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July 2021

Who is replacing whom – and what will we do with the kids?


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2:  The Great History of Arsenal Competitionwith prizes (also click)

3: @UntoldArsenal on Twitter (follow)


by Arvind

I guess a lot of fans are pleased with this transfer window. After all, 3 established internationals coming in, giving the squad a major boost, is not to be scoffed at.

And largely, 99% I am very happy too although I’ll explain why I am also sad at the end. So I wanted to do two things in this article – one was to see how many were replacements in the true sense and how many were additions.

I’m taking into account history, injuries, African nations,  … pretty much everything to check if we’ve done well. The other thing that I wanted to look at was, have we changed? Will youth no longer have a chance? Lets look at that.

Tony did a piece earlier about the 25 players and fitting all the men on our books into that 25 list by the end of the month.  So I will concern myself in this piece to writing about the players themselves.

The first buy was Lukas Podolski. He is a left sided forward who can play up top. I think he will primarily be a left sided forward and compete with Gervinho for a first team slot. Is it a replacement or an addition?

If Arshavin goes, it is a replacement as those wages will get freed up as well. If he stays, it is an addition. And frankly, I think Arshavin will go. On loan at least and released on a free next year. Based on that, Podolski is a repalacement.

Giroud? If Chamakh and Park both go, he is a replacement for the 2nd striker role. If RVP also goes, Giroud is going to start a lot of games this year as a first choice centre forward. He will rotate with Podolski who will play up there at times. Afobe and Campbell both have gone on loan so I think we might see Niang or another youngish unknown striker come in.

There is a high chance that RVP, Chamakh, Park, Bendtner and Vela will all be gone by the end of the transfer window. Whoa…. The entire strike force would have been changed all around.

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Vela has already gone in fact and Park and Bendtner almost certain to go; I think it is between RVP and Chamakh. While some might call me insane, I hope it is Chamakh who stays, I cannot stomach RVP staying after that infamous letter. I know AW will say he is professional and all that and I don’t doubt that … but it makes me feel sick, the whole saga. I know people will talk about Rooney and his U Turn and how RVP could do the same; quite possible, but the thought still makes me sick.

I wonder how I will feel when he knocks in another 15-20 goals, which he will if he stays another year. Another thing that might happen is Walcott getting a few games up front, in which case, we might not buy anyone. But to round it off, Giroud is a replacement. No doubt. We will recoup what we paid for him through the sales of a few of our other strikers.

Cazorla? I haven’t seen too much of him so I’ll wait for the league to make my judgement. On the face of it though, he will play where Rosicky and Ramsey played last year. Or where Wilshere will eventually play or where Diaby can play.

I am happy about Cazorla coming but still a little puzzled is this. Rosicky just had a great second half to the season and signed a new contract. Wilshere is earmarked by most to play behind the strikers eventually and played there as a kid. Ramsey spent all of last season playing there. If Diaby is fit he will start a few games as well; some of them up there, although he has a different skill set.

Now all of those players bar Diaby (coz of his injury worries) will be back to fitness by October/November. So who is going to sit on the bench? Cazorla..nope. Wilshere..nope if he is fit. Rosicky ..maybe although it’d be unfair after that run he had towards the end of last year. Ramsey …yes as he’d be totally burnt out after the year he has had.

So effectively you now have 4 or 5 players who can play behind the strikers..and that’s not counting Eisfeld who is doing so well for the reserves and youth team. So why has Cazorla come? You could say, because we have very little creativity and Song was our main assist maker last season. You might have a case..yes, but the number of guys who can start but are on the bench..worries me a touch. So as of now, I say Cazorla is an addition.

The other point I wanted to get your thoughts on is – the squad seems full of talent right now and everyone is at the right age from a maturity standpoint. So really which young players, if all the ‘stars’ we have bought perform..can any break through? Is this the slow death of the youth policy? Don’t get me wrong…we will still recruit and the academy will flourish and all that. But are the days of seeing a youth star break through numbered? Does youth really have a chance here, to break into the first team I mean? They will get a great grounding play a few games, go out on loan…all of that, yes. But make it as an Arsenal player?

