The four players who will join the first team next season

By Tony Attwood

Last summer we played a little game of guessing which players would break through into the first team this year?

One name was easy and stood out: Jack Wilshere.  We also had high hopes for Jay Emmanuel Thomas and Henri Lansbury.

Plus there were several players who we knew would come back from injury – and by and large they didn’t let us down.   Djourou did make it, Ramsey came back (eventually) and we also found ourselves with an ever declining number of goal keepers, which meant ultimately Szczesny (of whom much was hoped) made it to the fore.

Other names were mentioned: Eastmond particularly looked to be in contention, but they didn’t really get the chance.

So what of next season: who is going to make it who is already on our books?

If you look on the Arsenal web site today (3 June) the headlines only have one youngster listed: and that’s yet another goalkeeper: Damian Martinez. He’s mentioned because he is 18 and has just been called up into the Argentinian squad for international friendlies against Nigeria and Poland as cover for Adrian Gabbarini following an injury to Oscar Ustari.

He came to us from Independiente, and played three times for Arsenal reserves last season.  I can’t see him breaking in this year, but it extraordinary the range of keepers we have coming through.

Also in the news is Ignasi Miquel who has joined the Spain under 20 squad for the World Cup in Columbia between July 29 and August 20.  We saw him play against the Orient, and I for one was very impressed indeed.  But he’s only 18, which was not too young for Tony Adams, but is seen to be too young today for central defenders.  However…

I have been writing about Francis Coquelin since I saw him a couple of years back in the pre-season games in Austria.  This last season he was in France with Lorient of Ligue 1.  He’s played full back but is now described as a midfielder, and played 24 times last season, getting one goal.

Gilles Sunu was at the same club for the second half of the season, but only got substitute appearances.  I had expected more, after his appearance for France in last summer’s tournaments, but then he was injured and almost vanished off the radar for quite a while.  So probably not for the coming season.

Jay Emmanuel Thomas got caught up in the insanity of the loan situation that can surround a club with financial woes.  Cardiff City were seriously listed as promotion candidates, despite having one of their directors under suspicion of fraud at the club (the case is yet to be heard), and despite having seven of their first team loaned to them.  One being JET.   But the laws say you can only play five in a game – so he kept losing out.

JET played 15 times including the two semi-final play offs against Reading, but I doubt that this is enough to warrant much further action at Arsenal.  Another prediction of mine from last year hits the dust I fear.

But if JET struggled with a Championship side, what of Kyle Bartley? He signed a long term contract and joined Sheffield United, got injured but then came back and made 23 appearances.

Before going to Rangers.  I still find this amazing.  I mean I know that Scottish football is a two horse race and all, but for a loanee to go to the Scots Champions, and win a medal with them…

He played in midfield, played in the quaintly named “Old Firm” matches, and started eight games before getting medial ligament damage in a Europa League game (yup, he played in Europe too).  I don’t know how long he’s out for, but if he’s fit, he might just stay and play for us.

Henri Lansbury played for Norwich as they came up to the Premier League, after joining them in November, and made 24 appearances in total, scoring four times.  He told “I’m upset I’m not doing it at Arsenal but maybe my time will come. You’ve got to make a name for yourself and I’m trying to do that here. I definitely want to push for a first-team place [at Arsenal] and I’ve got to do that by working hard and showing the boss what I can do.”

One gets the feeling that it is almost, but not quite.

Which then takes us to Ryo Miyaichi who came to us from Japan in January and went to Feyenoord.  He scored in his first game, and made 12 starts.  So big was his impact that Arsenal issued an edict saying that he must not give any more interviews.

Japp De Groot of De Telegraaf said, “He has got everything; he has got speed, he is very direct, he has skill, he can take people on, he scores goals and he has good technique…. He is a great talent and a pure football player. He is an uncomplicated player who just wants to play his game. I think it is very important that he plays at a club that fits his qualities and Feyenoord is a team that plays the authentic Dutch way with two wingers and one centre forward. He played from the left side and that meant he was not forced to defend a lot and he could play his game. Arsenal’s decision to send him to a Dutch club has been a very good choice.”

Mr Wenger has said he will join the first team squad this season – but, and this is big, there are passport problems.  And we have to remember that Wellington is not figuring now, because he has passport problems, and has had a miserable loan spell in Spain, just making two appearances.

