Opinion – Right now Arsenal need to play our men – not the boys…

It is time to drop the younger players and start using your more experienced players! by Lagos Gooner

Truth must be told guys; the likes of Willock, Smith-Rowe and Nelson need to be dropped for now; until probably when we have got ourselves back into a good position in the league. Starting youth regularly at the expense of more established players has not worked well for us so far.

When I saw our team list against Brighton on ThursdayOfficial Arsenal team to face Brighton – Pepe and Tierney on the bench night I was shocked to see Willock playing, while the likes of Pepe and Tierney started from the bench. Let us face the fact ladies and gentlemen; in difficult times in football, clubs need men who have the experience and grit to see them through any crisis. When teams like Barcelona and Real Madrid go through hard times, you don’t see them making use of academy boys or players who have not experienced the both sides of football; that is the winning and losing aspect of football. Willock had no business starting that game, no matter how talented he is.

Pepe may have not lit up the premiership, but he is good talent and he has played top flight football in France and for his African nation, Ivory Coast. Pepe could have given us enough bite at the attacking end of our half, but then do I know more that the coach knows? Who is being paid to train these boys? Ljungberg of course!

Is Tierney still injured, or he is being forced to sit out games he should be starting? I don’t see the reason why we would buy a left back to solve our left back issue, and then decide to still stick to the same player who played left back for us last season; and who seems not to be our solution at the left back position at all.

I won’t want to say that Ljunberg may be freezing out some players, so as to stamp his authority on the team but that is what it seems like. Every coach has a way of doing things but then most coaches realize that results matters. To achieve results, you must make use of every player at your disposal and that includes the experienced players you have to; despite the issues you may have with such players.

From this day forward, I pray that Ljungberg has the wisdom to choose the right team, at the right moment; and that includes dropping inexperienced players for the experienced ones.



  1. Leno

    Bellerin Chambers Luiz Tierney

    Xhaka Torrera Ozil

    Pepe Aubameyang Martinelli

    Holding is injured. Sokratis should not start again. Luiz in midfield when Holding is back.

    1. It would be good if Ozil can play as a half-winger like De Bruyne and Silva

      For the right half-winger, I’d prefer Maitland-Niles than Xhaka

    2. I agree with your team, but I would put Holding and Mustafi as CBs. They seemed to play quite well together in the EPL and Mustafi has actually been at least as good as Luiz and Chambers this year and better than Sokratis.

  2. Better playing hungry youngsters than playing lethargic senior players

    If Nelson is fit, he should start on the right wing ahead of Pepe. Whereas Kolasinac’s performances are better than Tierney’s currently

    Ideally, Pepe, Martinelli and Tierney should be starters, but I believe Emery and Ljungberg saw other factors in training

    1. Off the topic, i think the club should be talking to Nuno Espirito and Arteta right now. There is no time to waste time.

      What does it take to get Nuno at this stage of the season?

      We are in a relegation form. Things not looking good.

      1. Skills1000.

        People dissing Nuno as option.

        I love the guys work.

        Would be elated if we got him and his back room staff in.

        But very good points made in earlier threads.

        The huge worry is whoever we get will not be able to work with this lot.

        Time and funds will be required.

        Also, we currently have managers from Leicester and Wolves turning what once was “THE ARSENAL” down – they should be walking down the motorway with pen in hand !!!!

        1. Nuno – for reasons mentioned before many times – is probably only a good option short term and he would not leave Wolves midseason for a short stint with us, so you can cross him off your list.

          We can do better in the summer and no, we will not get relegated, although we could end up 10th – 15h, but that would not hurt us long-term any more than 7th. Just remember Chelsea finishing 10th and then being champions the next year (not that we would repeat that exactly).

  3. Perhaps my point above was not so flippant.

    Here we go again…..

    “Freddie Ljungberg admits Arsenal’s players were ‘scared’ during Brighton defeat“.

  4. My real worry is why the hell is Holding yet to get a proper chance? At least someone should be looking to play the pair of Holding-Chambers for once, bit instead both Freddie and Emery seems stuck with the two bozos we have as defenders.
    I better not see Willock starting g the next game, because the last two matches? Nothing to write home about.
    I understand he trust these kids, but he should hold on till the team finds its mojo before resuming playing with the kid.