Look at the first team. Seriously. Look at it. I cannot see any kid breaking through and getting many games. And that leads me to my conclusion…as to why I am sad.

Szcz if he keeps his head on the ground is going to be here for a long time. The back four and their replacements are all between 25 and 30 or even younger. The midfield is heavy with talent and some first teamers last year will find it hard to get a game. And we’ve just refurbished our entire strike force. So can you for example see Afobe, Eisfeld or Miquel breaking through? I can’t.

And it saddens me. Really. Of course someone from the first team might have a terrible season or get injured and these kids might break through. And maybe that is how it is supposed to be. But it saddens me no end, that these kids whom we have developed don’t play for us but go away and play elsewhere.

So, what are your thoughts? Who are our replacements and who are our additions? What about our youth policy? Would like to hear from you.

Untold Arsenal

38 comments to Who is replacing whom – and what will we do with the kids?

  • Eddy

    What’s the point of having these young players play for Arsenal if they’re not going to make an impact, if they’re good enough, Arsene will find a way to ease them through.
    I love the youth policy Arsenal’s built, but times are changing and we can’t expect to see many one-team players. They’re always going to tempted by a fresh start or new challenges.
    We can’t possibly be disappointed Arsenal are buying players who have established a rep

  • Joe Mitchell

    It’s a hard balance to get right. Killing off youth players would be terrible and go against everything we perceive is important to the club. On the other hand the supporters crave star names, the lack of who resulted in a pretty oppressive atmosphere at the Grove. “You don’t know what you’re doing” and “Spend some fucking money” both attest to that.
    I see a need for balance, young players will learn from experienced winners like Carzola, imagine the impact him and Arteta have on Jack and Rambo.
    Great young players will always make it, we have had numerous potential stars never make it for us now is no different.
    We play enough games to blood youngsters and give them a chance as we’ve seen with Jack, Rambo and Ryo loan deals are a great way of getting them experience. Ryo was Boltons best player and would have learnt a huge amount.

  • Gunner23

    A team of twenty three year olds rarely wins a trophy let alone a league. I’m glad to see some experience and maturity come into the team.

  • Sammy The Snake

    As confused as you are! We’ll know more on 18 Aug.

  • RedGooner

    I think the players signed will make the club stronger on the field and its nice to see them arrive not realy since the days at highbury have I felt as enthusiastic about signings.
    RVP if he does a U Turn it wouldnt bother me to much however if he leaves and its to the likes of UTD I wouldnt be exactly happy with his choice of destination.
    Walcotts situation is hard to fathom. I dont believe he wants to stay. I think he would have been offered contracts and since he returned after the euros there has been plenty of time to discuss it further.
    Alex song another who at the moment is showing a lack of respect to the club.
    Should Arsenal fans sing songs or chants about not wanting Darren Dein involved or representing any of our players at matches ? maybe banners dein and usmanov out ?

    The youth payer I feel has been left out thye most without a chance is miquel. I think a loan with a premiership side would give us all a better opinion of how good he is. We all wanted competition for places so we cant complain to much now that there is.

  • deejay

    I really cant see a problem. Arsenals strength in depth allows a stronge challenge for the FA cup and league cup with the ‘second 11’ if we make it 2 the final or semi’s that will mean at least 56 games. thats enough to keep most players happy

