One Of Us Speaks: Barcelona Set The Benchmark – Will Arsenal Youth Ever Reach It?

Big Al lights the blue touch paper and stands well back…

In the build up to Tuesday night’s defeat I’d been comparing Arsenal’s situation with Barcelona’s. The two sides have been playing their Champions League matches concurrently this season; both teams had qualified early at the top of their groups, and both teams looked ready to give their younger players and reserves a chance. There’s a Catalan connection in my family, but doesn’t make me any fonder. Love or loathe Barça – I’ll take a cocktail of awe, jealousy and resentment – there’s no denying that they’re the benchmark for youth development over the last decade.

Of course their match on Tuesday was a very different prospect to ours. They faced BATE, who have not been masters of their domain, or anywhere else. We were up against an experienced, cosmopolitan and motivated team that had given our first picks a rough ride at home, and had defeated both Marseille and Dortmund.

So OK, the scenarios were very different, but there’s still a comparison to be made, if you’ll humour me.

Barcelona pummelled their opponents 4-0 – we lost 3-1. Theirs was the most one-sided match you’ll see in the Champions League. And though their team was made up mostly of names who aren’t really known beyond the Barcelona fan-base or football nerds, it was sh*t hot.

Taking to the field were players such as Sergi Roberto, Martín Montoya, Rafinha, Thiago, Gerard Deulofeu, Isaac Cuenca and Marc Bartra. Now a couple may fade, but at least three of those players will become world-class footballers.

If the situation in this country remains the same I can promise two things: Firstly, Arsenal will never be able to field a side of youngsters in a Champions League game and expect to win. And also, we’ll never have a batch of young talents that matches any that Barcelona has produced in recent years, even with scouting rules soon being loosened in England.

Ahead of key differences in training hours, international and domestic scouting, the most relevant reason I can think of at the moment is this; when we play more than a couple of youngsters in our senior team they’ll be sharing the rarest taste of competitive football.

But when Barcelona do it, they’ll have plenty of youngsters perfectly comfortable in a senior environment, and all in tune with their teammates and style. It’s their ‘B’ System. Their midfielder Sergi Roberto, while still 19 and not yet good enough for consistent top-flight football, has played more than 50 matches in the Spanish second tier for Barcelona B. Bartra, 70 odd. Deulofeu, only 17, has been a regular this season.

For our young players – and we do have many good ones – there’s the choice of a loan, reserve team football or a total of around four Carling Cup matches for the lucky few. This season the loan system has started to look like a pretty ropey way of getting game-time for our youngsters. The shock of switching from the plush surrounds of London Colney to almost anywhere else can’t be underestimated. I mean, some of these places don’t even have a Nando’s.

And just occasionally they have to go and play with complete berks – a few times we’ve read about Arsenal players receiving special welcomes on the training ground from the team hardman. Wolves’ Karl Henry is probably engorged already at the thought of initiating Frimpong. Meanwhile, Sanchez Watt had to sit a game out recently because Sheffield Wednesday had too many other loanees in the squad.

If they get a place on the bench or in the starting line-up, which many don’t, they’ll be playing in alien systems on dodgy pitches, often making painful compromises. Take Benik Afobe – he was a rare success story last season, but might be paying for it this campaign. He’s a real team player, mature and physically developed – qualities that saw him lumped with a carthorse role. No kidding, they had a potential international striker doing the team’s legwork twice weekly; hustling defenders, chasing lost causes and holding up the ball to the last second of every match. Too much at too delicate a stage in his development.

So maybe it’s no surprise he’s been injured since the summer; six months of development down the pan. And Huddersfield aren’t to blame either – they have to do what they can with what they’ve got. No, it’s the whole damned system that’s wrong.

What we need is for our youngsters to play together in a competitive environment. B Teams won’t happen here. Personally speaking, it’s just one of the many things that makes Spanish domestic football so inequitable – we need to find the middle ground.

This is hardly a new idea, but the answer is surely to improve the reserve league and for it to mirror the top flight, with 20 teams. Strict rules should be in place when it comes to the amount of players over 23 that can be involved. That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be any older hands though; a sprinkling of experience would be welcome. A chance perhaps for the lost souls to play their way back into contention.

You may snigger at Man City’s pompous title for their reserves, the Elite Development Squad (I know I do), but that’s the kind of sell that needs to be made. I mean, f*ck it. Let’s just call it the Elite Development League. No more matches behind closed doors; make it clear to fans they’ll be supporting the future of their teams. Get some sponsors, get secondary 5,000-seater stadiums – share them if need be. Generally add some prestige to the whole affair.

The benefits will be immense. Not least for the clubs, but also national teams. The onus is on Premier League clubs to bring through more home grown players so it’s only natural that the best youngsters will end up at the biggest teams, but the years between youth football are first still too loosely managed and too susceptible to chance. While it remains so another generation of talent will suffer.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on December 9, 2011, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Soccer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 237 Comments.


  2. not a bad idea BIG AL….

  3. another idea is for us to loan out our ELITE YOOTS to only a few chosen teams that have our playing philosophies and make them advance as we have ours gain valuable experience. and go abroad at that age might actually be good for them growing up.
    but your idea would help the national team better..
    hope we do well against Everton. they give us a hard time once in a while.

  4. First!

  5. Thoughtful post, Big Al. I agree with Goonerkam, if the the England national team is to be improved, allowing B teams in lower divisions would certainly help.

  6. mj, i don’t know about you but i would pay to see Nasri and Evras face right about now. lol can’t believe they both bottled it … mercenary bottelers .. HAHAHA.
    sorry, can’t help it.
    hope we lineup strong against Everton and get the three points. we have to build on what we have done already. hope the crew has learned a lesson from our last few campaigns and take advantage of the opportunitys. shitty and manure gone from CL .
    liverpool, manure and chelski dropping points in the Pl .and the tots will also. bank on it. so will shitty now. this will be a huge blow to their confidence. i hope this exit will be the catalyst to their explosion.or impolsion. take your pick but also take cover.. lol

  7. Oh & I am a fan of Afobe, just hoping he does not turn out like the curious case of Jay Emmanuel Thomas.

  8. OOU – Good write up as always.

    Geo @ 3:28 (Yesterday) – Excellent post sir. *applauds*

  9. I think our reserves, as they were, did fairly well against Shitty. To play the Greeks away from home in a game that meant nothing to us and everything to them was a bit of a task though. Barca played at home against a team that had nothing to play for.
    I think our young lads look decent overall.
    If not for our double goalkeeper errors we could have won it.

  10. True that, Kam. I am confident we’ll dispatch Everton at our own turf. Unlike many others here, I would not like to see Miquel being played out of position. especially since a major chunk of our build up play comes from the full backs & Ignasi is not one! Tommy V has experience in that position & offers a lot in the attacking play.

    I would go with JD – Per – Kos – TV

    I also believe JD will raise his game after the horror show on Tuesday.

  11. YW @ 10:33 (Yesterday) – The voice of reason. As it goes I think you achieve every one or your aims.

  12. @Pontus – First goal was NOT Fabianski’s error.

  13. Morning all,

    You’ve just got to love Jens:

    “Man City play very, very boring football,” he said. “They just make their opponents fall asleep with lots of possession.

    “But to be honest, that is not tactically very demanding. The way they play here is the way any amateur team plays, only not on such good grass.

    “There was no life in the stadium,” he said. “It was dead. The fans are so quiet. You have got to say, though, that they have not got anything really to get excited about here.

    “They had possession all of the time, albeit in their own half where nothing was happening.

    “It is a shame because it is not typical English football. Napoli have heart and passion and I liked them. It is good that they have gone through.

    “We don’t want to see Manchester City in the Champions League.”

    Some former gunners still know what’s what.

  14. Christopher Smith

    Wednesday 9th December 1998. Remember that date. Arsenal unable to finish in the Champions league above Dinamo Kiev or Lens fielded the following team away against Panathinaikos.

    Grimandi Upson Bould Grondin
    Vivas Mendez Vernazza Boa Morte
    Wreh Anelka

    They did what their first team was unable to do, and won the game 3-1. It was considered a massive victory for youth considering only 4 of the team had any sort of experience at all.

