By Tony Attwood
It is a long time since Arsenal were fourth (or better) after four games. In fact the last time we had nine points after four games was 2013/14, when we finished the season in 4th. And although that season we were second after four games, we had an identical set of goals for and against, as this season.
Curiously our nine points after four games is actually a better start than in two of the three Wenger championship season. In the title winning 2001/2 season, after four games we had seven points, and going back further in 1997/8 season we had eight points after four matches. Only in the all conquering unbeaten season in this century have we outdone this start. That incredible season showed us starting with four straight wins. And rather interestingly after four games Portsmouth were third. Tottenham were 15th. How the mighty have fallen. Or never risen.
Our next game – Manchester City away – will tell us a bit more about what this season might hold in store. Although their home defeat to Leicester and away draw with Leeds has knocked some of the stuffing out of them.
Meanwhile the stories of the Europa League drop outs continue with news that Arsenal have indeed left out Mesut Ozil and Sokratis. And William Saliba has also been left out, but I find that rather confusing. The Uefa league squads consist of and A list of over 21 year olds, which is limited, and the B list of under 21 year olds which is unlimited. Saliba should be in the B list.
But for some reason the “B” list has not bee published on the Uefa web page related to Arsenal, although in the past it always has been. These people who claim Saliba is not there could be right – but I am not sure how they would know, unless that information is appearing elsewhere.
Even more confusingly Sky adds to its copy of the list of over 21 year olds the note that “Nelson, Saka, Willock and Smith Rowe are all included as homegrown players,” which is really weird since the list they give is of 24 players over 21s in it, without any of those players mentioned. I think they mean “under 21s”.
It is indeed all very confusing and would be resolved if Uefa published full A and B lists as it has in the past. Without them it all remains a mystery. Where, taking for example Sky’s list, is Eddie?
The only thing I can think of is that there is now a rule which says that players can only be in the B list if they have been with the club for over two years. If that is so it would explain Saliba. That would also catch out Martinelli, but of course he is injured anyway.
However we are not the only club leaving out well know players. Chelsea find no place for Victor Moses or Danny Drinkwater, while Manchester United leave out Sergio Romero, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo.
Liverpool have omitted Harry Wilson while Tottenham have found no place for Gedson Fernandes, Paulo Gazzaniga or Danny Rose.
I guess this is all a reflection of the clubs being desperate to upgrade their squads for this season, but finding that the market in the rest of Europe is far weaker than in England, so unwanted players cannot be offloaded. In particular it might be that clubs would like these players but are offering far lower salaries.
This is actually rather curious because we have a situation in which more and more restrictions are being imposed in England, and more money is being handed back to the broadcasters, but clubs are buying players even though they can’t get rid of some that they don’t want.
For when you look at Arsenal’s Europa squad there is another curiosity. I mean, do we really need five goalkeepers listed? The Uefa requirement is a minimum of two, and there is nothing against five, but it does seem a bit over the top.
Still, some of these factors may, or may not, become clear over time. If you do find a complete Uefa listing of the A and B squads with regulations, can you post in a comment with a link to it? It would help me understand the situation even if no one else is bothered.
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