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 Core is dead, long live the Core!

    And long live Shotta’s masterful marshalling of the facts ‘n’ stats to present what is for some, the inconvenient reality of the situation at Arsenal, the undisputed Home of home-grown talent.

    For our beloved MSM, a case of grab a headline, any headline …

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Ramsey, Holding, Welbeck, Wilshere, Walcott, Nelson, Maitland-Niles have all played for the first team so far this season, Chambers will once he is fit. Willock is in and around the first team too, as is Nketiah and Akpom, not forgetting third choice keeper Macey

    That is a full team of British players, 7 have played so far, we only have played 6 games, I would suggest that no other top club has used any more British players this season.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. The media, after Sunday’s impressive performance, can’t make up their minds if we are better off without Alexis and Ozil, or if we badly need them, many have decided to split the difference and say we only need Alexis, they have continued their undermining of our best player Mesut Ozil. He has never been forgiven for ripping England a new one.

    Although some of what Ozil is facing is nothing new, and is not restricted to just foreign fancy Dans, in fact it very much reminds me of how Glenn Hoddle and many other talented midfielders (our very own Graham Rix was another one of many) was treated by the media in his playing days, “a luxury player”, does not track back, does not put in a shift, does not tackle enough, etc etc etc. These hacks, and far too many fans are content to see England and English football stuck in the dark ages.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Good comments and a v.good article. Thanks guys.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great article Shotts
    Alex Iwobi, born in Nigeria but came to England as a baby.
    He was basically ignored by England at U18 level after being a regular at younger levels
    Then The FA chased Jack Grealish,not to loose him to ROI.
    That made it easy for him to choose Nigeria

    Liked by 5 people

  6. If “British core” is Wenger’s biggest failure, I wonder who’s is. But then again, journos are making these bold clickbait headlines and if you open their links there’s rarely anything backing it up but a whole lot of nothingness, leaving the headline the only thing the pea brains remember. Becoming the buzz phrase of that week until a new story comes along.

    Good job Shotta,

    Hail the prince of Wales who’s leading the way for his country men climbing the FIFA world rankings, higher than England.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. While reading another really good piece on Untold I came arcoss this stat.
    As we all believe that Man U will be lets say given every opportunity to win the PL as Scudy and the crew would like

    18/09/2017 at 1:48 pm

    When talking about refereeing it is noteworthy that the team (Chelsea) which has committed the most fouls per game 13.6 this season has the most cards (if you count a red as two yellows). And that is largely how it should be.

    It is also noteworthy that some things don’t change. E.g. the team that has committed the second highest number of fouls is sits 18th in the table for cards received…….but then we are talking about Riley’s beloved Man U.

    So, with five games gone Chelsea’s 68 fouls resulted in 16 cards (4.3 fouls per card)

    The second highest for cards were Newcastle with 61 fouls for 14 cards(4.4 fouls per card)

    Man U however have committed 63 fouls for 5 yellows (12.6 fouls per card)

    The average number of fouls committed this season by the 19 teams excluding Man U is 50.23 per team and the average number of cards received is 8.4 which equates to a card every 6.0 fouls. Based on that average, Man U should have received 10.5 cards. What has actually happened is that they have received less than half that amount.

    In the meantime, Bournemouth have committed fewer fouls than any other team with a mere 37. Yet they have still received 40% more cards than Man U. Despite Man U have committed virtually 100% more fouls.

    Now I’ve argued before that if one team knows it can get away with more fouls it allows them to play more aggressively and intimidate the team that knows it will be booked every other time they commit a foul. It gives one team a huge advantage throughout the game and we’ve seen it season after season with Man U. I doubt anyone can forget, but that is, in my opinion, exactly why we didn’t make it to 50+ unbeaten.

    Video refs might change this slightly but it won’t make up for this sort of bias…….and we must also consider that there are plenty more fouls by Man U players that actually don’t get called at all, so the bias is much worse than the figures suggest.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. Fantastic Shotts

    Aaron Ramsey is simply the best British footballer out there.

    As he proved at least year’s tournament where Aunty Bleeb’s and Greg Dykes hideous love child the World Class striker St.Gorgon the Caned failed net in 270 minutes of football (when was the last time you heard of a world class striker not scoring over three matches at an international tournament: anyone? Anyone? Anyone…?).

    Any old gibberish to try and disguise the fact of which team is the best football club which plays the best football in the land.

    Gains Broke Back Barca couldn’t afford to sign Ramsey which is why they and other Big Two (Munchen and Madrid) will be asking him to run
    down his contract.

