All the young dudes – but which one is this year’s breakthrough kid?

by Tony Attwood

We’ve got so used to having youngsters break through into the first team from the youth sides that it seems almost inevitable that we will have another such player this season.

Another Bellerin, Coquelin or Iwobi.  Or looking back a bit, another Ramsey (who came aged 18, and then did loan spells at Forest and Cardiff).

As the season progresses so we start to get clues as to who it might be.  The contenders are…

  • Martinez
  • Maitland-Niles
  • Holding
  • Reine Adelaide
  • Akpom
  • Chris Willock
  • Zelalem
  • Bielik

And we should perhaps add Jenkinson now back from being done in playing for the State Aid team.

It’s a fair old list of talent – nine if we include Jenkinson, and I wonder if they are getting a bit frustrated by their lack of chances to move forwards.  But hopefully most of them are sensible enough to realise that it is the overview of Arsene Wenger that is helping to push them forwards into becoming the next Iwobi, Coquelin, Bellerin…

But hopefully the guys will have been encouraged by a recent statement from Mr Wenger to the effect that…

“Our challenge is to compete for everything starting… in the League Cup against Reading.   We need to fight for absolutely everything. We have a squad for the first time in five or six years that is more mature and better equipped to face the challenge for all the targets.”

And that’s really the point I’ve been trying to make of late – that we have a first team squad of 25 (as opposed to most clubs that didn’t manage to get 25 into the squad), and a group of youngsters already in the first team squad (but not counted in the 25)

Player Position Date of birth
Rob Holding CB 12 Sep 1995
Alex Iwobi Forward/MF 3 May 1996
Hector Bellerin RB 19 Mar 1995
Chuba Akpom Forward 9 Oct 1995
Jeff Reine-Adelaide Forward 17 Jan 1998

So, 25 players in the first team, nine up and coming, five youngsters in the first team not in the 25, less two players counted more than once, that makes 37 players.   Which means that even playing a completely different XI in the League Cup, not everyone is going to get a game in the four competitions.

And now we have so many players and could cope with injuries, it turns out that our injury list is rather small:

  • Santi Cazorla
  • Akpom
  • Mertesacker
  • Welbeck

So certainly Mr Wenger’s commentary about going for all four trophies ought to be seen through, because we have the resources without actually over-playing anyone.

Over the last ten years our league cup results have not been particularly successful – runners’ up twice and beaten semi-finalists once….

Season Prem Lge FA Cup Lge Cup Champs
2006-07 4th R5 RU R16
2007-08 3rd R5 SF QF
2008–09 4th SF QF SF
2009-10 3rd R4 QF QF
2010-11 4th QF RU R16
2011-12 3rd R5 QF R16
2012–13 4th R5 QF R16
2013-14 4th W R4 R16
2014-15 3rd W R3 R16
2015-16 2nd QF R3 R16

But of course we are not going to play a straight team of youngsters – the senior squad players who are not getting games will play, as will those returning from injury.   Which reduces playing time for the youngsters and enhances our chances of winning.

I will write up a possible starting XI in the next post, but just because I have it, here is the team from the League Cup 3rd round played between the sides at Highbury on 11 October 1967.


Storey McLintock Neil Ure McNab

Radford Simpson Graham Sammels Armstrong

Now that might look completely wrong, but it is a lineup that reflects the numbers the players wore that night – this of course being before the time of squad numbers.   So Graham did indeed wear number 9, and Radford number 7.   I don’t have a report that tells me where they actually played, but normally the shirt numbers did reflect the line up.  George Graham did wear the number 9 shirt all season and was the top league scorer with 16 goals.

I suspect the forward line was based on the earlier model of the inside forwards dropping back so we had a 5-2-3 line up…


Storey McLintock Neil Ure McNab

Simpson Sammels

Radford Graham Armstrong

Anyway, we won 1-0; Simpson scored.

We then went on to the final after beating Blackburn, Burnley and Huddersfield, and lost at Wembley to Leeds.  It was Arsenal’s first cup final since 1952 – 15 years before.  And we didn’t even build a new stadium during that era.

Recent tales from Untold 

Wenger ponders whether Yaya Sanogo will ever really be good enough for Arsenal. 

The gross incompetence of England’s football authorities exposed, once again

Why the TV audience for football is falling, and what it means for the future of football

How are some of this summer’s big value transfers doing thus far? A case study

With a quarter of the season gone, how much value have clubs got from their summer transfer spending?

Inattentive journalists and pundits totally bemused by the notion of offside

Manipulative, misleading and ill informed: the debate over empty seats at the Ems


14 Replies to “All the young dudes – but which one is this year’s breakthrough kid?”

  1. I reckon you’ve double counted a few more, Tony. Martinez, Holding, Reine-Adelaide, Akpom and Jenkinson are all in the 25+5. Total should be 34 including Maitland-Niles, Willock, Zelalem amd Bielik.

