Jack Wilshere provides a moment of balance, while Saliba is setting them alight.

By Tony Attwood

OK Jack’s moment of balance came as he was talking to Arsenal Media so we are not going to get any criticism but even so it was good to read a positive comment after all the raging negativity being thrown at the club across the last week.

Considering the young players who are now regularly part of the first team, and not just the first team squad, Jack said, “The obvious ones, who everyone knows about, are Bukayo and Emile.  I think you’ve just got to look at the level that they are setting.

“The consistency that they’re putting in every week, their performances and they’ve got a manager as well who trusts them and I think if you’re a young player at Arsenal coming through the academy now, you should look at that and think, ‘Well, if I’m good enough, I’m going to get a chance, no matter how old I am.’ “

He then continued with what seems to me the most important part of the issue…  “Yes, you’ve got to work hard and prove yourself, but with a manager who believes in youth and wants to build a young, hungry team, so they’ve all got a chance.

“I mentioned before their consistency levels which is sometimes rare for a young player, a lot of time you see a young player come in, have a good game, three or four good games, maybe one or two bad games, but with Emile and Saka, it seems to be they’re doing it week in, week out, they’re making the right decisions all the time.

“But the one who I really like and think he’s going to be top, is Martinelli.   I think what the manager has done with him has been genius as well.

“When I first went there he was training, coming on, not playing much, but training really well and I was thinking, ‘He’s going to get a chance here’ and he eventually got his chance and he’s been brilliant.

“He was the Player of the Month and he’s been brilliant and he trains like that every day as well.”

“The consistency that they’re putting in every week, their performances and they’ve got a manager as well who trusts them and I think if you’re a young player at Arsenal coming through the academy now, you should look at that and think, ‘Well, if I’m good enough, I’m going to get a chance, no matter how old I am’.”

Now of course that is a man who is training with Arsenal, talking about Arsenal so he’s not going to come out and say negative things, but it is interesting that the counter-offensive against the media negativity has got underway.  In the past I think Arsenal have done themselves no favours by simply ignoring such issues.

One interesting story that has emerged is that as part of the training programme in the middle east, Arsenal players have to run from one end of the pitch to the other while being pelted with tennis balls.  No explanation has been given but the tennis balls could represent the remorseless illegal tackling the opposition come up with when playing Arsenal, or the raging negativity from the media and the anti-Arsenal Arsenal before during and after games.   A rather fine symbolic gesture in fact.

Meanwhile attention has turned to William Saliba.   It was back in July 2019 that Arsenal signed him on what is normally reported as a five year contract for something in the order of £27 million.  He’s a right footed centre back.

Since then he’s been getting the games, with 16 for Saint-Étienne in 2018/19, another 12 the following year, 20 games with Nice last year, and now 21 with Marseilles.   Comments relating to him include “William Saliba delivers absurdly brilliant performance” (Daily Cannon), “A+ William Saliba continues to shine” (Eurosport),  “William Saliba voted France’s hottest prospect” (Daily Star), and the tale of how “Edu and loan manager Ben Knapper were both in attendance for the PSG game, when Saliba produced a brilliant, goal-saving challenge on Mbappe in the final minutes of the goalless draw,” (The Telegraph).

The only black mark against him is an investigation into Saliba and some other players over a video last year which the French Football Federation considered harmful to the image of football.  So maybe next season…

17 Replies to “Jack Wilshere provides a moment of balance, while Saliba is setting them alight.”

  1. According to ‘reports’ Saliba is wanted by Real Madrid and Edu is prepared to let him go for £25 million.
    Conversely according to other ‘reports’ Saliba is to be offered a contract extension this summer by Arsenal as he is very much a part of our long term plans.
    Both stories cannot be right.
    Both are probably wrong.
    Who the hell knows.
    The moral of the story is do not believe a single word of what you read from any of the media outlets.

  2. about saliba … the video came out last year, but the scene actually took place 3 years ago, when saliba was 15
    i’m not saying that what’s on it is clever in any way, but i’d be very extremely suspicious of anyone telling to my face he did only sensible, intelligent things at that age

  3. Now the thing is, as good as these young players are, are Martinelli, Sake, and Smith Rowe going to score enough goals to be able to, and I really hate this phrase but I don’t know how else to put it, take us too the next level.

