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Victory Through Harmony
By Tony Attwood
As you will know, we’ve signed one player this transfer window: Ryo Miyaichi, who is 18.
Now it seems we are on the edge of getting the second: Alexander Mark David Oxlade-Chamberlain from Southampton. In case what we all hear is right, and Mr O-C is singing from our hymn sheet, here’s a quick run down so we can all speak knowledgeably when he arrives. (You may know it all already, but I’m always a bit slow with these matters, so here’s the data, for my benefit if not yours…)
He played pro for the first time on 2 March 2010 aged 16 and 199 days against our chums Huddersfield Town. He was not quite as young as young Theo on making the debut, but not far off.
In August last year he made his first start, against Bournemouth in the Little Cup and scored, and in September made his first league start, scoring his first league goal the following month. In November he played a league match in which he was voted Man of the Match and was also called into the England under 18 squad. (That means he might have broken his leg by now, but let’s hope not).
And now it seems he might play for us, signing so they say, on Wednesday for £7m before being loaned back for the rest of the season.
So, if it is true, why us?
There seems a multiplicity of reasons why a player would choose Arsenal – but in this case the biggest must be Theo Walcott. Coming from the same club, with all the same razzle, Theo has survived the hard times and the inevitable injury that playing for England brings, and has come good. Indeed with the timing of this transfer we are undoubtedly helped by the fact that this is Theo’s finest moment – he’s playing great football, and is widely recognised to be a major part in Arsenal’s resurgence.
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But let’s not also forget Cesc and Ramsey – two other players who joined at very young ages, showed their talent and got their chance. And with Jack playing full time now, it is clear that no matter who is ahead of you, if you are good enough you will make it at Arsenal. Indeed not very many top EPL clubs have four players in their ranks week after week after week who have joined up so young.
I don’t know if the young lad has been thinking about playing for Chelsea (who have given up all the austerity stuff and are about to spend £21m on Luiz from Benfica.) Or maybe Man City who are known for buying players, keeping them and then off loading them (Mr Wright Phillips anyone?)
But with Arsenal it is different. Indeed the only thing that might put him off is the list of loanees ahead of him… Consider Benik Afobe at Huddersfield, Kyle Bartley at Sheffield United, Pedro Botelho with Cartagena, Francis Coquelin at Lorient, JET now with Aaron Ramsey at Cardiff, Lansbury playing for Norwich, Mannone with Hull, Traore at Juve, Sanchez Watt who we saw last week with Leeds, and now Wellington Silva at Levante.
Quite a lot really.
It is indeed the production line of which we have spoken many times. They won’t all come good, but we don’t need them all to come good – we just need a few of them to come through.
This development of the production line is of course related to the 25 player rule which Arsène Wenger said would “paralyse” the transfer market. At the moment no one else is saying this is the case – everyone is too busy talking about how difficult the January market is, but there is certainly a downturn in transfers going on and the 25 rule is clearly involved in everyone’s mind.
It is interesting however that other clubs do not seem to have followed Arsenal’s lead in using youth as a way around the 25 rule, for clubs can have as many under 21s in the squad as they like. People like Jack won’t count in the 25 for several years to come.
But while young Alex contemplates creating beautiful music with Arsenal, the grunting of the dinosaurs continues with Keys and Gray at Sky being caught on a mic making derisory comments about women officials in football.
The tragedy of such a situation is not that they made them – it would have been more surprising to have either of these people come on and tell us that they are in touch with their feminine side – but the way in which Sky feels that a telling off is enough to deal with the situation.
Of course, no one can tell these people what to think, and anyone with any honesty will admit that on occasion he/she has thoughts that he/she would not like broadcast to the world. But the fact is that these two, who appear week after week on the channel with a near monopoly of live EPL games, clearly have and express such thoughts as a matter of course, and Sky’s execs must have known about it.
We’ve seen it before – as with R Atkinson – everyone knew he was a racist, but nothing is done until he’s finally caught by a mic. Football it seems always continues with people until they are caught out. Then they show firm and decisive action. Or not in Sky’s case. At least Atkinson then left all broadcasting; the fact that these two carry on shows as much about their characters as it does the contempt with which their employers treat us, the viewers.
Alex O-C and Ryo Miyaichi are apparently wonderful players who can bring light and beauty into the game. Shame about Sky and its grunting misogynists.
Do you know how the off side law came to be? The full story is on the Arsenal History site