by Tony Attwood
Arsenal, as we know, has five squads – all of which are flexible. And within the system matters are planned and arranged – just as you would expect. We watch the players come up through the youth team, the reserves and so on. Isn’t that how it always go?
You’d think so, but there’s a story coming out that makes me wonder.
It is the odd case of Bebé the man Mr F Word signed for £7.5m with the statement that although he had not seen him play, because “sometimes you just have to go with instinct”.
Now according to our old friends at the Guardian, “his performances in training deemed so poor he was not even considered for a reserve fixture last night.”
The game in question was v Man Arab, who have renamed their reserves The Elite Squad, which is rather sweet. Bebé did not play so Sir F didn’t see him. Oh dear.
I start to wonder if there isn’t something fishy here. Estrala da Amadora, Bebé’s team, are in the third division in Portugal, which is about the same as the league below Conference South, which I think is named after a fridge. They didn’t fancy him much, so he left on a free, and went to Guimarães. Days later Man U signed him from there.
Can you imagine if this had been Arsenal. The Anti-Arsenal Arsenal sites would have been going mad. “Wenger finally loses it,” “he’s destroying the club,” “get this madman out” – and that would just be in the first five seconds.
Of course, it might all be a wind up, and maybe he is brilliant, but still, it is a funny story, or rather it made me laugh.
So, Arsenal meanwhile have no Bebé but we do have five squads – and as our reserve and youth season kicks off, here’s a little summary (in case you haven’t been paying attention.
The First Team
First off, and logically enough, there is the first team squad of around about 25. These are the guys who get the numbers and who appear on the back of the programme. There are 27 of them on the list at present, but we are well within the 25 rule since so many are under 21 and grown in Wenger’s own back garden.
(Incidentally and nothing to do with this article, the missing numbers at the moment are 9, 12, 13, 18, 25, 26, and then everything from 31 upwards save 52 and 53. You really needed to know that didn’t you?)
The Cup Squad
Players who ain’t getting much of a go in the group of 27 will turn up in the Cup Squad, possibly along with one or two others who have not go into the third group (the on-loan). I have really lost the thread of who is where at the moment, but Craig Eastmond, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, and Gilles Sunu might be there.
Francis Coquelin is with French Ligue 1 club Lorient, Sanchez Watt is at Leeds and Kyle Bartley will also spend the season in the Championship at Sheffield Untidy, Luke Freeman is at Yeovil Town until January and Pedro Botelho will spend the year having fun with Cartagena. Undoubtedly more will go over time.
Reserves – or should we now call them “The Elite Squad”
The reserve season is just starting (Bolton away since you ask).
There are three leagues – Southern, North A and North B. The Southern group has six teams, including Arsenal, and the two North groups consist of five teams each.
We play the other southern teams twice and each team in the northern groups once giving us 20 matches.
The winners of the two Northern Groups will play off to determine the Northern League Winners and then they play us (as inevitable Southern group winners) for the Barclays Premier Reserve League Play Off Winners Do-Dah.
The big change is that clubs’ training grounds can be used to stage fixtures and Arsenal will play games as afternoon kick offs at London Colney with Barnet just used in September March and April.
In the final pre-season friendly the reserve side was
- Emi Martinez
- Cedric Evina
- Gavin Hoyte
- Daniel Boateng
- Nico Yennaris
- Craig Eastmond
- Mark Randall
- Henri Lansbury
- Roarie Deacon
- Jay Emmanuel-Thomas
- Wellington Da Silva
As I understand it, Wellington Da Silva is not allowed to play for the first team until January – but we could just see him in a 3rd round cup tie then.
The youth team have won three trophies in the past two years, but we started disastrously this year losing 5-2 away to Man City of all people. (Come on guys, we win this league – it’s our destiny). Our team was
- Sean McDermott
- Josh Rees
- Samir Bihmoutine
- James Edge
- Elton Monteiro
- Martin Angha
- Jeffrey Monakana
- Callum Webb
- Jernade Meade
- Philip Roberts
- Nigel Neita
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