The Great Hale End – Arsenal’s youth development is finally coming good

The Great Hale End

Arsenal’s youth development program is working wonders

With the past few impressive performances from the Arsenal U23’s, I feel that it is time appreciate the work that is being done with by Arsenal youth development program. In recent years, Arsenal has not produced many youth players that went to the senior teams. Most of the time the players would leave and go off to have good careers at smaller teams and a few have shone in foreign leagues. The likes of Serge Gnabry, Donyell Malen, Bennacer and a few others have us wondering what could have been.  How times have changed. With the likes of Saka and Smith-Rowe being stars in the first team, our youth program is starting to produce real talent. The current crop of players have some good talents and few potential world-class level players but, the next generation looks to be something entirely different.

Arsenal’s youth team was nothing to brag about until recently. Most of the players that did come through were mediocre. There would be one stand-out of that group that would be lauded by the coaching staff. But on moving to the first team they were not panning out the way we all hoped they would. When that player becomes a shell of their former self, the fans would hope the player would one day return to the form they had when they first burst onto the scene, until the day they finally left the club. Once that day comes, fans would wonder of a player’s potential unfulfilled.

From there it changed to players who didn’t get enough opportunities or players that were written off to early. Not many of them flourished when they moved on, but the ones that did succeed are a painful reminder of what could have been. The player that hurts the most is Serge Gnabry. He could have been a star for the Arsenal if we only had not listened to Tony Pulis.

Now we have entered a new era of the Arsenal academy, The Great Hale End. It is premature to dub the academy now as great, but I feel it is a title that they will earn in the near future. The current graduates are a good example of what is to come. Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe are great talents with good personalities that can be a great additions to any team. Ainsley Maitland-Niles, although now 24, is a good talent with the versatility of playing almost anywhere on the pitch. Joe Willock, our graduate in Newcastle struggling to find form, has shown that he is capable of being a goal threat. They show how the academy has improved with the higher quality of prospects.

The next group of players are no different. The list of prospects to look out for is far too lengthy to mention all the players. Balogun, Patino and Azeez are the most likely to break into the first team. Ballard Omari Hutchison, Salah Oulad M’hand, Beirath the list goes on. Arsenal are producing a plethora of players that are pushing their way to the first team.

Now, not all of them will make it, some will move on to be great for other teams, others might have mediocre careers or find their way to lower leagues. With the number of rising stars among our ranks you feel hopeful of what they could become.


Hale End is producing real talent, hopefully they can mature into home-grown superstars.

Vuyo Mataka


  1. The ones who managed and trained our youngsters have done a fantastic job. I predict Hutchinson will be promoted next season

    About Gnabry and Mallen, I’m not too disappointed. Gnabry seems to only play well if his team has a great system and Mallen is currently struggling at Dortmund

    1. It’s been predicted about Cottrell, about Patino…
      Ben played about a minute, Charlie didn’t even get a bench-spot, when Partey and Xhaka were both unavailable.

      You keep forgetting, this is Arteta.
      The scouts are looking for the next CM, with Ramsey, Ox, Aouar, Gravenberch, Rabiot, Berge and others rumored. Unless Arteta changes his stance (or gets the sack) Hutchinson has some chance to go for loan to a League One team next season.

      1. I don’t believe the rumors about the CMs you mentioned, because some of them have bad injury history and the rest have consistency problems

        Hutchinson could be loaned out next season. But he could also be Odegaard’s backup, if we manage to return to Europe

  2. Credit to Mertesacker, he has totally done wonders at the Academy, just listen to him speak about the academy and plans for the kids. A detailed individualistic approach; each player’s progress is assessed differently to get what is best for each. His appointment as the Academy Chief has coincided with the upturn of the Academy.

    Credit to the Great Arsene for making him the Academy Manager, not just that but also having the insight to let the rookie learn the trade while on the final year of his contract before actually taking over a year after. Credit to Gazidis too. In the words of the BFG: “Arsene drove it, he asked me if I wanted to stay at the
    club. Obviously, I asked my wife, who is obviously
    important. The ‘government’ then agreed, yeah, we want
    to stay in England actually. We are settled after seven
    years. And then they offered me the job”.

    Omar Rekik, Nikolaj Moller, Anass Salah-Eddine
    and Joel Ideho brought in under him. According to Football London he was instrumental in Arthur Okonkwo, Kido Taylor Hart and Karl Hein signing new contracts. His fingers are all over the Academy

    Per Mertesacker: “So, I would say these three words: respect, discipline and
    humility play a big part in what we are trying to achieve, and
    are the foundation for me to have an impact and be strong
    about it.
    “For me the responsibility [is] to make the club better, and
    build on his [Arsene Wenger’s] legacy, that’s how I see it. He
    did build the expectations of the club, he built the profile of
    this club, being in the position that needs to win and
    compete for Premier League titles.”

