Arsenal’s British Core Is Alive And Well


Aaron Ramsey’s Man-of-the-Match performance vs Chelsea last Sunday had me thinking. Despite the numerous “doubting Thomases”, some of whom have made every effort to slander and malign the Welshman especially after any bad team performance, he demonstrated a majestic show of technical prowess, maturity and boldness that to some degree repaid the faith Wenger had invested in him after he became the cornerstone of the British Core in 2012-13.

Let me explain why I think Aaron’s performance was specifically a victory for the British core. In 2012 Wenger and the club made a huge deal of the fact that five young Britishers (Jenkinson, Ramsey, Wilshere, Gibbs and Oxlade-Chamberlain) had signed long-term contracts making them the foundation for the footballing future of the club. According to the boss at the time:

“I believe when you have a core of British players, it’s always easier to keep them together,

“We are delighted that these five young players have all signed new long-term contracts. The plan is to build a team around a strong basis of young players in order to get them to develop their talent at the club.”

But during the last transfer window, with the sale of Chamberlain and Gibbs as well as the loan of Jenkinson, the usual suspects were quick to conclude the policy had been a failure and to heap scorn on Wenger in particular. This was done with the usual emotive, sensationalist language with not a shred of factual analysis to back it up.

This is the headline from one of the typical click-baiting, whoremongering blogs:

Is the “British Core” Wenger’s biggest failure?

USA Today:

British ‘core’ broken up at Arsenal

Not only did the American paper recount those who were gone but the writer, via the Associated Press, came to the remarkable conclusion:

“As for Ramsey, he can no longer be labeled a first-team regular. He was in the team for Arsenal’s last match, a humiliating 4-0 loss at Liverpool, but was substituted at halftime.”

In all my research there was one blogger who disputed USA Today but even then he still had it partially wrong:

“…everyone seems to be missing is that the British core is not over. Not even close. In fact, I’d argue that it’s still going pretty strong in just one man – Aaron Ramsey.”

While Aaron is the bright and shining star of the class of 2012, the British core is alive and well. It simply needs so-called professional journalists, pundits and bloggers to focus on presenting facts to the public rather than alarming headlines.

First of all the British core has brought infinitely more success to the club than the foreign-imports of the post-Invincible era could ever dream. Three FA cups over four years can be directly attributable to domestic talent. Take the FA Cup final in 2014, two goals down and it took a goal line clearance by Kieran Gibbs to prevent a certainly impossible to recover-from three goal deficit. As it seemed ordained only in retrospect, it took Ramsey who, up till then had experienced a golden season until it was interrupted by injury, to return from his muscular “horribilis” to score the winning goal in extra time. Again in the 2017 final Aaron was on hand to score the winner. Don’t get me wrong, these were all great team efforts, but unlike the past, when the chips were on the line, there was a certain Welshman brave and bold enough to embrace, not shrink from, the opportunity fate had presented. To my mind, for that alone the British core spells SUCCESS.

Secondly, the British core was never presented as and neither could it be considered as fixed and frozen in time. According to the same brain-dead, sneering pundits and bloggers, who can never avoid a cliché even if it was lying in the sewer, a week in football is a long time. By that same token five years in football is an eternity. Who would expect the same talent to progress or even regress at the same rate. Only a fool would take the usual churn in football as a sign of failure. Take the following changes in the British core since 2012:

2014: Englishman Calum Chambers was signed from Southampton and was instantly promoted as a member of the British core. How quickly people forget. He is back at the club after a year on loan.

2016: Wishere and Jenkinson went out on loan. Based on media reports, that did not herald the end of the British core.

2016: Rob Holding was signed from Bolton on a long term deal and according to ESPNFC “is seen as one of England’s most promising defenders” and “could potentially form an all-English pairing with Chambers at centre-back in the future.”  By any definition this was a strengthening, not a weakening of the core.

My third and final point is, as it currently stands, Wenger and Arsenal continue to recruit and grow the pool of domestic talent in the first team, not merely via transfers but by gradually promoting them via the Academy.

2015:Alex Iwobi, who started off at Arsenal as schoolboy, rose through the age-groups and was promoted to the first team where he has remained. By the way, he represented England at youth level but chose to be Nigerian, via his parents, for purposes of international football. A rose by another name or an English bull.

2016 : Ainsley Maitland-Niles who is also another academy product is promoted to the first team. He had sparing EPL opportunities in his first year but based on the 2017-18 pre-season he is set to get more games in his sophomore year.

2017-18: Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock, both young Englishmen, are promoted to the first team. Both showed talent in pre-season and despite their teenage years seem set to be gradually involved with the veterans. Nelson was already given minutes in the one Europa League game so far.

As I always emphasize, MSM journos, pundits and bloggers are simply engaged in “trying to fool some people all the time,” but doing any elementary research shows them as deceitful con-men and women. A good look at Arsenal’s 2018 squad shows despite losing the years of invested in Oxlade Chamberlain and Gibbs, the British core remains strong and growing.

The following is based on the publicly available EPL data from whoscored.com which only goes back as far as the 2009-10 season. (Alex Iwobi is excluded simply because of his FIFA representation but he is English by any other legal definition.)

British Players























































I will end as started. Aaron Ramsey is simply the shining star of the British core. He shone brightly at Chelsea at Sunday. As is evident by the data, he is almost always relied on by Arsene Wenger. As he he has demonstrated consistently over the past four years, once he is at his best Arsenal will always have a chance against any club in any competition.

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60 comments on “Arsenal’s British Core Is Alive And Well

  1. The superb Mr Clough on Arsene;

    Liked by 3 people

  2. There will be no more than 10 BPL teams left in the CC after tonight’s games, 6 lower league teams at least will be in the last 16 draw.


  3. sorry my mistake, max of 11 BPL teams, and min of 5 lower league teams


  4. Eddy
    I can’t see any cup sets tonight, maybe Everton will stumble at home to Sunderland, considering the toffee’s current form.
    Both Manchester clubs and Chelsea should march on to round of 16.


  5. Brpreaking news from FIFA
    Chelsea are under investigation for trafficking youth players (for third time!!).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I forgot to write a preview. Sorry

    Liked by 2 people

  7. yeah DC I expect 11 BPL sides in the last 16, and that means 5 lower league side, Middlesbrough,
    Bristol City

    BPL sides already through
    Crystal Palace

    with Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton Man Utd, and either WBA or Man City able to follow suit tonight.

    Means if results go along expected lines tonight, we will want a bit of luck in the draw, hopefully a home draw v lower league team, and also see the likes of Chelsea, Man Utd, Man City and Spurs face each other.
    If we do get a BPL side, a home draw to Bournemouth, Crystal Palace or Swansea would not be bad.


  8. New post up


  9. last time we played Doncaster we needed a last minute goal in extra time to take it to penalties, where we won 3-1


  10. […] my last piece I detailed how, up to recently, the mainstream media and so-called Arsenal blogs and tweeters […]


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