Something stirs at under 18 level

Given that everyone and his spaniel is chattering away about tonight’s little event in Spain (quite naturally, I’ve already got my Arsenal socks on and I’m just watching it in front of the TV), there’s no point it adding anything else from me.

So, just in case anyone is reading, what about the Under 18s?

I have to admit I have never seen the lads play a league game (although I am going to try and rectify this before the end of the season) and I know the names of maybe four or five who have made some sort of impact in the reserves.

But on saturday I suddenly realised just how much I had missed.  The Youth Cup I know about, but I hadn’t appreciated just many thousand miles ahead of the rest of the league competition they are.   I don’t know at what point in the season they won the league (they are 20 points ahead of the second placed club), but they have just won nine games in a row in the league and are now just going through the formalities of finishing off the season.

And then there’s the Youth Cup, from which we deposed the Very Tiny Totts.

But the extraordinary thing is that at this level we haven’t won anything since 2002.  This level of dominance has now been around for a while.

What fascinates me about this is that not only have we got such a very young team playing as the first XI plus all the even younger reserves coming through, there is a stunning set of even younger players below them.  As great players are plucked from the reserves and put in the first team so there’s another bunch coming up from below.

To give just two examples of what is happening:  Luke Freeman has made great progress, and in Jay Emmanuel Thomas we have yet another great goalscorer.  Both must surely make an impact in the reserves next year.

In fact even though Jack Wilshere can play at this level, he doesn’t (save in the Cup games) – which means we are not even picking our best team – and still sauntering to a league win months before the season ends.

The notion of the production line therefore does seem to be very much in place – and of course these players all come to play for Arsenal because youngsters who are good enough, get their chance.  They don’t get pushed aside by £50 million pound buy ins – they can watch great players make their way through.

When I have watched their league games on Arsenal TV there are only a handful of people at the ground, which is a shame.  (My excuse is that I live in the Midlands, but I am going to make the effort – not least because I think this is going to be a youth set up that will be talked about for years to come.)

(c) Tony Attwood 2009

5 Replies to “Something stirs at under 18 level”

  1. Wlacott, Denilson, and Song are completely different players now compared to the start of the season. Denilson’s consistency, Song has grown in stature, pretty soon he’ll be a massive wall in that middle. and Walcott, is it possible to get faster?!, now he just needs to work on that finishing touch !!
    Sadly, Marco Senna, is all three of these in one body, best of luck Gunners

  2. Havent posted here in a few months. Back then i was calling for Arshavin. The man has coome in and the mood around the Emirates has completely lifted.

    He’s been a breath of fresh air,it shows what difference spending money can make. We were in big trouble but now theres a sense of much needed optimism. I said the perogative of this year was to qualify for the CL next year and to show signs of a title challenge also. And thankfully i think were ok on both counts.

    The likes of Denilson and Song have matured, i still want a DM but they are now good squad players. At the start of the season there was a sense of despair and worry and it was proven on the field.

    Cant help but think by the start of next season there will be a resemblence to the start of 07/08 where despite losing Henry there was still a feeling of hope and excitement.

    I’d take a score draw here all day long, I think a lot of people are taking Villarreal very lightly indeed, which is exactly the mistake our supporters made last time.

    I remember coming out of the ground after that 1st leg in 06 and everyone was complaining that we had only won 1-0 and that complacency could and should have bitten us in the arse for the second leg where Villarreal should have won by three clear goals at least.

    They are an excellent side, with an unrivalled home record and they are in the same position in La Liga as we are in the Premiership, so we have no reason to feel over confident. If we won 3-0 or 2-0, I’d be absolutely astounded quite frankly.

  3. Of course, in the old days you had to go to London Colney to see the youth team, or occasionally at Highbury for FAYC ties. Nothing was on tv.

    I went to a few games over the years & saw the likes of O’Leary, Stapleton, Adams, Rocky etc etc. It is always interesting because you make a note of who you think will make it & who had no chance. One, who I remember as thinking “well he is no better than me” was Pat Rice, so a definite ‘no hoper’. Strange he played nearly 500 games for the Gunners, as a double winner, & captain in 3 FA Cup finals. Great to be wrong.

    I am not quite sure if it is actually a good thing for the current youngsters to be doing their growing up so publicly.

    Justine, when are you going to start realising that Denilson & Song are the real deal, right now, & will both go on to futher improve to be as good as you get in their positions.

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