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Arsenal Is Winning The War For British Talent

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Five years ago Arsene Wenger declared to the football world that the development of a British core was central to the future of Arsenal Football Club.

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

“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.”

In my last piece I detailed how, up to recently, the mainstream media and so-called Arsenal blogs and tweeters poured scorn and derision on the club and the manager, in particular, for the supposed failure of this policy. Apparently the transfer of Oxlade-Chamberlain was all the proof they needed.

In their cock-eyed vision Arsenal is the first and only club that had to sell a locally developed player. Apparently a  $28-25 million profit for a player who was not a guaranteed fixture in the starting XI and someone patently unwilling to remain at the club at the expiry of his contract is a sign of failure rather than a complete rinsing of the party on the other side of the trade.

Few, if any, of these hacks are willing to admit that Arsene and Arsenal made off like bandits in this AOC deal. According to Prof Cipolla in the laws of stupidity: There is no upper bound on the amount of stupidity that can exist within any particular individual.” No wonder they can’t let go of their “shambles” meme.

In that last blog I demonstrated, contrary to the fact-free nonsense of the usual suspects, that the British core is very much alive and well at Arsenal with nine such players listed in the 2017-18 EPL squad. What was not apparent at the time was how Arsene is willing to rapidly promote new British players into the 1st team. In the last three cup games (Europa and Carabao) youngsters like Reiss Nelson, Willock, DaSilva, McGuane and Nketiah were granted their 1st competitive Arsenal cap. I am yet to see a member of the mainstream media highlighting this massive development.

This bourgeoning growth in domestic talent is not only important internally but, compared to the so-called top-6 PL clubs, Arsenal is slowly but surely winning the war for British talent. Based on their respective EPL squads according to espn.com and data from whoscored.com, I was able to derive data as of September 18th, showing the ranking of clubs in terms of Number of British Players, Appearances, Minutes, Goals and Assists.

Top 6 Club No. British Apps Mins Goals Assists
Liverpool 9 709 45,210 100 78
Arsenal 9 615 39,444 110 87
Tottenham 6 438 42,889 135 70
Man United 6 700 56,533 47 46
Man City 3 137 15,504 42 30
Chelsea 2 292 25,291 27 7

According to the data, Liverpool’s british contingent equals Arsenal with nine players having played 45,210 minutes for the club. But Liverpool’s productivity is inferior to Arsenal’s with a mere 100 goals and 78 assists versus 110 and 87 respectively. Quite frankly, the Merseysider’s positive statistics is due primarily to Jordan Henderson who has contributed nearly one-third of the minutes and provided 20 goals and 28 assists. Moreover Liverpool has had to depend heavily on the transfer market to recruit British talent especially from their farm team at Southampton. As a result, for every Sturridge there is a dog like Ings, for a Llalana there is a Flannagan. In contrast, while Arsenal has relied on some transfers (Ramsey, Walcott, Holding and Chambers) five of the British members of the EPL squad are all graduates of the academy, some their from childhood. Of those academy graduates, Arsenal’s data is minus the contribution of Alex Iwobi who has had 41 PL games spanning 2,186 minutes and contributed 5 goals and 5 assists, which would easily bolster AFC over LCFC.

Meanwhile Tottenham, that darling of the English mainstream media, has a mere six British members of their PL squad and have managed only two-thirds the appearances of Arsenal’s. Absent Harry Kane’s 118 caps, 91 goals and 16 assists the contribution of their domestic contingent barely moves the meter.

It is striking that the biggest spenders in English football (United, City and Chelsea) are at the bottom of the top-6 with the least number of domestic players and evidently making a minimal contribution to goals and assists. It is as if they are merely around to make up the home-grown quota. Manchester United may have 6 players with 700 appearances and over 56 thousand minutes but that data is very deceptive. The majority of that data comes from players who are no longer part of Mourinho’s starting XI, i.e. Smalling, Carrick and Young. Between them they had nearly 500 appearances spanning over 40 thousand minutes and contributed a combined 28 goals and 33 assists.

