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October 2020

Arsenal Squad – 2016/17 and Chelsea’s youth problems

by the Untold Team

Before we start picking up again on all the crazy transfer rumours that the newspapers and bloggettas are starting to invent, in order to save them doing any reporting, here is our first stab (created by Andrew, who writes the ref previews and reports on under 21s and under 18s) at “what I think our squad for next year might look like”.

Andrew writes…

As a ‘Starter for ten’ I have assumed that all of our existing squad will wish to remain with the club for next year – unfortunately I can’t see squad places being available for all of them so there may well be some forced departures (possibly including some who have been with the team for a long while).

I have looked at all 59 of our players with professional contracts, including those at U21 level and out on loan.  Clearly not all of them can remain with the club, here are my guesses as to where most of them will end up.

Goalkeepers – Slots 1 & 2 of 25

  • 1st choice – Petr Cech
  • 2nd Choice one of – Wojciech Szczesny (HG), David Ospina, Deyan Iliev (HG), Matt Macey (HG) or Emiliano Martinez (HG).  Of the other four, two to be loaned out and two to be sold.
  • 3rd Choice Ryan Huddart (U21)

Centre Backs – Slots 3, 4, 5 & 6 of 25

Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel, Calum Chambers (HG)

If we need an extra over 21 squad place, there is an option of going with three of the Centre Backs I have named above and promoting Julio Pleguezuelo to the first team squad to make up numbers.  Personally if we need to have an U21 player in this position I would far rather it be Wout Faes who was so impressive for Anderlecht in the recent U19 game.  In two years or so he has the potential to be a real star in this position.

Right Back – Slots 7 & 8 of 25

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  • First Choice – Hector Bellerin (HG)
  • Second Choice – Carl Jenkinson (HG)

Left Back – Slots 9 & 10 of 25

  • First Choice – Nacho Monreal
  • Second Choice – Kieran Gibbs (HG)

Defensive Midfield – Slots 11 & 12 of 25

  • First Choice – Francis Coquelin (HG)
  • Second Choice – NEW SIGNING.   [Intercept here from Tony – discoverer of Coquelin.  “I think that Elneny, from the few times we have seen him, is a player who can play both box to box and DM.  He was ludicrously underpriced because he was on no one else’s radar, and should be expected to play a lot.  I wouldn’t bring in a new signing here].

Box to Box Midfield – Slots 13, 14 &15 of 25

  • First Choice – Santi Cazorla
  • Second Choice – Aaron Ramsey (HG)
  • Third choice – Mohamed Elneny

Attacking Midfield – Slots 16 and 17 of 25

  • First Choice – Mesut Özil
  • Second Choice – Alex Iwobi (U21)
  • Third Choice – Jack Wilshere (HG)
  • Squad Midfielders – Slots 18 &19 of 25

Two from

  • Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (HG)
  • Isaac Hayden (HG)
  • Jon Toral (HG)

Right Wing – Slots 20 & 21 of 25

  • 1 – Danny Welbeck (HG)
  • 2 – Joel Campbell
  • Serge Gnabry (U21)

Left Wing – Slots 22 & 23 of 25

  • 1 – Alexis
  • 2 – Wellington or NEW SIGNING

Centre Forward – Slots 24 & 25 of 25

  • First Choice – NEW SIGNING (if World Class player available)
  • Second Choice – Olivier Giroud or Theo Walcott (HG) (the other to be sold if new signing arrives)
  • Third Choice – Chuba Akpom (U21)

Likely to be released, sold or transferred to the training staff

Thomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini, Mathieu Debuchy

Likely to be Loaned out (or possibly sold)

Gedion Zelalem, Dan Crowley, Yaya Sanogo, Glen Kamara

Likely to be in the U21 squad

Aged 17 (at 01/01/2016) – Yassin Fortune, Tolaji Bola, Jordi Osei-Tutu

Aged 18 – Stephy Mavididi, Hugo Keto, Ben Sheaf, Chris Willock, Kaylen Hinds, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Kristopher Da Graca, Krystian Bielik, Ismael Bennacer, Chiori ohnson, Aaron Eyoma, Tyrell Robinson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Age 19 – Tafari Moore, Julio Pleguezuelo, Stephan O’Connor


Squad Size 25 (plus 2  U21)

Homegrown – between 10 and 12

New outside signings 3 – Defensive Midfield [Tony says no on this one], Left Wing and Centre Forward (but don’t ask me to suggest names).

