Wenger now the toast of England by CR
Less than a decade ago Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger fielded a squad that did not contain an English player, yet now, his team is full of promising players that are eligible to play in current England boss Roy Hodgson’s side.
Wenger was criticised for the team he selected for that 5-1 win against Crystal Palace in February 2005, although it has to be said that it was something of an aberration as Ashley Cole was ill, Sol Campbell and Justin Hoyte were injured, and Jermaine Pennant was on loan at Birmingham City.
At the time Wenger said he was not even aware there were no English stars in his squad insisting he picked his side on their quality and attitude and not because of their passports.
The 16-man squad against Palace featured six Frenchmen, three Spaniards, two Dutchmen, one German, one Brazilian, one Swiss star, one Ivory Coast international and one Cameroon international – but that is in sharp contrast to the players Wenger currently has at his disposal.
Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Calum Chambers all started the recent north London derby against Tottenham, while Welsh star Aaron Ramsey also featured before picking up an injury, thus joining England regular Theo Walcott, who remains side-lined.
It is quite a transformation for the Gunners with now roughly half of their regular first-team starters from the UK, and does make you wonder whether Wenger had a change of policy after he was slammed for that team selection against Palace.
The England team is arguably weaker than it was a decade ago, but maybe Wenger’s policy of buying promising youngsters – usually from Southampton where Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chambers and Walcott all flourished before moving to the Emirates Stadium – is starting to bear fruit.
Wenger has also paid big money for Danny Welbeck recently, who, according to bluesq.com, has all the potential to become an integral member of both the Gunners squad and the England international setup.
Arsenal’s squad now regularly has more English players in it than the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Everton and Manchester City, and long may that situation continue.