Notably at the bottom of the heap is Chelsea with a grand total two domestic players. Their numbers above is due exclusively to Gary Cahill. Up to the time of writing, that great bastion of English talent, Danny Drinkwater, signed from Leicester, has yet to make a PL appearance.

The data is clearly suggesting that the big-3 spenders are increasingly dependent on the transfer market to recruit domestic talent. This is an ominous development. Based on the rising premium for domestic players, where an Oxlade-Chamberlain costs  £40 million in transfers and most likely earning £180,000 per week in wages, a barely decent British player is a severe financial drag on any club.

Take Manchester United for example, they made record revenue last financial year of £590M, up from £519M the previous year, which was also a record. But expenses rose equally as fast, going from £440M to £515M, an increase of £75M. Employee benefit expenses – the majority being players’ wages – accounted for £32M of the £75M increase. Similarly amortization costs, which is the accounting method of expensing transfer fees, was £125M in 2016/17, up £37M from the previous year. Without that massive increase in tv revenues, United would not have been able to afford such significant increase in costs.

In contrast, Arsenal made only £424M in revenues. Based on financial resources available, there is no way the Gunners can go head-to-head with United in the transfer market. That is why £7M in loan fees earned for Jack Wilshere, Szczesny, Calum Chambers and Joel Campbell, all of whom are “home-grown” players, was significant to the club. Unlike United, recruiting and developing British talent will forego any need to resort to expensive transfers to build a competitive PL-challenging squad.

In his statement accompanying the 2016-17 annual financial report Ivan Gazidis, CEO, underlined the importance of this policy:

The development of our own players through our academy remains a priority for our football club. Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Jeff Reine-Adelaide have progressed into the first team dressing room this season, joining the likes of Alex Iwobi, Hector Bellerin and Francis Coquelin who have recently made the same journey to become important members of our First Team squad. We have high hopes for other young players such as Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah, all of whom impressed on the pre-season tour to Sydney, Shanghai and Beijing.

The sceptics, the snarcs, the juvenile, prepubescent-like commentators in the msm, blogs and twitter have vomited their stupidity. Somebody else is having the last laugh, as slowly but surely Arsenal is gaining ground and acheiving a competitive advantage over its top-6 rivals as it develops and promotes home-grown British talent. Even John Bull would be proud.

58 Comments

Jack’s Back?

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After the first half I was looking forward to writing a glowing report, but after the second half a was less enthusiastic .

In the first half we were completely dominant and were 3-1 up, we could easily have been 5 or 6 up. I thought Jack had scored a beautiful goal that was oddly ruled out for an offside that was nowhere to be seen. There had been some glorious play with Jack pulling the strings in a way that suggests he is not going to be kept away from the first team for long. The lads star looked to have faded, but last night was a reminder why he was seen as a star in the first place.  Wonderful stuff.

The second half was more of an even affair with the home team throwing caution to the wind and displaying that they are a decent side. Despite Theo’s brace in the first half, I felt he was selfish in the second and could have played his mates in on a couple of occasions , for easy chances.

ElNeny was his usual effective self and Giroud ,as ever, put a good shift in. The youngsters were great until they seemed to run out of steam, but that is to be expected.

All in all, a good night and the first eleven basically rested.

We march on.

107 Comments

Arsenal: Reeling in Monday

1310c466-df1c-46a2-b8b0-336b76fac2c1 2Good morning Positively Arsenal,

A genuinely good contest last night, which is unusual for Monday night. Very much the “game-of-two-halves” for Arsenal.

The first 45 we played in patches and, for my second surprise of the evening, the visitors set about us with a bit of quality. For various reasons that were debated to death last night we may have been slightly lucky to go in with a 1-0 lead at half time. “I’ve seen ’em given Ron, I’ve see ‘em given” et cetera. If it had been Deano rather than Bobby Madeley last night the penalty count might have been 4-2 (to the Arsenal obviously). If I was looking for a decisive moment in the half it was Nacho’s kung fu clearance from Rodriguez’s header. If the Baggies had gone level at that point, and they were playing well, it would have rocked us hard.