    PS: The good news is that the Arsenal board are promising one big money defender signing during the Jan transfer window to every coach they’ve interviewed so far and are interviewing.
    Upamecano and Umtiti were targets last summer, right now Ruben Dias is on the club’s radar also.
    Koulibaly was too expensive last summer that’s why they didn’t go for him.
    Well if I were to take the job I’d be thinking about bringing in one world class Cb and one very good one. Not just one single CB the board is promising

  5. Well soon enough the players won’t have anything to be scared of. No one will even turn up to watch. What a ridiculous excuse. Being scared of playing a game. Payed as professionals acting like amateurs. The players that are scared should stay home. Rather take the brave to battle.

  6. Saw ANM called for in earlier thread, sums it up really.

    Also, all the clamour for Bellerin’s return when out injured.

    Nice lad, holds a decent interview, looks good in the annual calendar- but can’t defend !

    Net result – not a decent right back option at the club !

    (I know ANM is not a right back, my view simply not good enough wherever played).

    We have too many on “easy street” at our place who shouldn’t be there in the first place.

    And why, why, why did we not buy 2 quality centre backs redirecting the Pepe money if necessary…. PRIORITIES!

    Woke up in very bad mood about our mob this morning, still seething !!

    1. It does! Some of our regular players are so poor, that AMN, Mustafi are called in to bail us out! Then they come in and are equally as poor!
      Too many average players, I’m afraid.

    2. Most intelligent comment I’ve been reading for years…our transfer business was a disgrace, we didn’t only sell our best defender but also our best midfielder left for free… How the hell was Emery trusted with our team in the first place… If we don’t buy a proper defender and defensive midfielder in January we’re doomed…

      This is sad… Never imagined moving from Highbury would be this disastrous… 😭😭😭😭

    3. Oh come on. Almost everybody here was clamouring for a good winger at the end of last season. That’s what was hoped of Pepe (also, we sold Iwobi).

      The mistake was not getting Cahill on a free instead of Luiz and not selling 2 of our defenders to buy another one. Because we would have had too many central defenders for 2 spots – Cahill (instead of him Luiz), Mustafi, Sok, Holding, Chambers, Mavropanos. Just too many.

      But it was all made difficult when Kos forced his exit…

      With Saliba coming, we need to sell Sokratis, Mustafi, and Chambers and only play Luiz as DM.
      If we also add AMN and Elneny on the sale list plus Mkhi, it’s enough for a top CB a RB and if Torreira is not fit for a top DM, sell him and buy a good DM.
      This CAN be done, but not in the last week of the summer.

  7. Is it not the “Experienced players” regularly letting the team down: Xhaka, Sokratis? Luis, for example.

    I also agree that Holding and Chambers should be given a chance to link up together.

  8. Some boys have men quality on the pitch, truth is, unai failed because he refused to play players in form and I think Freddie is on the same path as well. I keep saying that whatever setup the coach chooses, gabriel martelini should be inside because he can score goals and poach for. He presses well too. Until we stop zonal markings, we’ll keep letting cheap goals in. That’s why attack is still the best form of defense and if you think I am wrong, let’s win all our remaining games 7-6 whether we won’t win the league

  9. Few professional footballers are “Men” imo. They are molly coddled, wrapped in cotton wool, tend to do irresponsible things

    But I get your meaning

    I disagree. I want “hunger”
    There are lazy older/experienced players and hungry inexperienced players

  10. Willock, for me, was poor against Norwich, so was really surprised to see him start against Brighton – had a shocker!! He wasn’t alone though!

    Roll on January!

    1. I am starting to warm up to the Arteta idea. Given all the big names who have been running away from being linked with us he might be our best bet. We need to sign someone now. Freddie is not the answer. He even looks paralyzed or overwhelmed in his body language.

      1. I’m not I’m afraid, Truth. But if he does get it, then I’ll have to back him. Not sure if there’s anyone out there who can sort this lot out! Whoever it is, needs to bring a miracle with him!!

        1. we have the strange tradeoff between needing someone soon and needing someone great. Poch would be the only one who theoretically could fit both requirements.

