Do we have too many French players in our squad?

by Walter Broeckx

Someone said over here in the comment section that when the French team was one of the best in the world, we won things. And now that the French team is not at their best any more we don’t win things any more. So is there a link somewhere?

So let us just take a look at the Fifa world ranking as it stood in April. I think we will see some adjustments after the world cup but now we can only work with the things we have.

1. Brazil 2. Spain 3. Portugal 4. Netherlands 5. Italy 6. Germany 7. Argentina 8. England

9. France 10. Croatia 11. Russia 12. Egypt 13. Greece 14. USA 15. Serbia 16. Uruguay

17. Mexico 18. Chile 19. Cameroon 20. Australia

So if the assumption would be a right one, that you must have a lot of players from the best team(s) in the world in your team to win things it should mean that you must have a lot of Brazilian players in your team. I will only take the players in account that can be considered as more or less regular starters because you can have a full reserve team with Brazilians but if they don’t play in the league this means nothing.

We only had one Brazilian player in our team so that shouldn’t have been enough to win things. But how many Brazilians had Chelsea in their team? Also only one and Alex has played 16 games as a starter for Chelsea. So not that impressive I would say.

And Alex, just like Denilson, is not in the Brazilian team for the world cup. MIOU has 3 Brazilians in their squad and maybe Anderson is the most played of them but he also is not a regular starter for them most of the time. So none of the top 3 in the EPL has any real big players from Brazil, the best team in the world, in their team.

If we take number 2 Spain I can be very brief. We are the only one that have a Spanish player in the team. Liverpool in fact has a few but it clearly didn’t help them this season. Chelsea and MIOU have no Spanish players in their teams.

Next in line is Portugal and this is a country we have no players from. Chelsea have Deco, Carvalho, Bosingwa and Ferreira. But none of them have played half of the games that Chelsea was involved in the EPL. You could call them squad players but they are not the players that will be on the team sheet every day and without any hesitation.

MIOU have Nani and he should have been at the world cup. But for some strange reason he was sent home just a few days before the start of the world cup. In the media there have been some rumours doing the round about  steroids but nothing can be proven off course. But in general one could say that having a lot of Portuguese players in your squad was helpful to winning the title although it is clear they were not the main reason for winning the title for Chelsea.

If we look at Holland we had Van Persie, or should I say we didn’t have him because of his long spell at the sidelines with an injury. Man IOU have Van der Sar, who also was out for a while at the start of the season but for the rest not really a big influence from these countries.

No Italian players were really involved in the top 3 last season so I can skip them. The next team in the list is Germany and there was one player involved: Ballack. But he has been told he can go away next season. But he did play a major part in their season. No German players at Arsenal not at MIOU.

As with the Italians it is the same thing with the Argentines: nothing to report.

Next on the Fifa ranking is England in place 8 and now we could see a difference. Chelsea has Terry, Lampard, Cole and Cole, all English internationals and when fit they mostly start. If we look at MIOU they have Ferdinand, Neville, Scholes, Brown, Carrick and Rooney as their English players. We only have Walcott and this season it is the same as with Van Persie : did we really have him?

After England we have France in 9th place. We have a lot of French players: Sagna, Gallas, Clichy, Diaby and Nasri. And Chelsea have Anelka and Malouda. And MIOU have only Evra to show. So the French team could be in decline but Anelka and Malouda played a very big and important part in Chelsea’s successful season.

For the rest of the top 20 it is that every team has the odd player from some country’s but they do not play a very big part in the team.

What could be the main conclusions? I would say that it surely helps when you have a lot of players from the best countries. But to win the EPL you don’t have to load your team with players from the 2 best countries, Brazil and Spain, as the title was won almost without players from over there. Portuguese players are maybe a bit more handy to win things but you don’t even have to play them a lot.

Another conclusion is that all teams have become very diverse if you look at all the nationalities they have and I think it is more important to find the right balance in the team and that it doesn’t matter a lot from where they come. In fact MIOU has a more English spine than Chelsea but still Chelsea won the title and the cup, so some English players can do nicely but only the best will do the job.