    Unfortunately, it didn’t lead to world class players coming through other than Anelka.

    I think that judging young players on the basis of one game may be slightly misleading, and although I respect the Barcelona youth system, I fully expect a number of these players to be plying their trade in the lower echelons of La Liga during their career. Much the same as what has happened to The Arsenal. Lets not knock the youth system at Arsenal. It has developed a midfielder which could easily stand head and shoulders above the young midfielders at Barca in Jack Wilshere. Not forgetting the burgeoning talent of Frimpong, Szczesny, Cocquelin, Miquel, Lansbury etc.

    There will always be failures that we had high hopes for, and Lansbury may well fall into this category, along with Upson, JET, Randall etc, but when looking at players breaking into the highest levels of the game, we must be considered up there with the best.

  15. nice article….. we still do good with young players though….barca are chunning out players now but wont last always just ask ajax :D…. hope for a good result on weekend we cant let up now :)) what with the smell of blood from the manchester area….. up gunners

  16. oh and its not la liga system lol its just barca everybody else over there aint producing much now are they 😛

  17. we must be ranked in the top five of clubs with great youth system, imo. but we can’t the cuntalonians are probably ranked above us. EPL is full of ARSENAL products. and the rest of Europe too, for that matter. very proud of our ELITE YOUTH SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT..

  18. i thinks there are a few reasons why we had a poor showing at Olympiacous. the main reason for me was the hot and hostile atmosphere of the stadium. i think to a large extent this same team that did so well against shitty, lost their nerves and were scared for a large portion of the game. there were other reasons also. but that was the main thing. hope fabianski, Santos, and le coq are ok and not hurt very badly…

  19. Are you stupid or something? Sanchez Watt isn’t a youngster any more he won’t make it at Arsenal. Barcelona wanted Chuks Aneke and Benik Afobe at one point. You talk about Barcelona good youth team talk about our Reserves and U-18s who are doing well this season.

    Aneke, Miquel, Ozyakup, Freeman, Afobe, Bartley etc.

  20. mj,,, i think your line up in the back is strong and will enable us to play the way we like to. attacking fullbacks. i also think we have become super thin in lb and rb positions and when the window opens that should be our priority. the backup to the prince will probably have to come from within. they all have to step it up. Chamak, park, AA ,THEI AND 3GS.

  21. choke on your blackscarf. back stabbing basterds.

  22. Yeah, I’m stupid – I hope you’ll accept a refund for the article, BSAFC.

  23. I agree with a lot of that OOU, I have been banging on about getting players fit and/or back in form by playing some regular football in the reserves for ages. If it’s rhythm they need to get back up to speed and there’s no other alternatives a few runouts in the reserves might do some of these players some good. Beefing up reserve team football to the extent you advocate will never happen though, no-one will go and watch Barnet vs Aldershot League 2 fixture (for instance) when an Arsenal reserve team match in the surroundings that you describe (and probably for free) is on fairly nearby. It would be the death knell for lower league football.

  24. Excellent point, Oofus.

  25. He’s back!

  26. You have some valid points there Big Al, but for every Messi, Xavi, and Iniesta, there are countless players who don’t make it through to the Barca first team. Indeed, one of Barca’s biggest advantages over us is that they can sign u-12 players from anywhere in the world, as they did with Messi, while we’ve been restricted to the 9 mile rule. (Thankfully, that is about to change.)

    I think Arsenal does very well in the youth development game.

  27. You back Limpar? How was Germany?

    Passionate and sound plea Big Al. Unfortunately, it won’t happen. Too expensive when every penny has to go into players wages and transfers. Everton can hardly afford to travel these days.

    Think the FA. Think Wembley and despair.

  28. Alright, ACLF?

    I didn’t go to Germany, Consols. I thought I glimpsed it from a mountainside above Lake Como – but, thinking about it in retrospect I was likely looking at Liechtenstein.

  29. A good read.I couldn’t agree more.

  30. @Cristopher Smith

    I agree that saying that at least 3-4 world class players will emerge from Barca’s reserve team that thrashed BATE is premature, but to say that Jack Wilshere is “head and shoulders” above the young midfielders at Barca is extreme exaggeration since Thiago is still a young midfielder. Wilshere is better than Thiago ATM no doubt, but Thiago is seriously talented.

    Also, another example of a youth team thrashing professionals: Our team that won 6-0 against Sheffield United a few years ago. That team was:

    Hoyte, Djourou, Song Billong (Lansbury 70), Gibbs,
    Randall, Ramsey, Merida (Coquelin 71), Wilshere,
    Bendtner (Simpson 71), Vela.

    Of these, Hoyte, Randall and Merida (to a lesser extent) have more or less disappeared. Djourou, Bendtner and hat trick hero Vela have had varying degrees of success, but none of them are anything approaching world class at the moment. Gibbs has been extremely injury prone and was unable to claim the LB spot from a very poor Clichy although he still has time. Fabianski’s endured a torrid time from then. Only Song and Wilshere can be said to be world class, and even Wilshere needs to perform for a second season to be called WC from non-gooners. Ramsey was shawcrossed, but whatever the reason (the Barca youth players can get injured too), his progress is behind schedule as well.

    That’s 1, maybe 2 world class players, 2-3 near complete failures (by the standards expected), 3 decent players, 1 who has talent but at a different club would have been sold a couple of years ago and 2 players whose progress is much behind schedule.

    Okay, so Barca’s win was over a CL side and ours was over a Championship side (I think), but the point remains. Talent is never enough – Vela won the golden boot in the U-17 World Cup. I think Cuenca will make it as a Barca player, and maybe a couple of others too, but to say that even 50% will progress to be being Barca players is premature to say the least.

  31. Oh yeah, I hear MANCHESTER United supporters are worried at the prospect of a long, hard journey up to MANCHESTER in the eventuality of a Thursday night clash with MANCHESTER City in the EUROPEY LEAGUE!


  32. I did mention scouting restrictions in the post, TL – we’re restricted to something like a 90-minute drive from our training ground, but that’ll change to the whole country.

    A lot of youngsters fall by the wayside at various stages. They do with us – I think you’re looking at as many as five or six young pros for one who cements a place in the squad. I think we do as well as the best within the current pattern. Just think it’s a bit flawed when they get to around 18 years old, and chucking some ideas out there.

  33. Still, a long time away, eh?

    You missed the piss up at the Fulham game, well, two piss ups really.

  34. Let’s get OoU a job at the FA!

    Nice puns there too:

    “They faced BATE, who have not been masters of their domain”

    And what is it with our players and their sponsership of Nandos?

    Welcome back Limpar! Your rapier wit has been missed by this lurker

  35. Holy Sh*t, Limpar! you have a long life bugger!!

  36. Yeah. How are you, Cb? I’ve missed you. Geese getting fat?

    I’ve been back almost a month. Been abstaining from lovely distractions like ACLF because I went straight into a new job and had an unusual feeling of ‘I can make a difference here’ which I wanted to make the most of. As well as impress the new boss. I was at the Wigan game (shithole, great fun). Heard about the Fulham meet-up but was too wet behind the ears to make it. What happened?

  37. Reserve games should mirror the EPL and be held 2 hours before the main event. So if we are playing MU at the Emirates we see 2 games for the price of one, both against MU

  38. I hope so, mj, I hope so. Good to see you. And yourself, Gadge…

  39. Like where u’re going here Big Al.
    Sadly don’t see any adjustments being made to things as they are in England till the sh*t somehow obliterates the fan.
    Watching Barca’s B team kept bringing back Pep’s words about how Barca has JW-play alikes in their youth team.
    I have to say I yield more percentage points in that direction now than I did when he made the statement…BUT
    There’s only ONE JACK WILSHERE
    And he’s an Arsenal player!

    Hope we see him before Valentine’s day.

