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July 2021

At last Arsenal reserves get a breakthrough (of sorts)


Do you know who invented away support?


By Tony Attwood

I’ve been arguing for some time that Premier League reserve teams should be able to play in the Football League, in the same way as happens in Spain, France, and Germany.  It is an idea that caught on a little, as Andre Villas Boas, when at Chelsea suggested the same.  Naturally he did not get an intelligent conversation back on this: the Football League called this “offensive”, but Everton manager David Moyes then revealed he tried to get Everton ‘B’ team to play in the Football Conference.

I have also suggested that since the English won’t play, the Scottish Third Division might be given a boost by having Arsenal Reserves in it, but on this one the footballing world has remained silent.The former France technical director Gerard Houllier said, “In England you lose a lot of players between 18 and 21,” he said. “The two countries who are failing are England and Italy. I knew one or two players [when manager] at Aston Villa who did not have enough games to play at the top level. Between 18 and 20 there is nothing. In France when they don’t play on a Saturday, they can play for the reserves the next day.”

Arsenal have tried to compensate by using the loan system more and more vigorously, and we’ve often spoken here of the fact that Lorient is now increasingly looking like an Arsenal in the French League.  But the reserves and youth team are taken as seriously as possible, and certainly more seriously than some clubs take the whole affair.  Tottenham, Manchester City, QPR, Stoke for example have not played in a reserve league of late.  Arry pulled Tottenham out of all reserve competitions, and as for the others, I am not sure what they have been doing.

Up to last season Arsenal played in The Premier Reserve League which started out in 1999 replacing the old Football Combination and the Central League.  But no one was very happy with it and the format was re-organised time and time again.  Also because Arsenal tend to promote youngsters quickly and make great use of the loan system, they tended to use it as a chance for up coming players to experience competitive games, rather than going all out to win the league.   While some clubs put unwanted members of their first team squad to play in the reserves, Arsenal never did this – using it totally for players who were over age for the Premier Academy League.

Now everything is changing.  We now have the Barclays Under-21 Premier League, and there is the Next Gen knock out cup for teams across Europe.  Suddenly being a reserve is going to be a lot more fun.

Arsenal’s Under-21s will start this season with two fixtures at Emirates, against Bolton Wanderers on Monday, August 20 (kick-off 7pm) and Blackburn on Saturday, August 25 (kick-off 2pm).  Teams can use three outfield players over the age of 21 and one over-age goalkeeper.

NextGen Series matches will be played at Underhill Stadium starting with Marseille on Wednesday, August 29 (kick-off 7pm).  NextGen is in effect an Under-19 version of the Champions League (although teams are allowed to select up to three Under-20 players in their squad) with group stages followed by the knock out round from January onwards.  Marseille are the first opponents to experience Barnet on August 29 (kick-off 7pm) before we play to Olympiacos on September 12.

Back in the new Reserve League the 23 clubs have been divided into 3 groups.  The top two teams in each group along with the two best 3rd place teams, will move into an ‘elite round’ of games to be played after Christmas. The other teams will then be divided up into 2 groups also for further games after Christmas.

Group A:
Arsenal, Blackburn, Bolton, Everton, Norwich, Reading, West Brom and West Ham.

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Group B:
Newcastle, Tottenham, Southampton, Stoke, Manchester United, Watford, Sunderland and Aston Villa.

Group C:
Fulham, Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace and Wolves.

Just so as you see the sort of players we are currently playing in our reserve side, here is the squad for saturday’s game:Chesham United v Arsenal, kick off 3pm.

1. James Shea
2. Hector Bellerin
3. Elton Monteiro
4. Zachari Fagan
5. Jernade Meade
6. Isaac Hayden
7. Jack Jebb
8. Kristoffer Olsson
9. Josh Rees
10. Philip Roberts
11. Nigel Neita
12. Martin Angha
13. Josh Vickers
14. Chuba Akpom
15. Alfred Mugabo
16. Samir Bihmoutine
17. Austin Lipman
18. Glen Kamara

Here are the details for the season proper…

Reserve Fixtures 2012/13
Mon, Aug 20 Bolton Wanderers Under-21 Premier League H 19:00 Emirates Stadium
Sat, Aug 25 Blackburn Rovers Under-21 Premier League H 14:00 Emirates Stadium
Wed, Aug 29 Marseille NextGen Series H 19:00 Barnet FC
Mon, Sep 3 Everton Under-21 Premier League H 19:00 Barnet FC
Wed, Sep 12 Olympiacos NextGen Series A TBC Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium
Mon, Sep 17 Norwich City Under-21 Premier League H 19:00 Barnet FC
Fri, Sep 21 West Ham United Under-21 Premier League A 19:00 Old Ford Sports Ground
Mon, Oct 1 West Bromwich Albion Under-21 Premier League A 14:00 The Hawthorns
Thu, Oct 4 Olympiacos NextGen Series H 19:00 Barnet FC
Mon, Oct 8 Reading Under-21 Premier League H 19:00 Barnet FC
Mon, Oct 22 Everton Under-21 Premier League A 19:00 St Helens RLFC
Thu, Oct 25 Marseille NextGen Series A TBC TBC
Mon, Oct 29 Blackburn Rovers Under-21 Premier League A 19:00 Leigh RFC
Mon, Nov 5 Bolton Wanderers Under-21 Premier League A 19:00 Lancashire FA
Fri, Nov 9 West Ham United Under-21 Premier League H 13:00 London Colney
Thu, Nov 15 Athletic Bilbao NextGen Series A TBC TBC
Mon, Nov 19 Norwich City Under-21 Premier League A 19:00 Carrow Road
Fri, Nov 23 West Bromwich Albion Under-21 Premier League H 13:00 London Colney
Fri, Nov 30 Reading Under-21 Premier League A 13:00 Hogwood Park Training Ground
Thu, Dec 6 Athletic Bilbao NextGen Series H 19:00 Barnet FC



13 comments to At last Arsenal reserves get a breakthrough (of sorts)

  • Goona Gal

    I looked at the Chesham Arsenal player list for the absentee’s, who I am guessing have been included in the training camp. I am really looking forward to seeing the ‘Project Youf’ players graduate through the ranks and play a part of the forthcoming season.