Emmanuel Frimpong was on the list last season as Song’s backup, but he got injured, and only just made his way back at the end of the season.  He is often championed as being from the same group of players that gave us Wilshere, and if he is that good, we could well see him in the team.

Craig Eastmond was the other player that really looked like he could make it.  But he only got four starts with Millwall this year, so maybe he just wasn’t as good as I thought.

Of course there are more players we could consider – from Carlos Vela to Tom Cruise, from Botelho to Afobe.   I’ll stop here and choose my four who will actually be playing in the first team at some stage this season, before you tell me why I am so wrong.

  • Emmanuel Frimpong
  • Ignasi Miquel
  • Kyle Bartley
  • Francis Coquelin


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Please do note, this article is about players we already have who might step up.  Not about players we ought to buy, or players we ought to sell.  (I know that’s obvious, but there’s a number of  people in the blogworld who don’t seem to get what I am talking about, and like to come in and chat about something quite different).

65 Replies to “The four players who will join the first team next season”

  1. Tom Cruise and Mark Randall has been released by Arsenal, the last I read.

  2. I am surprised about Tom Cruise – he signed a new contract extension with Arsenal in February 2010 – but of course it does happen. Randall I can well believe – he had all the promise but never progressed beyond captain of the reserves. When I watched him he seemed to have a bit of an attitude problem – but then I was just watching from the stands, which in the end means nothing much.

  3. frimpong
    JET (he can play anywhere on the pitch but i did hear he and fabregas dnt get on too well)

  4. Tom cruise was released yes.
    I am not sure Tony if both coquelin and frimpong will make it while playing in the same position. I think one will go on loan probably frimpong after a season of injuries and Coquelin might get the nod ahead of him.
    I think and hope Landsbury might get a chance if not he needs a premier league loan to see how good he really is.
    It would have been great if Ryo Miachi could get a work permit but it maybe best if he spends another season at Ajax developing.

    I cant see many making the break through that wilsthire did the only 2 possibles for me with that sort of potential are coquelin and landsbury for this season.

  5. I hope that JET gets his head right. (Mind you, how many of the squad can we say that about?) He has all the potential and maybe more. Let’s hope.

  6. Hey can anyone tell me about mannone?? He is really good…And what about the news of Alvarez joining Arsenal?? :O

  7. The way the fans go on about “spending big”, “big names”, etc., I don’t see more than two of our youth being promoted. So Tony, if u narrowed it to just two, who & who? I pick Lansbury & Eastmond. Bartley is out because I think AW will buy a CB. You didn’t even consider Botelho?

  8. Miyaichi came *this* close to getting a work permit. Japan had been invited to participate in the upcoming Copa America tournament in Argentina (long story), but after several yes/no press releases the Japan FA finally withdrew.

    Wenger could reapply for permission based on performances at Feyenoord, but until Miyaichi gets a full Japan cap it looks like we’re going to luck out.

    We might see him in the Emirates’ Cup though.

  9. I think Wenger has said that Myaichi will be with the Arsenal team in pre season. So I guess we will see him play in the friendlies and have a glimps of him. Maybe Wellington also?

  10. Wenger thanks for grooming young players though as you promote
    them to the senior team you also must buy three experienced players.Two central defender and one striker to partner with RVP.

  11. Walter! Really! Writing off topic! I mean i know I have put up a new pic of us on the pitch, but even so!!!!!!

    Anyway… I’ll let you off this time.

    Re Pedro Bothello, I did look at him when drawing up my list, and of course I can’t really comment because I haven’t seen him play. I think he has now got his EU passport, so that is a plus, but he spent the season playing in the Segunda Division, which is not really much above League One is it?

    But on the plus side he made 35 starts. On the down side he is an attacking midfield player, and I am not sure we need more – and if we do isn’t Henri above him in the pecking order?

    I would have him down for a loan in England if he is going to stay, rather than joining us. But as I have so often said, what do I know???

  12. The defensive midfield will feature quite a competition during the pre-season preps. Eastmond and Cocquelin will try to give a Song a good run.

  13. Bartley, Coquelin and Miyaichi are the ones I consider ready for the first team squad. Some other guys are very talented and seem close, but those three are the only ones I would say have shown the consistency as well as the talent and the desire. Others like JET and Lansbury certainly have the talent but don’t seem to produce it often enough (yet) to warrant a promotion.