  • Gerry Lennon

    I do believe the youngsters will have a better chance of doing well this season. One, the under 21’s don’t affect the squad numbers, so it is not a problem with having them around. Two, the new competition for under 21’s mean they will have plenty to play for, as well as bench time with the first team. Thirdly, and most important of all, they will not be dropped into the first team in a sink or swim, last resort situation. Instead, they will be back up to the back ups, and hopefully, if the first team perform well enough to give a cushion of a two or three goal lead, then they can come on without pressure and have a much better chance of showing what they can do?
    The two more ‘advanced’ players, AOC and Coquelin will get a lot of last 20 minutes stuff, and the occasional start, and that will do no harm to their development in their favoured positions.
    The likes of Eisfeld, Gnabry, Ryo(if not loaned), and Yennaris(diito), to name but a few, will be more limited, and will depend on team formation, and how well the games are poised, but could still progress through the Cup competitions.
    So, NO! Project Youth is not dead. It is just being adapted to the needs of a stronger team

  • Alan

    Cazorla is most comfortable on the right hand side and see’s this as his best position. He likes picking up the ball and cutting in, ala Freddie Ljungberg, so my guess is Walcott will be moved in to a more central striker role with Cazorla and the Ox covering the right hand side. That would make Cazorla an indirect replacement for RvP or Bendtner/Park

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I would consider them as additions to strengthen the team , maybe even as a bonus – our plans C ,D or E. We now have the luxury of so many possible combinations to suit different opponents.
    AW ‘s vision brings to mind George Bernard Shaw’s famous quote , ” Some people see things as they are and ask why ? I
    dream of things that never were ,and ask why not ?”.This quote was also a favourite of JFK.

  • mark

    Cazola is a replacement for Beni who returned to Chelski.
    Also we have to have a lot of players because of injuries.

    I would only want to see RVP leave if we get a good price.
    Frankly I don’t think Manu play in a fashion that RVP likes. It would be like Berba – who in the end did not get any games.

  • Alan

    Rosicky is 30 yrs old so wont be around for too much longer and Eisfeld fits into his mould pretty well. With Song being looked at by Barca there will be opportunities for Frimpong and Le Coq to step in and show what they can do. There are still many questions hanging over the Arsenal midfield at present, like will Diaby stay fit? Will Ramsey kick on and improve? Will Wilshere get over his injuries or is he another RvP, fit for half a season, type of player? A few youth players (like Gnarby, or Jon Torel next year) may get their chances if others fail to stay fit or live up to expectation

  • jemo

    I think youth policy is still alive.Most of the senior players are over 26,Arsene will have them till 30 and they leave.That will be after we have won a few trophies and the fans are not as angry as now then things return to normal.i believe we should not hurry Jack or any other kid to the first team-think Theo,Ramsey Frimpong.they are suffering because fans want them to play each game.Who is next? Oxlade Ryo,or Francis? As Arsene usually says, lets be cautious with them.If RVP signs,he will be sold after 1 or 2 seasons.

  • The font

    These are the sort of problems any top team would want back up players of quality for all positions were not there yet but with a few more joining they should be chomping at the bit to get playing time with the youth cream always comes to the top

  • ARSENAL 13

    I think Mr Wenger has too much confidence in Ramsey to keep him on the bench. I think Cazorla will compete with Theo, and as Rosicky is injured, ant say he will start the season. AND then we have the mini CL, U-18 League, League cup and reserves league for youngsters. So our young guns will get enough competitive games to develop. AND the experienced players are required in the squad to aid development.

  • chris from Cambridge

    The policy of youth before experience has evidently been abandoned, with 7 mature internationals acquired (so far) in 12 months. And fans message that we need more. This shows how poor the previous approach must have been.

    It will be even harder for young players to make an impact- unless they are truly exceptional. But then the Arsenal nursery has in fact produced very little at the highest level … Wilshere, Cole ?

    This is to exclude those brought in (or poached) as teenage stars (16 plus) from other clubs .. Oxlade, Anelka, Cesc, Walcott, Song.

  • Nakew

    I agree with your assessment if RvP10 Stays.

    Giroud & Podolski are replacements for Arshavin, Bendtner, Vela & Chamakh togather.
    Cazorla is an addition. Can not be equated with Beni. Class >>> Average.