And to finish it off and to take a look outside the EPL: if you look at Inter, the most successful team in Europe last season, you can see that they do have a Brazilian spine but it is a defensive spine in fact not an attacking one. With Julio Ceasar, Maicon, Lucio and Thiago Motta they have a defence build in Brazil. Also keep in mind that Inter has almost no Italian players in their starting team. But there also a very mixed team when you look at the countries they come from.

If its untold this is where it is told!

If its an untold untold in a historic sense, try here

There are told told’s, untold told’s, told untold’s and untold untold’s.  Confused?

38 Replies to “Do we have too many French players in our squad?”

  1. And before you make any remarks: Thiago Motta is a midfielder, I know. But midfield is also a bit part of the defence one could say.

  2. This is absolutely very true, Arsene Wenger really need to see this post and think about this.. And i hope he can be able to make the correction..

  3. Hey Walter
    Great analysis as usual,

    I do see your point having the odd player from a nation may not necessarily mean anything because that player could be exceptional where as the rest of the team could be ordinary or vice versa. We had five players from france and I cant help but think of Frances woeful decline at the world cup and they account for nearly half our team. earlier in this year they were 11th in the world ranking in fact below is all the rankings of France since wenger came to arsenal and they are taken as of January each year

    1998 France win the world cup Arsenal won the double
    1999 Ranking number 2 Runner up
    2000 Ranking number 3 Runner up, Uefa Cup runner up
    2001 Ranking number 2 Runner up
    2002 Ranking number 1 Arsenal won the double
    2003 Ranking number 2 Fa cup
    2004 Ranking number 2 Arsenal won the league
    2005 Ranking number 2 Fa cup Runner up
    2006 Ranking number 5 Champions league runner up
    2007 Ranking number 4 league cup runner up 4th place finish
    2008 Ranking number 7 3rd place finish
    2009 Ranking number 11 4th place finish
    2010 Ranking number 11 3rd place finish

    Aw is a French man and so his tendency is to call on his fellow countrymen every manager does this. But as you say walter the spine of Inter is Brazilian, and if you look at barca the spine is Spanish. I am not saying it is the only factor I believe that the success of the national team has a part in the success of the different teams at club level.
    Clairefontaine has stopped producing the likes of Henry and Anelka partly because france have stopped investing so heavily in youth development. Spain under Barca has developed a phenomenal youth system and I can only drool at what Aw is doing with the English contingent for the future, and I see ze germans are investing in youth.

    I think if your spine is from one country and they are not doing too well at the national level it must have some effect I don’t think it is the only factor. Surely the ground switch has had a big factor aswell, But maybe just it was a contributing factor.

    I think it is also fair to say the 2006 world cup final for france was the last hurrah of their golden generation and coincidence or not it was kind of an end of an era at arsenal. I happy to say that the youth coming through is not all french

    Ps I would also like to add if you look at the very best players in the world it is safe to say they come from Spain, Brazil, Portugal and Argentina. Argentina are ranked lower than they should be because they struggled to qualify, I canh onestly see them going far and their ranking by Jan will be roughly 3 or 4th

  4. I dont think Inter had any italian players on the pitch the day they won the CL. But nobody really cared….

  5. I think ITALY are too highly ranked and that will change . Some of the world rankings are inflated

  6. I think what is true is AW has put togther teams that will comply with his philosophy. I think the reason why so many French comes down to negotiations…. We almost had CR, Ibro…instead we got Viera, TH… Alot has to do with these youn French idolizing Wenger and the player or the parents trusting in that….

  7. I think Italy will drop a few places since they are out of the world cup by Slovakia. Slovakia of all countries.
    In fact the two finalist of the last world cup have gone out in the first round. Football has changed a bit in the last 4 years one could say.

  8. I

    When you look at our defense last year the first choice defenders were 75% french and if Silvestre played that would be 100% of our back four, france arent the best at defending when we were goood in defense we had players like cashley, sol, keown upson lauren not all from one country, I would say this there is one thing England are not too bad at and that is defending

  9. Id say the difference is we had the very best of the french team in Vierra and Henry in our ranks and some others petit etc that were very good players. If we had 3 or 4 of the best spanish players now like Barca do, we may be closer we were lucky with our manager been french and those players wanting to play for him at the time.
    But you have to also look at the positions and what a team needs at a certain time.
    I dont think diaby should have made the french team and nasri should have, but I think the french manager hasnt a clue anyway its all part of another debate really.