    But there’s certainly enough youngsters there to give Wenger a headache once he gets to have a closer look at them in pre-season. There’s also first-team players like Mannone, Traore and Vela who have been on loan; there are those who haven’t yet been on loan like Henderson, Miquel and Frimpong but have shown potential during their first-team opportunities; and then that whole loan bunch to look through – Bartley, Botelho, Coquelin, Lansbury, Miyaichi, JET, Afobe. And there’s some who haven’t set the world on fire but you can’t rule them out – Watt, Eastmond, Sunu.

  14. I used to think Bothelho was a left back, albeit in the mould of Traore! Hope you di not picture Galindo in your mind??? Off topic, I appreciate Walter’s comment about the pitch!

  15. I’m fairly sure that Botelho is a left back, which could mean that he gets a fair chance if Clichy in fact is sold.

  16. I think it was clear this past season that Song played in some games where he should have been rested. He does still pick up a lot of cards so we really need strong cover for his position.

    I suspect Diaby will stay, but Denilson will go, and that gives Frimpong the chance as a like-for-like replacement.

    I know that what is said on does not reflect Mr Wenger’s policy, but even so, they really did give Frimpong one hell of a build up in the last month of the season when he returned.

  17. I think Bartley, Coquelin, Mannone and Vela should be joining us. Frimpong, Henderson and Fabianski (yes fabianski!!) shud go out on loan. Plus we might see 2 signings also for our 1st team…probably one Striker/Winger and one Defender.

  18. Miquel too should go on loan. But Lansbury might have a chance to make it to the carling cup/fa cup matches.

  19. Henderson maybe he played a big role in destroying Orient and looked fitted into the team very well he likes to roam around the pitch and has fantastic delivery.More likely to go on loan to a promotion chasing Championship side or maybe even Norwhich if we keep Lansbury around. Either Bartley or Miquel to push into first team squad this year Coquelin will if we don’t sign a midfielder

  20. Bartley could be important for us. He got some good experience in a league that is ‘tough’. Lots of balls to attack and fight for in the air. Not sure hes first team, but certainly could play a role as back up. I think hes possibly a little ahead of Miguel, who could possibly be sent out on loan.

    Frimpong and Coquelin can both be in the team as Coquelin can provide some back up in the RB position. Frimpong could also play in the Wilshere role as well as DM. Hes got a good engine and will work hard hassling opponents. I see Arsenal playing with a DM,CM,AMC in the middle. Frimpong can play CM,DM and Coquelin can play RB,DM so certianly there is room for the two of them. Especially with Denilson seemingly out of the picture.

    I feel the more interesting question is not so much with these talented youngsters coming through. They have won things together at the youth level, and I think many of them will feature in the future of Arsenal. To me the question is more in regards to Vela, Traore, Fabianski, Bendtner, Diaby, Denilson (hes not gone yet) these are players that are undoubtedly in our first team squad. But perhaps havent improved, taken the chance, been consistent enough, or have attitude issues. I think they all have room to improve but the most interesting question of the summer has to be what Wenger will do with these players.

    This will have a big effect on how many youth and reserve players get promoted. Part of me wants to see the young players given a chance, another says that the huge improvements made by song in the past couple years should warrant patience….

    I think more than signings this could be the determining factor for us next season. Im for one am glad we have Wenger to make these decisions.

  21. No mention of Chuks Aneke, who Wenger said was “one of the most technically perfect” players he had seen?

  22. Botelho is a left-back, and he’s also played quite often as a winger in a front-three this season for Cartagena. He’s done very well in either position, but I think it’s difficult to tell whether he could transfer that kind of form from the Segunda into the Premier League. I’m interested to see him in pre-season, he’s an exciting player. Quick, tall, and surprisingly skillful. But he might need some time to adapt to British football.

  23. Walter,
    You are from Belgium, right?
    Can you tell us how all of a sudden are there so many super talented Belgian players ? I know why Germany and Spain have so many in the last 5 years and for many years to come but Belgium?
    Thibaut Courtois,Thorgan and Eden Hazard,Lukaku,Axel Witsel,Fellaini,Charly Musonda,Boyata,Kompany,DefourVertonghen,Kevin de Bruyne,Vermijl,Dembele,Chadli,Vossen.

    It can not be a coincidence, surely ?
    Have you invested a lot of money at grass roots level ?

  24. I think the biggest chance for the reserve players will be in midfield this season. With Denilson in all likelihood gone, and Rosicky to follow (in my opinion), that should leave the way open for Coquelin, Frimpong (less likely), and Lansbury to at least gain a squad spot.