  40. Great post – as usual may I add. Allowing B teams in the lower divisions is interesting and has certainly helped Barcelona. But I really don’t think it’s the major reason for their success. Real Madrid hasn’t benefited as much as Barcelona. Valencia B has on occasion outperformed Barca B and it hasn’t translated to success in the higher divisions. The same is being applied in other European leagues without resultant success for their teams. Allowing B teams also raises the threat of creating oligopolies in the league – a disputable result in Spain – which ofcourse raises the question if such is inevitable? Glenn Hoodle – which not consulting his oracle – also feels that the weather may have something to do with it. Certainly the Spanish weather allows for more “winter” sports that it would central and northern Europe. England also has the challenge of two other rival sports – in Rugby and cricket – which certainly isn’t the norm in most footballing nations. The same effect has been felt in South Africa. Allowing an Arsenal B in the lower leagues would certainly be interesting but I believe that the real success will lie on who leads and runs the academy. But I’d admit that nothing is certain!

  41. “While” not “which.”

  42. Morning all,

    Just read more of yesterday’s comments. Shotta, thanks for your reply, and i do appreciate what went on here in the few years before i started commenting, great work. and it’s brilliant that you guys have forged such a strong bond through your time repelling the onslaughts from those anti-AKB’s. It’s just that many posters are made to feel inferior as a fan or lily livered just for not being as militant, or like-minded in their support, or because they weren’t involved in the ACLF siege years. Yogi’s comment yesterday explains that this wasn’t the direction he envisaged this blog going (although I’m sure he appreciates your cleansing exercise). The old school ACLFers have made this a better place and the best comments section going, but it’s time to get over it (or yourselves), and stick to weeding out any future anti ACLF minded people with nothing intelligent to say, not attacking those with balanced or even vaguely interesting view points at the first opportunity because they weren’t in the trenches with you. I don’t want to spark another debate on this as it will only serve to cause more division…


    Brilliant article OOU, you are completely on the money imo. Weekly competitive football is the only thing that will make a young player reach their absolute maximum potential. What are the FA’s reasons for not going down this route? Anyone know?

    Limpar – great to see you back. Hope you had a great time!

  43. You are right about the two rival sports kenyan, but they are very much ‘junior’ to football with the public. I don’t think they really impact on the sport. Unfortunately.

  44. Welcome back LA. Your rapier wit has been lost on all of us. Without being snarky and insulting. You have been sorely missed.

    Thoughtful s usual Big Al. Interesting feedback as well.

  45. What happenned Limpar?

    Well, without going into the whole performance, we all met up in a pub near the ground.

    An obvious problem presented itself on arrival. How do a bunch of ACLF people dressed for the match meet up in a pub full of several hundred baying Arsenal fans?

    A curtain will be drawn at this point but two groups did coagulate, entirely separate from each other although there was, unknowing, conversation between them.

    Good time anyway and the barmaids are still talked of today in these parts.

    Have you learnt the error of your thinking in your new job?

  46. I also thought the kids looked very good but, any body who plays on any level can tell you that no matter how a good the outfield is, if you have a shit keeper (or two shit keepers) between the sticks it doesn’t matter how good you are panic will spread throughout.

    mj_gunner | December 9, 2011 at 7:33 am

    A very curious case indeed which I still haven’t got my head around.

  47. consolsbob, no doubt that they are small sports, but the impact is larger than you’d think. The think is that the pool of talented sports people is limited in the human race generally. And it’s that limited pool where all sports – team sports or otherwise – come from. An extra sport reduces the spread for competing sports!

  48. Geo – I am cool with you and your views as I was at pains to point out. It is snarky, insulting school-marmish comments of some that has gotten my goat. Everybody loves a YW quote these days and I am no exception: the comments section of this blog is generally “self-policing”. Long may it continue.
    And maximum respect Geo.

  49. Shotta, fair enough man. And just to be clear, I only got into this whole debate yesterday because i was pretty much told i was getting on my high horse, thinking i had higher moral values than others, by simply asking people to refrain from resorting to calling each other c*nts or whatever… I was only trying to be nice! lol… Cheers though, appreciate your response. I do get a bit snarky sometimes and apologise for that, but it’s purely because i am passionate about Arsenal, I don’t go out looking for fights on here…


  50. Brilliant article. But majority here never bothered to look into what he was saying at all. Everyone is so angry that he compared your youth system to Barca’s. How can he?

    This commet is classic – “Barca played at home against a team that had nothing to play for.I think our young lads look decent overall.” Yes Bate Borisov may not have done much apart from getting a 1-1 draw against Milan. But still look at the teams which lined up.
    Arsenal:Fabianski, Vermaelen, Squillaci, Santos, Djourou, Coquelin, Frimpong, Chamakh, Arshavin, Benayoun and Chamberlain. I would say that is no line-up which should go down 3-1 against Olympiakos. So when our team with three first team players did well against whoever it may be, give the credit for that.

    As far what is written in the article. I do agree that you guys need a revamped reserve league system. The better will be to have the B Team system. Loaning out is a big issue as in most cases they end up playing in a system which will be very alien to them.

  51. Geo | December 9, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Good point. Although this is by far the best Arsenal blog by a million miles I noticed straight away that the people who have been on here for a certain amount of time feel that they have the divine right to shoot other down for their opinion simply because it’s different from theirs and their circle of chums.

    You know who are but, at the end of the day I just laugh at the lot of them because they actually think they know more or support more or some shit like that.

    I crack up reading all your “meet me here there” and “how good this and that was”. It’s like they trying to make new comers feel bad or like we are missing something special.

    What… Do you not have a decent phone tariff where you can text each other instead of posting up your entire weekends activities on a blog site?

    It’s like a “blog tag team” on here sometimes when a different opinion gets posted.

    Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks have got fuckall on some of the tag teams on here some days. Neither has Joseph Stalin.

  52. Apparently Vito Mannone has a mysterious injury and Big Al is now back on the bench for the Everton game. What did I say a few days ago that Big Als record is comparable to both Scezzer and Fabianski despite his demonization (thanks to

  53. Since on the subject of blowing ones own trumpet, I also said that Almunia, should be down as our back up keeper. He’s paid his dues now and how can people just forget how good this guy was before he lost his damn head which was another curious case for me.

    But, I have seen enough from the other two to know that nothing will ever get better there and will only cost us as they did on Tues. Yes I do blame the keepers for causing panic.

    Total crap about the hostile surroundings. You honestly think that matters or Wenger, is that stupid to send troops out in the field who will freeze when the battle commences?


  54. All blogs are like that Goonerton.

    To my knowledge there has only ever been one ACLF ‘meet’ in it’s history so I have no idea where you get ‘“meet me here there” from.

    Geo said all that needed to be said and said it very well.

  55. consolsbob | December 9, 2011 at 10:50 am

    I didn’t mean the one meet. I was referring to all the other non Arsenal chummy post on here between certain groups and these are the same groups that love to attack and ridicule others but, it’s all water off a ducks back for me as I love Arsenal and nobody on here can tell me or make me believe they love our club more than I do no matter what I post or the next man/woman post.

    I’m a new comer to blogs and I don’t support the media in any way because I know they don’t like us so reading ACLF is my only source.

  56. Thanks OOU.

    Was thinking about this after Serge’s post yesterday on the Chel$ki kids. Sturridge was lucky I suppose with that Bolton loan, (Lancashire was too close to the North Pole for Vela), sad to see McEachran stagnating when he needs those games to see where he is at. Because Stuart Pearce hasn’t been giving them to him until the last few U21 matches. Instead he prefered to play players like the up and coming Mancienne in midfield…

    I was dreaming about Heskey the other day too. Remember that game against Argentina where he tormented the nearly retired Sensini. Unfortunately some managers expected him to play like that in every game against centre backs who were not in their fifteenth year of their career. I mean, you can start out with some skill as a young player, but just as easily as some players improve their techniques, others can lose it. Houllier will get no credit from a xenophobic press for bringing some life back and a little less lumpiness back to Agbonlahor and Young after they had been O’Neilled. Which brings us back full cycle to Heskey…

    One option is to have sympathetic or sycophantic feeder clubs within the PL, like the Mancs have done with Sunderland. Or to play in a nation where twi clubs

  57. Oops…I meant to end on ‘or play in a a nation where two clubs get all the money, and all the best kids’.

  58. Al back on the bench. Jesus H Christ no. The man must be a fuckin shell at this stage. 3 players ahead of him, out in the cold for months. His confidence will be in the gutter!

