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August 2021

Arsenal prepare to have six teams in 2012/13

By Tony Attwood

Playing in four competitions puts a strain on players.  Further, there is a suggestion that some of our players get targeted in terms of injuries so that all our injuries tend to fall in one section of the squad.

So it is just possible that as a way of coping with year after year of injuries we might now being seeing the end of the classic “two teams” approach (that is four full backs, four central defenders and so on through the team) so that we are actually going to have three sets of players who can play in the first team.

Of course there is a bit of problem in that we are only allowed 25 players in the Premier League – but that is 25 plus the under 21s, so taking that 25 up to 33 is not actually impossible.

I know this sounds crazy, but if even 1% of the transfer rumours have got any truth in them, we are going to sign and sign players.  And then some.  So it looks like we are heading that way.

OK maybe we won’t, but just stay with this for a moment.  If Arsenal do look to have something akin to 33 players who could seriously take their place in the first team, then most of them will need some kind of experience on a regular basis.

And the solution to that looks like we might abandon the old “first team” approach and instead have 33 or so players which a team is selected according to who we are playing, who isn’t worn out from last week or the mid-week match, and who isn’t injured.

Which means we might end up with three teams:

  • The First First team – those people like Vermaelen who you really want in the side if at all possible
  • The Second First team – good players but they might need special consideration (having just come back from injury) or may be selected only for certain occasions, or simply can come in and do a good job.   This means that is we are up against an Allerdyce type team you pick a different team from when you are playing Man City.
  • The Backup team – they will step into games when the ravages of injuries do their stuff, but otherwise play in the League Cup, FA Cup and easier Champions League games, or to meet certain circumstances.

So the numbers of players who are always going to be on the pitch unless ruled out through injury or cards, will decline as the club moves over to a process of protecting top players from playing two games a week, and from being clobbered to bits by the more agricultural teams.

So here is a new version of the 25

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Homegrown players

  1. Johan Djourou
  2. Kieran Gibbs
  3. Vito Mannone
  4. Alex Song
  5. Theo Walcott

Non-homegrown players:

  1. Mikel Arteta
  2. Yossi Benayoun or replacement
  3. Marouane Chamakh or replacement
  4. Abou Diaby
  5. Lukasz Fabianski or replacement
  6. Gervinho
  7. Laurent Koscielny
  8. Per Mertesacker
  9. Chu Young Park or replacement
  10. Tomas Rosicky
  11. Bacary Sagna
  12. Andre Santos
  13. Sebastien Squillaci or replacement
  14. Robin van Persie
  15. Thomas Vermaelen
  16. Podolski

That is just 21 players, so we have four left (plus of course replacements if any of the above noted as possible departures do go).

To that we need to add the under 21s who have come of age this year.


Under 21 according to the “25” rules last season (I haven’t checked which of these are now qualified as being 21 – please help if you know)

  1. Szczesny
  2. Oxlade Chamberlain
  3. Ramsey
  4. Wilshere
  5. Jenkinson
  6. Coquelin
  7. Miquel
  8. Frimpong
  9. Ryo

Even if all of them are over 21 on the exact qualifying date we would only have 30 players registered, and that just means losing a few of the people listed as possible departures.  But I am sure they have not all turned 21 according to the Uefa rules.

But what about the kiddies?   This year we seemed to be loaning out players who had looked at one time like they might make it, but in the end were not quite there.  I think of Vela, who could score fabulous goals – but just didn’t seem (at least last time we saw him) to be at the highest level all the time.

So if these players go, we will have our fourth team – the Loanees – spread across Europe.  It means that people like Joel Campbell can come back, passport permitting, and get few games.  The Loanees will be doing the job that served Coquelin so well – a serious spell playing in a decent side.

After that we have the reserves and the youth teams (teams five and six).   There has not been much talk of late about the youth or under 19 Champions League, but last time I heard of it, Arsenal were on the list.  If you have seen anything more of late, do let me know.

And that’s why it is just possible that we will buy more players this summer.  So here’s another guy now on the radar (or recently made up by the Daily Mail, whichever you choose)…

Alan Yelizbarovich Dzagoev  (Алан Елизбарович Дзагоев) who is a 21 year old midfielder with CSKA Moscow who have rather oddly let his contract get to a stage where it ends at the end of this year.

He played in the second division, was Young Footballer of the Year and now is with CSKA.  Real Madrid were supposed to sign him – but then he said he preferred Chelsea – which might well put him out of the running – but still nothing has happened.

What makes the story in the Mail seem wrong is that Arsenal are now watching him, according to the paper.  But Arsenal don’t do that.  They watch players 20 times  through a season before signing them – so if Arsenal have only just taken an interest then we won’t sign him for another year.