    In defense we’ll probably buy, though I feel Bartley should get a chance in some Carling and FA Cup games. Maybe at Squillaci’s expense?. Miquel should go out on loan. The LB slot will be the most interesting. If Clichy goes, ideally I’d like a new first choice LB and Gibbs, Botelho and maybe even Traore fighting for the back up spot.

    Botelho might even get a spot playing on the left, up front. We do need someone who provides pace, trickery and width. If Miyaichi doesn’t get a work permit, Botelho might get that position. Vela might be good for this position too. Provided he shows he’s up to it of course.

    No chance for any of the strikers in my view. Unless JET really impresses in pre season. I’d really like a striker bought. With Bendtner going, we need a striker, and I hope we buy a proper finisher.

    Mannone should be 3rd choice if he’s willing to stay. I doubt he will though, and then we’ll probably need an experienced back up goalie. The presence of Martinez notwithstanding.

    So there. My choices to break through next season. Bartley, Botelho, Lansbury, Coquelin, and maybe Frimpong. Frimpong’s injury might mean that he goes on loan. In any case he’s probably going to go to the ACN this time. (Oh and Song might not because of his bust up with Eto’o)

  25. The Young Guns joining the first team squad next season will inevitably be compared to Jack Wilshere who as we all know really burst through this year. Such a comparison would be a bit unfair since Jack has shown that he is not just a first team squad player but is even now a major player. The only player who may have a similar immediate impact is Miyaichi – when he gets the chance.

    I can see some of the other Young Guns becoming squad players first and then possibly major players in time, lets keep our fingers crossed for them.

    I thing Bartley and Miquel have great potential, however, if we buy another mature center half their development may be restricted, unless both are loaned out. An interesting desision for the manager!

    It has become very apparant that we must have the right ratio of experienced to young players within the first team if we are to successfully compete in 4 competitions – and to provide the correct circumstances in which the Young Guns can shine!

  26. Frimpong and Jet. I don’t know about Coquelin and Eastmond – whenever I’ve seen them play, they’ve seemed too, I don’t know…. weak? I would be fun to see Ryo but I think that’s a bit too early. Lansbury must have chance for sure.

  27. I don’t know his physical stats, but from videos Miyacho looks physically slight to my eyes. Pace, passing and touch/shooting seem brilliant. But the physicality of uncalled fouls – lest we forget – has me worried about our potential diamond in the EPL rough.

    AND, on a non-speculative gesture toward the Untold context, as the summer unfolds, my bet is there’s further grist for the community of respectable conspiracy researchers in this bit of breaking news:

  28. With the current (expanded) squad, we have the following situation for 2011/12:
    57 players. I have sorted them into 4 categories; English over 21, non-English over 21, English under 21 and non-English under 21. Because of the current rules, Arsenal will, in the near future, always have more than 7 homegrown players. I chose English/non-English because of the amount of articles and blogs over the years that have criticized AW for not doing enough for the national team. (Some of the players can play for more than one country.)
    Non-English “over-aged”: 22
    English “over-aged”: 4
    Non-English “under 21”: 5
    English “under 21”: 26

    Where does that leave us? Well, even before we start buying “experienced quality”, we need to reduce our 25-man squad by 2. Although it seems like Denilson and Bendtner are on their way out, I suggest Almunia and Squillaci.

    Almunia will not come back as #1 and he is already 34. He has behaved as a gentleman, never come out complaining like some players tend to do. With Szczesny, Fabianski and Mannone, I’m not sure a new keeper is what we need the most. Look at ManU, they’ve just bought a 20 year old to replace van der Saar.
    Most of the Arsenal fans agree that Squillaci is not the answer to establish a partnership with TV5. We should probably focus on a ready-made partner (Jan Vertonghen who can also play LB or Brede Hangeland come to mind).
    If Clichy leaves, we probably need a new LB but we do have Gibbs, Traore and Bothelo.
    Midfield is OK, much better than ManU’s but if we lose Denilson, Diaby, Rosicky, let’s bring in one new – perhaps Scott Parker. This may be his last chance at playing CL. Alternatively, we bring back Francis Coquelin and we also have Frimpong who looked promising before his injury last summer as well as Lansbury.
    Up front, we need someone to share the burden with RvP who has been outstanding. My favourite to do that is Sergio Aguero. The idea was to move to the Emirates to allow us to compete with the big guys. Well, let’s show intent and buy The Missing Piece. We can afford to buy one or two expensive player(s), especially if we sell some of the fringe players.