  59. Does anyone know what’s stopping the FA from moving to this system?

    And is it the case that if a ‘b’ team gets into the Championship (or equivalent) and then gets into promotion spots, they wouldn’t be allowed to get promoted to the same division as their first team obviously, so i assume the non-b-teams below them would gain promotion instead? Sorry not a very well worded question…

  60. Why not just send invite to all premier league clubs asking if they would like to form a Premier B League. Do the same for all division clubs. The initial season would mirror the current clubs in their current divisions. Each season thereafter follows the same rules at the A team leagues, with promotion and relegation to the B Premier/Championship/First/Second etc division. Have a squad of say 40 players to use with max 2 players taken from the A team at any one time.

  61. Interesting idea Deise. But similar to what we have already with the reserve leagues. It would be better for the B teams to work their way up the divisions against actual lower league teams’ first teams I think. There would be more of a competitive edge. The first couple of years would be tricky to sort out though. How many of our reserve players would want to be playing against conference teams?

  62. Like Limpar, I strongly recommend a read of the prognosis for tomorrow’s game from an Everton POV at

  63. Well our reserves wouldnt be playing against conference teams unless they got continually relegated. The first season of the B league would be the B teams of the current Premier League clubs. It would be a complete mirror of the english football league system. I would of course take on a shape of its own due to relegation and promotion. A fear of relegation and prize of promotion is the only real way of making it truly competitive.

  64. Yeah sorry Deise, i meant that they would be if just prem teams had b teams, and they were integrated into the normal league structure… But your way could work too, as you say with relegation/promotion giving it the competitiveness. Does anyone know how the Spanish leagues first implemented this?

  65. sorry …i meant they would be **playing conference teams** if just prem…

  66. Thanks for the replies and suggestions, guys.

    FP, I’d been thinking of McEachran. it might sound severe, but there’s a good chance he won’t be the player he might’ve been (stop – grammar time) had his last couple of years been handled a bit better. Build-wise he’s clearly not ready – so why couldn’t they send him to a less physical league for experience? 17 to 21 is so crucial I think.

    Just can’t stand O’Neill – no idea what happened to Heskey though. He did have good technique when he was younger, but it was clearly coached out of him. So I suppose you can loose it as easily as you gained it, but if you don’t have it by the time you’re fully grown you never will.

  67. Ah right Geo i getcha.
    I might be wrong here but i assume all league teams have reserve squad/under 18s/under 16s…right. This pool would be where the B squad would be taken from. Leaving the younger players in their current age category league/games. But these youngsters wouldnt be playing in such a competitive structure but would be solely focused on developing technique and tactical awareness. Those early years would have the kids playing in each and every position to gain an awareness of the whole picture(just like the dutch system / and like we now educate our schoolboys) So when your technique and positional game has developed you can then start to fit the players attributes to specific positions. Then move them to the B squad to get the competitive edge honed….

  68. Why would anyone consider comparing Almunia to Scez? They’re not even on the same planet.

    Almunia is/was a decent enough keeper to have as back up, certainly not as bad as he was made out to be, but he was also clearly not quite good enough as a first choice for The Arsenal.

    Fab sounds as though he’ll push to leave – if so good luck to him. Barring injury I don’t see him getting the chances to prove he is better than Scez and, on present form, I don’t think he is anyway.

    It’s a tough lot being a goal keeper – only one spot to chase. Must be awful spending most of your career as second stringer.

    @finsbury, someone you know is having a party this weekend… 😉

    @maria – just you keep those sick, disturbed dreams to yourself! Or next time I’ll not rescue you.

    @consol – still thinking about those jezebels eh?

  69. Wenger's Arsenal

    I have never posted here before. Have been following the club for quite a long time.I have a question for all of you
    Consider two scenarios
    1) We finish above Spurs and Wenger leaving
    2) We finish below Spurs and Wenger staying

    Which one would you take?

    I would go for the second situation.For me Wenger is everything about Arsenal,if he leaves,we wont be a top club anymore.I wouldnt want anyone else as my manager.

  70. Dreaming jonny, dreaming.

  71. Fabianski has been unlucky in some respects. I was a huge critic of his as he seemed to stumble from blunder to blunder. But, at the start of last season he was forcing me to change my opinion of him. I don’t think he had one bad game and then he got injured. Unfortunetly for him Szchezny has come in and looked streets ahead of Fabianski. I agree with Jonny, I don’t think he will ever be first choice with us now.

  72. Tw*t. Jaguar I bet.

  73. For tomorrow:





    Sub: Almunia/Djourou/Le Coq/Benayoun/AA/Roskicy/Chamakh

    Is what I think we will see. personally I would leave out one of Rosicky/AA/Benayoun and include AOC on the bench. Rosicky and Benayoun are very similar and AA is not really in form.

  74. Ignore the obvious troll.

  75. Who said Wenger was leaving and why the hell spuds got to do with us?

    I will consider none of those situations as they sound totally nuts but, you are correct in saying that Wenger, is everything Arsenal.

  76. Good piece by that Evertonian. Thoughful fans exist at all clubs, well, maybe not Stoke.

    I loved this twitter comment on his blog:

    “the media laughter at ‘arrys press conference jokes always reminds me of the way T’s crew in sopranos laugh at his wank gags.” #arsekissers 25 minutes ago

  77. Wenger is a genius, but this club will surive and continue to flourish when he eventally leaves.

  78. Wrighty, is very upset about not having a statue of himself being put up. Maybe he was in the running before he joined his current employers and started siding with well known enemies of The Arsenal in national papers.

    I read another one of his articles and he was clearly trying to back track on what he said and has been saying. I loved Wrighty, and loved taking my seat in the East Stand or Clock End and watching him tear defences apart but, if you ever need a lesson on how to burn bridges just follow Ian Wright.

    Should of just kept your mouth shut and not get fooled into commenting about Arsenal. I honestly believe the man was manipulated without him realising due to his anger at what he was seeing and his frustration. I also believe that his heart is badly hurt because he knows beyond all reasonable doubt that a large section of Gooners dislike him.

  79. Heh at points 12 & 5.

  80. “Wenger is a genius, but this club will surive and continue to flourish when he eventally leaves”

    I’d go a step further Andy:

    Because of Wenger’s genius this club will survive and continue to flourish.

    One can only wonder where this club might be now but for Wenger.

  81. Jonny – Very true. I love the bloke. I both a manly and awe struck manner.

  82. in both

  83. Wenger's Arsenal

    If not for Wenger, we would be hovering around the relegation zones

  84. Oh dear, oh dear. I suppose that’s a hazard, Cb. Sounded like a nice idea anyway. I’ll buy you that milkshake one day… I’ll be wearing my usual white tuxedo, Rioja cummerbund combo so there’ll be no missing me at the bar.

  85. Chortle – Andy – YW will love you for your rogue italic code!

  86. Good lord, sea’s a bit choppy today! Must… grab… railing….

  87. Grab on to my arm, Jonny! Don’t be a hero!

  88. Wenger’s Arsenal – That’s horseshit. Certainly we would be a very very different Arsenal. Better or worse off, who knows. Wenger has definitely been a massive influence on the modern Arsenal but to suggest we would be a Wolves or a Sunderland is taking away from the club as a whole!

  89. Anyone want to hear a cool song to help us through this difficult time? Course you do…

  90. Those jezebels were rather captivating – almost enough to distract one from the job in hand.

    “He’s so experienced it’s unbelievable. He gives lots of advice to the young players and even to me! He’s so important to us” ‘Big Purr’ on Mikel Arteta.

  91. YW – Sorry 😦

    Don’t know what I have done. Hmmm, this seems to have co-incided with Limpars return though. 😉

  92. Big Al – generous of you to share this perspective – wonderful ideas that merit

  93. Deise – Don’t feed him mate.

  94. Seriously, it’s been the same troll for a couple of years now.

  95. Oh very clever Andy – blame Limpar! 😀

    Sir! Sir! It was him!

  96. lol. Like those cliches, Cb. That’s a good blog. Everton’s answer to ACLF.

    You can’t pin this on me, goonerandy. We’d already run aground when I came aboard. I’m just trying to calm everybody down…. DON’T PANIC!

  97. Hang on to me, Oofus. We’ll ride the storm out.

    (Poor thing’s hallucinating ‘trolls’ now such is the effect of these crashers…).

