By Tony Attwood
There was a factor highlighted through last night’s match that none of the media seems to have picked up on.
Arsenal displayed the latest range of incredibly talented young players who have been escalated from the under 18s to the under 23s and now into the first team. And yet at the same time we are second in the under 23 league, compared with Manchester City whose under 23 team have only won one game all season.
Of course Man C don’t need an under 23 team since they can and will buy anyone they want, but I find something rather pleasing about winning a game with the youngsters, as we did last night while still having enough players left over to put on some really good u-23 games.
Obviously that wasn’t how the media saw the match ahead of last night, with The Metro setting out the standard media’s approach with the headline: “Arsenal are ‘going to turn into Everton’ unless Unai Emery fixes the defence, believes Darren Bent.”
Football.London were of course right there at the start with their constant Anti-Arsenal Arsenal message which has made them the house website of the AAA.
“Trying to get fired! – Arsenal fans can’t believe what Unai Emery has done against Frankfurt.”
Now these are of course yesterday’s headlines, but I do think they are worth considering since they give us an insight into what today’s headlines are worth. With retrospect, we can see how silly they are, and maybe that thought is worth holding.
The current theme, copied from one newspaper to another is that the board doesn’t trust the manager. The Mirror is running this wholesale and taking a very pro-Kroenke line along the way, and others such as Sports Mole have piled in with “Report: Arsenal director Josh Kroenke has doubts over Unai Emery” rather intriguing, although unfortunately “Report” doesn’t mean “report” of course.
In general the media ahead of the game was so certain this was going to be an Arsenal disaster they didn’t really get much opportunity to consider the inclusion of Willock, Smith Rowe and Saka, even though Saka’s rise has been remarkable, being promoted to the PL 2 squad virtually as soon as he was 17.
We’d seen glimpses of him against Vorskla Poltava and Qarabag, plus ten minutes in the league against Fulham in January. But last night is going to be the one people remember when his history is written up. Let’s hope that the media and crowd don’t turn against him because somewhere along the road he is going to have a couple of poor games.
Meanwhile the Guardian, not really prepared for the result we got last night moved swiftly on to Sunday’s game saying, “Over a year into the job, Emery is still grasping for hopeful solutions in a squad that remains inadequate.” One point off being third in the PL, and an exhilarating display by the youngsters in Germany they focus on the fact that Ozil didn’t play, and inadequacies.
What they did focus on was the silliest journalistic trick of all – taking something that a manager has said in the past which contradicts something he says or does in the present, as if somehow football is governed by a set of unchanging laws of physics, rather than the managing of 25 men in the squad, against ever changing oppositions.
Can you imagine what the media would be like if it did reviews of the weather forecast – they’d be calling for resignations with every spot of unforecast rain.
There is some interesting news however – Bellerin and Tierney will play for the under 23s tonight against Wolverhampton. And it will be an interesting game since in Wolverhampton we are up against a team who beat Manchester City away in their last match. Here’s the under 23 league table thus far
Brighton and Hove Albion
But let us come back to last night. I thought it was a superb display and an exciting game. So what did the Telegraph make of it? “Arsenal youth lift gloom with Europa League victory at Eintracht Frankfurt”. We used to say “you can’t please all of the people all of the time” but in fact it should be “you can’t please the journalist any of the time – at least when it comes to Arsenal.”
As for the BBC, they went with the notion of “Arsenal’s late goals only coming after Dominik Kohr was shown a second yellow card for a cynical foul.” So I guess the goals don’t really count. Oh yes, and the “score flattered Arsenal”.
But it does seem to me that quite often we have had the occasional excellent youngster who comes along, and we all hope he really matures into a great Arsenal player. This time we have several at once. Interestingly, no one is currently ranting over the under 23s we have allegedly let slip away.
So maybe someone at the club knew just how many of these talented young men we had coming through all at once. I mean, we’ve raided the under 23 side to push the players we saw last night into the first team squad, and we’re still near the top of the under 23 league.
It couldn’t be that Arsenal really are doing something right, could it?
- Do Arsenal need to get better or different or both?
- Last season the table after 3 games was headline news. But probably not this season
- 117 players tipped as coming to Arsenal before the window closes
- Why Arsenal recruited a new defence first, then a new attack
- After two games we can start to make one or two judgements