By Sir Hardly Anyone
“…more injuries could rock the boat and Granit Xhaka’s knee injury – expected to keep him out for the rest of the calendar year – is a warning for Arteta.”
That is the opening of a piece in the Mirror that basically suggests Arsenal’s squad is woefully short of manpower when compared with other teams. The piece acknowledges that “One advantage is the lack of European football, which will allow Arsenal’s strongest XI to get plenty of rest in between games,” and that “Arteta recognises the importance of this and wants to keep every member of the squad involved, away from the sidelines,” but still says our big danger is that we have a very small squad.
Now it is generally easy to see when a newspaper is making stuff up, because of the total lack of supportive evidence and this article was stunningly short of supportive evidence. In fact its supporting evidence rating was zero. Or less.
So I thought I would do a spot of checking – just in case you too are worried about the thinness of the squad.
|No||First names||Surname||Home grown?|
|1||Cedric Ricardo||Alves Soares|
|4||Gabriel||Dos Santos Magalhães|
|5||Mohamed Naser Elsayed||Elneny|
That is 21 players who are over 21 of whom six are homegrown. That means we have space for four more players in the over 21 section of whom one would have to be homegrown.
So on the face of it maybe that does look a little thin, but wait a moment… Our under-age player list includes…
|No||First names||Surname||Home grown?|
|27||Thomas Andrew Salvatore||Smith||HGP|
That list has hidden within it two players who are most definitely part of the first team squad (obviously Saka and Smith Rowe). So really our first team squad is not 21 but is 23. And there is Martinelli, who could well recover his form and enter the fray once more.
So maybe our first team squad is actually not 21 but 24. We could buy more, but if those under 21s are still with us next season we’d have to sell some players again, and the media would be full of Arsenal chaos stories – buying players, never playing them, selling them… ARSENAL CHAOS!!!
Now given that we don’t have any European games we are not going to be able to play all these players – and certainly, last season a number of players were kept happier than they might otherwise have been with their European games.
As Arteta said to the Mirror, “We don’t have European games and for me the key is to keep the unity of the group together and players feeling valued at all times.”
Now let’s compare some numbers:
- Arsenal: 21 players, 6 home grown.
- Chelsea: 25 players, 10 home grown
- Liverpool: 24 players 7 home grown
- Manchester City: 19 players, 6 home grown
- Manchester United: 25 players, 11 home grown.
- Tottenham Hotspur: 22 players, 9 home home
So Arsenal’s 21 players is by no means the lowest of the traditional top six, the group selected by the Daily Mirror for comparison, but a comparison they forgot to make. Plus we have two under 21s regularly playing in the first team, plus at least one more who quite reasonably could also step up.
But most importantly of all, we have no European games to keep further members of the squad happy, in the sense that they would get six games before Christmas, and with a spot of luck another six after Christmas.
So yes, we have a squad of 23 (including our two under 21 regulars) and could buy two more players. But when would these two players get games? And indeed would they be willing to come to Arsenal knowing that there is a 23 man squad, and no European football, and established players are already not getting games?
No, our biggest problem is not a small squad, the endless swiping at Arsenal, and its players by all elements of the media with the regular “get rid of him now” pieces online and the suggestion of inside knowledge leading to the notion that Arsenal are “preparing to sell”. That’s the problem – and at its heart of course are the totally fake stories like this one from the Mirror.
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