By saving the seniors in the short-term is Arteta set to lose some of his talented youngsters?

Saving the seniors to lose the youngsters


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I have a reoccurring nightmare. It’s not what most are talking about during this baffling spell we are in.

Let’s go there….

I think that most would agree that within the next 8 months we will likely sell Xhaka, Lacazette, Mustafi, Kolasinac, possibly Bellerin, one of Chambers and Holding, not re-sign Ceballos and Luiz and its looking like we might even sell Willian. We may debate a couple of them but I think this is the general pulse of the fanbase.

There is always a use for players that you might sell. Most will still perform. These players have two things in common though. Firstly, they are all experienced players, some are senior players. Secondly, maybe only one of them is at the level required in the modern game. If I was to give an average grade for the group, I’d be generous if I gave a C.

Then you have this group…… Maitlind-Niles, Smith-Rowe, Nelson, Nketiah, Balogun, Saliba and Willock.

All of these seven players have commonality too. They have a case to be playing much more than they are. Some of them have a very strong case. Together they have accumulatively played less than Granit Xhaka, though.


4/10 boys

Considering that Xhaka and Ceballos keep offering up 4/10, I’d be confused if I was AMN. Especially confused when my very few moments at Central Midfield are closer to 8/10 than four. Then I’d look at the league, look back at Dani and Granit, and think that they aren’t suited to this faster paced, super compact, pressing, athletic modern game and really start to wonder.

If I was Smith-Rowe I’d be frustrated that I’ve been injured but wondering why I haven’t even be on the bench when the first team are begging for a connector, and I’ve never been tried.  Especially frustrating when the two guys who have been tasked with creating have been worse than the 4/10 boys.

If I was Nelson, I’d be even more baffled as I’ve played more than ESR, been very good, then left at home.

Nketiah must look at Aubamayang and Lacazette’s form and be scratching his head. He hasn’t been above a 6/10 himself but ultimately it’s about goals and he’s top scorer yet played less than both of them. What happens to him when Martinelli returns? I’d say he will get booted and Lacazette will remain. Worrying.

Balogun is deciding if he wants to sign a new contract. He might be fine with his playing time as he’s scored 2 goals in his first 2 Arsenal games. If I was him I’d be asking why Eddie hasn’t had Lacazette’s minutes and why I haven’t had more of Eddie’s. I’d be especially confused as to why I couldn’t start in a complete freebie game for the club. If I can’t get more than 45 minutes in two EL games, I’m not playing the rest of the season as every game is far more important than the ones I wasn’t allowed to play much in. I do understand that he is still so new to the scene and that a 5 month loan might be best. I’m just hoping that this is what he thinks.

Balogun 1045x658 0

Saliba’s situation is somewhat different as he is likely being protected from hype and he’s had family tragedy. I would however wonder why I couldn’t have been eased into the easiest European group that Arsenal have probably ever had in the history of the club.

If I was Willock, I’d wonder why I’ve gone from having the most first team minutes to hardly any. I’d also wonder why my profile isn’t more suited to creating havoc and scoring than those midfielders we use in ‘important games,’ as they do none of either.

I’m not saying that we need to give up on all the senior players or not play them, but I think it’s very possible that we lose some of the youngsters whilst we continue to unjustly trust the senior players.

That is my reoccurring nightmare.



  • I’m assuming that we are about to go back to 3-4-3, as why would we change formation in a dead rubber to accommodate Dundalk unless we are preparing to switch back. It’s probably for the best as we lost security in a four man defence and weren’t gaining anything going forward.
  • It was good to see the press active again. Not sure if this was to take advantage of the poor quality surface or the weaker opposition. Hopefully, it will return on Sunday too.
  • Think of Bellerin’s qualities. Remember that he’s not as fast as he was. Is Cedric a lesser right back? At his best, Hector provides good cutbacks and diagonal penetrative runs with the ball. Cedric’s crossing was very good yesterday as was his free kick. His general attacking and defensive play is almost identical.
  • How do we describe Smith-Rowe? He caught my eye from the second minute when he had his first touch. Opened his hips, turned and accelerated. HALLELUJAH!!!! James Benge tweeted that after 20 minutes ESR had completed 8/9 passes in the final third, assisted a goal, created two chances and had more interceptions than the rest of the team put together.  I think he’s best described by saying that he is clearly an intelligent player that makes consistently good decisions. He does what you see when you are shouting at the TV. All our other creatives don’t make me feel like they are about to do something important. He does.