  10. A Healthy Arsenal last year would have seen Djourou, Gallas (impecable), Vermaelen (Splendid), Clichy (injured), Traoure, Gibbs (injured)

  11. But isn’t France’s sliding ranking more due to their rubbish coach than to the talent level of their players?

  12. I never understand why it is that commentators treat football teams (squads), especially national ones as being equivalent from one tournament to another.

    France, on paper, were always going to be a spent force this World Cup. And, of course, Domenech and his FFF cronies didn’t help one bit. Gignac? Govou? Gallas? Abidal? Henry? Anelka? Some players really didn’t turn up and some of them shouldn’t have been allowed to.

    Now, if Nasri and Remy had been included, it may have been a different matter.

    With Lloris, a decent back four, Nasri, Ribery, Gorcuff, an enthused Diaby, Remy, perhaps Kévin Gameiro or Gomis also … then France’s fortunes will improve under Laurent Blanc. What’s for certain is that the Débâcle we’ve just witnessed won’t happen again anytime soon. Not unless there’s another incompetent of Domenech’s proportions out there waiting to pounce on the FFF with more compromising photographs. And that’s so unlikely.

  13. Surrender Monkey’s in Arsenal’s Indochina?

    Back five 04′


    Lauren Kolo Sol Cole



    Eboue Kolo Gallas Cole/Flamini

    ’07/08 (the year of Satan)


    Sagna Kolo Gallas Clichy

    Current back line


    Sagna (?) TV5 Clichy

    FB reserves = EboueMan + Gibbs
    CB reserves = JD + ? + His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Tony’s birthday present.

    So that equals two out five positions occupied by chaps from across the water. Gallas? Well, all who saw him play this season saw how great a player he truly is, as Hartwick said, impeccable, save when he’s injured…another great decision by Ray the Dummy, to not select Mexes…I suppose that is the French players’ fault too?

    Gallas should stay, he probably won’t.

  14. Whoops, that is two out five, plus a reserve when including the newbie.

    I remember how underwhelmed many were when TV5 was signed last season.

    Can’t wait for the next signing.
    Can’t wait for Lord Wellington to blast those Potters, famous for being the home of Armitage Shanks, and their muck ridden acolytes out of the, erm, grass.

    Can’t wait for RVP vs. Song…

  15. I just think france have had their golden generation, Just like with spain now, every now and then a generation comes through that is formidable.

    Im not saying that france players aint any good, I mean leaving Nasri out is criminal.

    Dont get me wrong I think Gallas is quality so is TV5 but the fact is they still shipped in too many goals and sloppy ones aswell, As a Defender a clean sheet should be like scroing a goal, a crucial tackle or block should be like an assist, The defense has taken its foot off the gas on several occasions when they were cruising to lose a clean sheet, I am all for attacking football but if you dont concede many you always stand a chance especially with quality attackers.

    Gallas is a liability I am a firm believer in sport being 80% mental and 20% physical and with the contemptuous attitude he breeds in any squad the mental side is deeply affected psychology is a major factor of sport and it doesnt matter how gifted you are if there is disharmony in the squad you get situations like at Birmingham that cost us the league

  16. I think that Domenech probably is the worst coach from any national team in the world cup. Even in the euro’s in 2008 he made a rubbish selection and dito games. I never could understand why the French kept him. They have enough talent but no team.

    But another interesting thing is that the team that won the CL, an Italian team, and yet their national team also finished last in their very “easy” group. I think the Italian group was on paper even easier than the French group.

  17. because this is an arsenal blog i understand that nasri is mentioned, and obviously i agree he should have been selected. he’s my favourite player

    but it’s not the leaving out of nasri, there are so many amazing players that should’ve been in the squad. if not for their quality, they should’ve been there for their heritage

    nasri is prince of marseille, benzema is king of lyon. with ben arfa those 3 are some of the best in france

    really my point is, nasri is shocking, but benzema is twice as shocking.