He played in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers and scored two goals in Russia’s opening game in Euro 2012 and one in the second game.

Then we have defensive midfielder back on the radar.  Yann M’Vila says he wants to come to Arsenal, and is apparently saying “come and get me” which might be true, or might be the fact that someone like Liverpool has put a bid in, and M’Vila’s club Rennes is trying to up the fee by saying Arsenal are interested.

But given that we have Frimpong, Song and Wilshere, do we need him for £17m?   Well, yes if you are going to play Song more forward and use those extraordinary passes, which are restricted if he has to stay further back.

Meanwhile Giroud is still there pecking away – but we’ve covered him lots of times already.

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22 comments to Arsenal prepare to have six teams in 2012/13

  • WalterBroeckx

    Yes Arsenal will be playing in the Young Champions League as they will play in Group Four : Arsenal, Athletic Bilbao, Olympique de Marseille, Olympiacos.

    And talking about that I really still get very very annoyed by the fact that they first had Anderlecht in this group and this would mean that I would be able to drive less than one hour to go and see the young Arsenal guns play against Anderlecht. But then for some reason (I really think because I expressed my joy about Arsenal and Anderlecht being in the same group) Uefa changed it and put Anderlecht in a different group.

    So now I could go and see Anderlecht play against the young tiny totts…. Feck Uufa for changing that around…

  • WalterBroeckx

    And if some of the supporters would stop moaning and criticizing every wrong ball we should have another team behind all those teams. When we all get behind the team we can be the much needed backup team.

  • Walter is there a web site about the Young Champions League for this coming season, showing the draw etc.

    It would be good if we could get the information together and share it with everyone – as I suspect most people were like me and not knowing that it was going on.

  • atid

    you have left a number of players out of your list, who are HG OR NHG Lansbury, Eastmond, Bendtner, Denilson, Botelho, Vela, Szcesney, Ramsey, Arshavin . also none of these are included in the homegrown or non-homegrown category for the coming season.

    2.Oxlade Chamberlain

    Watt, Bartley, Coquelin, Shea and Henderson all mature to HG the season after next. OH BTW Benayoun is a Chelsea player and on their retained list for the coming season.

  • if what the world has heard about oliver giroud is true then arsenal has finaly reached the maturity stage we have been waiting for the lat seven seasons of atleast having ateam that plays each tournament
    (players playing for different trophies) However it should now consider bringing in more defender & midfielders than strikers which we have already plenty of them

  • its time for arsenal to offload about eight player who will be of no use next season and even those that do not have the heart of the team

  • Wooby

    I believe Szczesny and Rambo both qualify as a home grown and have matured into part of the 25.

  • Wooby

    Tony, I wonder if we have 5 teams, and not 6. Would a number of the players on the second first and backup teams be assigned to the reserves to retain fitness in the reserves matches? Nonetheless, your point about needing significant depth to negotiate through the four competitions is spot-on.

    I wonder if this may be the season when we see Wenger rotate more than usual for BPL and CL matches. For example, at CB, unlike past years where there was a defined 1-2 (Kos – TV5) and 3-4 (JD and Squill), we now have a very good first three (Kos, TV5 and Per). It may make sense to rotate the three of them on a regular basis so each plays significant time in each of the main competitions (BPL and CL) and yet have gas left in the tank for the entire season. I can also see rotations in both RB and LB, as Jenkinson proved last season he is ready for top-flight action (albeit on a limited basis) and given Sagna fractured his right leg twice – it makes sense to give him breathers. Gibbs on the left is similar to Sagna; he needs regular breathers because of his injury history.

    The forward line figures to be flexible and can be configured a number of ways with Poldi, RVP, Theo, Gervinho, Ox and Giroud (assuming the rumours are true). Ryo can then go back to Bolton for a year-long loan to prepare for first team action the next season.

    MF will really depend on Jack’s return to health and form so we can roll out any three of: Song, Arteta, Rosicky, Jack, Rambo, Diaby, Coquelin, Frimpong. I wouldn’t mind seeing M’Vila here if nothing else, to give more depth given Jack and Diaby did not play much at all last season and may need time to get back to full fitness. Frimpong also won’t be ready at the start of the season given his knee injury and surgery last season. And now Rosicky is hurt at the Euros and we just sold Ozyakup.

  • ATID I am not sure you have seen what I am trying to do here – those players are mentioned either through my point about loanees not being included or in the under 21 list.

    Wooby, I am sure you are right so we have as home grown over 21s

    Homegrown players

    Johan Djourou
    Kieran Gibbs
    Vito Mannone
    Alex Song
    Theo Walcott

    making 23 players out of the 25, with question marks against five of them. Yossi Benayoun is certainly on Chelsea’s books, because the loan period is over, but neither side has, as far as I know, said that he is staying at Chelsea and not going to Arsenal.