The second half there were no patches in the Arsenal display. Cech barely touched the ball and Mustafi and Kosc had a leisurely time at the back. We controlled the ball and pinned the Baggies back. The second goal seemed a long time coming despite our dominance and until it arrived the visitors were still in with a slight chance. From the 67th minute however the points were assured. I was hoping for one more but we slightly eased off the tempo, perhaps with Thursday night in mind.

For us as has been said elsewhere on here Nacho was in his element last night. Decisive in defensive and on two occasions he could have scored, with only a bobbling ball and the grasp of Nyon defeating him. His left side partner Kolasinac also had another good evening, an uncompromising physical first half and a much more fluid attacking second. And finally on the podium this week I place Alexander Lacazette. Two chances, two goals. The first a classic ‘predator’ six yard line finisher goal. If you look at his penalty thought it was even better. Foster dived the correct way and any less power or careful placement of the shot he would have had a hand on it. An important penalty, and they all count.

For West Brom I was impressed with Krychowiak and Rodriguez. Both were at the heart of the expansive first half effort were they attacked us hard and in numbers. It is interesting that the Baggies have the profile to attract a player as good as the Pole on loan, and Rodriguez I have always liked. Nice to see Kieran get in 90 minutes last night too. Good lad. Whether it is the influence of the new Chinese owners or Pulis has seen the light I don’t know. Watching two quality ball players must be a tonic for the Hawthorn’s regulars though who for years have had to put up with some dull stuff. I can see a top eight finish for WBA if that progress continues.

Anyway that is me done this morning. I will be missing on Thursday evening, and on my way to Wroclaw (Ryanair permitting), but back on Sunday so if anyone fancies a little post match delight from Byelorussia speak now !!

Enjoy your Tuesday.

72 Comments

Arsenal vs WBA – Fingers Crossed.

