By Sir Hardly Anyone
As you’ll know Arsenal played an extra friendly this week against Brentford, using a new formation and of course only those players who were not playing international kickabouts.
The team we put out was…
White (Hutchinson 76), Mari, Gabriel (Holding 69)
Maitland-Niles, Elneny (Patino 33);
Martinelli, Lacazette, Pepe.
The name you might not know is Charlie Patino, and the worrying thing is that the Sun has run a piece on him saying he is better than Jack Wilshere – which could be the kiss of death.
The goals came in the second half from Gabriel, Alexandre Lacazette and then two from Cedric Soares, who the media have been telling us is about to go to Turkey. With the media only getting 4.5% of their transfer predictions right however, we don’t have to worry too much about that.
The line up experimented with a back three with Cedric and Chambers playing in front of them as wing backs. Which is the format we were using in some of our most successful games under Mr Arteta, a year or so ago, but was then subverted in the drive to reduce the level of tackling.
Also included was Ainsley Maitland-Niles who is one of the registered 25 players for the first half of this season. He had been used in the past as a wingback but now had a chance to play in his selected position in midfield. According to the chattering classes there has been “clear the air” talks and AMN is now happy to stay.
But problems are piling up in midfield, because with Xhaka suspended and testing positive, and Partey injured, we were using Mo Elneny – usually a very safe pair of legs – but he was withdrawn on the half hour, maybe with an injury. However with him expected to be playing in the next league games, that may have been a precaution after the player just felt a twinge.
And of course this was a chance for the new members of the defence to play, and for the club to try out the Ben White / Gabriel combination.
And then there is Charlie Patino the media’s “next big thing” He is 17, and who started with St Albans City, and then moved to the Mad Hatters (Luton Town). By the age of 12 there were plenty of clubs after him (Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City are mentioned in dispatches).
Arsenal are said to have paid Luton £10,000 as a training compensation fee, and the local Herald & Post news website reported his father as saying, “Opportunities like this don’t come too often so you’ve got to take them and we’re absolutely delighted for him. When clubs like Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, Tottenham, come knocking on your door, there’s a reason behind it and you can’t just say ‘no thanks, I’m quite happy where I am’.”
“Luton Town didn’t want to lose Charlie, they absolutely love him there, but they realised for him to develop further he needs to move on.”
So this seems to be a continuation of the rich vein of youngsters coming through the ranks.
As we noted the other day, 25 man list is rather short on numbers, although thankfully not bursting with the wrong sorts. We have 15 foreign grown and six home grown, leaving us an amazing four spare places in the 25 list. But then in addition we have
- Arthur Okonkwo
- Nuno Tavares
- Emile Smith Rowe
- Bykayo Saka
- Folorin Balogun
- Gabriel Martinelli
with quite possibly now Patino joining that group of under 21s who can play with the first team if needed.
What this also means is that if an opportunity to buy a player or two comes along in January we can do that, without worrying about either age or nationality. This is the reversal of last season where we had no way of fitting all the foreign over 21 year olds into the team.
This evolution was highlighted in our article “The Strength of Arsenal Youth Policy Revealed” which nearly six months ago showed just how well the policy was running.
Last season we had the third highest number of minutes played by under 21s (beaten only by Wolverhampton W and Sheffield U, who were both bringing in youngsters given that no over age player would go to either club with relegation looking a near certainty).
At that time our nearest rival from the traditional “big six” clubs in this table is Manchester City with a 31% lower use of under 21s than Arsenal. Manchester United had a 42% lower use than Arsenal of under 21s while Tottenham Hots use can’t be shown in percentages because they had not used a single under 21 year old for a single minute of the season.
For the media all that matters is that we are bottom of the league. But there are other factors emerging which are making me rather hopeful.
Understanding Arsenal’s start to the 2021/22 season
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- Spending and tackles – is last season’s trend continuing?
- Does being bottom after 3 games actually tell us how the season will end?
- It is the failure to ask one simple question that is causing problems for Arsenal
- It has taken 3 years and we are still not back at the level of when Wenger left
- Does changing managers actually work for Arsenal?
- Beyond any doubt Infantino is getting his way. Next: Fifa will leave Zurich
- World Cup chaos: the bits you may have missed
- Fifa establish their unchallengable right to change football rules as they go
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- 2022/23 Women’s Champions League Juventus v Arsenal – match preview