Games like Red Star good or bad for Arsenal youngsters?

I have no problem in understanding that Arsene Wenger has put the Arsenal games in the Europa League group stage down below the Premier League on his list of priorities. He probably would have done so anyway but when the fixture list threw up five EPL away games out of six following these Thursday night ties it really was a no-brainer for the boss to heavily rotate the Arsenal squad.

As has been proved in the first four games, which have netted the Gunners 10 points from a possible 12 and already secured us a place in the next round, Wenger had a strong enough squad to do it without too many problems and you could say that the experience and playing time on the pitch has been very useful for the young Gunners and the fringe players who would otherwise not have featured much.

The Frenchman spoke about this in his comments after the somewhat fortunate and uninspiring draw at home to Red Star Belgrade last night, as reported by Sky Sports, as he defended his team selection and praised the visitors for giving Arsenal such a hard game.

He said, “We made four games, 10 points. So overall it’s good if I can combine both (domestic and European football).

“You could see tonight it was a very intense game, and with the number of games we play, we want to play in every single competition. I will continue (rotating) at the moment.

“They started stronger than us; they played very well at the start. They played with a high pace, were dangerous on the breaks and defended very well.

“In the second half we dominated possession much more but lacked a bit of quality in the final ball, vision to find the right space and overall it was a fair 0-0.

“It’s frustrating when you don’t score, but overall you understand that with many young players in the team, that’s part of the learning process for them, playing these types of games.”

I suppose it is, but it also depends on what you want the likes of Reiss Nelson and Ashley Maitland-Niles to learn, because I think there is a flip side. There is a theory that it is much better to introduce up and coming young players into a strong side so that they get a taste of what playing in the first team will be like, rather than struggling in a disjointed display because the whole team are unused to playing together.

I have a feeling that a game like the one against Red Star last night could well drain some zest out of exciting young talents like Nelson rather than helping them to progress. What do you guys think?



  1. gotanidea says:

    Those games against the weaker sides are very good for the youngsters, because they are real matches. They are also good for the manager and the coaches to test their system and strategy, before the tougher games come.

    Of course tougher games such as the upcoming Manchester City game would be better for learning purpose, but Arsenal also need some wins to boost their morale. I hope Wenger and his staffs could learn from the upcoming Manchester City match.

  2. Gooner4ever says:

    I don’t see any reasons of playing player like Nelson and maitland niles out of position, they need to play at their preferred position. I see the 2 as Arsenal future

    1. Try telling that to Wenger.

    2. The Harlequin says:

      I’m glad you aren’t the manager of Arsenal then. Playing players out of position allows them to learn new skills and get a greater appreciation of the game from multiple perspectives. Kind of like reading books on different subjects allows you to better understand a wider range of things.

      1. KeownedIt says:

        Valid point although I would prefer players to become specialist in one position… play that position week in week out and master it.. become “world class” over having 11 jack of all trades running around the pitch. I always wonder what Theo would of been like now as a striker if he played as a striker from the beginning….

  3. Break-on-through says:

    Nelson himself seems to realize that his defending must be to a certain standard or else the next side that comes up could have similar problems to the one Walcott grew up in. Theo Arshavin Oxlade Podolski left it all to Sagna and Gibbs. The youngsters need to brush up on their battle techniques, it’s important that they get that experience while young or else they will look like a fish out of water just like Walcott does. Niles is the opposite, he gets to brush up on forward play, dribbling and crossing. It’s not a bad thing, the only downside is it’s a bit of a mash up, which makes for stop start kinda play. Defenders need to know one another, they all do, but the experience they gain does give us a better look at how strong we really are – with depth.

  4. Sniper says:

    Anyone seen santi ankle on front page of the maca newspaper santi had 8 surgeries and an infection that risked his foot being cut,let’s forget santi being our Savior in the midfield and wish him well in his retirement the leg cant play anymore for the sake of his health the ankle was rotting!

    1. McLovin says:

      I haven’t counted Santi as a first team player since his injury last October. People didnt seem to realize back then that he is quite finished with Arsenal.

      Huge shame though.

  5. SuperClaes says:

    Any minutes in first team surroundings is a good thing!

    Agree that couple of youngsters bedded in to the real first team is better but if the player is good enough they will express themselves in any team.

    Lots of negativity after yesterday’s game but we should be realistic and already being qualified with second string plus youngsters is good going!

  6. Marlon says:

    Ársenal will win at Manchester City

  7. Marlon says:

    a funny feeling…we”ll nick man city

  8. Jimmy Jazz says:

    Cazorla himself says that he expects to be playing in the new year. It’s a long way back but let’s hope he’s right.

  9. Turbo says:

    Fully support giving the youngsters minutes during the Europa League group stages. The experience is crucial to development and we get to see what they might be made of. We’re likely to advance and probably in top spot regardless. But then, depending on the draw, we might have to start getting a little more ruthless. There will eventually be some really serious squads in the competition, perhaps including the likes of Dortmund, Monaco, Atletico, etc. When necessary we should go flat out to go really deep and even win this thing.

  10. Nothing changed says:

    I am of the camp that believes you should play the youngsters in their preferred position when they get a chance in the 1st team. Why risk damaging their confidence and why not continue their development in their best position?

    Is there anyone who seriously believe Nelson is a right back? I am not as down on Theo as most but why not give Nelson a chance higher up the pitch where his talent comes out more?

    1. jon fox says:

      You are right and to answer your question about Nelson being a right back and who believes he might make one, the answer is Wenger alone. Reiss Nelson is a huge talent and should clearly play as an run with the ball player, with the key ability to run through with the ball. Wilshere had this same ability years ago but was ruined by Wenger and not coached properly . He is being ruined by being forced to play out of position in typical Wenger style. I predict he will ask for a transfer within 2 years and go to a club run by a proper manager and will have a stellar career. Though, left to Wengers tender mercy, he might yet be tried in goal. Nothing surprises me anymore with this ridiculous way past it manager.

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