    If Martinelli is going to be our new main striker (Our Henry), Sake our new attacking wide player (Pires), and Smith Rowe our new creative attacking midfield player (Bergkamp) they are not only going to match them ‘skill’ wise, but goal scoring and assists wise as well.

    So I thought I’d compare them with those 3 icons who were all part of our last title winning team, because that’s where they need to be:

    All numbers Per Game.

    HENRY: Goals = 0.68
    MARTINELLI: Goals = 0.21

    Martinelli needs to treble his return in this regard.

    HENRY: Assists = 0.42
    MARTINELLI: = 0.07

    Martinelli needs to treble his return in this regard.


    BERGKAMP: Goals = 0.28
    SMITH ROWE: Goals = 0.24

    Smith Rowe is already up there with Bergkamp. Exceptional for someone so young.

    BERGKAMP: Assists = 0.30
    SMITH ROWE: Assists = 0.14

    Smith Rowe needs to double his return in this regard.


    PIRES: Goals = 0.31
    SAKE: Goals = 0.15

    Sake needs to double his return in this regard.

    PIRES: Assists = 0.20
    SAKE: Assists = 0.15

    Sake compares very favorably with Pires in this regard, again remarkable for someone so young.

    But the fact remains out of 6 parameters measured, our young pretenders only match our past heroes in 2. Smith Rowes Goals and Sakes assists. In the other 4 parameters our young guns are still a long way short of where we need them to be if we are to challenge for the title.

    Matinelli is a fantastic prospect, of that there is no doubt, BUT his return in goals and assists is miles away from where it needs to be.

    Will he get there, that is the question. I hope so but it is by no means a certainty.

    Smith Rowe is already a fantastic talent. He already matches Bergkamp for goals but needs to double his assists return.

    Given his age that is without doubt achievable.

    Sake too is already a fantastic player and just about matches Pires for assists but again he has to double one aspect of his game as well, and score more goals.

    So Jacks moment of balance is well justified, but even our 3 most outstanding young guns of whom he speaks so well, still have some way to go to reach the level of our past heroes that were good enough to bring us our last title.

    We have a choice as a club and as fans. 1) Are we going to be patient and wait for the 6 months, season, or even 2 seasons it may take for these guys to reach the level required, assuming they do ? Or 2) are we going to supplement them with ‘ready made’ though expensive additions to the squad ? Or 3) even replace them altogether with a raft of ready made and proven, again expensive players ?

    It’s an interesting dilemma and there is no easy answer.

    The fact is we cant afford option 3 anyway, but hey it IS an option.

    Option 2 is probably the most likely to happen.

    Option 1 Would simply be amazing, in more ways than one.

  4. I knew I’d make some errors,hopefully not too many and none too big. I spotted thisone straight away:

    HENRY: Assists = 0.42
    MARTINELLI: = 0.07

    Martinelli needs to treble his return in this regard.

    Corr: needs to improve his return 6 fold.

    Sorry if there’s any more but you do go word blind sifting through all the stats.

  5. @ Nitram

    The only thing I would add is that Henry, Bergkamp & Pires were playing in an exceptional team where virtually everyone was a star. Hence they were more likely to score goals and the chances they created were more likely to become assists.

    It’s not quite like for like but hugely encouraging!

  6. Mikey

    Yep, you are right, it is not an exact science and indeed they were playing amid a wealth of serious talent. But that’s how it works.

    The thing is how do you attain the talent needed to support them ? Well you buy them, that’s how.

    I remember, as do most people I would of thought, how Man Utd had their special era when they had that amazing batch of youngsters come through from the academy. It got me to thinking. What did United do to supplement that amazing young group of players. I thought I’d take a look.

    I thought the obvious place to look was their peak, the treble season. The following is pretty much their first team squad of 14 players:

    P Schmeichel: £0.5 Million

    G Neville: Academy

    R Johnson: £1.2 Million

    J stam: £11 Million – Signed in 1998 for a the BRITISH RECORD transfer fee.

    D Irwin: £0.6 Million

    R Giggs: Academy

    R Keane: £3.75 Million – Signed in 1993 for a then BRITISH RECORD transfer fee.

    D Beckham: Academy

    N Butt: Academy

    D Yorke: £12 Million – Signed in 1998 for a then BRITISH RECORD transfer fee.