Of the three positions I would expect a World Class CF to cost the best part of £100m, a DM probably £40m and a Left Wing probably £30m so yes I think we can afford them if we can find them (well two out of the three anyway).


We are so used to quality players coming through the ranks (Bellerin and Coquelin are the two most recent stars, and clearly Iowi and Jeff Adelaide are also going to come through, with Zelalem expected to follow up shortly) that it is interesting to reflect that at Chelsea, with all their money, and their massive number of players on loan every year (33 at the last count) the last player to come through the youth ranks at Chelsea into the first-team is still John Terry, whose emergence pre-dates the Russian Revolution.

Yet Abramovich has spent mega money on the academy, and has put some of the young players on large salaries, but the return on investment would be enough to make any finance director’s hair drop out.


So how come Arsenal can bring through Bellerin and Coquelin, and be patient with Walcott, the Ox, Ramsey, Gibbs, Campbell, etc etc, but still bring them through at the right moment?

The answer is that Chelsea hire and fire one manager a year on average, so the manager never gets to know the kiddies potential.  Ancelotti did bring Patrick van Aanholt, Jeffrey Bruma and Gael Kakuta into the squad in 2010, but dropped them again at the first sign of a dip.

Interestingly the recent rise of Tottenham has been based on the rise of the players who have come through over time.

Of course it is sometimes said that Arsenal only brought Hector Bellerin and Francis Coquelin through because of injuries, but that is to simplify matters.  Hector had been lurking around the edges getting a minute or two here and there for a couple of years.  Francis had been getting first team games off and on over four years in between loans.

The analysis above about who we can bring into the squad shows that we have a wide choice of youngsters coming through, and the reason is the stability of the club.  That is what makes it work.

Recent Posts

The anniversaries (index to 4600 anniversaries across the years is here)

  • 9 March 1889: Tottenham 0 Arsenal 1. Thus far Arsenal had won two and lost one game against Tottenham with one abandoned (with Tottenham ahead). Full index of early games v Tottenham is here   
  • 9 March 1906: The Manchester Evening News referred to Arsenal as the Gunners – one of the earliest (and perhaps even the earliest) references to this nickname, in the press.

Our next book

The next book will be The Arsenal Yankee by ex-Arsenal player and Arsenal scout Danny Karbassiyoon with a Foreword by Arsène Wenger. 


29 comments to Arsenal Squad – 2016/17 and Chelsea’s youth problems

  • WalterBroeckx

    If I may add about Wout Faes from Anderlecht. Their youth team beat us as Andrew and I could see with our own eyes with 2-0. They then went on to lose against Dinamo Zagreb but UEFA threw the latter team out because they played a player that was suspended.

    So yesterday Anderlecht had to play Barcelona and they won 2-0 against Barcelona of the world wide famous children traffic youth centre also known as La Masia (shouldn’t that be with an “f”?).

    Mind you they were outplayed by Dinamo Zagreb in the previous match. Zagreb whom we played in the group stages.

    So it looks that Anderlecht do have a very good youth squad for the moment with as Andrew said Faes being the man to keep the shop closed behind.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Now about the squad…. I really would give Iwobi a chance to play stand in for Alexis on the left wing. We must remember that Iwobi used to play more as a winger till last season. Even sais this: ‘Naturally a winger…’

    A world class striker…. yeah why not but as we all know they are not that easy to find…

  • Gord

    I hadn’t seen Carl’s name mentioned in a while, and was wondering how his rehab is going. Well, I guess a couple of days ago, the Ox “published” something about Carl being in training. So, it would seem his rehab is going fine. I wonder if he has any new country music in his machine? Corb Lund?

