By Tony Attwood
Throughout this season we have been told over and over again that Arsenal have a small squad. And not just a small squad, a squad so small that it is positively hindering Arsenal’s attempt to make any serious assault on the Premier League. Certainly not enough to get into the Champions League.
Consider for example Arsenal’s small squad is shifting from strength to headache which was in the Athletic on 5 April. And then there was “Arsenal’s squad depth is seriously concerning after the 2022 January transfer window” in Give Me Sport on 1 February.
And it wasn’t just the smallness of the squad that was reported over and over again, for Jamie Redknapp labelled Arsenal ‘a team full of kidders’ in the Mail. Still I suppose if it was a squad full of kidders it was better to have a small squad after all.
ESPN were not quite so silly but still on the small squad message when they said 9 Apr 2022 — Arsenal have shown they can overcome adversity, … But there was a lack of cohesion and balance to Arsenal, which only underlines the difficulty they now face with such a small squad in offsetting the absences of Tierney, who underwent knee surgery on Thursday, and Partey due to a thigh problem.
And so it goes on. Search and you will find over and over again the comment that any problems that Arsenal face are of their own making because they have that most frightening of things, “a small squad”
Now this notion that Arsenal have a rubbish squad and a small squad goes back a long way. For example, nine years ago we heard that “Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud ‘scared’ by Gunners’ small squad” in the Sports Report.
Which made the report today on the West Ham match in the Guardian headlined Gunners show importance of squad depth all the more interesting. They noted for example that “Former Bolton defender Holding was called into the side due to Ben White’s absence and proved himself a valuable back-up with some fine blocks and a vital header. “
So maybe all this talk all the time about Arsenal’s small squad, wasn’t true after all. How amazing could that be? The media endlessly telling us one thing (Arsenal have a small squad) and then suddenly telling us that Arsenal are showing us the “importance of squad depth”.
The reality is that the Arsenal squad being short notion came from an article in Football.London (of course) in which they said, it was “impossible for Arsenal to name a full 25-man squad for this season as they were left with just six homegrown players over the age of 21.”
In fact that left Arsenal one man short in terms of the 25. But actually that was irrelevant since we only registered 21 players in August last year, and that was what sent the media into a tizz.
|1||Cedric Ricardo||Alves Soares|
|4||Gabriel||Dos Santos Magalhães|
|5||Mohamed Naser Elsayed||Elneny|
But hang on a minute… there is something odd there. Because surely there are some players missing! Young men like Mr Smith Rowe, and Mr Saka, not to mention Mr Martinelli. And Folarin Balogun who played in the opening match of the season. Add those in and you have the 25.
And there’s one other point as well. Squad numbers don’t equate with position in the league. Just ask Everton who registered 25 players all aged over 21.
It is a typical piece of media drivel, looking at something to throw at Arsenal, and then treating the audience with such utter contempt that it will be assumed that the readership is far too thick to remember that the opposite was said a couple of weeks ago.
The great thing is that as our underage players achieve the age of 21 there will be space for them to get into the team and be counted as part of the 25, without having to sell players off to make room.
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