By Tony Attwood
It was clear from way before the Arsenal v Sheffield Utd match on 23 September 2008 that Arsenal were going to put out an incredibly youthful team. As a preview the rather youthful Untold Arsenal (still in its first year of publication), ran a couple of silly pieces before the game about the shock and outrage there was in the football world at Arsenal using two year olds and even one player that wasn’t yet born.
The team that was put out was in fact, all alive, and all over 16. They were
Fabianski, Hoyte, Djourou, Song (Lansbury 70), Gibbs, Randall, Ramsey, Merida (Coquelin 71), Wilshere, Bendtner (Simpson 71), Vela.
Subs Not Used: Mannone, Emmanuel-Thomas, Ogogo, Frimpong.
As for the goals, Vela got 3, Bentner got two, Wilshere got one.
So what happened to these players? The ones who made it to some degree or other are
Fabianski, Djourou, Song, Gibbs, Ramsey, Wilshere, Bendtner.
The jury is still out on Coquelin and Frimpong.
So one can say six or seven of that team of youngsters went on to play significantly for Arsenal. OK, some didn’t make it in the longer term, but if you take them out you still get Fabianski, Song, Gibbs, Ramsey, Wilshere. Five out of eleven youngsters who came through for Arsenal. That is an extraordinary situation.
After the game Untold ran this report.
What Arsenal desperately need is not more players, but rather more competitions.
Consider the issue of the forwards. Adebayor and van Persie have the key positions up front. They might occasionally be rested or be injured – so in pops Bendtner who has shown his ability to score teams from the Tiny Totts and Notlob Wandering.
But Carlos Vela clearly needs games – you don’t play centre forward in every match your country plays, score in the pre-season games and then score three (including one of utter majesty) in your first game for the club, and then… well, sit around until there’s another league cup game.
So maybe Vela comes on and gets a few games as a sub, just to keep him happy, and with van Persie needing to be rested every now and then everyone is just about ok. Not perfect but just about ok.
Except there’s the little matter of Eduardo. Now raised to god-like status he will be ready to play in December and will be expecting a run out by the new year.
Assume (ok it is unlikely but just assume) that come the new year none of these five is injured. Then round 3 of the Sweet FA Cup interrupts the regular league games. Who are you going to play? Presumably Bendtner and Eduardo – leaving Vela wondering where his next game is coming from….
Of course injuries will play a part, and so the crunch may not arise, but the situation with the forwards is something that is reflected all over the pitch.
Which is why I think we need another competition. And I reckon that the stadium would be filled whatever the competition was. (You may have seen shots of the Manchester Bankrupt stadium looking more than half empty – compare with the Ems 56,000 odd last night.)
A competition for clubs that are not bankrupt perhaps?