Posted on September 19, 2017 by ADMIN

Is Arsenal’s academy simply not working any more?

Sunday presented a slight shift in Arsenal’s poor start to the season. Wenger’s men produced a stalemate at the Bridge against Conte’s rampant Chelsea. This is the first time that the Blues have failed to score at home since the Italian took charge. But should this performance and result be allowed to mask the underlying problems surrounding the Gunners?

The game against Chelsea posed a significant switch from the outdated, predictable tactics that Arsenal typically resort to against the big sides which has often been one of many complaints that Gunners fans have held over Wenger. For the most part, Arsenal have been short of flair and innovation against top sides which predates this season.

For the first time in 20 years, Arsenal failed to secure Champions League football and underperformed with a dire fifth place finish last season. Fingers have been pointed at Wenger whose position has been perceived as untenable for a number of years now but this hasn’t forced the Frenchman out of the driving seat. Others have held the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil responsible who surprisingly remain at the club despite disputes over contracts and transfers.

What is more interesting is how Arsenal’s academy system seems to be deemed unaccountable. But could there be a more telling solution to Arsenal’s problems than first considered?

You only have to look as far as the world’s best teams to understand the importance of an academy. Take Barcelona for example. The most widely recognised team whose system works in cooperation with La Masia to produce some of the most technically gifted players the world has seen. Previous graduates have included Carlos Puyol, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Pepe Reina, Rafinha, Sergi Roberto and most importantly, Lionel Messi.

You’ll notice a lot of the names on that list and realise that all have featured heavily during Barcelona’s glory years. There’s no coincidence between the two. They integrate youth exceptionally well which is an approach that Real Madrid have tried to replicate also. Lucas Vazquez, Dani Carvajal, Marcos Llorente and Nacho are all part of Real Madrid’s senior squad. And while only one of those four may be a permanent fixture, the others are more than capable in their respective areas of the field and provide the Spanish side with an incredible amount of depth.

This is sadly a depth and outlet that Arsenal possess. Last season, Arsenal topped the list of clubs to give youngsters the most game time. Only Manchester United fielded more academy players than Arsenal. With the Gunners lowest finish on record under Arsene Wenger, it’s difficult to see beyond this current problem.

If we look as recently as Sunday against Chelsea, Alex Iwobi earned himself a start at Stamford Bridge. And while it was a reasonably disciplined performance from him, Wenger seems to have employed a rotation system which will likely see Iwobi absent for the next game. Bellerin has become a mainstay in this team and is a reliable full-back for the club, offering a professional performance on Sunday. Beyond that, Maitland-Niles was the only available youth graduate who never made an appearance from the bench.

You can turn the attention to Chelsea and wag your finger accusatorily at their lack of youth implementation but the two don’t quite compare. Arsene Wenger has been at Arsenal since 1996 and has utilised this previously so what seems to be the problem?

Well, notable examples of youth prospects that have failed to breakthrough into the first team picture properly have included Serge Gnabry, Kieran Gibbs, Emmanuel Frimpong, Nicklas Bendtner, Wojciech Szczesny and Hal Robson-Kanu. It’s not unheard of that youth players either aren’t good enough and are sold on or decide to move away to forge a new path for themselves but Arsenal’s list seems to only fall short of Manchester United’s who have arguably the strongest and most prominent academy in the country.

Coquelin, Iwobi and Akpom have enjoyed several chances in the first team but these have often been thwarted, leaving them on the fringes. Cesc Fabregas had plied his trade for Arsenal after being promoted from the youth system but left the club for Barcelona before returning to the Premier League via Chelsea. There’s also a distinct lack of goalkeeper activity through the youth ranks, also.

If you focus your efforts towards what the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool are both doing, you’ll notice the balance that both have managed to achieve. There’s a strong list of players gaining first team football via league and cup competitions as well as a list of loans that will prepare the next wave of talent to breakthrough in years to come.

And while it’s a familiar sight in relation to Klopp, Mourinho was notorious for his lack of activity in this department when managing Chelsea. So, if Mourinho can develop his approach, what does that say? Is this further proof of Wenger being out of touch? Or is it highlighting the quality of the academy at Arsenal?

A guest Post by Jon from missingstudsfootball

16 thoughts on “Is Arsenal’s academy simply not working any more?

  1. Nothing changed

    You forgot to add Sesc to the list of Barcelona academy products.

    Personally, I think our academy is crucial since we are clearly not prepared to buy our way back to the top. This means our academy becomes crucial.

    We always seem to have a number of promising players but we seem to fail to bring them through.

    If we don’t start to bring through some more talent with regularity we will be in big trouble.

    I am keeping my fingers crossed that we manager Nelson properly since I have no doubt he has what it takes if he doesn’t come through it is not because of him IMO.

      1. Nothing changed

        Gnarby still hurts me. He should be in our first team by now but somehow we could not convince him it was best for his career to bet on Arsenal. becoming all too familiar.