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A guest post from @Labo_Goon
Good day Positivistas!
We all know how pundits just love their top 6 mini-league tables,
because for them this is where Premier League titles are won
and where the divide between Champions League qualification and Europa
occur.
They have a point you know, but……
The other side of the coin is that many games vs teams in the
“also-run” category aren’t exactly cakewalks. How many times in the
past did teams fall a mere few points shorts from being crown PL Kings
or even making CL qualification because of slip-ups against the also-rans ?
This is what make these games so vital. If you drop too many
unnessacary points here, it’s irrelevent how well you did in the top 6
mini-league come May. Something we as Gooners know all too well.
Against the top 6 teams you know exactly what to expect, they have a
certain style, some cracking players that will punish you if you lose
focus for even a second. But this… this damn also-runs are the
banana skins man. Complacency can set in, Ben Foster can turn up like
a man auditioning for a ‘top 6 call-up’, and one or two of their
attacking players can get bloody slippery as hell. Don’t even dare
give them a set-piece anywhere close to goal, training ground stuff
can suddenly just fall in place.
Don’t forget the refs man. How many times did they become the subject of
discussion – for sucker punching us to create distance between
ourselves and sweetheart clubs at the top of log? A legitimate goal
being disallowed, a few of the most straightforward penalties not given,
a player getting stopped via chokehold being waved on, penalties given
against us from only god knows where? Match officials love stealing
the show!
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Now today! With the expectation that WBA will play from deep, Arsenal
need to be on their A game and not too adventurous, the opposition
will be very patient as their primary aim will be not to lose. If we
over commit too much, a misplaced pass could lead to… … Let me
just say, whatever scenario, Arsenal twitter refers to it as: “typical
Arsenal”. So that is not needed tonight.
After an initial poor start to our season we seem to have pulled
ourselves up and are WWDW in our last 4 games. Most pleasing for me
about this is that we kept 3 clean sheets, conceding a solitary fluke
goal. So more of that defensive discipline wouldn’t be asking too
much.
On our opponents: Just last Wednesday they pushed a strong Man City
team to their limits. In Evans and McAuley they got one of the better
CB pairings of teams in the mid to bottom half, so chances will be
few, and we need to bury one as soon as it comes. Allowing them to
become too comfortable as the game moves along, could be very
frustrating for us.
Tony Pulis has been a long time admirer of Arsène Wenger and in the
very articulate Kieran Gibbs he found himself a gateway to the Arsenal
way. So no doubt our ex player has become the de facto technical
adviser leading up to the game all week. That should tell us they know
our weaknesses and our strengths, to the man.
If we play with the same discipline and care we did Bournemouth and
Chelsea, there’s no reason why we wouldn’t have joy at the end
whistle.
On team selection: I think we’ve reached the point where we can refer
to a predicted line-up as “the usual suspects”, with them one can
expect the distinguished Mesut Özil back after missing out last
Sunday, as well as Alexis Sánchez the obvious replacement for Danny
Welbeck.
Saed Kolašinac is a player that excites me, very compact and
disciplined, so it will be interesting to see the chemistry building
up between him and Alexis on the left side of the pitch. This is a
fixture for the Chilean to get back to his best, so stay in the
attacking half of the field and trust your team mates, there’s no need
to play fetch. If he can try more of those passes he gave Theo vs the
Donny’s, he’ll become a treat to even those he frustrates so much.
Ramsey and Xhaka were the ones pulling the strings last 2 PL fixtures.
If they win the midfield battle, it will make the job of the rest so
much easier.
As the boss always say, our most important game is the next one. This
is that game! And my buzz phrase is: play as individuals and we’ll be
left biting our nails, play as a team and we are in for a treat.
We are favourites to win this game but we also shouldn’t take anything
for granted, fans and players alike. Let’s keep the faith and trust
Arsenal to colour Monday RED.
Good luck to all watching the game from wherever and don’t forget
keeping them fingers crossed. Our boys need all the help they can get
and Arsenal supporters… know your role, we got one job!
39 Comments

Balance.

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We constantly hear pundits commenting on the “balance” of a team. But how does this state of balance come about? How is it developed, nurtured and maintained?

Where is the centre of balance in a team, and what is the perfect balance? I suspect Pep sees the balance of a team very differently to Jose, and yet both have produced very balanced teams in the past.  Arsene, Klopp and Pep favour an attacking style, whereas Jose and Conte favour a defensive setup (despite Jose’s protestations to the contrary) and  Pochettino seems to have found a very good spot in the middle.

Guardiola point blank refuses to compromise his attacking style. Why should he? It’s brought about unprecedented success and made him the most sought after manager in the world. Yet as soon as it doesn’t work, expert are suggesting he should?

Arsene is the same, achieved the impossible, playing with a style and panache never witness before, and yet he should change? I can understand if people don’t like a managers style, but to ask him to change? Do me a favour.

I see three ways of finding a good balance. It can be developed, bought or stumbled across. It think Arsene developed the Arteta/Ramsey partnership,has bought Xhaka to recreate it and stumbled across the Santi/Coquelin pairing. It would be lovely if he could just nip out to the CM shop and buy a Vieira/Gilberto pairing, but that ain’t happening.

We saw last week that the team looked better without Sanchez (and perhaps Ozil too?) but surely the answer is to find a balance that can include our star players. But its not inconceivable that the best balance does not include the best players.

The easiest way of building a balanced team is to identify what and who you need, and go out and buy that player. However, if you are Arsenal, rather than United or City, this is not a realistic option. So we can buy second shelf players and accept being second best, or we buy the best players we can, and try to find a balance with them. We have to accept though that this is a more difficult way.