    He deserves more mentioning, he’s done an amazing job so far. Did his best to assist Freddie L. when club wouldn’t give him backroom staff. Though the growth and development of the Academy is not only on Mertesacker, credit credit to others too but he deserves a special mention.

    1. I would also add that the academy was built due to the wonderful transfer dealings done under Arsene Wenger… it’s said that the £20,000,000 odd profit made from Anelka s transfer to Real Madrid paid for it… yet another part of the great man’s legacy.

    2. Well said Chapo – BFG is performing wonders, and with Saka and ESR proving to be not only great adverts for his “respect, discipline, humility” ethos (one wonders how Guendouzi would have turned out had he come though Hale End!), but also to be both terrific and valuable players, it bodes well for the continued investment in the academy. Even more importantly, the best young players both here and abroad are going to be queueing up to come here.

  3. The “Great” Hale end Academy? 99% of the graduates fade away into obscurity. Only one in 100 make it into top flight football. Buying 20m 30m 50m ready made talent like Tomi White Ramsdale Lokonga and Odegaard remains the Motis operandi. However may be the club is going to stop buying outside talent these next ten years and instead give Balogun Nketia Nelson Niles Azeez Patino Ballard Taylor Beireth 10 year contracts. We shall see.

    1. C’mon – you’re not being “fair” Fairfan! I didn’t expect you of all people to be so negative.
      Statistics change, history is exactly that – history.
      True the vast majority of kids don’t make it but the failure rate you are quoting is across all clubs, not the elite academies, and it can be argued that Arsenal have only recently emerged as one of the best.
      Obviously some are rejected but succeed elsewhere, but equally most of the players you buy in have come through another club’s academy.
      The fact remains Fairfan – the better the selection process, the higher your academy’s profile, the better the training, the better the candidate, the greater the opportunities, then the higher the success ratio. We currently have 18% of our first team from Hale End, and 22% (6) of our squad. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a pretty good representation.

  4. Where are those fans now who didn’t want Willock to go, as many already knew the best sell we have made since Iwobi!

  5. 2 first teamers now, most would agree our go to players- ESR and Saka. The rest are just names and hype YouTube videos, you don’t know how good these kids are until they play league football. There’s always another crop.
    Only Gnabry was the one who got away, Bennacer and Malen as Shania used to say they don’t impress me much!

    1. Yes, let’s not hype our youngsters too much. We don’t want them to end up like Afobe, Bentley, Pennant, Wilshere, etc

      Liverpool U-23 just destroyed them 3-0

  6. Didn’t Gnabry not force a move away from Arsenal despite all efforts made by Arsene Wenger to keep him at the club, that included offering him a new deal to stay?

  7. Did Gnabry not force a move away from Arsenal despite all efforts made by Arsene Wenger to keep him at the club, that included offering him a new deal to stay?

  8. A personal research and one would discover that Wenger is one of the most underrated manager in history. I believe he doesn’t get enough praises for what he did for Arsenal. Like Highbury Hero, I believe the real genius in Wenger came during and after the move to The Emirates. What Wenger has done will be almost impossible to achieve. Like Mert said, Wenger has set the standards of the club, the aim should be reaching those standards or higher, anything lesser is an underachievement.

    1. Managers like Wenger don’t grow on trees Chapo.
      We could spend the next 50 years firing people every season who couldn’t reach his standards and still fail. We all have our own ideas on who we should go after, and they’re all different names.
      Nobody rated him when he came here, in fact practically nobody had heard of him. He failed at Nancy, won one league title and an FA Cup in 8 years at Monaco, and we got him from Grampas 8 in Japan.
      He was, like Arteta, very much an appointment out of left field and fans didn’t want him. Would you have given him the job?
      So before you advocate only going for big names, remember that Wenger was not one.

      1. Arsene Who?

        Just thought that needed to come first before I write anything further. Sorry for the late reply Guy, been busy.

        As a reply to your last paragraph, I am not advocating for big names that was why I actually started off with ARSENE WHO. What I want is the standards he set, winning the EL and being in the Champions League, actually competing. Those standards shouldn’t be lowered, either you aim for that or higher. Want I want is to be there on top competing and winning. Doesn’t happen overnight but that’s the destination.

  9. There is one name that is missing Marcelo Flores, that boy is a wonder that needs to be integrated into the first team ASAP.

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