  • lukman

    Nice article but I must say these youngsters have been given more than enough chances to break into the first team. In fact I can’t recall which club gives these kids a chance to play in the first team than ARSENAL. But times are changing we will never win a trophy if we shove off reality. The invincible did remarkably well during their campaign and I can’t remember arsenal featuring many youngster then. Don’t get ♍ε̲̣̣̣̥ wrong am not saying this kids av no place in d team but they are too much and a team with many youngsters is an academy for other clubs.

  • Arvind

    Thank You all for your comments.

    @Chris from Cambridge: Would you care to elaborate with examples on how it has been abandoned? Why it is an addition and not a replacement? Who is what? Why?

    Its an interesting point you make though about Arsenal’s academy “itself” producing players. I need to think through what a youth setup is supposed to do; maybe another article.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Cazorla could be many things, especially if theo decides to do the stupid thing and follow the voices of agents in his head

  • Armin

    I agree there is no “enough” space right now in for a youth. But lets be realistic, they will get chance trough, as usual FA, CC and maybe even some games of CL depending on how good we are in first few games and if spot is secured youth players will play last games.

    How they gonna break trough in first team, well, lets be realistic. Rosicky is here for this season and he is gone, Song, after all this preparatory fire, will be for sure next summer Barca target, and 50% chances he is off. Depending on their performances, Diaby and Ramsey as well may be sold next season.

    So season 2013/2014 will see us with enough space, and I dont expect Arsene (excpet sky fall on earth)to be spending much in next season. So quite enought.

    Dont get me wrong, I dont want Ramsey, Diaby or anyone to go, but if they have poor season, and cant get enough games, in their interest will be to find place where they can have more time on pitch than on bench.

    Am I the only one who dont mind RvP staying? He is good player. He showed disrespect for cub. Ok I agree. But he, if stays can still contribute, so if he goeas, I am happy, if he stays I am happy. He is just name on Arsenal shirt.

  • Stuart

    With regard to the youth, i think we are not there yet. We are no Ajax or Barcelona…..yet. This is not a dig, i’m just saying it’s approx 16 years since we opened the youth academy so we will only just be seeing the fruits from what started all those years ago, it was impossible to see today 10 years ago and make adjustments. With some tweaking here and there, it will all work out one day. There things are all trial and error, just over a long period of time.

  • Stuart


    and maybe Armin is right, we are going out all guns blazing with seasoned pros for the league and the youth will be used in carling and fa cup

  • WalterBroeckx

    I think most of the older seniors internationals were bought because (we had a bit of money now) and they will stand in the way of our own youth players for a short time only. Like someone said in 4 years time most of them will be too old and then the now 20-21 years old we have nurtured ourselves will be 24-25 (in the perfect age) and they will be the backbone of the team. And will be a Gooner-Gunner team.
    And with all the new games coming up for the nextGen/U21 league they will have plenty of things to play for and can gain experience that way.
    Don’t think the youth project is dead and buried. We only have adjusted it and are not going to rush them in too soon. I think Jack Wilshere will have been the last of them. Unless we have another Cesc or so somewhere hidden… 😉 One with Arsenal-DNA 😉

  • Youth policy is nt dead, they’ll just b back up 2 d first team. i’m hapi wit d current transfer,

  • I’m with Walter on this. The project has evolved, and is not over.

    This is because football has evolved, and we have to take into account

    a) Injuries – remember when we had all our full backs out in one go last season

    b) The development of the loan system – Lorient is looking like a good place to send our players for experience

    c) The poaching of players by the billionaire clubs

    I think we are seeing a new Arsenal system, accommodating the evolution of football.

  • ARSENAL 13

    Dont think Our youth system is a failure. Its getting there. We have atleast 3-4 players knocking at the doors of the first team.

    May be as TONY says, our system is evolving but I dont see us shifting our focus from the youth based system.

    @ Tony I totally missed……THIS is the Highbury year. Hope fellow gooners will have banners at the home matches to commemorate our move.