    Almunia, Fabianski, Mannone, Sagna, Koscielny, Djourou, Vermaelen, Squillaci, Clichy, Traore, Diaby, Rosicky, Denilson, Song, Arshavin, Fabregas, Nasri, Eboue, van Persie, Bendtner, Vela, Chamakh, Botelho, Walcott, Gibbs, Gilbert, Simpson
    21 + 5 = 26

    Szczesny, Ramsey, Charles-Cook, McDermott, Hajrovic, Smith, Glasgow, Monteiro, Campbell, Wilshere, Afobe, Yennaris, Meade, Brislen-Hall, Boateng, Obed, Deacon, Byles, Aneke, Bartley, Eastmond, Emmanuel-Thomas, Freeman, Henderson, Hoyte, Lansbury, Murphy, Shea, Watt, Evina, Frimpong
    5 + 26 = 31

    I have not included Wellington and Miyaichi as I believe they may have issues playing for us. If they can, I´d like to see at least Miyaichi given a shot as he seems to have the qualities and attitude whilst Wellington, according to some reports, have had some attitude problems.

  29. @Walter:

    Very cool. If I had torn up a football pitch like that I would brag about it too, even if it was off-topic 🙂

  30. Wenger needs to be bold and promote as many as eight (8) of the kids this coming season. WE have the talent to play two (A&B) teams: with the A’s focussed on the EPL and CL and B’s the cups. I believe that Afobe, Aneke, Bartley, Emmanuel-Thomas, Freeman, Henderson, Lansbury, and Frimpong are all ready now and could make the sort of impact that Jack has made this season! Remember that all these guys have been at Arsenal since they were nine years old! Like Jack they grew up playing only Wenger-Ball and all are as tenacious as Jack. We all know the first team players they would replace so I won’t go into that. But I also believe that we should buy 2 or 3 experienced players like Cahill, Parker (who is short term) and Falcao..

  31. First let’s see who is willing to stay at the club. I mean nasri not committing to a contract is quite a sad state to see. Wenger gave him the chance and he is not exactly been super has he? I would like to see lansbury and randall given more run outs. These guys can cut it above the likes of resiky and denison.

  32. For me, we need a winger too, we lack a proper winger and we lack width because of it. Is Hazard still on the cards, I doubt it – it would have happened by now – it looks like we’ll go for the Championship players we’re after… and bring back the likes of Wellington and Miyachi, perhaps

  33. I will pick Frimpong he was supposed to had his chance last season.So I believe AW will give him a fair shot during the friendlies along with Miyachi and Coquelin.

    I hope to see Landsbury, I like the kid he is a true gooners in the same mould of Jack the Lad. Bartley,I think he will be part of squad, he has an impressive loan spell at Glasgow ( and he played very very well!!!)

    @ Gb regarding the grassrootts level in Belgium: The structure is totally different! In Belgium,clubs will take care of their grassroots level and they have a good scouting network ( which have been also critised as they prefere invest in foreigners players instead of homegrown players). The work done by the Robert Louis Dreyfus Academy ( standard de liege) and club like Genk is absolutely fantastique they nurture homegrown players curiously they are champion and runners up??!! ( Whats that show us gooners / and they have been through hell) There is more to come from Belgium trust me! Let me remind you that we used to be a nation providing talent if you a bit time just google likes of Nilis,Scifo,Cuelemans,Van hims,Albert,Jbari ( played for Newcastle) and much more … The authorities (finally!!!) understood how it is important to invest in the grassroots to bring back the glory days and they have a national team ” mirroiring” the cosmopolitain population in Belgium ( this is my view!)! thanks to the JO 2012 and the France world cup 1998.

  34. @Anne: The latest from TalkShite on Cesc/Barca in the season of our infinite speculations: Do Barca use/encourage the boys to tap up – in this case David Villa, or is it again: media propaganda or tapping up via the players, or a bit of both?

    David Villa insists he would welcome Cesc Fabregas back to Barcelona, and believes the Arsenal star deserves to return to his boyhood club.
    The Spain striker took to the Spanish airwaves to describe the Gunners midfielder as his dream signing and urged the former Barca youth team player to return to Catalonia.
    Speaking to Cadena COPE radio, Villa said: “As a player, everybody knows what Barcelona brings [for players]. And as a person, he (Fabregas) deserves to return to Barcelona, his family is here and it is where he started.
    “Having him would be a great joy and I’d be happy for him because he deserves it, and I’d be happy to have him as my team-mate.”