  18. Some players are left out. If you think England left out darren Bent and Adam Johnson and arguably Theo walcot.

    France should have performed better and quite a few of the big teams have performed badly

  19. Gooner80, I see your point but some of the decisions are not even debatable. Gignac instead of Benzema? Yes, Benzema had a poor season in Madrid, but he’s better than Gignac AND Gignac has been worse the season just gone if you want to go by form.

  20. The spine is not french. (TV, AS, CF, RVP as i see it)

    clichy and nasri dont play much for france.
    gallas is no longer with us.
    sagna and diaby are the only two players that play regularly for france these days. so i dont think theres much correlation between them not doing well and us(apparently were not doing well?).

    also we have a great manager and france has had a rubbish manager for a few years.

    to me football is best when you have a collective and mixed group of players. national teams often exclude players that can be extremely good in the context of a squad with the right mix.

  21. I think its mixing up the cause and effect a little bit. Players play for their national teams based on their club form and performances. So when they do well with us they get into the french team and do well also. I don’t think the converse applies.

  22. The spine of the team at Arsenal is not French but the defense certainly was last year, as someone said less french better defence.

    Clichy is on a par with Evra and is in the squad, Evra has got in front of him and sometimes it is hard to dislodge someone once they get in front. With Nasri I suspect it is a bit of politics probably Gallas having a strop, Nasri not in the squad even is shocking

    Shard you have a valid point, you play well for your club and then you get into the national side, but point is that the players playing best for their clubs tend to influence where countries stand on the world rankings you only have to look at the brazilians and the spanish.

    France for whatever reason or number of reasons are gradually slipping down the world rankings, It has got something to do with the manager in charge. France do still have some very good players but IMO their golden generation has passed

    If you take arsenal french contingent last season being: clichy, sagna, silvestre, gallas, diaby & Nasri 6 players compare this generation with the french from pre 2006

    pires, henry,viera

    there is no contest

    you could probably take out silvestre because he is a joke and MIOU stitched us up

    but the players we had from france were not defenders. At the same time I like clichy & Sagna as defenders and you cant deny Gallas is quality, but someone is to blame in the defense and it cant all be ALUMINUMs fault

    I would say world rankings are not a cause but an indication and if you have or had 6 players from one country and notably 4 in defense and their world ranking has been as low as 11th at the turn of the year it may just indicate why there is problems in defense, especially if we look at inter and the world rankings of brazil

  23. Not really on topic but too much fun to let it pass…

    They say this World Cup is like WWII:
    France and Italy leave early, USA turns up at the last moment and England are left fighting the Germans

  24. One of the good things about this world cup is we don’t have the extra stress of arsenal and wengers usual nonsense,thank god he’s commentating on French t.v. and not English. Mesut ozil;top class player,forget him,wenger who famously quoted that the world cup can give a false impression on players,remember not too long ago,we all know he knew of him already,he was rated all across europe,so wenger messed up on this one,cos if cesc goes,ozil is now too expensive for us,if brazil go on to the final as i expect,theres a chance we can wave goodbye to melo,yaya is already a citizen imo,basically most of the top performers in the wc,wengers been linked with,forget them! i dont care what the excuse is,if wenger doesnt get in 2 defenders,a dm,goalkeeper and a winger then thats a failed summer,he then gets one last season by default(he said give me 2 seasons from at the agm),if we dont win the league,even if we end up 1 point from the league,SACK HIM,but i’ve got a solution to deal with wenger,since we all know he is going to be here this coming season whether we like it or not,lets not boo the team even if we lose 10-0 to stoke,lets all show up to all the games,lets cheer all through the game,lets not give the master manipulator/deceiver an excuse as to why he failed i.e. well,i believe the fans weren’t behind the players enough,so we pretend we’re arsene_al,redoptic and brownz,then come the last game of the season,if we dont win the title,we boo him like wow,throw stuff into the pitch,hold up big banners,protest outside the stadium,and walk away from the lap of honour,then what will wenger use as an excuse? think about it,how long can he use potential as an excuse when eboue is now 27,clichy 25,and alumunia 33,how long can he use injuries,he may well try,but if we do what i propose we do,it will be a major blow to his deception plans,

  25. What nonsense are we being told now as England had to rely on other teams to get through to the last 16,can,t beat Algeria,can only draw with the Yanks and only beat tiny Slovenia the smallest country by population 1-0,like France to many prima donnas but unlike South Korea and Japan who play as a cohesive unit ,beating Greece and Denmark and going through to the last 16 ,so bring on Germany versus England with another so called big team (England )having to pack the bags just like Italy what a joke?