    Anyway, 23 out of 25 with five question marks, means plenty of room for newcomers.

  • Damien Luu

    @Wooby: I agree with you about the rotation thing. We do have a very good squad with many good players in every position. I believe that AW will rotate more in next season to help young players develop and to glue all members of the team to use them as necessary.

  • nicky

    Tony, I question a policy where a whole team is introduced specifically to counteract the cloggers of this world (if this is what you mean). It seems to me to be a move too far. Better only to leave out the odd injury-prone player who needs protection from the Bartons and Shawcrosses of the EPL.
    Walter, Your 2.10pm is a valuable and timely reminder to ALL supporters of our great Club that 100% backing of whoever Arsene selects to play is vital if we are to have a successful forthcoming season.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Actually the rotation idea is quite sound. No point fielding a team of midgets who will get lumps kicked out of them against a team that will concede the midfield and look to bypass it. Stoke away would be an ideal game for some of our young ‘English’ players to come into the side and frustrate the hell out of the ref: “Can’t book me ref, I might opt to play for Nigeria/Finland/DRC/Scotland if you do…”

  • Matt Clarke

    I’d love to see a team picked just to ‘play’ Cloggers FC.
    Probably picked from the local nick.
    Oh yeah – I can imagine it now…it would be shameful and petty, but wonderful to watch.

  • rusty

    I can somewhat understand the incentive for a league to have “home-grown” rules, but the 25 player cap just doesn’t make any sense to me.

    I suppose it’s to prevent Man C from buying up every striker in Europe and then loaning them out at cut prices to their favorite managers? But surely FFP would fix that better than a capped registration list…

  • Damien Luu

    @rusty: I agree. The 25 men cap is ridiculous, and AW hates it too. And no, it doesn’t stop Man $hitty buy every player they like, because they can still buy them, and don’t register for them. I don’t see any good it brings.

  • Kentetsu

    Regarding the NextGen Series, I can’t figure out how the groups are being determined. There is no mention of a draw on their website, only that the groups are “revealed”. Also, Anderlecht and Athletic Bilbao (I think) changing places suggests that somebody picks the teams for each group. Strange procedure.

    I already started following the NextGen Series in its inaugural season. It will be all the more interesting now that Arsenal participates as well.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Tony , what I would like to see is a group of players loaned out to a club( very much like the ‘bundling’ deals that The Pickers do), wherein they remain a unit and blend together while helping said team .
    Their experience would be invaluable when they later make the grade and play for the first team.If we could also loan the coach too,they would be taught to play the ‘Arsenal way’,and would fit in at a higher level when called upon.
    Far fetched ? Yes ,but with many clubs being hard up in the lower divisions,wouldn’t this ease their payroll ?Its almost(but not quite )like having a feeder team .
    Could this work at Rangers or any other club with financial or legal restrictions ? Thus they would get a temprory relief while they sort out matters while putting out a creditable team .

  • Scott

    An Arsenal B side is what love to see….as per Barca B.

  • Martin

    Certainly three teams are possible from current squad [assuming sale/loan of Squillaci, Boetelho, Denilson, Eastmond, Park, Vela, Ashavin, Bendtner, Chamakh and Watt] as follows:
    Team A : Szczesny Gibbs TV LK Sagna*
    Team B: Fab Santos PM JD Jenkinson
    Team C Mannone Meade Miquel Bartley Yennaris
    Team A: Song Arteta Rosicky
    Team B: Coquelin* Wiltshire* Diaby*
    Team C: Frimpong* Lansbury Ramsay
    Team A: Podolski RVP Walcott
    Team B: Gervinho New striker* AOC
    Team C: Ryo Afobe J Campbell*
    Subs for Team C: Martinez, Boeteng, Hajrovic, Henderson, Aneke, Galindo and Wellington.*
    *Sagna will miss start of season and would be better to buy/loan a seasoned RB as Jenkinson could do with another developmental season in Team C.
    *Would be better to have a new DMF and move Coquelin to team C until Frimpong recovers from injury
    *With Wiltshire and Diaby returning from injury early in season Lansbury and Ramsay may move to Team B with Aneke and Henderson as back up.
    *If no new striker retain one of Vela, Bendtner, Park, Chamakh and may need to anyway.
    * Assumed Campbell, Galindo and Wellington get work permits.
    * By end of Jan 2013 should loan out any team C player not needed for injury cover for either development or a view to sell.

  • I am not sure Wellington is ready yet – he didn’t get too many games last season on loan.

  • Stuart

    I like the way you have laid it out there Martin. I suppose the boss could also use it as a motivational tool with players being promoted and relegated between each squad based on objectives and performance, maybe with lower bonus payments for team B and again for team C.