  2. Declan

    Gibbs, Szcz and Bendt had loads of game time and two of those were not actual products of the academy system. Similarly Fab, he was bought over from Barca at 16 and played in the first team at 16. Robson Kanu left Arsenal nearly 14 years ago! Iwobi has come through successfully and Chuba, Jeff, Ainsley and of course Reiss are getting their chances.
    Can’t see the point of yet another dig at the club by a supposed Arsenal supporter.

    1. McLovin

      100% agree.

      I think it’s ludicrous to compare us to Barcelona’s world class academy. It’s kinda like comparing ourselves with Real Madrid in terms of CL success. We are just not on the same level.

      If anything we should be following the Dortmund model. Jadon Sancho, Dembele, Emre Mor (didn’t workout but they still made a profit on him)..

      Right now we put too much trust on players. OX was useless for 7 years and jumped the ship at first chance, and now look at him! Abou Diaby was here for 3-4 seasons too long and after leaving us, he has played less than 5 matches in 3 years!

      Arteta, Flamini… with all of them we played charity ball.

  3. Arseneout

    i want to highlight on wenger.
    yes we put one decent perform against chelsea. but we are arsenal for god sake we should always go for win even if its good point but i see u fans accept this average so we are celebrating one pt. we should win any place against ane team cause we are the mighty gunners but wenger has accpted the average performance. i will judge him at the end of the season not after one game. i still remember the humilation against man utd 8-2 and champions league demise against bayern 10-2 and many more . this team can acheive many things but not with wenger

    1. Declan

      Er why not comment on the article about the academy instead of constantly bashing Wenger. Yes ultimately he is in charge of the academy but you have not mentioned it once and whilst I too want Wenger gone I do not ignore every article just to say Wenger out!

    2. Mobella

      “One decent performance against Chelsea ” By my count it is 4 out of last 5. It is so hard to recognized that. Did you even watch the match. Chelsea was luck to take a point in the match in their own stadium. After last match against Bournemouth you and your pessimistic kinds were telling us not to celebrate for beating poor team and that Chelsea at Stamford bridge will be a better gauge to see how far the team will go this season. Now you at telling us not to enjoy a good performance because we got a draw and we should have gone for winning after you lot constantly telling us arsenal will be murdered at bridge. Please can you go support another team because you are not supporting this one. We don’t people that will create more problems to the team through their negativity.

  4. gotanidea

    Not just Arsenal’s academy, but almost all English club’s academies. The way the youngsters play are simply too physical and the development method doesn’t really work anymore.

    Patrick Vieira once said:
    “The game has changed and football has changed. Now, it is completely different to football from thirty or forty years ago. I believe that at grassroots level in England, the football has not really changed. Maybe this is one of the issues and one of the problems.”

    This article showed some facts about English football:

    In the last 19 European ties between English and Spanish clubs, it’s 17-2 to Spain. Since 2000, Spanish clubs have won 26 European trophies, English clubs have won 7.

    If you see how Barcelona and Real Madrid play compared to how Arsenal and Manchester United play, you will know the difference.

    1. Mobella

      Good insight. English football youth basically focus on strength and not skills and techniques. They place thuggery over finesse and intelligence. How often do we hear their pundits praise skills and intelligence of a player. It is always hardworking and strength as if we are in the game of construction. The young players have now taking it upon themselves to acquire the major skill set to be a better players by moving to other leagues.

      1. tas

        The problem goes back further then people think, I remember from the early seventies if we dribbled or did a individual play we was benched and those kids who were physical were chosen over kids with amazing skills,

  5. arsenal4life

    Academies are fake.
    Over 95% of players in academies
    do not go on to be top tier pros.
    Academies are a sop to youngsters and to fans
    who want to believe that any local kid
    can make into the senior squad even though
    the club constantly buys foreign players at massive prices.
    Jack Wilshere is the classic sop.
    He hardly plays and is always injured but is kept on
    as the “proof” that any local kid especially white kid can make it.
    Yet the Arsenal academy is 90% black.
    Yet even most of them fail to play PL football and soon
    disappear into the lower leagues.
    In the case of Chamberlain Gibbs Walcott Wellbeck Wilshere Jenkinson
    and Chambers they have all been kept on as English quota players.
    “We don’t buy stars we make them” it says on the wall outside the Emirates.
    Except the club bought a French man Lacazette for 52 million and brought
    in a 24 year old Bosnian and pay him 120 k p/w.
    Fabregas has been the only academy product who went
    on to any sort of football career and he was from Spain.
    One in 400 illustrates how academies are just so fake.
    But people are prone to believe in fantasy so just keep selling the myth.

  6. The barrel

    Don’t just write articles for the sake of it. Which other team has graduates from development to first team more than Arsenal, I mean in EPL? Time consuming article. Cesc, Gibbs, szesny, Frimpong, Gnabry, Maitland Niles, Nelson, Iwobi, Akpom, and Bournemouth striker.
    Walcott’ and Ox came as youngsters

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