Time to look to ESR

  • I didn’t think that anyone was brilliant last night but yet again I thought that Maitlind-Niles was very good. I think he will be a top player. One of the signs of a top player is that they can step in after rarely playing, play in a position that they haven’t for a while and still be the best player on the field.
  • It looks like the players were told to shoot from distance. It wasn’t just ElNeny. His goal will hopefully encourage the rest of the squad. Not the number one best tactic to lean into but certainly beats 44 crosses.
  • I like Runarsson’s alertness. He is always at the top of his box to gobble up any through ball. Seems to be decisive which is pivotal.
  • I spotted two important skills that Balogun brought to the game. Firstly, for his goal he drifted away from his marker as play developed. Very clever and always effective as defenders ball watch when the ball is in their locality. Secondly, he seems to understand body shape when he backs into defenders. He bends his knees and makes himself bigger. Our either 3 CF’s don’t do this.


  • As impressive as AMN was again, I was frustrated that he wasn’t back at centre midfield. I’ve said so much on this already. I can only sit on my couch and hope that he returns there. I see him as the solution and absolutely an instant upgrade on our current duo.
  • I wonder if the reason why the younger players like Azeez and Balogun seem to play less than we would want is entitlement? It’s a real issue with todays society. Perhaps Arteta wants to give them small bites because he will know that they will expect much more if given more.


  • So glad to see Chambers, Mari and Martinelli returning. The centre back situation is fascinating. He trusts Luiz and seems to like Holding. Gabriel is a shoe in, the only one. Chambers was our best player at the beginning of last season. He plays Mustafi when he needs a first replacement. Mari looks commanding and a decision needs to be made on Saliba. I’ve probably missed 7 more, but I’m tired. If we are going to a back three again, it’s Gabriel plus two. Will it be the three from before… Luiz, Gabriel and Holding? I’d love to see Luiz with Saliba and Gabriel either side. I think it might be Mari who steps in.

(Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)



Three wishes for Sunday.


I don’t care how.

It’s probably not good for the future if we win by scoring a header from one of 40+ crosses.

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One Response to By saving the seniors in the short-term is Arteta set to lose some of his talented youngsters?

  1. allezkev December 12, 2020 at 11:15 am #

    Thanks for that Mike, we’re approaching a fascinating period in the clubs’ recent development, I only hope that the ownership and board hold their nerve as the team transforms from the cup winning squad with all its issues into the squad containing Arteta’s signings and our academy boys, because the team were seeing now could be very different from the team that concludes 20/21 in May.

    Arteta spoke highly of Smith Rowe before Emile had even played for him so he recognised his ability it was just a case of ESR fully recovering and building himself up towards the level required for the Premier League. I’ve no doubt that if he remains fit that ESR will become a major player for Arteta.

    Maitland Niles and Holding, if the rumours were true, both out of the door last summer before Arteta requested that they stay, now I don’t know the circumstances around them going or not and if Mikel was being guided by Edu or not, given his inexperience, but he made the right call on both in retaining them. The Saliba situation could also rectify itself positively for us quite soon, I’m sure that it will as finance is tight and a lot of our 1st team issues are probably solvable by using internal solutions and he’s surely one of those.

    Great point regarding Soares, I’ve always been quite neutral on the deal that bought him to Arsenal despite many condemning his signing as another Raul/Kia mash up. To me Soares has gradually improved every time I’ve seen him and he is close now to really putting some pressure on Hector. It’s a big decision for Arteta because if Hector is dropped then it’s more than likely that he’ll look to move on so Mikel has to be sure about that decision.

    Balogun has it all, the body shape, the strength, the pace, the finishing, he is calm and clinical in front of goal, he’s a killer and we must get him to stay because he has the biggest potential to be our best striker and eventual successor to Aubameyang. I really like Eddie and he has many qualities but the qualities of Flo are limitless.

    Back three, back four, we should have the players developed well enough to be able to use both systems equally well as and when they are needed but for me we probably need that extra security for most of the rest of this season of a three. Nothing is set in stone and there shouldn’t be a meltdown if we face Burnley with a three on Sunday as there’s no reason that Arteta can’t switch things if he feels the need to game by game. The fitness of Partey is probably crucial to any decision Arteta makes as he is such a big part of our strategy going forward, it’s probably why I’d favour us signing another big, powerful and mobile centre midfielder to ensure we have those options as our academy doesn’t seem to really develop that player type at this time.

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