Archive for May 23rd, 2009

The Kids Are More Than Alright

1 comment May 23rd, 2009

At Arsenal we are consistently being sold the future.  It’s occasionally frustrating, but on nights like last night one understands why.

33,000 fans were at the Emirates Stadium to see the U-18s beat Liverpool 4-1 in the first leg of the FA Youth Cup Final, and I think they’d all admit to being privieged to watch a performance of such quality.  The goals are viewable over at 101greatgoals, but it was the overall class exhibited by the team that was so exciting.

Of course, as our Carling Cup exploits have demonstrated, the chances are that only one or two of these players will make the step up to the first team.  The obvious choice is Jack Wilshere, who was outstanding after an injury to Emmanuel Frimpong forced him to switch to central midfield.  I’m not sure of the reasons that led to Wilshere dropping out of first-team contention after Christmas, but I’d expect him to play a full part in pre-season once more.

There are some other very talented lads: Coquelin is progressing well into a tigrish holding midfielder, whilst captain Jay Emmanuel-Thomas has the physical strength and technique to be as good a player as his hunger permits.  They’re the three major prospects, but some other individuals were outstanding last night: Kyle Bartley looked like a young version of the kind of centre-back we need to sign this Summer, and Sanchez Watt’s pace was electrifying.

The Carling Cup next season should be very entertaining indeed.

Most fans thoughts, however, are understandably concerned with how we’ll manage in the league.  The feeling is that he’ll have to overcome any reluctance to spend money, and Arsene suggests that won’t be a problem:

“I don’t complain about the money I have and I am not afraid to spend the money when I find it.  It is not true  [that I am afraid to spend]. I cannot manipulate people’s brains unfortunately. And I don’t want to in fact.  We spent the money on Andrey Arshavin. In one day I decided to do it.”

Arsene also spoke about the criticism he received at the shareholders Q&A, saying:

“I was disappointed because I believe especially the shareholders cannot complain. You look at the share price when I arrived and the share price now. You check in October 1996 it must have been around £400 and now it is £10,000. Some would say between eight and 10. But it means that the Club has moved forward and not gone back. There are two things in our job. Criticism I accept with respect. Disrespect I don’t accept and don’t respect. I prefer the fans to complain rather than the shareholders. I could understand that more.”

From a business point of view, his argument is very sound.  However, many of the shareholders are fans too, and Arsene also moved yesterday to repair relations with the supporters.

Tomorrow’s game with Stoke is an opportunity to attempt to finish the season on a high.  Let’s go out with a win, and give the squad plenty of backing - not to celebrate this season, but to inspire them ahead of next.

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