    J Blomquist £4.4 Million

    T Sherringham: £3.3 Million

    A Cole: £7 Million – Signed in 1995 for a then BRITISH RECORD transfer fee.

    O G Solskjaer: £1.5 Million

    So okay a fantastic achievement to have 4 academy players in such a magnificent team, a team that won an incredible treble, but lets not kid anyone they were augmented by money. Lots of money.

    Yes there were 4 academy players, but there was also 4 players that were, at the time of signing, BRITISH TRANSFER records.

    And that’s always been my point. No matter how good your manager. How good your academy. At the end of the day. If you want to be the best you have still got to spend money. And lots of it.

    If we want to make the most of these young players we are still going to have to surround them with quality, and I mean top top quality.

    That’s what United did. That’s what Man City do.

    No matter how good Martinelli, Smith Rowe and Sake are, they need to be surrounded by equally good PURCHASES or all the academy’s fantastic work will go to waste.

    I commend your research and I’m sure the numbers given are accurate. However, you’re comparing players at the starts of their careers with title winners in their absolute prime. Fair comparison? What about stats for Henry, Bergkamp and Pires at their respective ages and in what league they were playing. These young Arsenal players will have to do spectacular things in their careers to have a chance to compare to the aforementioned legends. Perhaps we should give them time before we crunch their numbers v. the greats.

  8. Nitram
    Sorry about the all caps of your name in my last post. Didn’t check. My bad.

  9. goonersince72

    Thanks for your comment.

    The thing is I’m not comparing them as players per se, either to eulogize or criticise any of them.

    All I’m doing is demonstrating the level these young lads need to reach, and the returns we need to see from them to enable us to challenge for the title.

    Martinelli, Smith Rowe and Sake may well be ahead of Henry, Bergkamp and Pires at their respective ages, but that’s not my point, it’s the level they need to reach that I was stressing.

    In fact what you say may make it even harder for those youngsters because those figures for Henry, Bergkamp and Pires were their averages. Their peaks would of seen even higher returns.

    Either way we seem to be in a very promising position, but promise is all it is. And as I showed in my second set of figures, not only do those young lads need to attain those heights, but if Uniteds similar situation all those years ago is anything to go by, they will need some serious back up in the form of additional World Class acquisitions.

    We may already have them. Personally I have my doubts. Only time will tell.

    By doubts I don’t mean to be critical. I think we are easily top 4 I just don’t think we are top 2.

  10. So, the media have a pitiful record of predicting transfers. In fact, it’s much worse than that. Even though it is now 3 days since the window slammed shut, The Daily Star and Express are unable to to recognise that we signed 3 new players, and not “only” one. The media seem to be hell-bent on celebrating their own ignorance.

  11. @Nitram,

    not sure I totally agree wth the angle. At what age die Bergkamp, Henry and Viera join us ? And how many years did they need to reach that level ?
    Then, when they came, Arsenal was already a team playing pedal to the metal and competing for high places. Top 4 was not yet top 6 and the competition was nowhere as intense as it is now.

    So to me raw numbers are not sufficient.
    Which does mean that I share the point of view that they have to prove their worth on what is coming and not what was.
    Our job is to support them – and to some extent, defend them.


    And the media is totally incapable of seeing that our manager has a strategy, and is enforcing it – which by the way means the owners agree. And that he shed millions from the next 18 months expenses and cleared the team of a talented yet nor very disciplined player : funny thing no one in the Uk talks about what happened in Cameroun….. Considering all the youngster in the team, do you think a role model who is not capable of being an example, a leader by example (like the big brother) is a good idea, whatever his goal tally is ?

    So in this window the squad age average went down again. And the so-called press only celebrates clubs spending money they don’t have.

  12. Chris

    I’m sorry but maybe I haven’t made my point clearly enough.

    I think it’s irrelevant at what age the likes of Bergkamp joined us, how good they already were when they joined us, or how good the rest of the guys around them were. The point is about the level these young guns have to reach.

    If they are ahead of the curve in their development then that’s great, BUT again irrelevant. It’s still the level they have to eventually get to that is the point I’m making, and for all their promise they are not there yet.