      2. You have made a valid point. The board should act fast. We will loose our top players if we can’t play in the Champions league. Emery really messed us up. He should be re sacked.

    2. We have so few options in midfield. It seems to me Ozil is a must but only in the nr 10 role not out wide. Torreira is a must particularly if we insist on Xhaka. If you add Guendouzie to Torriera and Xhaka you get chaos. If you don’t add another pair of legs Torreira and Xhaka get overrun in midfield because Ozil won’t meaningfully help out.

      So I can see starting with two strikers plus Ozil as a front 3. I think we need to play with a back 4. So who would we pair next to Torreira and Xhaka?

      1. Yes, I agree about Ozil in the 10 role.
        I actually quite liked Luiz playing further up (even though it wasn’t for long) I’d prefer to see him there than at CB!!
        I do like Guendouzi though.. he does work hard, just needs to bloody score!!

        1. I like guebdouzie but just think he doesn’t pair well with Xhaka.

          Luiz instead of Torreira as DM could work. But then we would have to try Xhaka-Guendouzie in front of Luiz if we don’t like Wilock.

        2. Sue, there are only so many ways you can shuffle the cards to select a team with the gutless wonders in this squad.

  11. I am sorry but for me, experience only counts when it comes with ability.

    Players like Luiz and Sokratis and Mustafi are deeply experienced but at this point, I would not mind seeing Chambers and/or Holding get the nod.

    Ozil is hugely experienced and talented yet if we don’t play him in a free-roaming nr 10 role but instead out wide on the left (or right) I would prefer Pepe or Martinelli.

    Choosing experience for the sake of experience is ascribing too little value to ability and technique.

  12. Or maybe it is time to play much more youth???
    This season is basically gone as the PL is concerned.
    Maybe the young players, who hopefully still see playing for Arsenal as their future, will fight much more, and letting them play will make us stronger for the coming seasons.
    We were never going to compete for the PL title this year, and the only way we will be able to compete again, will be to develop a team over 2-3 years and the core of that team has to be our youth.

  13. Agreed that young inexperienced players are not that great at the present point of time. But what have the so called experienced players shown to warrant their place in the playing XI. Willock may have not performed that well, but sure enough Martinelli must start and so should Chambers. The young Greek defender who played in our U-23 win should also start. Younger players are more determined to make their mark as compared to the lazy experienced players. And for Gods sake, hope we buy a proper CB in January. Otherwise we will be at the mercy of the Devil. Louis and Socrates simply do not want to defend and had it not been for Lenno, we might already have been in relegation zone. God have mercy!

    1. I agree with everything there except the Leno remarks.
      I remember when Seaman played in our colors, so I know what it means to have a properly top notch GK back there.

      Seaman had a great bunch of players working in front of him, but he’d still be called upon to make save after save at times ( we remember Schmeichel too).

      Whenever a team, an opponent player or two, whenever they go one on one, almost, or have a free shot from inside the box or wide of the keeper, it’s like our fans say ..well, it’s unsavable – unstoppable, no keeper would save them. That’s baloney, and it’s happening in almost every game.

      I remember Seaman making himself big, huge, then saving a one on one with an outstretched arm, few moments later the ball would be heading toward our far side of goal, Seaman would dive across goal and get his fingertips to it. Then, most of the other saves he’d make them look easy by catching the ball or giving it a strong punch out. Then defenders would begin getting last minute blocks, the odd last ditch tackle, before we knew it …clean sheet, one nil to the Arsenal. Sounded easy, but it was top top goalkeeping along with rugged sincere defending that got us there.

      I’m sorry, but I don’t see this in Leno, not yet. He’s not a bad GK, it’s just that every great chance with a decently placed strike, seems to beat him and our fans except it because he’s had to make four or five saves during the game, ones that were a little less well placed or because one of them might have been a peachy save. GK is our last line of defence, you can’t keep pointing fingers at the CB’s, CM’s, fullbacks, and not point one at the GK.