  • norman14

    Isco, Griezman and (ducking) Kane.

    2 from 3 for the money we have, the 3rd funded from player sales.

  • Pete

    Every time I have seen Iwobi he has been better than the previous time. Thought he was outstanding last night. Took up great positions – always available – and then either did the simple things well or showed great sleight of foot to bamboozle defenders. If he can get even half way towards |Ozil’s ability to see and execute the final ball he will be a fantastic player.

    Also think that Elneny is improving by the week. A worthy back up to Coquelin – as well as another option in box-to-box role. I think that, once again, Arsene and the scouting team have come up trumps.

  • Marcus

    Some good choices, I don’t see wenger making any wholesale changes a la city, lpool! and united although I have to agree with tony that we neither should sign a new dm nor will. Wenger has resisted buying one for years and when he finally did sign one in january, Elneny, it was in the absence of coquelin cazorla wilshere and ramsey, the idea that he will splash 40 mil on one in the summer is very unlikely to be polite. Even city don’t spend 40 million on DM’s and that would imply he would want to push coquelin and elneny down the pecking order even though there is still the potential prospect of Hayden coming through.

    I think a new signing at centre back is much more likely, Per has been great for us at times and is still a good leader who has a part to play in the coming years but he will be 33 next year and his pace has already become a matter of concern for many people, even though this is a consistently overrated attribute for a defender especially when compared to positioning. I think it is likely wenger will aim to buy a new strong tall defender in the mould of mertesacker but around the age of 27.

  • Pete

    May need another centre back. Mertesacker is not going to get any better while Gabriel hasn’t quite kicked on as I would have hoped (a bit of a concern his English remains so limited after a year) and Chambers doesn’t yet convince (although did well last night after Gabriel went off). Koscielny is ageing too – although still in his prime.

    Heard decent things about Lacazette at Lyon but have never seen him play. Not scoring at the rate he did last season but still a goal every other game. Will be 25 this summer though so probably now or never.

    Griezmann is good – but likely to be very expensive.

  • colario

    From the sofa of my TV grandstand I am very impressed by Elneny.

    I think he could be the bargain of the January window.

    Arsene does it again!

  • Josif

    I actually started a Word document with the same topic. 😮 Untold has eyes everywhere!

    I expect Tomas (no “h” in his name) Rosicky, Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta to leave on a free transfer and Mathieu Debuchy to be sold. That idiot Arnautovic destroyed Debuchy’s career under Jon Moss’ watch. I hope Arteta will stay at the club as a coach. Our youth players could learn a lot about positioning and tactics from him. Ditto Rosicky. As for Flamini, he has a mission to save the planet so Arsenal shouldn’t stay on his way.

    About goalkeepers… I would like Chez to fu.k off social media and focus on his goalkeeping. He can learn the trade from Cech and become the Arsenal No.1 even if Martinez looks physically more impressive. Chez is just 26 and already has won a Golden Glove – shared it with Petr – so he should not be written off.

    Sadly, that means Ospina would leave. He is an excellent goalkeeper but with Cech and Chez in a normal mode, it would be a luxury to keep an international goalkeeper in the squad.

    Bellerin and Carl to battle for the right full-back spot.

    Nacho and Kieran to fight for the left side.

    Kos, Gabi, Per and Calum to be our Fantastic Four in the defence.

    Coquelin needs a strong cover. The Polish lad Krychowiak has been connected, he has even confirmed it a bit, but it remains to be seen what would it mean for a top talent like Bielik. That Polish lad reminds me of Fabregas in a way that his presence on the pitch looks…logical and natural.