    I am glad that there are now more opportunities like NextGen for Arsenal players to test themselves against other emerging players within the same age group, whilst remaining within the Arsenal set up. It’s also good thing that Arsenal are now using the loan system as a development step towards the first team and not just a gentle nudge towards the door too.

  • This is a of the best thing could happen for arsenal, a good competitive testing ground, and will give our young guns something to do, also allow us to see prospective starts for the future, all over europe. NICEEEE

  • fred

    I cannot think of a worse idea than reserve sides playing in the league. All it will do is create even more of a monopoly for the elite and wealthy clubs.
    The idea also seems incongruent with many other arguements that this site espouses regarding fair play. The ultimate consequence of premier league teams taking the places of other clubs would mean financial death of others as we take their places.
    I would suggest succinctly that by having reserve sides in the league is a big ‘fuck you’ we are the elite, towards what I consider clubs that are equally as valid and important to their fans as our club is to us.
    Bizarre and contrary opinion Tony!

    Arsenal Abides!

  • Goona Gal

    Afobe’s off to Bolton for the season, which is’nt necessarily a bad thing for him at all. We haven’t had a striker come through the ranks yet and I am hoping he will do the business. I’m glad Bartley’s staying, I was going on about him last year, even at the Emirate’s cup and then he score’s an own goal which shut me right up!

    ….I’m just trying to keep up with .com right now – how many more announcement’s?

  • nd

    this could also be bad as more scouts will want our young players but i am looking forward to us winning the next gen series maybe it will be a barca-arsenal final 🙂

  • nd

    can anyone tell me what is the most number of players that a club can send out on loan

  • Ugandan Goon

    Thanks for highlighting this little extra bundle of joy and sorrow coming our way, 19 extra arsenal games before Christmas. joy!.
    Tender fodder for the AAA to get their claws into. Sorrow.
    I am sure this is going to be test of how serious clubs around Europe are about the self sustaining model and developing talent from within, and as you mention in your piece, the Europeans are miles ahead of us but, hey we have the lopsided pitch at Underhill, home advantage. Bring it on.
    Terry Burton looks like the business, and i am relishing the prospect of watching these guys on the big stage.

  • Ugandan Goon

    @ fred,
    It seems to me that you are against competition itself, here.
    There are no guarantees that the big clubs will win it all the time, remember who they will be playing against, first teams who will certainly give them a game. So often you hear players returning from loan spells remarking how the experience of playing against men playing for their livelihoods helped them mature as players. Even the B teams of Barcelona and Madrid get their asses handed to them every so often, it is no cake walk.
    And i presume they will be subject to relegation and promotion like everyone else. A club , even a club like Man City has a finite amount of resources that it can pour into a team, and with FFP looming, the is a hope it will rein in the super rich. Besides the object of the exercise is development, of course everybody would like to win it, but i am yet to hear of any club with two sides in the same league, so there is an artificial glass ceiling that will let teams squeeze past, if promotion were at stake
    I hope you don’t object to the attendant benefit to those clubs, in terms of exposure, player, gate receipts, TV dosh etc?.

  • bob

    You make a compelling moral case on the face of it. Is there any middle ground that could actually produce a win/win situation that would help the non-elite clubs? I can see that elite clubs would want to relieve some of the pressure from below by giving greater visibility and training to the ambitious lads that they must cope with and/or wish to sell. So that’s in their interest. Would an expanded league that is in part financed by donations from the elite clubs go any distance to helping underwrite the staying power and longevity of local sides? or is this purely a wipe out of the local by the already big sides? any middle ground?

  • bob

    “[means] taking the places of other clubs would mean financial death of others as we take their places.
    I would suggest succinctly that by having reserve sides in the league is a big ‘fuck you’ we are the elite, towards what I consider clubs that are equally as valid and important to their fans as our club is to us.”

    Ugandan Goon, fred,
    In regard to your (UG) favored big C Competition, does local preservation as fred seems to pose it a value or not? do communities that have little enough going for them also have to sacrifice their teams and heritage and day out and friendships and bonds so that Competition can be the supreme if not only value? Are there any middle ground positions that would be win/win and actually help the local, or is that something that you would prefer to eradicate, if it came to it? One man’s Competition is another man’s dispossession. Is that what’s at stake here? I don’t know enough; but this is what it seems like is the subtext of what’s going on here in your exchange with fred.

  • Gunner4evr

    Let’s hope Wenger will give a chance to these reserves. I have my doubts. He has signed too many kids and these guys like Vela,especially was played out of position. On top of that he was seldom given a full 90 min.
    hopefully in 2012-13,there could be a change. However results are of top,top,top,priority. If the first team is winning,chances of a start in the team are remote.

  • ARSENAL 13

    Now that we have premier league quality players coming through our youth set up, I think such a competitive learning atmosphere can only improve the quality.

  • WalterBroeckx

    A nice win today for an Arsenal XI that had a few first year scholars in the team. 😉