  98. F*cking ace tune Limpar. That, I like a lot. 😀

    We forgot music Thursday yesterday, so here’s a massive slice of dub to keep us on an even keel –

  99. Good job again OOU,

    I’m feeling very much like this today…

  100. Seeing as we missed yesterday and we’re getting all rub-a-dubby 3 men in a tubby…

  101. Can’t post any music from work.

    But if I could I think I may go with:

    Neil Young – The Needle and the Damage Done
    Queens of the Stone Age – Better Living Through Chemistry
    Fatso Jetson – Strangers Blues
    Bob Dylan – Masters of War.

    That would do me for now. (mainly as I am listening to the above in my office).

  102. Soul Keita is only 17? Nice work – I’ll be keeping an eye on that.

  103. Saw this guy at a night my friend put on in Exeter..

  104. Btw, the song I just posted has got to be one of the best rap songs ever made. Evergreen classic, imo. Can’t say the same for much of what one hears these days..

  105. Henristic – totally agree – hip hop did an awful job of disappearing up it’s own ass. There is some good stuff out there but the glory days have long since past.

  106. well…while we are at it, here is a surprisingly good clip that someone filmed from the gig I went to on Wednesday (and seeing them again on sunday at ATP). ONe of the best live performances i’ve ever seen, from the travelling wilbury’s ‘thinking man’s’ electronic music equivalent. Caribou Vibration Ensemble, Caribou + Band, James Holden on modular synths, Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) on Synths, Yeasayer’s drummer on drums and 3-piece brass section. hope you enjoy.

  107. Woah na naaaa. Yeah na na na Yes. Yeahaaiiii 🙂

  108. One of my fave hip hop tracks – gotta love his voice.

  109. that was awkward…should be the thinking mans electronicic music’s answer to the travelling wilburys. fuck it, awkward sentence, basically, super group.

  110. or while we are on hip hop:

  111. Three of my friends were at that gig, jabberwocky. Sounded excellent.

  112. I quite fancy Stoke to beat Spurs this weekend. Wheels are coming off that shitheap very soon.

  113. Great post OOU, very thoughtful. Your idea seems like such a no-brainer. Problem is that such a B league would probably be a money loser so the idea is probably a non-starter even though it makes perfect sense.

  114. Limpar – i was thinking that. A very tough fixture for them. Hopefully the start of a slippery slope for the lily white c*nts…

  115. Its after all the start of summer around here…

  116. Love this video:

  117. For years Arsenal fans have been told to stop moaning about their often bizarre and dire injury situation – by United fans – on the grounds that ‘the table doesn’t lie’, and that ‘it’s a squad competition’.

    Well, let’s see how Jonny Evans fills in for Vidic who is now out for the rest of the season.

    *cough* Europa.

  118. Great track, brilliant video… must have taken a few attempts!

  119. Anyone seen this?

  120. First Maria comes back then joy of joy Limpar returns. Life is good!!! Now if someone could only coax OleGunner out of retirement then all would be complete.

    Thanks for the comment at 10:33 last night Yogi. Best blog in all of the Arsenal blogosphere by a country mile.

  121. Hope this is not too late, but the video on my 1.58 pm post contains some nudity, so take note those viewing from work.
    Its not crazy obscene stuff, but yeah

  122. Hey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! limpar!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Glad u are back, you were missed.

    I think i like the idea of the reserves mirroring the first team and thus the fans get to watch 2 games for the price of one, it will do them much good to play before serious match day audiences

  123. Well, after your advert, I watched it henristic.

    Bloody awful!

    You sold me a pup.

  124. Actually, Limpar has got history with this sort of thing.

    Didn’t he break the site once when Yogi was away?

  125. Limpar comes back, Maria disappears = conspiracy theory.

    And he puts us all in italics and f**ks up my log in details and screws up the Eurozone negaotiations.


  126. Slanter… sorry, slander. Defamation. Outrage.

  127. And causes typos **negotiations

  128. GA

    If the name wasn’t already taken, you’d have been named Muppet Gooner ;-(

  129. Hold on, the ship’s righted itself.

  130. What-o, Yogles.

  131. I feel as though we have shut the door on a very strong wind, which for a time threatened to carry us all off and into which we had to lean very firmly as we walked into it.

  132. Limestonegunner

    OoU, excellent and thoughtful post. There is potential in the idea. I’ve floated on here the idea of Arsenal buying a small club in a place like Belgium or Spain to use as a developmental club where young players 16-22 can play together, in response to the same advantage that Barca/Real have in fielding B teams in their lower leagues as well as the issues we have in getting work permits for our young foreign players. Yours is probably a better notion since they would train at Colney and be more fully part of our set up. However, this requires collaboration and cooperation with other clubs and the gap between Arsenal and others in terms of vision is pretty large. In this other option, if it is legal somehow, we only need take the initiative ourselves.

  133. Bob – Exactly. Limpar broke it, this is beyond doubt or debate.

  134. Limestonegunner

    Welcome back, Limpar. You’ve certainly been missed!

  135. YW – Sorry mate 🙂

  136. Righty, Xmas function tonight so I am home home. Champagne breakfast to look forward to as well if we can make it that far.


  137. Interesting article. There are some things to consider though.

    Its a big statement to say that at least 3 of the starting 11 barca players against BATE will become World Class. At that age some are fully developed and can only learn a few more things, while others are “late bloomers”. You could be right, but the chance you could be wrong is equally as big.
    Most clubs only count on 1 or 2 youth players of each year will make the first team and of those 1 every 5 years will become more than a reagular first team player.
    Comparing Arsenal youth developement to the likes of Ajax and Barcelona is a bit unfalr, cause these clubs has been at it alot longer than Arsenal. Despite of that Arsenal has allways turned out good players from the youth ranks. Just to mention a few: Adams, Rocky,….hmmm..dare I..Merson..:)
    The conclusion is that we might not be top two World Wide in developing youth players, but we are up there where it counts.

    On the subject of allowing B-squads in Championship; it is a double edged sword. It will help the top clubs, but the football in general will suffer. Many lower ranked clubs depend on the possibility to sell their best players to top clubs. Arsenal for example have bought 2 players from Southampton in the last 5 years; Oxe and Wallcott. Some of the money Southampton has gotten for these players, go into the first team but a chunk of it is allocated to youth developement. Some of these players wouldnt have gotten a chance at the top clubs, but in the Championship they are allowed to develope. Now you could say that if B-squads were allowed there they would be soaked up by those clubs good enough to have b-squads there, but I doubt all of them would.
    It would be alot better to find a club in for example Netherlands and make that a “farmer” club where we could put our best youngsters on grass. They would gain some good experience, they would mature quicker and they would experience another culture that would make them more complete players and thus in the end benefit our belowed club more.

  138. Good luck Andy. You can make it.

  139. @ Limestonegunner

    I dont think you are allowed to own more than 1 club, cause in the case they end up meating in europe there could be match-fixing inwolved. Wasnt mr. Abramovich forced to sell his russian club?

  140. Vidic out for the rest of the year. Will be interesting to see how they cope.

    Panic in Red Manc-ville. Fergie losing it? Just imagine what will happen if they go a year or 2 without trophies. I guess Arsenal fans are not the only fickle bunch of tossers. May be our collective fandom is not so bad after all.

  141. Ajax President has contacted UEFA, their have demanded a investigation.

    I can’t believe that one of the Zagreb defenders was pictured leaving a betting show, prior to the game.

    Zagreb coach has been sacked as well. Truly amazing.

  142. Titi along with Arsene at the unveiling of the statues.

    Why am i not there!!!!!!!!

  143. Big Al…

    well said, should have been your Phd thesis, like sid lowe…

    we can’t go on having these large squads of talented highly paid youngsters sitting around either at colney or on benches in the frozen north yearning for competitive playing time and getting little or none…makes absolutely no sense…

    a B team in a 20 club elite league would be perfect…i believe Arsene’s on record as supporting something like that…

    how do we get it done?

  144. Great post OOU – but a special YAY as Limps is back. Hey there LA nice to see you.

  145. Maria is that true?!! Wow! I hope this gets looked into as seriously as it should. All sounds incredibly fishy to me.

