How spending a fortune on transfers is not always a good idea.

 

 

 

 

 

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By Tony Attwood

The argument in the media is often that having a small squad in the Premier League is not a clever idea since clubs need a lot of players to be able to maintain a high standard.  Besides if the trend were toward smaller squads, the media would have less to talk about in terms of transfers.

Besides,it is one of those ideas which at first sounds as if it has an element of logic within it – more players means more cover for anyone who gets injured or loses his form.

And yet it is interesting that last season Arsenal were mid-table for number of players in the squad, mid-table for the number of players used.   Of course last season is complete and we know what happened – we came fifth and were knocked out of the FA Cup at the start.  We also had no European matches to worry about.

This season, despite having more games to play through being in the Europa League, and the possibility of more games in the FA Cup, (which with just modest success and not winning either trophy could easily mean at least 12 more games) we have a smaller squad.

In fact Arsenal have the smallest first team squad in the league (23 players). 

Added to which the club is also very much on the low size for the number of players used so far this season (the lowest is 18, we have used 19).  As noted we also have the lowest average age of players in the squad, and have the second lowest average age for their starting XI in the league.  These figures come from Transfermarkt.

And yet, despite having a small young squad, we are top of the league.

Of course just having young players in a team that does well, doesn’t prove cause and effect – but it is interesting to look at where clubs are in the league compared to the age and size of the squad, to see if there is a link.

So let’s take squad size

 

Club Squad Players used Average age squad Average age Starting XI
31 21 25.7 25.9
31 23 26.4 25.0
27 22 26.0 25.7
27 21 27.0 25.0
27 20 24.9 24.7
27 21 26.7 27.3
27 21 27.3 27.1
26 18 27.1 26.1
26 18 27.2 26.7
25 20 26.5 27.3
25 23 27.5 27.5
25 19 26.2 27.2
24 21 25.7 25.7
24 19 24.9 27.3
24 18 26.8 27.0
24 23 24.8 23.9
24 21 27.7 27.9
23 19 24.3 24.0
23 19 27.2 27.1
23 19 25.3 25.6

 

All of this is a little different from last season when we were mid-table for number of players in the squad, mid-table for the number of players used, had the lowest average age of the squad, and had the lowest average age for the starting XI.

Now of course we know what happened – we came fifth and were knocked out of the FA Cup at the start.  We also had no European matches to worry about.

But in essence the one big difference is the number of players – and we have cut that down.

Obviously it could be argued that this was simply a mistake – we had players in the squad last season who were not wanted, but we couldn’t get rid of them.  But the impact of it could be significant, because a smaller squad in which more players are actively involved is liable to be one that bonds together more readily, and is thus a group of men who are willing to support each other.

This article will continue tomorrow.

Gaslighting: how refereeing in the Premier League is manipulated, and why the media never speak about it.

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