    Now, the Santi role. Santi has been our guide, as Wenger said, or our glue, as I would say. He literally glues our defence to our midfield and attack. Jack can be a natural heir or Cazorla. I recall Wenger’s praise for Guendogan but the player has apparently told someone he would join Guardiola at City. Rambo or/and Elneny would be a part of a different midfield set-up.

    Ozil is a unique player but Santi, Jack and Iwobi can take over. I don’t know if Arsene still believes in The Ox as a central attacking midfielder but Iwobi strikes me as a player with a better vision than The Ox.

    Attack… I would like to see either a world-class striker with Danny taking over at the wing or a world-class winger with Danny taking the central role. Now, there is a 3rd option: Thierry putting all that vitriol aside and coaching Danny to become the closest thing to Thierry. You can’t find many players who use their body as cleverly as Danny does. His only problem is finishing but I believe Thierry – a player of a similar height, pace and dribbling skills – could help him.

    I had some doubts about Romelu Lukaku but he looks like a real deal now. Another option – a short-term one – is Zlatan who doesn’t do trials but a one-year contract in attempt to win Premier League and maybe even Champions League with Arsenal could be a good motive for the Swede.

    If we sign a winger, I would go for Bale. Tiny Totts would implode, nets behind the opponents’ goalkeepers would explode and stupid banners would vanish for good.

  • Josif

    Yes, about CC21…

    I can’t help myself thinking he can be as good as Stones or even better if he gets a chance. Martinez has sacrificed a lot of matches to develop players like Barkley, Stones, Lukaku… Chambers has proven he can play in three different positions. He is strong on the ball, tall and good in the air. He can be better than Koscielny.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    I included Jon Toral as he is doing really well on loan at Birmingham earning good reviews and being a regular starter. He will need a new contract I think at the end of the season.

    Wellington at Bolton is flitting in and out of their squad so not really impressing at the moment, the last quote from his manager was along the lines of “a little lightweight in away games” but “performing OK at home”. He would need to have a stellar pre-season to force himself into a first team place. Possible but unlikely.

    Serge Gnabry still has some time on his hands. His loan spell under Pulis has been a disaster for him and apart from being visible in a couple of the first team training photos, I haven’t seen anything definite about him going out on loan again. He also hasn’t featured yet at U21 level for us since his return. I guess at the moment he must be concentrating on his fitness. Hopefully he will have a good pre season and will return to our squad ready to go next season.

    Our first team ‘enigmas’ Theo, the Ox and Aaron provide a real problem for the club. With a collective value of upwards of £80m and less than stellar returns from them in the last couple of years, there must be a temptation to let at least one of them go, yet all are highly regarded within the club.

    Zelalem will almost certainly need another year out on loan before being ready for regular Premier League football. Another year with Rangers wouldn’t surprise me.

  • Usama Zaka

    If Flamini signs a new contract (1 year deal probably) then I think there will no new central midfield signings.

    If Flamini’s contract is not renewed then I think we might see Arsenal trying to work out for a central midfielder.

    For wings and striking area I think we might see a surprise big signing from the bigger frauds European clubs (real,barca,psg,bayern) or if any of our other attacking players (sanogo, akpom, wellington) impresses Arsene Wenger then we might not see any signing in the attacking area. But as everyone knows, Arsene Wenger keeps saying if he finds any player that is available and improves the squad then we will buy him.

    For the center back position I am confident that Arsenal will make a signing. First team or academy, there will be a new center back I think. Untold Arsenal’s chief scouts Andrew and Walter have made Arsenal’s work cut out by scouting Wout Faes of Anderlecht 😀

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    It will be interesting to see who plays at full back on Sunday. If Per was mildly concussed last night then he won’t be ready (6 days rest). Chambers will obviously play, I guess with one of Monreal or Pleguezuelo (captain of the U21s). I’ll be looking for a clue in the U21 squad to face Fulham tonight.. Im hoping that Per will be fit for Barça next week, if he needs the extra days.