  146. Limestonegunner

    Ash, I don’t care whether we buy it or create a long-term understanding. The main point is that we find a club in europe that would play our way. The control is the issue. Why can’t we create a club and field our youth players and have it move up the ranks?

  147. A strong wind you say?

    Limpar me ole mucker. Did you also cause that wind turbine to spontaneously combust upon your return?

  148. Limestonegunner

    Actually, the funniest part of the Manc disaster is how many crazed United fans came onto 5live Wed. night whining and losing it. There was even a Fergie out call. I think Arsenal fans deserve a bit of credit here.

  149. I was trying to be a bit provocative with the comment about Barcelona’s youngsters, but the potential’s there for at least four, while Thiago and Cuenca are performing consistently in that first team at the moment.

    Man U had a Belgian link-up until a couple of years ago, didn’t they, ASH + LG. I just don’t know, really – I mean, it doesn’t seem fair for a club to take on batches of youngsters wholesale and then lose them if they start to get good. I guess a domestic version of that already happens in Spain as well, with all the agreements the big clubs have with lower league teams (as well as they’re own B teams). We kind of had a thing with Beveren I think…

    It’s a tough one, really. But I still believe that other clubs will be on the same wavelength as us in couple of years. 6 + 5 was dropped, but I bet they’re thinking up an alternative – and if anyone’s to take anything like that seriously they’ll start looking at how players are developed in more successful countries.

    There’ll be an inevitable impact on lower league football, but them’s the breaks, and there’s far less mobility than people think. Small clubs tend to stay small unless money is spent. (how’s that for provocative!)

  150. Limestonegunner

    I called for us to bring Bergkamp back soon, earlier this Fall when Keown went out there and interviewed him, but I didn’t think it could happen for another year or two. Hopefully, he can rejoin us soon.

  151. For those going to the game tomorrow get there early. Program starts at 1:30pm.

  152. Will have to have a listen later as i’m at work at the mo, but thanks Maria, will check that out for sure. I assume they discuss this whole controversy? (As well as that exciting rumour about the footballing God of course).

  153. Limestonegunner

    Manc torched Roma a few years ago by 6 goals. Sometimes results like this happen, but it is certainly worth investigating. But Ajax turmoil leads to our advantages–Bergkamp back and Vertonghen anyone?!

  154. OOU,

    Yeah I think they have to be playing when 17-21.
    I’m happy to see Kyle and Henri out on loan even though I’m sure many would like to see Kyle competing with Iggy for that 4th CB position. If they don’t make it at The Arsenal, they’ll still have been allowed to develop.

  155. Someone who did sensible rap music. Heavy D was the truth.

  156. LG – it sounds like there’s been some shenanigans with the Ajax team and it’s coaching/management, with DB10 actually swearing in an interview when discussing the issues. I posted an article about it on here recently but can;’t remember where it came from.. sorry. Something to do with Cruyff and other current staff members thinking Bergkamp and De Boeur (sp?) were here to take their jobs or something… Sorry a bit vague! But it seemed all is not well there, so maybe he will return sooner than originally thought..?

    Good post OOU. Well said. I think you’re right about Beveren, were they our feeder club for a while?

  157. Limestonegunner

    Excellent link to the interview, Maria. Thanks! Sounds, Geo, like Cruyff’s ally is Bergkamp who was brought in along with others to help the youth development system. Obviously there is some kind of civil war going on the last two years (or more) at Ajax. I am sure it is complicated, but I am for anything that helps Bergkamp’s managerial development and return in some capacity to Arsenal.

    The Dutch football expert in that itnerview, as Maria mentioned, thinks that if Cruyff wins his case Bergkamp stays at Ajax for a while with even greater responsibility and if Cruyff loses then Bergkamp who is party to his suit will have to leave. Either way, Van der Kraan says it helps Arsenal because they are convinced eventually he is coming back. Nice!

  158. Hmmm, interesting stuff, thanks LG. I’m looking forward to hearing that interview later…

    I agree, either way if it means the return of the king sooner than expected, bring it on. Can we throw some kind of spanner in the works at Ajax to help speed up the process?!

  159. Limestonegunner

    HaHa, Geo! Maybe we can–quickly commission a statue to be unveiled tomorrow of Bergkamp!

  160. Insightful post Big AL.

  161. After watching his 120 goals for the club earlier, it struck me that about only 5-10 of them were from deflections or rebounds, the rest were pure class, with a nice array of perfectly placed top or bottom corner efforts, some absolutely smashed into the corners, some amazing runs, some of the best first touches of all time, some nifty headers (!), some great volleys, some incredibly composed bottom corner slots, but my favourites are the chips. So many beautiful moments from a beautiful footballer. I’d like to see a compilation of all his assists too, not many could cut through an entire team like he could with either one touch or one pass. I love Dennis Bergkamp. To come back with any hat on would really complete Arsenal for me.

  162. Haha LG! Good shout, hopefully the board are reading this… 🙂

  163. THAT Thierry Henry goal. THAT Thierry Henry celebration. Immortalised.

  164. Anyway, off now have a good weekend all.

    Arsenal to win 3-0.


  165. Henry’s sta

    tue is of him celebrating after scoring against Spuds, The one were he runs the length of the pitch.

    Adam’s is his celebration when he scored the goal against Everton. Last home game when we won the league 98.


    Btw Titi broke down during his thank speech. I cried reading that. His daugther and mother are there with him.

  166. Goonerton: “I also thought the kids looked very good but, any body who plays on any level can tell you that no matter how a good the outfield is, if you have a shit keeper (or two shit keepers) between the sticks it doesn’t matter how good you are panic will spread throughout.”

    I don’t want you to feel like you’re not part of the family so I’ll tell you this with as much love as possible. You’re full of shit. Our goalkeepers were fine in that game. What gave us grief was our midfield not being able to string two passes together and our back four being put under constant pressure. Fabianski is not shit nor is Mannone.

  167. Great post OOU, food for thought. Blog posts should be thought provoking rather than just plain vanilla reporting and you nailed it.

    LA, still loving your avatar. Taking the kids to see “The Adventures of Tintin” in the theatre as soon as it opens here in the US (Dec 23’rd I think). It’s in 3D, which should be neat, but I don’t fancy how bulbous the Thom/pson twins will be in that mode of projection. I’m also curious about the storyline as the previews make it look like a combo of Secret of the Unicorn/Red Rackham’s Treasure and The Crab with the Golden Claws.

  168. this is a good topic..
    its bang on the money, the youth (reserve) fixtures do need revamping but theres too many variables what makes it likely to happen in this country..

    i im not too sure off the top of my head how many leagues thers are in other countries such as spain, maybe theres two or three at the most but over here weve got a 4 tier system and then the conference so the amount of clubs that are in professional football is quite vast..i think there would be little room to fit the PL ‘B’ teams into the lower leagues it would be unfair to the other clubs to say ‘sorry, youve worked hard this year and done brilliantly to get promoted but your staying where you are cos the top clubs ‘B’ teams are taking your place’…

    the way to do it would be to invest in the youth and reserve leagues and make them more competitve..increasing the number of games and making them more regular,,but again the problem would be that not every PL team has alot of money..they struggle to get a PL squad together best of times so the amount of teams who could compete in it would be minimal..abit like it is now..

    academies are the future..all the best players have to come from somewhere and it makes you proud as an arsenal fan that we have one of the best set ups there is..but with all the money thats flying around these days and with clubs like city and chelsea the academies are being neglected and and the FA contradict themselves on this cos they complain that england isnt producing the talent other countries are, yet they let teams like city spend 500mil buying a whole new team..

    its little coincidence that germany has been promoted as a self funding league for a while now and alot of focus has been put into their academies…germany now has one of the biggest pools of youth talent around, theyve got some of the best players coming through..its not just spain..the dutch set up is good as well..although they get poached early..germans and spaniards seem to stay where they are.

    we are so far behind and it wont change until the ppl who run it change..but whilest money makes the pl world turn round its unlikely they ever will..

  169. What Titi said “I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would have a statue like this in front of the stadium of the team I love and support,”

    “The way the statue is gives the perfect example of the love I have for the club – me kneeling facing the Emirates Stadium and Highbury behind is amazing.

