By Sir Hardly Anyone
Here’s a strange statistic. For six of the seven league games played this season, Arsenal have put out a team younger than any other team used by any other club in the Premier League.
For the only exception to this approach this season Arsenal put out a team that was notably older, and perhaps as a result or perhaps by chance, we lost heavily. True that was to Manchester City, but the teams for the other games have been doing well – and those teams have been very young.
Through these games Arsenal’s average player age has ranged between 24.1 and 25.1 years. For the defeat to Manchester City the average age was 26.3.
The ages of the youngsters are
- The 20 year olds: Bukayo Saka, Folarin Balogun
- The 21 year olds: Nuno Tavares, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Gabriel Martinelli
- The 22 year olds: Takehiro Tomiyasu, Martin Ødegaard, Emile Smith Rowe, Eddie Nketiah.
- The 23 year olds: Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Gabriel
- The 24 year olds: Kieran Tierney, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles
So not surprising that for six of the seven games we have been the youngest team on this or are any other pitch.
This compares with some of the oldest teams as reported by Transfermarkt. Everton, Newcastle, Manchester City, Brighton and Hove, Leicester City, and Manchester United have all been putting out teams with an average age of 27.7
But of course there are always the naysayers, and John Barnes, no less, “has warned Arsenal that Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka may not yet be consistent enough.”
I am not sure if Arsenal need or indeed would heed a warning from a man who has worked for Haldia Heroes, Tranmere Rovers, and Jamaica as coach for a total of 21 games and who across his time at Tranmere had a points per match average of 0.83.
What does surprise me however is not that national newspapers will continue to give the time of day to the comments of the constantly failed manager, but rather than we still haven’t finished pulling young players out of the ranks of the youth team. There’s Charlie Patino at the top of the table, and several others who are being mentioned in dispatches, such as Tyreece John-Jules.
Patino certainly looks like the next name to come forward, as he’s being talked up as a new Jack Wilshbere and who is already playing in the under 23s.
And the fact that there is still more to come from the under 23s and under 21s if we take a look at the league tables below following wins for both the under 18 and under 23 at the weekend.
The Under 23s…
|3||West Ham United||7||4||1||2||17||12||5||13|
|4||Brighton & Hove Albion||7||4||1||2||14||10||4||13|
The under 18s…
And I guess while doing the tables we ought to include the women’s team as well although I know Andrew will want to be quoting this in his next report.
Of course not every player makes it at Arsenal and many leave to play elsewhere. One who has been noted of late is Krystian Bielik whom many of us thought would make it at Arsenal.
He didn’t and went to Derby where he has had a really bad time of it through injury. And he is a player who Derby have, apparently, not paid for, because of their significant financial disasters.
I think the rule within football that football debts are paid before other debts is still in place, despite the fact that it horrendously affects small businesses who supply the club with services and products and can themselves go out of business if the clubs that go bust don’t pay up.
But that is how it seems to be, so Arsenal can expect the outstanding debt on Bielik to be paid by the administrators now running Derby.
Personally, I find this youth development programme rather exciting. I can only hope that the changes made last year to talent spotting and recruitment, does not bring this development to an abrupt halt.
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