  • Josif


    I agree on Gnabry. Such a potential, it would be a shame if we don’t get the best of him.

    I wouldn’t put Rambo in the same bracket as neither Theo nor The Ox. Rambo is at least effective in the final third unlike the English duo. Rambo is a unique type of player and for some reason much more effective away from home which may serve as an indirect verdict to the home support.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    The two goals Giroud scored yesterday took him to 20 for the season (in all competitions). That puts him in joint third place for the season, level with Kane. He is one behind Aguero and three behind Lukaku. Not a bad return for someone “not fit to wear the shirt”.

  • JohnW

    I had hoped that if we win PL this year, that surge of adrenalin will be so huge that we will get the required level of desire from our upcoming players too. We can still do it any way, but I would like to see Chuba Akpom be among the strikers next season though

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    The general perception amongst us for next season’s Arsenal official 25 man players squad is, the squad will be without M. Arteta & T. Rosicky as players.
    Who will then graduate from the Under 21 academy squad to take over from these 2 retirees? Adelaide is a winger and not a midfielder and Iwobi too is torted to be a natural winger than a midfield playmaker. But the Boss converts players against the players natural positions.

    If the Under 21 team coach by Thierry O’henry cannot give the Boss a good midfielder to replace 1 of Arteta and Rosicky and Arsenal have to buy again, then it’s a pity. One may wonder what is Thierry O’henry coaching at Arsenal? Punditry?

    No one can successfully predicts who the Boss will buy in the next season 2 transfer windows. The earliest being the summer one. The more the players speculations, the more the Boss distance himself from the rumour and surprises one with a bid for the un-thought of.

  • para

    This squad is a good squad, they just need to have that confidence in themselves. You know when you know you are good at something, the confidence is there and you just do it.

    They will need masses of this for the coming season.

    The way the PL is shifting, it’s bringing more and more of the European stars over, TV giving the new money for the clubs, who(so called lower clubs) can now afford a “better class” player.

    This is why i do think Arsenal will have to compete with the others in order to go forward another step from where we are now.

    Which “big” players will want to go to Arsenal to earn what they would call “peanuts” when they can go to the big £££ clubs. I “suspect” a lot of those we approched already refused to come here.

    Arsenal needs to see the changes going on around them, adapt or defend themselves to or from the currents and prepare well for the battles to come.

  • Jerry

    Good work by the Untold team in regards to the 2016-17 squad.
    I agree with Tony that a new signing in the DM position is not needed due to the emergence of Elneny. Another consideration for the DM and box to box (Santi) position is Jack Wilshere since he plays in a deep lying midfield position for England.

    In regards to the 2nd choice left wing, I think that spot will belong to Walcott like he played yesterday. Walcott’s recent comments seem to indicate that he is now more open to playing on the wings.

    Over the next couple years, I can see Welbeck developing into a star CF. He has a good combination of speed and height, and just needs to improve his finishing. Unfortunately, I think next season might be Giroud’s last season as he turns 30 in September and contract ending in 2018 I think (when he turns 32).

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    I see that Pleguezuelo is starting for the U21s this evening, unlikely then that he will be considered for a starting spot on Sunday. May well make the bench though.

  • bjtgooner

    A very fine article and a very sensible review of our squad for next season.

    I agree with the broad direction of the article and I cannot see us needing to dip into the market for very many players, especially as we appear to have a lot of excellent emerging talent.

    Who we buy will depend on just how quickly some of these young guns come through – the more quickly they come through the less likely we are to buy players – i.e. mature players. Although AW always states – quite rightly – that if an exceptional talent becomes available he will be interested.

    We need to give AW credit for bringing the club into this excellent position, one in which he does not need to buy and is certainly not at the mercy of the transfer vermin i.e. agents – that have preyed on too many clubs for far to long.

  • godge

    Toral and Hayden will still be U-21 for next season.

