Arsenal: a gimmick when we do, a failure when we don’t



by Tony Attwood

If you are interested in the history of Arsenal FC you might also enjoy our review of today’s anniversaries which is published each morning the on Arsenal History Society site.  Today’s headline story is Arsenal defeated by York City, who were about to be relegated to Division 3.   You’ll also find information on that page about Arsenal Independent Supporters Association, with whom we are associated.

You probably remember the occasion.  Ethan Nwaneri became the youngest ever player to play in an English top-flight game when he appeared in stoppage time against Brentford aged 15. 

But Danny Murphy, writing in the Mail, has accused Arsenal in general and Mikel Arteta in particular of “mismanaging”  ‘super-talent’ Ethan Nwaneri, after Nwaneri became the youngest ever Premier League player when he came on, in stoppage time.”    

Now Danny Murphy is an interesting case.  He played for Crewe, Liverpool, Charlton, Tottenham, Fulham and Blackburn), and became particularly known in 2016, for defending Dario Gradi during the child sex abuse scandal revelations at Crewe.

Dario Gradi you may recall was found to have failed to protect children from the abuser Barry Bennell (who died in prison earlier this year), and his actions were said in a 2013 FA report to “potentially cause or pose a risk of harm to children”.   As a result in August last year Gradi had his MBE removed as a result.

Of course none of this suggests in any way that Danny Murphy has ever done anything wrong at all, and defending a man subsequently found guilty is absolutely not a crime, (if it were we would have no defence lawyers) but that bit of background does make me (even if no one else) read anything that Murphy says about young people, with extra interest.

And so I took particular note when he accused Arsenal in general and Mikel Arteta in particular of “mismanaging”  ‘super-talent’ Ethan Nwaneri, after Nwaneri became the youngest ever Premier League player when he came on, in stoppage time.    

Murphy used his roles as a commentator with TalkSport and with the Daily Mail to suggest this was a case of serious mismanagement (serious enough for him to speak out about it.) an irrespective of anything that happened at Crewe (and there is absolutely no suggestion that Murphy was involved in any improper – it is merely noted that he was a defender of Dario Grady) he is obviously considered enough of an expert on children to pass an opinion and have it splashed in the Mail – for whom incidentally he now works.

At the time Arteta said that he had a gut feeling that the Nwareri episode was the right thing to do – nothing more than that.  And given that the player was on the pitch for such a short amount of time, it seems an awful lot of fuss about very little.

And indeed Arteta is known for giving young players the occasional chance – Balogun, Azeez, Cottrell, Patino, Hein, Sagoe have all had chances.  But that raises the issue: what about Nelson and Smith Rowe.  With the club struggling of late, should they not have more chances?  That Smith Rowe was the third substitute against West Ham suggests that caution is still a central part of the thinking.

Thus the numbers for their appearances are modest.  Reiss Nelson has made three starts (in all competitions) and been a sub 3 times, scoring once.  His longest spell on the pitch in a game has been 26 minutes.  Emile Smith Rowe has made two starts and been a substitute nine times but not scored.   His maximum spell in a game on the pitch is 22 minutes.

Meanwhile players such as Reuell Walters, Amario Cozier-Duberry, Lino Sousa , Myles Lewis-Skelly  and of course Ethan Nwaneri seem to be finding chances harder to come by.   Lots of times on the bench (Reuell Walters has been a substitute 15 times but not come on) but not much on the pitch.

As for those a couple of years older, Charlie Patino, for example, is now at Swansea, of the Championship, and is 20.    Last season he played 37 games for Blackpool and scored three goals.  This season he has played 20 games thus far.

So the questions arise as to what Arsenal are doing and when these young players will get a game with the first team in the league.

One route to finding out what is going on is to consider, Kai Havertz, now aged 24, and who played 91 games for Chelsea before coming to Arsenal (previously having played over 100 games for Bayer Leverkusen).  He has been mercilessly berated by some Arsenal fans and has had to accept a fair degree of abuse.  Maybe the reason that the youngsters don’t get too much time is not just that they are still learning their roles at the club, they have to become acclimatized to the abuse that some in the Arsenal crowd, and many in the media, will throw their way.

Havertz has taken that criticism and has settled down and has started scoring goals – but he came to us on the back of 200 first class games.   These youngsters don’t have that background, and yet there are those who are wondering why they are not getting more experience.  Maybe the answer is: not in front of some in the Arsenal crowd, and their paymasters in the media.

4 Replies to “Arsenal: a gimmick when we do, a failure when we don’t”

  1. I am not surprised by any negative comments by any pundit or reporter about Arsenal if they are connected to the Daily Mail, Mirror, London news, tak sport or TBR as they are all in bed together and all hate Arsenal. They will also be the first toilet paper media that will be overpricing any player Arsenal are looking at buying as they do every year, e.g the Mirror today stating the the 27 year old Toney should be valued at £100million, although he is old with no Euro experience, has not played half the season and a third of his goals comes from penalties, yes they still believe Brentford should value him at a laughable £100 million. If that’s the case, we might as well bid £120 million for victor O, or Victor Boniface for £40 million or the consistent world class Gimenez who is on schedule this year for his third year in a row of 20 goals plus. Arteta is however looking a Timbers twin brother who is just as energetic covering the whole pitch with skill.

  2. I believe that Arteta is afraid of these academy players getting the rough treatment with dirty fouls that the Refs and VAR seem to give teams against Arsenal a full PASS to foul Arsenal players in the first half of games as much as you want without getting punished. Saka must get brought down an average of 50 times or more each game, without a yellow card being shown buy the crooked over lenient Refs. I am sure there are stats on this somewhere.

  3. Basically, all recognize that there is a real pool of talent coming up from the Arsenal youth ranks.
    So, the so-called media ist just going after this part of Arsenal that looks successful and deride it.
    Nothing more there,or rather more of the same BS as usual.

    That being said, I remember how Arsenal was lambasted for letting Willock and Balogun go.
    Mind you, I don’t see them being top of their class now. I mean, it is great that they play in 2 good teams, but they are not the top star there. Yet no one says that in the end Arsenal did get a fair amount.

  4. I would love to see some more rotation of our players , so that when they do come in at times of crisis , they are more than capable of holding their own against the opposition. Rest a few to get them recharged and truly wanting to come on .
    As it was in the last two games , I for one did not have a clue on how to get us going , or to predict where our next goal would be coming from.
    But in all truth , I prefer us attacking the opposition , rather than defending a slender lead , and passing in and around the box. Try route one occasionally to start an attack.
    Up the Gunners !

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