      If Seaman were in goal now, that is what I ask myself when I see Leno readying himself for a penalty/set-piece, when he’s in a one on one ..does he close the distance down and make our goalposts look smaller while making himself look bigger, are his reflexes quick enough or is he waiting that millisecond too late and then fans thinking ..well, it’s unstoppable. Can he read the direction by eyeing the players final movements, has he studied the players movements (the most dangerous one or two players of course/the penalty taker).

  14. bbc just reports that Everton are considering Poch and Ancillati as Silva’s successors. Arsenal Board must do something and do it fast. Teams outside top six are showing bigger desire than Arsenal. Wolves boss Nuno Santo could be a good option for us. Freddie seems to be repeating the same mistakes as Emery and maybe he needs more time as Assistant Manager and than take up full reins. Arsenal have no time right now.

  15. This article confuses me, because we have been playing the experienced players. Smith-Rowe has only made one appearance I think. Nelson has barely played. Willock has been in and out. It’s the experienced players that are letting us down. I say play the kids!

  16. I dont agree with the piece at all. Its the experienced players that constantly let us down, xhaka, luiz, soc, ozil, kolasinac etc etc. I would play more of the younger players and actually coach them the right things. It may not yield quick results but thats not happening anyway.

  17. In this men or boys debate, I define “men” as against “boys” not my mere physical age and build but by what guts , fight and “balls”(metaphorically only) they possess. Most of our players, with a few notable exceptions, are not even boys ; they are babies! Frit children running crying to Mummy instead of getting up and punching the other guy on the nose(again metaphorically speaking). NO ONE ever called Adams, Keown, Winteburn and Co babies. If they did, they would soon be shown their mistake and in no uncertain fashion, as we who are NOT snowflakes know only so well. MOST YOUNG PEOPLE IN TODAYS SOFT AND TOUCHY FEELY WORLD , FOOTBALLERS INCLUDED, ARE SOFT AS MELTED BUTTER AND NEED TO TOUGHEN UP. I despair at the mental and physical weakness in our club. Real men win battles or at least GO to battle, They do not surrender at the first sight of the enemy. Scorn!!! WE HAVE CEASED BEING THE GUNNERS AND BECOME THE MARSHMELLOWS INSTEAD! Double scorn!!!!!!

    1. On the face of it i thought we had a very good squad but in reality they just dont work. Is it a balance thing, is it a mental thing, is it an arsenal thing, is it an attitude thing. A spark is missing, is that a colourful coach like klopp? Is it a couple of strong minded individuals in the middle of defence? Whatever it is in reality we should not be struggling like we are to scrape a win against the likes of Brighton and Shef utd, with all due respect to them. Or should i say get outplayed by them. There is something drastically wrong at this club and i think its a personality thing and an ego thing.

      1. Scouting and recruitment have a lot to answer for in identifying players with character, guts and determination.

  18. You lot never cease to amaze me. A player has a bad game or two, then he should be sold or dropped from the team. Still out here thinking all we have to do is throw some money at a manager who is already under contract to another club and he’ll just jump ship cause we’re the Arsenal. Logic and insight are really and truly in demand here…

  19. Dropping Luiz or pushing him further up should have been the first order of business. Luiz is a better player than we are seeing, but still not a great choice. He doesn’t know these players, he doesn’t understand the system just like how we were muddled with it, he should have been taken out ages ago. I presume they thought with enough games that partnerships would evolve around him, but that’s not the case.

    I agree to some extent, and disagreed with fans who talked in beginning of season about going with four or five academy graduates from the off. Martinelli looks like he could play a decent part in the season and if chosen wisely he could even have had a breakout season, but you don’t want him around these players when they’re pointing fingers and not taking responsibility and looking dejected most weeks.

    The best game we played this season was when Nelson, Saka, Martinelli, Tierney were all on the pitch in the Europa game. The opposition was a factor, but it was the best football we played and Marti looked an instinctively class act. Nelson had an underrated game, he had a lot of good work with Tierney out on the wing, he looked a proper wide player playing for his teammates. Saka was Saka, taking them all on. They all worked to win the ball back high up the pitch on that occasion because they all wanted the ball.

  20. The players who are failing us such as Mustafi, Sokratis,Luis and xhaka are all experienced ,which suggests that the writer of the article has got it wrong.

    1. Time and time again our experienced so called players are letting us down. Not now and again but every game.

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