Then there are players like Theo, that on the face of it don’t fit into the overall playing style of a possession team, yet his skill set brings a balance to the team. His constant runs off the ball are mostly unseen and unappreciated, but he gives a balance that isn’t quantifiable.

What seems easy for fans is in fact the most difficult of tasks in football.What we do know for certain is that when Arsene gets the right players, he can put out a balanced team, getting those players in today’s market place may prove impossible, but then again……..????

41 Comments

A Disappointing Win.How does that work?

No Andy this morning , so it was on me to do the review, fortunately Passenal did a great job in the comments section last night. 

 

Don’t listen to the ASB on Twitter . The game was fine. I think some people are just annoyed that we didn’t put a hatful past The Donny’s, but sometimes it’s just fine margins that stand between a win and a comprehensive beating. A few inches and Giroud’s 100th would have been a goal to remember. Bearing in mind this was another mix and match team with inexperienced youngsters, players who spend more time on the bench than the pitch and some on the long road back from injury I thought they all did well.

For me Elneny was the stand out performer. Reiss Nelson looked like a fish out of water as a wing-back, but he did grow into the game. I think some of our youngsters found it hard to maintain focus for the full 90 minutes as they are not used to playing at this level of intensity. Jack is showing promising signs of getting back to his best. I wonder if Giroud’s quest for his 100th goal is inhibiting him somewhat? He was much more involved than in the Europa league game, but he gets no protection whatsoever from the man in the middle – he is constantly dragged down and fouled with little consequence for the opposing CB’s.

I was pleased that despite their public proclamations there was little evidence of Doncaster trying to win through foul play. Maybe the officials had a word prior to the game. I understand they are struggling in their league, but maybe going toe-to-toe with The Arsenal and only losing by one goal will give them a kick-start – they were not terrible. Their goal keeper made a few good saves. And let’s say a word for our much maligned number 2. He had little to do, but did what was required when called into action. As for Alexis, I actually thought he was better than in the EL game, but he does hold onto the ball too long and fails to make the simple pass when it’s on in his desire for the spectacular or personal glory.

84 Comments

Arsenal v Four Yorkshiremen

 

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So My Positive Friends,

It is the Carabao Cup tonight with our lads pitting their wits against Fergie Junior’s side, a team currently suffering a run of poor League form as they sit 19th in League one with just one win from eight matches. They did manage to put away Hull in the last CC round however. Talk of 5,500 Donny fans in the Clock End. Given Spurs poor turnout last night I hope the Ems is at least half full and we manage to match them for volume.

Our Team ? We know it will be a very different starting eleven from that which marched into the arena to do battle with Chelsea on Sunday. I fancy we shall have an experienced core of 4-5 including Jack, Olivier, Per and Elneny and the remainder will be youngsters. Beyond that I shall leave it to Arsene and Bould to sort out. Clearly it is a night to blood a few new faces, but we want to progress into the next round. While the Carabao Cup is not the Champions League by the time the semi finals are in sight with Wembley to follow it is a trophy worth competing for and, hopefully, winning.

Their team ? I know nothing of our opponents’ playing personnel, other than they are led by a 36 year old striker, James Coppinger. Mr Coppinger @Coppinger26  is well known as a Doncaster “legend” so I hope if our young lads find themselves marking the old codger they treat him with due respect. Given their League difficulties and seven goals in their eight league games they will not expect to outscore us. They will however be on the big stage for once and will work hard.

No doubt our visitors are hopeful that they will enjoy the evening, even if they are spanked. And why not ?

I see in the media there is talk of Arsene accommodating ol’Bluenose himself at the stadium. After years of what seemed like real dislike between the two best managers in PL history peace has broken out, it is said that there is mutual respect bordering on affection. Aye – In time all things must pass.

Good luck with the streams tonight – I suspect we shall all need it. And for those attend the game enjoy your evening.

I attach below a link to the last time we took on Donny in the FA Cup in January 1953, a year we won the Cup. Mr Cholmondley-Warner commentating;

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AesrP43kXo4