    Sign him up QuickTime Arsenal!!
    Mean Lean, it’s time to make a new song!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. yes Lance, its all headlines and no substance, I recently offered a Man Utd supporting mate a free €100 if he could actually find me the quote he claimed Wenger had said – can’t remember the topic – but my mate had seen a big headline claiming AW had said this or that, and so he was repeating it to have a dig at AFC and AW. So I made my offer, oddly enough he could not find any such comment, only the headline, and the said comment was not in the article, (as it had not been said), so a few times since I have shut up the utd fan by simply asking him for proof of whatever anti AFC stuff he was repeating from the media headlines. Its working a treat.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Makes you wonder just how good Ramsey would have been without that arsehole Shawcross stopping his progress.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. The ending paragraph gives me a perfect segue to something that crossed my mind in the immediate aftermath of the game at Stamford Bridge. Quick disclaimer before I say any more: I realize this is a subjective feeling.

    No player we’ve had over the last 5-6 years: not Koscielny, not Cazorla, not Alexis, not even Ozil, even at their respective best, ever made me filled with confidence as Aaron Ramsey did in 13/14. With Ramsey in the side, I honestly thought we could have taken on the world that year. That he had to miss out on the Bayern QF in the CL that season due to injury is one of the biggest injustices of the Emirates era. (Nothing beats RVPs red card against Barcelona)

    If Ramsey can keep this up and stay fit, we will compete for the Premier league this season. I am sure of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. An excellent review of the British core and the development of players under Arsene.

    One point that occurred to me beyond the central theme Shotts is the sheer number of injuries and games missed these young British players have suffered during all their careers. Apart from Aaron’s Stoke horror the incidence of really serious on field injures has been no worse than any other club, the number of strains, pulls and tweaks has been horrendous – and don’t mention shoulder injuries just don’t. And when players came back two games later they would be out again.

    It does seem that with the arrival of Shad Forsythe in Summer 14 that pattern began to change and as they matured and benefitted from the expertise of the American we have fewer players out. Long may to continue as whether you are the best coach in the world or the worst, you can’t do your job with injured players.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. For fuck sake “ARSENAL PRICING A WHOLE GENERATION OF FANS OUT OF GOING TO GAMES AT THE EMIRATES”. Yes there are Tickets available for the game tomorrow with Doncaster Rovers.but they start at the exorbitant and outrageous price of £10, Arsenal should be ashamed of themselves.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. McNair on Wilshere
    No card (was a red). No protection for England’s best 10

    Can on Welbeck
    Was there even a foul call? Can’t remember. Very little or no protection for England’s best forward (he needs a good long run before I can proclaim him as the best no.9 ibsf)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Ramsey was taken out of it in the first game last season v LFC, no foul even called, when it was a red card offense, Ramsey was out for weeks

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Jeorge Bird‏ @jeorgebird
    Nelson, Willock, Dasilva, McGuane and Nketiah trained with first-team today.

    Wilshere, Chambers, Sanchez, Mustafi, Iwobi, Akpom, Elneny, Monreal, Walcott, Giroud, Holding, Mertesacker + Xhaka all trained.

    Bellerin, Kolasinac and Lacazette rested from today’s training session. Ozil still out along with Welbeck, Coquelin and Cazorla. No Debuchy.


  17. Jeorge Bird‏ @jeorgebird 1h1 hour ago

    Ramsey and Maitland-Niles also trained but Reine-Adelaide didn’t.
    Koscielny rested as well.
    Schoolboy goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo, who has been on the bench for the U18s, also trained with the first-team.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. م‏ @___J_o_7_o___ 16h16 hours ago
    Replying to @fkhanage

    Some of the replies you got made me realize that the only thing worse than a Tottenham fan is a Tottenham-glorifying Arsenal fan.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. “Ramsey was taken out of it in the first game last season v LFC, no foul even called, when it was a red card offense, Ramsey was out for weeks”

    I thought it was his hamstring popped – How was that a red card offence ?


  20. Agreed with AndynNic at 1:57pm. Thought Ramsey was subbed at Liverpool because of injury. Facts please. Lets not do what we accuse the MSM, bloggers, etc.


  21. he was taken out of it with a high and late tackle, he went off soon after.


  22. Ed: Who did the tackle? I am away from home so I don’t have the benefit of my DVR.


  23. I think it was Can, but can be sure, ref was right beside it and waved play on as ball went to AFC, it was about 30 yards from LFC goal, in second half.

    Ramsey may very well have gone off with a hamstring injury afterwards, but he was certainly taken out of it in that game. Commentators even mentioned that Ref would likely take action next time ball went dead, but he did not.


  24. thinking about it, might have been Henderson who done the late tackle on Ramsey. Again can’t remember for sure.


  25. Shotta. the proof is that Ramsey nor Ozil trained for several days following the Liverpool game.


  26. All I can remember is Iwobi pulling up with an injury and going off, then Aaron pulling up and sitting down and him going off five minutes later.