  • Damien Luu

    That’s why we need to have more competitions for our youngsters, such as the Next Gen. But then most of them will still have to make their careers somewhere else! (And I am very sorry about that.) I remember a lot of talented youngsters could NOT make it in the days of The Invincibles. Yes, it is very difficult to balance between making new young stars and taking trophies. And this, as sad as it is, means Arsenal are serious about competing for trophies again.

    But who knows, maybe we still can find another Cesc who could make it through into The Invincibles first team 😉

  • Jacobite Gunner


    don’t want to say much as i’d only be repeating others prior but would just like to thank Arvind for an excellent article.

  • Shakabula Gooner

    Arvind,good piece. I too see the challenge ahead for this current crop of our Youths joining the squad. However, unlike you, I am not sad about it at all.

    Firstly, the number of games attrition/injury chances justify expecting at least two players to be intensively involved in each position except, perhaps, at the goal.

    Secondly, in this day and age, the intensive competition for playing berth in the team will ensure players are on top of their game and grab every opportunity to shine. Complacency of players(e.g. Arshavin, Bendtner?)and predictability of the player line up has been our bane for a while on account of our thin squad. It is good to see that addressed for a change this season.

    Thirdly, there is need for a squad that provides tactical flexibility. Different strategies and personnel are needed to be effective against, for example, Stokes and Barcelona.

    Fourthly, I see no reason to fear for young players breaking through in this new system. The only difference is that unlike in recent past when positions were concsiously reserved for emerging talented young players (e.g. Cesc, Wilshere)by pulling our punches in previous transfer markets; going forward, such talents will have to work against a sitting and very good player or another player of their generation to “earn” the starting/regular position. it the new system, they will merely have to work harder and with less guarantees for the shirt.

    No doubt, the competition will be too intense for some – especially those who may be a tard conceited or impatient but I predict that there will be a continual turn-over in our starting eleven in a way that is healthy for the club and that keeps the emergent starters worthy, in peak performance and on their toes.

    Lastly, for the contracts the boys that finally make it as the pre-eminent players get to sign and their respective potential to dump us for better contracts elsewhere, I cannot be sad for a system that really puts them through the hoops for the benefit of the club.

  • bob

    Armin, All,
    Armin, no you’re not the only one who wouldn’t mind if RVP stayed. For whatever reasons, it’s just not being discussed here in any major way, now, in real time, as Manure ratchets up its DEMAND for him. My pov (it’s changed) is that he should, indeed, must stay. My reasons:
    That we can afford his loss of 12M (if not now, which I don’t believe, then easily next season). That he can’t afford NOT to play well (as he’ll be approaching 31 next year). That it puts a stop to the predatory gains at our expense by Dein the Lesser. That it sends a warning to Alex Song that he will not be allowed to tear up a contract with 2 years remaining because of the same Dein the Lesser whispering traitorous sweet nothings in his ears. That is will say fuck you to Barca’s tapping-campaign – now joined by Busquets, Iniesta and Puyol – to bring in Song, whose agent is also Cesc’s agent – Darren Damien Dein (3D); because it is the height of short-term profitism to let him go now on a song, when keeping him (and Song) will do more to getting us into the next year’s CL and earn us the next (at least) 35m+plus that will more than pay off whatever his (possible) eventual departure my then cost us. Today, Wayne “The Diver and face of the EPL” Rooney has entered the tapping-up ranks to say “Of course I’d welcome RVP”. Does anyone want/asleep to the fact that Manure would then have the TOP TWO SCORERS of last season to spearhead their attack. Are we so bemused to think that our new trio of great (but not EPL tested) signings can actually stand a chance against that? Are we sleepwalkers? I say do not sell RVP. Do not sell Song. Say no to short-termism by any Board or non-Board profit-seekers. And say something, anything, to break the too-careful watchful waiting that is going on here.