  26. LOL @ Munaf ..

    We need England to advance to quarter.. Longer WC campaign = less rest for them. 😀

    EPL starts on 14th August!

  27. Hey Walter is this a coincidence

    8 of the eleven arsenal players at the world cup are returning leaving Vela, cesc, & Rvp left and most likely Vela returning on monday meaning are two best players are left?

    The only thing I am thankful for most Arsenal players couldn’t say they are burnt out with cesc not playing and RVP being out so long he needs the run out

  28. Walter

    Your argument is totally spurious. The only thing which matters is whether the French players at Arsenal are the top players in the national side or fringe players.

    When Arsenal were top dogs they had Henry, Patrick and Pires in their prime.

    Now we had two centre backs toward the ends of their careers, two full backs just breaking into the national side and Diaby and Nasri who were doing likewise.

    The simple, ineluctable fact of Arsenal in the Wenger era is that whilst Bergkamp was here, we won trophies.

    And once he went and he wasn’t replaced like-for-like, with similar quality, we didn’t.

    End of story.

  29. @gooner80

    thats my point. If we have good players in our team, they will do well with their national teams. So its not that we don’t do well cos the french (for example) dont do well. I think its the other way round.

    However, Comparing our current players to the earlier team isn’t really fair. This team is in a different phase of its growth right now. Plus we seem to forget the failings of past players. Mostly cos they gave us such wonderful memories. For instance. prior to the start of the invincible season the defense was a big worry.(seem familiar?) Who would have thought Kolo would partner Sol? I for one had forgotten about that. It took some soul searching (and internet too) to remember. Hopefully we would forget the failings of this team soon too and just remember the wonderful trophies they bring to us 🙂

  30. Shard

    what I am saying is that Aw has a reliance on French players and the crop coming through havent been as good and what I am saying is the fifa rankings have been reflecting that. Also you dont always have to play well for your club to make it into the national team,and sometimes you can play exceptionally well and still not make it.

    The only thing I am comparing is the french players and the fact that we didn’t have the whole french back four before

    Bergkamp is one of my all time favorites but I think RVP is similar not THE SAME but similar, like AW said the way people were talking about rooney this year comparing him with messi and ronaldo, the way RVP started this season I think he would have finished top scorer but that is IFS buts and maybe

    I just think we have too many french players and too much of a reliance on one country and if what ever reason the crop of players breaking through is not as good we suffer. AW needs to get a settled back four and build a relationship that lasts for many years, Aw must have known Gallas werent going to sign a new contract and silvester was passed it. It is about time he made DEFENCE number one priority because in the smaller games we can get by but in the top top games the defence has been lacking and IMO i think it has been lacking ever since Gallas come in, I think he criticises players and rubs them up the wrong way and we probably did Chelski a favour taking him on.

    My conclusion

    Build from the back that is the place to start,that is where attacks and counter attacks come from, take cliichy and sagna to crossing school there is no point making 80 yard runs to deliver crosses that cant get past the first man, a better defense would give us an extra 10 points and voila we are seriously challenging

  31. Interesting Walter-but perhaps Wenger is more likely to make the best decisions about players he knows most about- that includes their early life-and they also play in a physical league-and can adapt to English conditions and usually represent good value for money. Its a formula for the most part that works. Sadly, Domenech is the kiss of death for any team and France not surprisingly massively underperformed. However is Capello and England substantially better?

  32. As regards improving defense I agree with Gooner80. But i strongly disagree with it being anythin to do with them being French. Besides I think its more a collective organisation problem rather than the individual ability of the players. Happily Wenger seems to have made defense his priority. (or sorting out the defense should i say)

    There will alway be more French players under Wenger because thats the league he knows best.(apart from england but the paucity of talent and the expense involved makes English players a less likely proposition.)

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