    There was a post match fuss about Rambo playing when all the others in the Euros were still taking a break and then pulling his hamstring – Iwobi on the other hand had enjoyed a full pre season and a Summer holiday.

    Cant win really

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Ozil was still on holiday for that Liverpool game – to be fair it was Holding and Chambers who caught the eye that afternoon – what a valuable learning experience+++++ !


  28. I don’t remember Can’s red card offence in at the Emirates? I do, however, remember the dual lunge by Can and Wijaldum? on Theo Walcott? at Anfield. Walcott was sent flying –> no yellow cards, and Can was on a yellow already.


  29. Shotta, well done… You write so eloquently and so enjoyable.

    Well done and keep up the good work of facts and logic!

    The English core is organic and growing and progressing.

    I miss Gibbs but he needs games and cant remove Monreal or Saed…

    would be great to have him back in 4/5 years when Monreal retire

    Liked by 2 people

  30. I seen on twitter Tim not so nice but dim Payton try and discredit the £10 tickets for the Doncaster game tomorrow, he said

    “Until they add almost 30% for the privilege of printing a ticket at home! But great headline price.”

    so I replied

    “so still less than £13 and the fans who claim to be priced out of going still don’t go Time 4 that little soundbite 2 be dumped once & 4 all”

    no surprise that the AST mouthpiece has not seen fit to reply to that. as I stated in another post on the subject, the £10 not selling out, the Cat C games not selling out, the youth tickets not selling out are an uncomfortable truth for the “AFC pricing a whole generation out of the game”, to paraphrase Tim not so nice but dim Payton – “But Great Soundbite”

    Liked by 3 people

  31. TS we will not be seeing Gibbs play for us again, Bramall, Bola, DaSilva etc are the way forward, time to stop looking back.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Arsene Wenger has provided a team news update ahead of our Carabao Cup third-round clash against Doncaster Rovers.

    The Arsenal manager offered the latest on Danny Welbeck, Mesut Ozil, Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers.

    This is what he had to say:

    on Danny Welbeck…
    Danny has a scan today, we don’t know how bad his groin injury is but he will certainly be out until the international break. Coquelin as well. Debuchy is coming back slowly.

    on Debuchy not being involved against Doncaster…
    No, no.

    on Ozil…
    Mesut is training again, but for tomorrow no [he will not feature]. He has a little inflammation of his knee.

    on Calum Chambers…
    Yes, he will be involved against Doncaster. Jack Wilshere is involved too.

    on the make-up of the squad…
    Yes [it will be a mix], but it will be a similar team to the one that played against Cologne.

    Read more at https://www.arsenal.com/news/team-news-welbeck-debuchy-ozil-chambers#3Eoj7qej5rAUk7Dw.99

    Read more at https://www.arsenal.com/news/team-news-welbeck-debuchy-ozil-chambers#6cY2VKsxvVHxDMjT.99


  33. Eds me all

    The ‘pool players were kicking and hacking at Ramsey all half long, take yer pick!

    it was almost as if their manager had told them to target one of the star performers from that summer’s tournament, it was almost as if we were watching emre can get his deserved hacking but the official had decided to sub in Ramsey for Emre as he indulged in his little fantasy – it’s fantasy football but not as you know it Jim!

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Lots of good points. Not sure anyone has talked much of one of the most basic aspects- there’s no reason we should be judged differently to other clubs.

    The norm is to assess value for money, and Ramsey alone means we got value for money from the British core six. What’s more the others have made contributions, especially Theo with 100 goals for the club.

    And on top of that…pretty sure we are actually in profit on them after Ox’s fee!

    Finally, we gave every one of them a lot of opportunities to show what they can do, which has been a relatively rare thing over the last decade among top six clubs for younger players, English or otherwise, unless they came in on massive fees with that development stage of at least a year or two of top level football having been done elsewhere.

    Compare that to a talent like Zaha for Utd.

    Failure it aint. Especially not on the club’s part.

    Liked by 5 people

  35. Aw, Shotta. A pro Ramsey blog on a work day. So instead of sitting around basking in the glow of all these comments I actually have to do some work. Lovely stuff though, about Aaron and all of the British core.

    A few quick points:
    santi_cazorler @12:30 I swear I didn’t write this, but I could have. As Ramsey goes, so goes this team. He is the heartbeat, whether people want to admit that or not. He stays fit, and we’re looking good.

    On Liverpool last season: As this blog’s expert in all things Ramsey, I’m pretty sure both things are true. High, late unpunished tackle, and then a hamstring injury that forced him off. Causation or just coincidence? Even I can’t answer that.