    Martinelli, as fantastic a proposition as he is, in terms of assists and goals is way way short of what is required. Yes he may get there. I hope and believe he will, but ahead of the curve or not, he is not there yet.

    The other 2 have reached the level required in 1 parameter each, but Smith Rowe needs to double his assists and Saka needs to double his goals. That is a fact.

    Again I hope and believe they will.

    As you say, we have to support them, and yes defend them, which I will do. Unfortunately I don’t believe we have a fan base with the patience to do that, not for very long anyway.

    This is not criticism of these guys, just an honest assessment of where they are, and where they need to be, IF we are to challenge for the title.

    And Also, as I showed above, along side their academy lads Man Utd fielded FOUR players that were at the time of purchase British Record transfers.

    Okay, you guys may not agree but to me history shows that even if you produce 3 plus World Class academy players you still have to spend, and spend big, to back them up, if you want to challenge for the title.

    Look, I don’t want to sound like I’m putting our young guys down, I’m not. They show exceptional promise and certainly look like they COULD be World class, but it’s my firm belief that even if they are, we will still need to buy additional World Class players…..unless !!

    We may already may have done so ? Are the following players the World Class players we need to support these young guns and take us to a title ?

    Partey ?

    Gabriel ?

    White ?

    Odegaard ?

    Tierney ?

    Tomiyasu ?

    Are they ? I don’t know. You tell me.

  13. Chris

    “So in this window the squad age average went down again. And the so-called press only celebrates clubs spending money they don’t have”.

    Even though I believe you need to spend big to win the title, history proves that, that doesn’t mean I agree with it, or even want us to do it, it’s just the way it is.

    If we can win the title without spending fortunes more than we have already, and rely on this wonderful bunch of kids to take us there, I will admit I was wrong and be more than happy to do so, because in my humble opinion doing so would even exceed anything Wenger did.

    So yes, the way Arteta and the club are putting their faith in youth should be admired and celebrated. So why isn’t it ?

    Because it doesn’t feed the trough in which all the media hacks, ignorant pundits and brain dead talking heads have their snouts firmly stuffed, that’s why.

    Of course they want the Russian and Middle Eastern billionaires piling their money into the trough.

    By operating a ‘self sustaining’ model Arsenal contribute relatively little into the pockets of those leaches. If every club operated as we do there is no way the current multitudes of media leeches could be sustained.

    The bottom line is their jobs depend on clubs spending these Billions of pounds.

    The more money swishing about the better.

    I mean someones got to pay Linekers wages haven’t they.

  14. @Nitam,

    I get your point about where they need to be at.
    Thing is, we have, from what we know, no way to match the oilstate clubs, nor the oligo clubs.
    They have means beyond the reach of Arsenal.

    So Arsenal can try the mercato roulette or go long term which by all I see, looks like the road they have decided to take.
    My opinion is that at some point in a not so distant future financial Armageddon will hit european football. It is not sustainable.
    And there still is the legal procedure against UEFA about the Super League.

    And maybe a Super League then becomes a reality and Arsenal will most probably be part of it.

    Now in either scenario, at some point a salary cap, some level of FFP rules will be enforced.
    Add to that the fact that interest rates are going up, which means any club with debt will have to service it at a much higher cost.

    So Arsenal are preparing themselves for tomorrow, I mean this is what I think we are seeing.
    And going the young road is the way they have chosen, which does make sense. The ‘kids’ will have to get better, to get more efficient. And new talent will have to be groomed, forged and given their chance

  15. Chris

    “So Arsenal are preparing themselves for tomorrow, I mean this is what I think we are seeing”

    I agree 100% that that is the path we have chosen and I am fully behind it.

    I have said on many occasions I agree with our self sustaining model.

    That doesn’t mean I think it will be enough to win us a title, I don’t. I hope it will, but I doubt it. But I can live with that.

    You seem to be very hopeful as to the future regarding the reigning in of these Billion pound sponsors and the implementation of some form of financial restrictions via FFP or some other method, and I hope you are right. Personally I cant see it happening.

    Either way, for all our clubs faults, and of course they are not perfect, I think our club is run pretty well.

    Ignoring the stuff Chelsea and City have bought, which I do because any fool can win the lottery and buy themselves a few medals, we are still the 3rd most successful Club in England.

    Whenever I have a doubt I just think of Spurs and realize how lucky we are.

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