    “I also have to thank the fans, you have always been special, and I always try to give my best, I know times it was not enough, but I always give it all out there on the field for you guys and the club.

    “It is kind of weird to think of the amount of great players who have played for Arsenal, and for me to be right here, I have to say thanks to all of them, because I would not be able to be right there kneeling in front of this stadium, without them.

    “Also, I must give a special thanks to my close friends…..”

    After taking a few moments to compose himself, Henry added: “I know some of the press used to kill me for not showing emotion – well, there you go, I am showing emotion for the club I love.

    “Whatever I do, I do it with my heart, that is the way I am.

    “It was not always easy to cope with the pressure of delivering, but from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank Arsenal Football Club for giving me this opportunity to be here in front of this club I love – once a Gooner, always a Gooner.

    “Thank you from the bottom of my heart, but I played with some great players too and it would not have been possible without them.”

  170. Vidic out for the season? I knew it. When your leg is in an awkward angle and someone falls on it, you’re done. Evans, Jones and Smalling it is then if old Rio has an injury flare up. No more dodgy 1-0s for them.

  171. Limestonegunner

    Thanks for the report on the unveiling Maria. Wish Arsenal Player will put up some footage of the unveiling and thank you speeches.

  172. Happy for Titi.
    Gutted no statue of Dennis.

    Santos “worse” than thought .Out for more than 3 weeks.Shit.

  173. gains..
    its going back to what we were saying yesterday isnt it..
    fergies problems are mounting

  174. kozzer for left back…

  175. Yeah, JJ. The Hernandez and Vidic injuries puts them in a spot of bother for the next few games. Add to that the blow they will feel from being kicked out of the CL and Manure starts looking fragile.

    I think the change in recruitment policy will go a long way toward improving our academy. There’s a lot of talent in England with the likes of Rooney, Wilshere, etc. being the most recent examples. If they can only be developed by certain clubs and are influenced by those philosophies a lot of the up and coming talent will not be developed well enough. With the new rules Wenger can spot a boy in another city with the right attributes and make him an awesome player.

    The reason why Barcelona has such good academy players is because they can recruit players anywhere in Spain. And being that they’re a massive club they’ll attract the best of the best based on that alone. I’m not a big fan of the B teams. B teams encourage the warehousing of players and it stiffles lower league teams and their ability to turn a profit for unearthing their own starlets. The lower league system in Spain is in the dark ages. I wouldn’t want that to happen in England.

  176. its not so much of a problem when your fb’s are out…
    you can cover the positions with your centre backs..

    its less free flowing but remains solid as a defensive unit..and with our first choice front 6 playing the goals will still come..

    the problems come when you have all your cb’s out..we should be ok just as long as our fb curse dont continue and our cb’s get crocked playing fucking fb..

  177. Good stuff JJ.

    G69, interesting comments, the last paragraph really shines a light on the whole issue. Football on a whole should prosper (even lower level teams) and not just one or two teams.

  178. Bate Borisov were eliminated so they were probably resting players for the week-end fixture as well. Olympiakos was still in the competition and fielded a senior side. The comparisons are a bit lopsided if you ask me.

    Barcelona’s B team got demolished by a very young Chivas of Mexico in Miami in the pre-season. That was the match I decided not to go to, if any of you remember me talking about that. Also, some of Barcelona’s youth were involved in an under 20 tournament, the one where Ignasi was playing at CB, recently and got knocked out. I wouldn’t go celebrating them that much without first seeing who it was they played against or what the circumstances were. As far as big names coming out of their academy, they’ve got Thiago Alcantara, Bartra and that’s about it. Cuenca is a player I always hear about, but I’ve never seen him play. Somehow I doubt that they’re much better than Wilshere, Frimpong, Coquelin and various other yoots from our academy.

  179. Ahh Goonerton – you feeling ‘the love’ there dude? Lol.

    Enjoy the game tomorrow everybody.

    BOOBS! (Just fer Irish!)

  180. “B teams encourage the warehousing of players and it stiffles lower league teams and their ability to turn a profit for unearthing their own starlets”

    Not if its a total restructure to a ‘B’ team league system from top to bottom. A mirror of the entire league structure but with the reserves/under18/16 players being the selection pool.

    4 centrehalves would on paper be a more defensive/solid unit – once the centrebacks playing at full back are aware of the proper positioning – Djourou was cought out of position far too often against the greeks

  181. Flip the switch, think i agree wit u G69.
    Inequality reigns supreme in Espana…
    El Classico my arse!!!!!
    2 teams who btw them divy up 60% of the (fruit) cake????
    Where’s the fairplay??
    Where’s the LEAGUE even????
    F**k ’em both.

    I’m normally not into statues & stoney reincarnations but I am digging Titi’s statue…immortalized forever, our TH14.

    “see what you get when you don’t hold your tongue, remain loyal or maintain some modicum of gooner class WRIGHTY?”
    U sucker-for-a-quick buck twat!
    Maybe they’ll name the official chewing gum after you.

  182. i agree..
    b teams just monopolise the leagues in favour of the best teams..

  183. Paul, money doesn’t trickle down to the lower leagues in Spain nor does it to the lower table sides either. Real Madrid and Barcelona have a virtual monopoly on tv rights and that’s why their league is a two horse race every season. This is yet another factor for why Barcelona’s academy is so massive. Real Madrid has a very good academy, but their players never see the light of day because of the Galacticos policy. That’s why you never see a Real Madrid youth side on par with Barcelona’s. Their youth are scattered all around the league and don’t have the continuity of playing the same style that La Macia and Barcelona B offers.

  184. a mirror image reserve set up would be the way to do it DG and its essentially what weve got now but its like i said before only the clubs with the best academies or the clubs who buy all their players would have the players do compete in it so its not competitive at all..

    alot of teams dont have the money to put a pl squad together so to get them to field a b team would be a big certain cases their A team is their B team..

    academies have to be promoted scouting networks need to be expanded money needs to be invested in youth and not extortionate wages, agents..etc..

    germanys got it sussed..arsenal have it sussed..the fa havent got a fucking clue..

  185. The minor spat over the ‘purpose’ of ACLF yesterday was interesting. I mildly disagree with YW. The character of a blog, by definition, ultimately “belongs” to its inhabitants. The accomplishment of ACLF over the years has been to bring together individuals of character, wide knowledge, diverse background and strong opinion. From that premise surely there will be robust and hearty debate, and a lot of excellent jokes (and music). Long may this continue, because it says more about Arsenal character than some of the actual content. Secondly, at its best – it has been about more than football, a lot more, a universe more even, because football is about more than football. Thirdly, it has often been about good writing, and articulate argument.

    It is an extraordinary thing to say in a football blog, amongst many other things, I have learned about and sometimes discussed Russian and other writers, Iran, spanish history, racism, sociology, some Italian classics, African football, the role of police, the situation in Pakistan, the nobel peace prize, corporate greed, gladiators, a little Greek mythology, a lot of music, US sports, cricket, Japanese names, Swazi festivals, Malcolm X, Bob Marley, bits of London life, good food and recipes, English seasons, Stoke, CBob’s rural life and beer.

    Well done YW is all I can say. Well done.

  186. Barcelona and Real Madrid are monopolies. That’s why everyone else in Spain is in financial trouble. Want to fuck up the English league sharpish? Give a monoploy to the top four. The only trouble I see on the horizon for this recruitment change are clubs like Chelsea and Oil city scooping up the best young players only to pass them up for big name signings. As long as the English FA sets a policy that discourages the warehousing of players English football will thrive under this new set of rules.

  187. For reasons too embarrassing to go in to, I doubt I’ve missed more than ten Barcelona matches over the last year or so, G69. That covers games like Chivas, which wasn’t that young a Barcelona side – it just came at the very end of a money-spinning tour I think. I can certainly vouch for the current crop, and don’t think I’m given to hyperbole when it comes to other teams’ players.

  188. Oh and somebody’s eight wives, or was it seven and going for # eight.

    Anyways, there is so much mediocrity in this world and ACLF represents something different, something also aspired to by Arsenal, and that’s just fine with me. Hence my real reference to “in the trenches”, if you can follow that piece of logic. Have a wondrous weekend everybody.

