided the assist. Chamakh’s celebration with Lil Jack springs to mind..

  • Fem Dee

    I see this post is about Vela.
    However, what I have not seen is a single comment about his smile! Not even from GonnerGirl!!
    Now, if somebody plays beautiful football with a smile; scores dazzling goals with a smile and smiles dazzling smiles just to come into the pitch on a substitution, a day will come that the pundits will just say: “he is doing a “VELA”.

  • walter

    Fem Dee, if you read my comment at10.38 you will see that I mentionned him smiling. so have another one 🙂

  • t00farg0ne

    I loved the run he made when he came on against Blackpool that lead to the corner where Chamakh scored. He’s got great control and can really run at defences. Pity his shot wasn’t stronger after that run, it would have been a contender for goal of the season.

  • DFG

    Tony. Good points in your 1:12 post. Briefly I would like to add that as much as I like Vela I do not think he is a 90 minute player for Arsenal. He is far more effective coming off of the bench as he has the ability to make an immediate impact and make things happen.

  • Aaron

    Vela has been miss firing. I’ve been a big fan of his when we signed for him, I’ve gone to games with Mexican Wrestler masks in his honour. For Mexico U21 he looked like he was going to be our next Eduardo…since he was left with a broken leg. But since then his penetrating runs have been a miss. Last night it was good to see him back on focus. I think sometimes he plays too much of the team game. He can be really composed, the guy is fast, strong and on a 1 and 1 battle i think if he had the chance like he has shown so far this season and that spectacular goal he scored in the Carling cup, he is unbeatable.

    I really do hope he comes alight this season, because i think he will be such a spectacular player to watch. I can just see a run from him like Arshavin exploded onto the scene, against Liverpool.

  • rusty

    It definitely seems like Vela has a great attitude, and he has been patient the past couple seasons even as he’s been highly-regarded enough to start for the Mexican national side. He’s also had some finishes in Little Cup games that the very picture of finesse.

    Actually, for Mexico, he’s played wide left recently, including a fine WC this summer (when he was fit). I could see him playing that inside-out winger role where he cuts inside frequently.

  • Waleed

    Like Baron84, I thought Vela’s time at Arsenal might be up too. He would do well in the Carling Cup, but then would get hauled off to the New World and wouldn’t come back for months. And then when we did finally see his smiley face he wouldn’t make the impact you’d want from him. But I think all the injuries played a part in that.
    If he can stay free of injuries and international football he’d be superb for us. He can definitely score 10+ goals off the bench this season, the way he’s going. But I can’t see him starting every week.
    In fact, I don’t think he will ever be able to hold down a first team place with his constant adventures to the New World. At some point he might have to choose.

    Also, he is sort of a Walcott-eque player. He’s got pace and he’s a good finisher. Doesn’t seem the type who likes to link up a lot. But we can put him on the wing and with our striker dropping back it opens up space for our outside men to cut in and score. That’s why Arshavin and Walcott have been scoring so much. When we play Nasri or Rosicky on the wings, they like to come inside and operate “in the hole.” Arshavin, Vela, Walcott, they’ll use their pace to get in behind the defence. We preferably want at least one of them to start every time, so we have someone who can latch onto through balls.

  • Waleed

    The guy who writes Carlos Vela News faced a lot of abuse over the summer I think from people who didn’t think Vela was any good and he was leaving this summer anyway so the blog was a waste of time.
    I’m sure he’s had a permanent Vela smile pasted on his face recently.

  • Yes that’s right Waleed – I only read his pieces occasionally and I think the guy is German or Austrian – which makes it fascinating as to how he came to decide to do such a blog. But yes he got a lot of negative criticism. but he must be dancing now.

  • Paul C.

    Waleed:

    “In fact, I don’t think he will ever be able to hold down a first team place with his constant adventures to the New World. At some point he might have to choose”

    Bingo.

    I totally agree. Vela always seemed to go off on International Duty and come back with some knock that, combined with the jet lag, would see him out for a few weeks, and when he got fit again he seemed to be getting called to Mexico again. He just never seemed able to settled into a rhythm.

    Nice to see him playing so well now. As others have said it is great to see a player so obviously enjoying himself. He certainly has the talent to play 90 minutes every week. He needs to get stronger. He still seems to have that boyishness about his physique, as opposed to Wilshire at 18 who is already built like a man.

  • Arun

    I remember last season, Wenger claimed Vela as the second fastest in the team and and not much behind walcott.

    With all that pace, touch, composure and finish he is already a great player.. Unfortunately, he is not so tall but if he can build up little muscles to withstand the premier league tackles, then there is no stopping him. He will be the first few names in the team sheet.

    Fell in love with him, after that chip shot goal in a cup game two seasons back.

  • Terence McGovern

    Wouldnt it be funny if the guy who does CVN was a cyber stalker sending muffin baskets and locks of his hair lol.
    I have this picture in my head of a guy at a PC wearing lederhosen and a gimp mask sending loving emails…urrgh it wont go away.
    All jokes aside fair play to the guy. He has enthusiastically written his blog in good times and bad despite harassment from so called supporters. I wish him every success with it and I hope he gets to write about many many articles like he got to write today.
    More power to him eh.

  • Ronnie Brown

    Vela has potential here, he just has to take his chances, possibly as a squad player at first but I think if he plays very well he could get a very good amount of games eventually, in the central striker role I can’t see him cementing a definet first team spot for the minimum of 3 years, cause I don’t think he will displace Chamakh, Van Persie or Bendtner in that role, on the sides I think he has a chance possibly in the next 2 years as some of the senior players will be getting a bit older and he may have an opportunity to grab one of those spots and make it his.

  • Podge

    Great impact sub so far expect him to start a game soon maybe west brom who we have before Chelsea I think which would let us keep Chamakh fresh for that big game every team wants an off the shoulder centre forward Vela isnt really suited to the 4-3-3 but is to the 4-2-4 formation we often switch to in games