  35. @T2T: Do you have an analysis of who’s there if Clichy leaves: you think Gibbs, Traore, Bothelo can “step up.” In each case do you actually think that any one is starting XI, and why?

  36. @bjtgooners: Why do you think we should compete in four competitions? I loved it when we were on that precipice, but I think it was an ego-trip and false pride before the fall. I now think it’s overreaching for ANY team given the level of even the so-called worst side; and a likely recipe, as we’ve seen, for injury, especially when it’s far from a given that we won’t have extra re-plays with their extra physical and mental wear and tear. When we often don’t win against the so-called lightweights just by showing up, it spiraled into an ever-deepening loss of confidence. I think Arsene was pressured into a 4-front war to placate trophy-hunger and it was a mistake. It’s easy to say in hindsight, of course, but with so many players in the pipeline, it is better after all to use the youngsters in the Carling and FA. This gives us a chance to see them in action in a meaningful setting and would relieve a little of the tension on Arsene when so many young talents – given our model – feel and understandably exert continual pressure to play and be seen and have a viable carreer.

  37. @ bob

    My gut feeling is that we should not decide in advance to sacrifice one or more competitions. As a top club we should have a strong enough squad to cope; although a lot depends on the draw. If we get a draw against weaker opposition then we have the opportunity to play more of the emerging talent and rest the main players.

    This season in the Carling Cup we did play a number of teams from lower divisions and made the mistake of not putting them away first time round, hence replays were required which cluttered the fixture list. In similar circumstances we really should be much more clinical.

  38. @bjtgooner: yes we made a mistake by not finishing them off and weren’t clinical enough. That describes the problem. The question is why? I think that we (players, manager and fans) dangerously came to believe our own self-propaganda; and it led to chronic overconfidence/underestimating the other (lesser) sides and underwhelming performance. I think that self-inflated egoism of this type can – in part – arise from too many games on the plate. So I, as player (yes, well paid, blah, blah), have too many games to stay at peak freshness; and, being tired (mentally and physically) of match after match (like this past season) only marshal our energies for the big games and take mental days off in the lesser games. Taking days off loses to the lesser teams (who, in turn, are fully incentivised to beat our brains in – it’s their playoffs, whilst our day at the beach). I think you idea of our not being clinical enough is spot on – but, again, why is that? Again, I think part of it is a weariness factor – too many games – and not successfully having replaced the clinicians (fox-in-the-box Eduardo, for example). I wonder whether being clinical – our chronic problem this past season – is something that can be taught or not? Robin has it, Nick no, Theo no, Arshavin once did, Nasri first half, Cesc intermittent. I think we need to scout for clincality or buy clinicality when spotted. It is worth the price. I don’t think it can be developed; I think it’s instinctive and needs to be recognized in the players that have it. And, that too many games will exhaust or injure or bore those relatively few that have it. In this window, I say one major DB and one clinical striker. It takes either a better scouting eye or the necessary cash-splash to have that dangerous clinician and savvy hard-man that, in my view, we sorely need. (One RvP is NOT enough, clearly, for a whole season; and I don’t agree with one striker at the front formations.)

  39. Fabregas is almost certain to going to Barcelona and the only thing holding the transfer up is the money involved and I can see many others following him out of the door, Fabregas can be seen as a natural progression but any others leaving (decent ones) is solely down to Wenger.

  40. Gb and thanks for your earlier reply Julz.

    I think Julz has explained a lot. Take a club like Genk. They won their last title some 10 years ago and then went in a very bad spell. But now they won the league with several players very young and from their own academy.
    And in fact one of the most important players of STandard Liège (Defour) is a kid raised in the Genk youth academy. Genk couldn’t play along in the league of the then greatest clubs Anderlecht and Club Brugge and went for their own youth. And they got rewarded now.
    Standard is a bit of the same but they have been a sleeping giant. No titles in some 20-30 years in fact (if I remember right) untill a few years ago. Then 2 in a row and now runners up. And they also have some very young talents from their own youth academy. Witsel is the most known of them. Witsel who is a Gooner and would love to come to Arsenal was the best player in the play offs they had in Belgium. We could use Witsel against Stoke and Birmingham…. (Witsel-Wasilewski if you know what I mean).