    And the injury list is a tad longer: Cazorla, Akpom, Mertesacker, Welbeck plus Debuchy, Ramsey and Sanogo. Wenger said Giroud *should* play, so that’s not definite, and of course Xhaka is suspended.

    Thanks for the 67 lineup. For those bleating about Xhaka they should remember Storey. Now he could bite yer legs.

  2. On breakthrough kids, it was interesting to read that Klopp is planning to field a lot of youngsters, and he said that one day he hoped to be the one announcing to the press that they’d bought nobody in the transfer window because they’d promoted from within.

  3. i think some of the youngster like Emi Martinez, Zelalem, Willock, Maitland-Niles and even Akpom really need to go out on loan this winter transfer to gain more experience and 1st team football action under their belt. the only player i think that gonna have a chance to play 1st team football with Arsenal this season is Jeff R-A (don’t know how long Akpom gonna be out). as the season progress the match is gonna be less and less for some of the youngster. i’m not really sure’ but if Arsenal progress more further into the EFL cup and AW want to stick with the same 11′ more or less and continued to reward the youngsters, then maybe some (i don’t expect all of them) will stick around and play in premier league 2 and made some appearance in FA cup. that’s just my thought, wishing them all the best and hope every 1of them will have a great season

  4. You’ve jogged a serious memory for me Tony having been brought up on the team you mention. My first ever game was the home leg of the semi-final against Huddersfield. We won 3-2 and Terry Neil hit the bar with a penalty in front of the North Bank.

    It is my recollection that usually Graham played on the left, Armstrong down the right and Radford through the middle.

    Arsenal were very average in those days and lived in the shadow of our neighbours who had achieved the first post-war domestic double a few years earlier. Strangely though there was no aaa in those days, we just got on with supporting the club. Defeats were just as disappointing but were merely met by a fresh wave of optimism for the next game rather than booing of the team. The rest, as they say, is history 🙂

  5. Arsenal’s mostly backup team will this night at the Ems swallow up the Reading’s senior team by 4 goals to nil and move on to the quarterfinals of the ELC to wait for Lady Luck to give us our Q/final opponent team.

    Our backup Gunners team MUST make sure they deliver to us that 4-0 win unfailingly. But if they decided to better the scoreline than the 4-0 that’s on the cards for them to score, it’s all for our good. I’ll accept it.

    I hope my starts and bench bellow for this match will tally with the ones Le Prof will make. And if they don’t, it doesn’t matter. Reading will still suffer even if they park the bus in ab attempt to frustrate us and steal a goal through 1 or 2 counterattacks. It won’t workout for them because the Gunners’ backups are fully aware of such negative football approach by teams coming to the Ems to play against Arsenal. And they have found the antidote to the park the bus tactics by any team playing against them in any competition since the park the bus episode of Middlesbrough last Saturday at the Ems which enabled them to get a result.

    My starts:

    Jenkinson Holding Gabriel Gibbs
    Maitland-Niles Elneny
    Oxchambo Iwobi Perez

    My bench:
    Macey Seaf Bielik Dasilva Selalem Willock Mavididi.

  6. I’ve remembered something about those matches from the 1950’s & ’60’s which I’d completely forgotten.
    When the opposition scored the fans gave out polite (if muted) applause. At least they did at the Clock End where I stood.
    Wouldn’t hear that now, and arguably all the better for it.
    How times have changed.

  7. RIP Carlos Alberto, captain of Brazil’s 1970 world cup-winning side. I watched that final on TV, and that Brazil side really was superb.

  8. I read the list of some junior and senior Gunners yesterday on arsenal. com whom Le Prof said he will play them against Reading. But in my starts and bench for the Reading game, I omitted Reine- Adelaide from my 18 man match day squad who is among those Gunners Le Prof has said he’ll play in this match.

    Omitting Adelaide will constitute to overruling the decision Le Prof has already taken. And that can not work. Hence, I’ve decided to reshuffle my bench by making 1 change to it. But no change have I made to my starts as I prefer Maitland-Niles who started at RB in the Forest game to start this game in partnership with Elneny at the base for Arsenal if Le Prof agrees. And that my preference has led to putting Adelaide on my bench.

    My reshuffled bench:

    Macey Seaf Bielik Dasilva Reine-Adelaide Mavididi.

  9. Thanks, Tony!

    Sir Robert Charlton and Sir Alex Ferguson are directors of ManU Football Club, but are not on the board of Red Football.

    Red Football’s key football Performance Indices include:

    a) minimum first 3 in the English Premier League

    b) minimum last 16 of the UEFA Champions League,

    c) minimum last 8 in the FA and League Cups, for the first team.

    How many managers, have approached those KPI’s, consistently over 20 years?

    I rest my case.

  10. This is only affecting one line, other rail links between Reading and London are apparently near normal.

  11. So a chance to see the youth and Perez up front. A good selection of players tonight and lets hope they were training together for tonight.

    So true, but as you said, muted.

    3 mins to go.

  12. Anyone see the youngster we dumped 2 years ago play for liverpool the other night he was amazing Ovie Ejaria shame we didnt hang on to him

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