  • bob

    Unless the massive money that players are reared (or convinced) to feel entitled to get, are persuaded to go for, are rewarded socially to have achieved, are misguided by mendacious agent/advisors to think they will get – unless this cycle of entitlement and built-in greed is broken or dented – by more than wishful thinking, we will not see a generation of Gooner-Gunners arrive. Another Cesc (yes, with a smiley face), I hope not. To have “world class player” and “club loyalty” in the same sentence, without an enforceable FFP? Alas, no. To improve our prospects, we need practical measures: FFP or a salary cap; a fair pitch enforced by video replay; and a conscious refusal to do business with KNOWN predatory agent/advisors and their “head turned” clients. That will go a lot further – a lot further – than idealistic (which I share!, alas) hopes for the development, maturation and staying of loyal Gooner-Gunners.

  • bob

    Rosicky was injured in the Euro 2012 and has had a serious operation, enough to keep him out for 2-3 months since then. That has to be factored in – will he, or Sagna, or Jack all return to form, hit the ground running, not need 4-6 games to be in great shape as contributors? Can we analyze on the basis of probabilities?

  • Wooby

    Arvind, thank you for the piece. I agree with Tony, Walter and others that the transfers this summer represents a shift/evolution in club philosophy and not an abandonment of the youth policy.

    One of the difficulties with going with young players is their development is not linear. Some players take longer than expected to develop while others do not develop at all. Still others develop in ways you do not expect. For example, last season Ramsey mostly played as an AM, this year I noted that Wenger grouped him with Song, Arteta, Jack, Diaby, and Coq when he mentioned the DM and box-to-box MF already on the squad. This is not saying Ramsey is bad or has somehow not developed, but maybe as he matures, he becomes a better fit for another position on the team. Adjustments are therefore necessary in order to maintain the right skills to form a cohesive team.

    Further, playing on the first team puts a great deal of stress on the bodies of teenagers as they have to compete against men 10 years older than them. I have no problem with slowing down the introduction of 17 to 19 year old’s to the first team and giving them first team opportunities at 20 or 21 years of age to ensure that they have long, successful careers.

    I am in full agreement with Shakabula Gooner re: the need to ensure we have good tactical flexibility. One thing I do love about the purchases this summer, particularly Poldi and Cazorla, is their ability to play multiple positions which gives Wenger a good deal of options not only in naming squads but adjusting them during a game.

  • Ong Bing

    Good article Arvind.

    Our youth policy still alive. But now maybe Arsene see nothing special, so he bought experienced players. Last year, he also bought some mature players.

    Market now is crazy, good experienced players is cheaper than young talented players, but unproven yet.

    We also bought some “expensive” young players, but in “reasonable price”, Ox is more expensive then Poldi. And when we bought Theo, that is not cheap too.

    And also last year gap between us and 2 teams above us, is too much, so maybe Arsene makes adjustment for that.

  • Arvind

    Thank You all for your comments.

  • bjtgooner

    The new signings, whether replacements or additions give the squad much more depth in quality than we had last season. They look like three very good buys.

    The squad has also been strengthened by some of the young players coming through last season. So unless Dein the Lesser Pimp does us severe damage in the next three weeks we look strong and a title threat just now.

    With four competitions most of the squad will play, Aw will be able to rotate to keep players fresh, play different options and have cover for injuries.

  • Arsene knows,guys don’t papa everything is gona be alright.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    Chris from Cambridge:

    The policy of youth before experience has evidently been abandoned, with 7 mature internationals acquired (so far) in 12 months. And fans message that we need more. This shows how poor the previous approach must have been….WRONG again you witless fanboy….Thishas always been Wenger’s approach but he has simply stepped up the mix of seniors and youth…nothing has been abandoned except your useless comments.

    It will be even harder for young players to make an impact- unless they are truly exceptional. Isn’t that the idea you clown? If they were all like Vela,Bendtner et. al then we’d really be in a sad state.

    This is to exclude those brought in (or poached) as teenage stars (16 plus) from other clubs .. Oxlade, Anelka, Cesc, Walcott, Song….none of the aforementioned were ever ¨poached¨ and the only thing poached around here is your brain!