    25 could consist of Cech, Sczesny/Martinez, Macey, Jenkinson, Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gabriel, Monreal, Gibbs, Coquelin, Elneny, Cazorla, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Sanchez, Ox, Giroud, Welbeck, Walcott, Campbell. That leaves 3 spaces.

    Bellerin (U-21) will be in the squad also, and the three vacancies to be filled will depend on which of the U-21s Toral, Hayden, Gnabry, Akpom, Iwobi, Maitland-Niles, Zelalem, that Wenger wants to promote and what gaps will be left.

    Of course, from the above list of 22, you can sell one, buy one as well.

  • Robert

    Chambers was still 20 on 1st Jan 2016, so he’ll still be classified as an Under-21 player next season.

  • Andy Mack

    Andrew, A mate of mine is a Bolton fan (yes I’m embarrassed) and he says Lennon is trying to use Wellington to ‘Gee-up’ his squad. He says that Wellington has been excellent and is a real ‘live wire’. He does seem to be the closest we have to a second Alexis, in as much as he loves running with the ball at defenders, can go both ways, step-overs, flicks etc and sees a decent pass in the box.
    In their last game he came on in the 91st minute against Ipswich and won Bolton the penalty which gave them a point in the 97th minute.
    I can’t see him being anywhere except in our squad next season (but I’ve been wrong before!).

    As for what the squad will look like next season, that will depend who’s available in the market at the ‘correct’ (not necessarily the cheapest) price. If one of the managers ‘top quality’ players becomes available then very few of our squad will be safe.

  • Al

    And the chekski senior team are getting their just desserts! BT commentators trying hard and failing to extract any positives from this drab performance.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Great and in depth article . Well done .I just have the gut feeling that a shock ‘big’ buy is in the pipe line in the close season . And it may not be someone who the others would be fawning over at the Euro Finals.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I would love to see this lot at the Ems soon , maybe bearing a trophy or two ?

  • Lummy

    Arsenal’s needs are pretty simple bar inclusion from the academy et al…

    A defender – as good as if not better than Kos. I know its cruel but sell Jenks and Debuchy and move chambers to the right. He will still get the odd one or two games as CB. Per to be back-up for the rest of his arsenal career. How hard can it be to pull that off?

    A new DMF- Definitely better than Coquelin. Do scouts consider height when they scout a player cos i would love someone taller than Coq. Think how many times he’s been bamboozled because of his physique. He will be a wonderful back-up to ant world class DMF we have. His determination, tenacity and game-play is enought to keep the first choice dmf on his toes. if we cant get a new signing in that position, we MIGHT be fine but i fear we would be exposed again and again. That position has been one of the main reasons we didnt and wont win a european cup any time soon, let alone the league.

    We are good on the AMF front. Wondeful talents coming through. and dont forget ramsey (always played out of position but still puts a shift in) and wilshere (if ever fit). Santi and Ozil too. El neny is a good box to box. efficient squad player.

    Now we definitely need a world class striker. And people should stop saying they are not available. we just need to open our eyes and our wallets. Champions cant be stingy and lord knows our miserliness is a world known trademark. Giroud is a wonderful back-up or SS. Alexis can play that position too. Then we should give last chances to Sanogo and Campbell. Sell off Akpom and promote Iwobi. If we can get a good price for Walcott, i won’t mind.

    Its important to note that promoting too many youngsters dilutes the leadership of a team. It raises the age old arsenal question of having enough bottle when it matters. How hard can it be to sign three very good players. It raises spirit. it raises gameplay. it raises expectations which raises our motivation to really go for it. i dont like how this season has panned out whether we win the league or not (whether we even win the double or not)… I do hope we win somthing this term so Wenger can stay. Think of what will happen if he suddenly leaves now without any preparation or premonition.

    N:B We (i mean the board) should start looking for a replacement to Wenger ASAP. We cant be passing through all these and still end up like Man Utd.


  • Valeria is because in France if your name is Valerie then they call you Valeria but if your in Tenessee or somwrheee of France then they call you Valerie.