    But I must admit that since then Witsel had a very poor time but has recovered and I do think he has learned a bit and you hardly see him flying in like a madmen anymore. At 22 years he has grown in to an adult player I think.

    In fact when he was 16 Arsenal apparantly tried to bring him to London but he stayed in Liège at the time.

  41. @ bob

    I agree that a lone striker may not be our best formation. It depends on very prompt support coming from midfield. It can produce the wonderful freeflowing passing movements which are so exciting to watch, after all we do have the best midfield in the EPL. However, it is less effective when RVP is injured and also it is easier for the opposition to mark one striker rather than two.

    Assuming B52 is leaving and there doesn’t seem to be a Young Gun ready just yet to lead the first team strike force (when RVP is injured) I agree a striker should be purchased.

  42. @bjtgooner: do you have any thoughts on how to deal with the parked-bus that a lot of teams set up against us? I also like our midfield and I think it’s the best (only) when Cesc is on his game and not hobbled or sidelined, but the bus-parking has seemed to exhaust our ideas and thwart the free-flowthrough. It’s another reason I like the idea of a two clinical striker formation; or, even better, the ability to switch between the one and two striker spearhead depending on the actual game situation. But I haven’t seen, and admittedly don’t know enough in the moment to really know, that kind of mid-match flexibility. Do you/anyone have some thoughts on dealing with the bus-parking? It has worked, so it needs more that being labeled “anti-football,” even if it is!

  43. @ bob

    The bus parking becomes a problem when we move the ball too slowly and the bus is given time to position itself.

    Too many times towards the end of the season we were too casual in possession at the beginning of a match and didn’t score the important first goal – score that goal and the the bus squad then have to come out and attack – leaving spaces for us to exploit.

    To answer your question concerning a plan “B” – it must be tailored to the opposition. But in general when plan “A” does not work we start crossing the ball into the opposition box. Sometimes the crosses are good – but we don’t usually have anyone in the correct position to receive. This brings us back to strikers – one striker can be marked out, with two strikers it is more difficult, with two strikers and a tall midfielder we have a chance to score by plan “B”.

    For plan “B” to work we need pace on the wings – which we have,
    the ability to cross the ball (which could be worked on) and tall strikers, which we have. What we don’t seem to have is the ability to put it together – more drills required.

    I don’t think we should start a match with plan “A”, then if that does not work switch to plan “B”. It would be better to play two strikers from the beginning so that we can mix tactics from the beginning and the opposition have to cope with different types of attack – my preference when we play at home. Playing away, the opposition may attack us more and the single striker system may work well.

    I’m sure other readers will have more sophisticated tactics. Sorry for long winded reply.

  44. haha Walter you remind me that Defour is from Genk! Witsel would give a seriously challenge Song and I would love him to come! Indeed Standard have been in the shadow of Anderlecht ( C’mon les mauve et blanc) and Brugge. This come to me that you can’t buy success because even if ( In Belgium) big guns buy players they will still develop players it is just about to find the right balance. Yes AW made some dodgy decision but we still need to believe in our team. By the way I hope AW saw the Djourou’s game and will understand that he need some guidance from a veteran or learn from the bench!

  45. nasri …
    Which bit of the fact that comments have to be related to what the article is about do you not get?

  46. In the last couple of weeks, there has been a lot of speculation about Cesc and whether or not he will be with us next season… He ended the season outside of the first team and despite rumours he was fit, didn’t play the last game of the season.

    Since the end of the season, a lot of our players – Sagna, Szcznesy and more have all talked about the possibility of Cesc leaving – they say there is no smoke without fire… And Arshavin said this yesterday:

    “My opinion is very simple: only Cesc should decide if he leaves or not. Serious conversations on this topic in the team was not made – well, we joked a bit, as usual…. Before leaving on vacation Fabregas gave little gifts to each player, and I asked him: “What is this? A parting gift? He said nothing. Here we return to London, and understand, it says there is something behind this silence…”

    Worrying words from Arshavin – many people think that the gifts were just a gesture – but in the manner of the quote from the Russian, it doesn’t sound normal, it sounds like it’s the first time he’s done it.

    Nigel Winterburn seems to think he is off, and that it may not be the worst thing in the world.

