For many years in the latter part of Arsene Wenger’s reign as manager of Arsenal, there was a mismatch of players at the club. It was either there too many average players or too many young players. This trend ensured that the North London outfit struggled to compete for the title, as the players available didn’t have the talent, quality and winning mentality on a large scale to see the team over the line.
After Arsenal lost the Champions League Final in 2006, which represented the end of that glorious team of the Invincibles, Arsene Wenger changed the playing philosophy and personnel. He turned to playing young players, but at that time those players matured enough to lead the team to titles, they were sold for a profit. It is not surprising and coincidental that when Arsenal started spending money to buy top quality players, and it ended in ending their trophy drought in 2014 with FA Cup triumph. The building of the Emirates Stadium meant that Wenger didn’t have the funds available to compete with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and latterly, Manchester City.
It’s been 15 years now since Arsenal last won the title, a damning verdict for a team of its stature. Unai Emery has identified major problems and has addressed the issue in the transfer window. He has signed players that will improve the first team, add quality, infuse leadership and most importantly trophy-winning experience. His acquisitions have added balance to the team that needed these personalities after a few years of obscurity.
In the latter stages of the Wenger era, the players just drifted through matches; they were not held accountable for bad results, didn’t have the mental strength needed to win the major trophies and didn’t have a manager that could push them to new levels of play they never thought possible. There are so many young players that need experienced players to guide them. The likes of Cech, Lichtsteiner, Koscielny, Papastathopoulos and Monreal are players that have seen it and done that.
A team needs these blend of old and young players to lead the team to new heights: these old players have one final swansong in their careers while the young ones have the needed experience to become established players. It establishes a cycle of winning at the club. It is what the big teams do to continue winning and challenging for trophies.
The start of the new campaign saw the Gunners take on Manchester City and even though the result was hard to take, the like of Matteo Guendouzi impressed, as we also saw debuts for Sokratis Papathathopoulos, Stephan Lichtsteiner and maverick, Lucas Torreira. A perfect blend of youth and experience to add to a vastly talented squad.
Guest post by Live Arsenal, an Arsenal dedicated website that gives you update about latest news coming from The Emirates Stadium.
Following his £16m move from Manchester United to the Emirates Stadium in the summer of 2014, the Englishman may have played just enough to justify his paltry price tag, especially considering the inflation of market price in recent years. However, everyone can agree that he hasn’t lived up to his potentials, and for a player who is approaching 28, it may be just the right time for Arsenal to sell and both parties can move on.
According to Goal, Danny Welbeck would be leaving the Gunners together with a star teammate as Unai Emery looks to build a stronger team than the one he inherited from Arsene Wenger. Consequently, West Ham and Everton have been backed as the most likely destinations of the 27 year old. Crystal Palace have also been backed by bookmakers, such as betting top 10, as a possible destination.
Danny Welbeck started his career at Manchester United amidst lots of pundit acclaims which virtually all English prospects have become accustomed to. He has the pace, and could play as a lone striker or on either flanks. He was meant to command his place in the English national team, and he did.
However, as football fans all over the world get accustomed to English talents failing to live up to their gifts, Welbeck has come into that category. Similar to the case of his countryman Wilshere, injuries have not been favourable, and the forward has had to fight several injuries in all of his seasons at the Emirates.
The presence of Unai Emery at Arsenal, as reported by The Sun, could be the catalyst needed to offload the Manchester-born forward. If anything, the Spanish tactician has shown in his early days in London that he isn’t scared of letting go of established players as evident in the exodus of Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere.
More importantly, Welbeck’s place in this Arsenal squad is not assured. Upfront, he has to contend with Gabonese player Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and French forward Lacazette. On the flanks, he has Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to compete with.
The former United forward played a total of 41 games for Arsenal in the 2017/18 season, scoring nine goals which is a below par return. While the total number of games played for the Gunners might seem incredible, he played 28 times in the Premier League, with 16 of those as a substitute. His number of games in the Europa League (10) was as a result of Lacazette’s injury and Aubameyang’s inability to play for a second team in the competition.
With the Gunners looking to fight City and others for the top place this season, they need to get rid of players that are not actively pushing them toward their grand goal, and Welbeck needs to create that extra space for one more top notch summer signing.
It has been confirmed that Arsenal youngster, Kelechi Nwakali, has joined FC Porto on a one season long, and it’s believed that a clause exists for the Portuguese team to buy the lad out rightly if he impresses in Estadio Dragao. With the likes of club captain, Hector Herrera, Danilo Pereira, Paulinho and Otavio in central midfield, Nwakali will have his work cut out for him and as a fellow Nigerian, I’m hopeful that he would be given a chance to show what he’s made of.
Nwakali came into the limelight following his outstanding performances in the 2015 U-17 World Cup in Chile, scoring three goals and winning the Golden Ball as Nigeria claimed its fifth title at this level. This was followed with a move to Arsenal in 2016 but as expected, Nwakali has been shipped out on loan for the past three seasons, with two spells in MVV Maastricht and a stint at VVV Venlo. Following his return from his last campaign on loan, Nwakali has been shipped to Porto and I hear that a buy out clause exists this time, which essentially means that he could potentially have a future outside the Emirates despite not kicking the ball for the team.
He’s not alone in this category, as there have been a host of youngsters with questionable futures at the club. Pictures of the players doing their thing in Singapore are all over the internet but there have been some high-profile omissions which include Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Carl Jenkinson, Chuba Akpom and Krystian Bielik. These guys are more or less living on borrowed time. The Jeff didn’t light any fireworks in Angers, Jenkinson had a good double spell at West Ham but injury hampered his progress in Birmigham, while Akpom has featured in six different clubs on loan and is on the verge of joining Saint Trudien on a permanent basis.
This summer has already seen highly-rated youngsters in the forms of Vlad Dragomir and Yassin Fortune leave the club for pastures anew. Takumo Asano has been shipped to Hannover 96 in Germany and I’m pretty sure he would follow the routes of former Asians like Junichi Inamoto and Park Chu-Young out of the Emirates when his contract is up.
It’s not like the club doesn’t support youth development as we still have the likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Rob Holding, Kostantinos Mavropanos and new recruit, Matteo Guendouzi plying their trade with the first team and are currently in the Far East. It’s just that football is such an unforgiving sport with the likes of Jack Wilshere – a Gunner through and through moving to West Ham after the gaffer told him that he couldn’t secure first team football for him.
With Per Mertesacker taking the Head of Youth Academy role this season, the onus will be on him to find the NextGen of Arsenal youngsters that could make a claim for first team action.
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