    On Liverpool this season: I’m sick to effing death of that whole debacle getting pinned mostly on Aaron. He went off at HT (injured, NOT hooked thank you very much). Not sure how the rest of the game can be his fault. And the whole didn’t track back for the second goal because he was talking thing? I’m pretty sure he was trying to communicate (with Ox? with the bench?) that he was having trouble and needed cover. By the time he did so, it was too late. Aaron never, NEVER, responds to adversity in a game by hiding. If he is not covering every blade of grass, something is wrong. I’ve watched him long enough to spot it, Others could too if they wanted, but hey, their narrative drives clicks, so…

    One more thing because I’m on a roll. Also sick of the “no positional discipline” narrative. People love it when he goes forward and it works. They blame him when he goes forward and we lose the ball and it doesn’t. If only Aaron could choose when he goes forward not based on the space developing in front of him but on the knowledge of whether a teammate is going to lose the ball 5 seconds into the future. Get it together Aaron. Your psychic ability is just not good enough.

    Liked by 8 people

  36. “Aaron never, NEVER, responds to adversity in a game by hiding”
    You can say that again, and again and again. I’ve never seen Aaron hide for even a split second, He is the most honest, brave and hard working player I can ever remember in an Arsenal shirt. Bar none.

    Liked by 8 people

  37. 11 CC games tonight, and so far with it HT in nearly all, only 3 games with goals, a total of 4 goals. yawn


  38. Leicester City 1-0 up, rope a doping Liverpool. Some scousers on my TL not too impressed with their recently signed £40m man so far tonight.

    Liked by 3 people

  39. 2-0 now to Leicester, that should be done for Ox and Co.
    Spurs finally score against the might of Barnsley at Wembeley.

    Liked by 3 people

  40. I am sure the legendary Scousers will be very patient and flexible of both the Ox and Jurgen Klopp as another season goes tits up.

    An I a man to smirk?

    Never I say – Never

    Liked by 5 people

  41. a look we all know too well


  42. Stoke also
    Out tonight.

    Liked by 2 people

  43. We know too well that it gets to him when he’s playing badly, so it’s going to be a long way back for him if he’s struggling in their League Cup team.

    The sad part is that we finally had a role for him.

    Liked by 2 people

  44. but did we birdkamp, we were playing both him and Bellerin out of position just to keep him happy

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Can’t spell Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Liverpool without lots of Ls

    Liked by 1 person

  46. ᴹᴿ Jimmy Chilides⚽‏ @Jimmy_Chilides

    Tottenham broke the record for the LOWEST attendance EVER at Wembley tonight with only 23’926 tickets sold😐there was only 66’074 empty seats

    Liked by 2 people

  47. Bit of a surprise to me, but my heart’s not really in giving the Ox a kicking.

    Certainly not feeling the anger and whatnot that comes easily for Fabregas and especially Van Persie. Maybe that’ll change if he becomes successful, or behaves like a dick against us. We’ll see.

    Maybe one difference is that when the previous two left we knew we were losing vital parts of the team, finished products; that’s not the case with Ox.

    My feeling was that this was the key year- to see if he could build on a good end to last season, finally put right the unhealthy habit of taking mistakes far too much to heart during a game, etc. Still felt in the balance but I was hopeful.

    Anyway, most of that still stands, but he now has to do it at a new club.

    He saved us a tricky juggling job anyway: I prefer Bellerin as right wing back; prefer Monreal or Kolasinac on left; think right wing back may well be Ox’s best position, at least unless he was able to kick on some more this year; and I saw that happening , if it happened, mostly through playing wing back, left or right…which would have taken some awkward juggling and made for some selection headaches.

    Now, move on. I can’t hope for any real Liverpool success but don’t wish a hard time upon him either.

    Genuinely hope he’s a good deal less fragile than I used to often think he was, as there’s a fair chance it might not go as he dreams there.

    Liked by 4 people

  48. Ox, there was a time when I really wished we could have kept him.
    But he has made his choice, perhaps helped by agenty agents. His decision, I believe he has made a mistake, Wenger was patient and nurturing of him, I believe he is a player who needs this approach.
    Still, players they will come and they will go

    Liked by 3 people

  49. Rich
    I don’t believe there are many on this site who think The Ox is crap,he is just inconsistant. He always been a nearly player, watching him today was classic Ox. Looked like he was going to make something happen then didn’t.
    He has massive potential,but it wont be realised at Arsenal if at all.

    Liked by 4 people

  50. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-speaking-spanish-piers-morgan-hector-bellerin-arsenal-gq-men-of-the-year-a7954511.html

    Get in there Jezza
    GET IN!

    Swerve and avoid. In style!
    Even Sanchez would be impressed by that display of such skill to get around his ‘marker’.

    Men of the year? Meh.
    Man of the effing century (so far)

    love the Arsenal, ignore the a*sholes.

    Liked by 6 people

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