  189. This was a good article OOU.
    Much better than the drivel you churned out last week 🙂

  190. Limestonegunner

    I remember some of those excellent conversations on such topics, ZP. The subject came up, though, because of some less edifying or articulate behaviour. We can all agree, however, to congratulate YW on his creation and the effort involved in creating the content and forum we so enjoy. Cheers, YW, as we celebrate 125th anniversary of Arsenal, we also celebrate ACLF.

  191. BATE did field a first team though – there couldn’t have been more than one or two changes from the September match.

    I accepted that the scenarios this week were different. I don’t usually get up tight about these posts but it was qualified in the third paragraph.

    But that said, there’s something special happening at Joan Gamper at the moment, and it isn’t all down to the hegemony Barcelona enjoys over a whole autonomous community. There are surely things that can be learned, and changes that can be made to the English system that wouldn’t cause undue har,

    And no, I doubt any of the youngsters coming through are up to Jack Wilshere’s standard, but who in the world is, barring a couple of those Brazilinan kids?

  192. sorry – “undue harm to the lower leagues”

  193. it would also help if the media would focus more attention on youth set ups..

    for example if sky sponsered the youth cup/league and bought the rights to the games and showed them regular, offered a bit of prize money then clubs would have extra revenue and incentive to participate properly..

    it wouldnt make much difference to us as a club financially but im sure it will help clubs like everton..but the gametime would help everyone..

    we’d also see the best kids on show..they do stuff like this for the u21 internationals so why not pay more attention to the u21 at club level…

    an fa u21 league would be a good way forward and the exposure would help devoplment..

  194. just watched henrys speech

    what you doing in america??? come home titi…

  195. Titi is such a beautiful man. ‘le sigh*

  196. Have we really put up a statue of Henry??? Really.

  197. I’m still bitter at the way he dumped us for them barca shlags. a fukin statue!! pah.

  198. Yes Duke and in preference to Dennis

  199. OOU I agree with most of your arguments regarding a robust system for youth development and a competitive league. But we were playing in a couldren away from home and they were in front of their own fans which gives an extra incentive. Their quality and potential cannot be denied. But in terms of lagging behind Barca honestly though its like looking for the holy grail. At one point it was the freedom of expression of Brazil, then it was the dutch total football, then it was italian cattenaccio. When the skills of Ronaldinho n Brazil were the talk of the town it was futsal. Barca pop up then its tiki taka. Basicaly it swings in roundabouts. And if Arsenal dominate football by purporting their own brand of swift counter attack football then that will be the next best thing. So let Barca do Barca and Arsenal do Arsenal. Kudos to TH14. A statue commerating his goal against spurs…how Arsenal.

  200. Dennis was our pioneer wasnt he, yes would have been more fitting for him to be statued.

  201. Hi G4L, actually I agree with you on their style. The sycophancy towards that is unbearable at times. I suppose I’ll favour it when they come up against a really negative team, but I can actually give or take the way they play. Long periods of their matches can be as boring as football gets – no joke.

    No really, I was just thinking about the quality of the players they still bring though – even applying a 90-minute rule to them, it’s still impressive.

  202. through not though

  203. yeah duke the way he he left was a bitter pill and dennis was my all time legend…

    denis was a record fee big name signing..changed the aura of the club, put us back on track and helped us delevop our style..stayed right untl the end..i reckon one of them should have been denis..

    im not begrudging titi of his achievements though..

  204. was there anything significant about the number 3? maybe 3 different generations or what? manager, defender, striker? then DB10 would surely have fitted in to rep the midfield. Wish they had seen it like that and made it 4!

  205. and where is the titi interview?

  206. JonJon didn’t you know???? Henry is bringing “soccer” to the American public =)

    @Geo- Love Flight of the Conchords. So much that i will post another video clip.

  207. Cbob,
    Nothing like the promise of nudity to get you clicking eh, you old perv you 🙂

    I wasn’t trying to sell the song though, I don’t even like it much, but it described my day rather well. Summer, wine, contentment….

  208. ZimPaul “Good food and recipes”
    Recognition for Essex pasties at last.

  209. Limestonegunner

    Yeah, JJ, where is the Henry speech video posted?

  210. Come on now, Henry is well deserving. The man is regarded by many as the best the PL has ever seen. I was upset he left but it did seem that there was more to it than wanting out.

    I am understand why many would want DB to be one of the 3 but I dont think we have to put Henry down to make that point, do we?

    I am with TS, 4 statues seems right.

  211. Limestonegunner

    I have to say that Dennis certainly deserved a statue. Chapman has a bust already–name a stand for him. Dennis Bergkamp would have been my pick.

    But still, tremendous day and wonderful that we are honouring great legends of the club.

  212. pedantic george | December 9, 2011 at 4:48 pm
    Happy for Titi.
    Gutted no statue of Dennis.

    Not sure who you mean Paul.
    Duke does have a point .And didn’t exactly put him down either.

  213. well im miffed… henry let us down i dont give a shit what anyone says, yes he is an arsenal lagend but so is Ian wright. and Wrighty didnt want to leave us. maybe coz Henry is still so pro wenger and the current regime. and wrighty isnt.

  214. YW – Udinese already has the appropriate plan in place – they loan all their players to Granada.

    What Arsenal need to do is find a team in another league to partner with, subsidize them to build appropriate facilities for training, an loan all Arsenal youth there so they can play together, train together in acceptable conditions, and generally develop.

    Seems like a much more doable plan than trying to change the reserve team structure.

  215. I should have addressed my previous comment to the actual author – sorry Big Al.

  216. Duke ,or maybe because Wrighty is a gobby bitter jumped up little thug.
    It is entirely possible to be a legendary player and yet be a very ordinary man

  217. So Henry should never have a statue or he shouldnt have had one before Henry.

    Duke, I made my comment but I was not looking for an argument my friend, I was not trying to be offensive at all.

    The people at the club felt he was the right man to get one now. I dare say that the decision was made after much thougt and discussion.

    I am finished.

  218. before Bergkamp, that is.

  219. Bergkamp should have been 1st on any list of players.
    As Block4 says ,”everyone is entitled to an opinion,but if they think Bergkamp is not the best they are a moron”.

  220. It makes you wonder how they got it so blasted wrong. Arsenal is obviously a club ran by a bunch of morons.

  221. Seems so in this instance.

  222. More importantly, the statue of Henry is wicked and I am glad that he got one. I hope Bergkamp gets one in the near future, he does deserve it.

  223. You can watch the vids of the ceremony on the Arsenal site.

  224. One of Us, they fielded a team full of youths in the second half of that Chivas friendly.

    “If the situation in this country remains the same I can promise two things: Firstly, Arsenal will never be able to field a side of youngsters in a Champions League game and expect to win. And also, we’ll never have a batch of young talents that matches any that Barcelona has produced in recent years, even with scouting rules soon being loosened in England.”

    We may have never played a Carling Cup side in the CL, but we’ve played and beaten CL sides with the youngest team ever countless times. In fact we beat Barcelona with a nineteen year old in the heart of our midfield and a twenty year old goalkeeper last season. If you compare the average age of that squad I think you’d find that our youths have nothing to envy the petite Catalans.

  225. That they have not built a statue for Bergkamp, could mean that he has a future in this club. Did they make one for AW?They might do so eventually…Doesn’t matter which order they are made…

  226. good point.

  227. I think Yogi Warrior deserves a statue as much as anyone else for his years of relentless(through thick and thin) support for the club. Perhaps a virtual trophy outside the blogsphere, maybe on would do for now.

  228. Very interesting points made in your article OOU. Food for thought as they say. Unlike MDGunner’s pastys, which are not food at all. I do hear they make great door stoppers though! And I see Limpar has returned unscathed by the Heathens, welcome back sir! 🙂

    And to all our friends in Manchester, thank you for providing us with some entertainment on normally dull and cold and wet Thursday evenings. Very kind of you 🙂

    Now will someone please pop into the Bailey and snap a photo of these ‘Jezebels’ I keep hearing about!!


    Today’s post is up but don’t bother trying to be first, Big Brovar’s already taken that slot.

  230. Irish

    I’ll see what I can do about that photo for you today…

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