    “The big question for the summer is will Cesc Fabregas stay and I must admit, I have my doubts. Cesc clearly wanted to go last to Barcelona last year, but he is under a long contract at Arsenal and is not the type of player to kick up too much of a fuss. He has too much respect for his manager and club to do that. He will always give everything in games, but if he still wants to leave now and go back to Spain then the club will have to think about letting it happen. Arsenal will call the shots though, and can ask for as much as they like from Barcelona. It would have to be in excess of £30m for a player of Cesc’s calibre who is still only 24. But if he does leave it will give a chance to others, and a chance to maybe alter the style of play in midfield. The current system based on technical ability has been found out in the last few years, and Arsene may look to go in a new direction.”

    Now whatever Nigel W says about Cesc leaving being a good thing – I don’t agree whatsoever – he is our best player and to be honest, we’ve lost too many good players recently and been unable to compete. Arsene has said several times that he needs to add experience to the squad this summer and letting our captain go will be the complete opposite of it…

    How will we fare if Cesc goes? How do we replace such a talent? Our captain? Our best player?

  47. Well it …

    I don’t get this. Which bit of the fact that comments have to be related to what the article is about do you not get?

  48. Tom Cruise has left Arsenal, sorry to inform you :/
    Young guns broke the news a couple of days back.

  49. I think Arsene will move heaven and earth to get Ryo Miyachi, Francis Coquelin, Ignasi Miguel and Kyle Bartley into the first team next season. He’ll play them in the Asian tour,the Emirates Cup and possibly have them as substitutes at the start of next season. If they work out, great if not, off on loan again. Whether they go out on loan will depend on if he brings in the new striker and CB we seem to need and whether Nasri, Clichy and Cesc stay. It seems almost certain that Mannone will come in as a 3rd choice keeper behind Sczensy and Fabianski and that Squillaci,Almunia,Eboue and Denilson will be off to greener pastures (I hope).

  50. If Nasri comments are true, as well as Cesc, wanting out – then it is time AW woke up to the buying of foreign prospects. I am fed up watching these players develop at the expense of results and trophies only to see them head off when they make the grade. Cesc has had the team set up around him for the past 6 years. If we have not won something perhaps he should look at himself as well. For me, AW should develop young British talent, who I believe will show a higher level of loyalty or buy quality ready made players who can deliver immediately.

  51. I don’t blame him

    Funny thing this. I keep writing that as a basic consideration to the people who write these articles it is a simple courtesy to write comments on what people write, not on some other subject. And yet some people refuse and go off onto other issues. Ah well – another comment thrown away for the same old reason.

  52. Sorry I think you are wrong in deleting these posts. They hav everything to do with the current arsenal situation and yet you turn blind to comments which are absolutely valid. Very biased.

  53. Dan, This article isn’t about the “current arsenal situation”. It’s about the young players coming up through the ranks who may break through to the first team next year. Nothing in the article says anything about new signings over the summer.

    I personally get really frustrated by comments unrelated to the article because they de-rail the topic into a never ending downward spiral about what every armchair quarterback thinks Arsenal needs. I trust Arsenal fans to be Arsenal Fans, nothing more than that. Leave the coaching and managing to those better equiped.

    Tony – Thanks for talking about the young up and comers. It’s exciting to know that Arsenal have such a strong system of developing young players, and you know there’s a good chance they will play for Arsenal as they are under contract at Arsneal. Unlike every Tom, Dick and Harry we’re connected with for transfer’s over the summer.

  54. Dan, it is simply a matter of politeness. time and again we have had excellent articles on this site and had the discussion wrecked by people coming on and talking about something else. If I were at the dinner table, or discussing matters outside the Auld Triangle, I wouldn’t just cut across someone’s comment about breakfast, Henry or the price of a pint by talking about nuclear war or porridge, and I don’t expect such behaviour here. I even went to the extent of putting up an article allowing people who were agianst Wenger to debate their points there, and that article is still available for comments. There are also a million blog sites where people can rant against Wenger, so why the need to do it here too?

  55. @Tony good points but where can we post on like say the current situations which are happening at arsenal! maybe you ccan have it at the top of the page as say ‘MISC CHAT’ and all the non article related stuff can go on there. that way you will get a lot less crap

  56. I think we will see chamberlain, frimpong make the 1st team and I am more convined that…

    Removed as it was not only cut/pasted from another site but also because it had nothing to do with the article.

  57. Nice site Tony. I agree with two of your four choices – Bartley, Coquelin. The other two might be sent on loan to prove their quality just like Wilshere and Chesney.

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