Few ‘daring buds of Emery’ will be homegrown

Few ‘daring buds of Emery’ will be homegrown

Some people are hailing the arrival of what I would call the ‘daring buds of Emery’, as pundits and fans expect the new manager to blood youngsters this season. The evidence of this is seen in how teenage sensation Matteo Guendouzi continued to run the show in the latest friendly, with Arsenal putting an even more youthful PSG to the sword. Despite the emphatic 5-1 scoreline, the margin flattered the Gunners somewhat, but much could be made of the maturity of some of the youthful Gunners’ play. Guendouzi is only 19, but plays like an experienced professional. Bernd Leno gives reassurance in goal although, at 26, he is comparatively young for a keeper. Shkodran Mustafi is the same age, so still hasn’t reached his peak, while Hector Bellerin is just 23. Of those first-team ‘shoo-ins’, only Bellerin is somewhat ‘homegrown’. Therefore, to say a revolution of George Graham-esque proportions is happening at the club is somewhat premature. However, hard work on the training ground, another aspect of football associated with Graham, appears to be paying off.

Nevertheless, despite all the talk of how much has changed at Arsenal, the same old defensive errors threatened to undo all the good work produced offensively. Sead Kolasinac is one of the few players, so far, who looks out of sorts with the new regime. Maybe he is struggling to cope with the new fitness regime mentioned by Bellerin, who has gone public on how Unai Emery is putting the squad through their paces in a way not seen under Arsene Wenger. Kolasinac’s comparative lack of fitness and pace was telling, as the Bosnian’s clumsy challenge led to a penalty being conceded.

Meanwhile, skipper for the day Mesut Ozil, despite his early well-taken goal, was also struggling to put in a decent shift. The same goes for Henrik Mikhitaryan, who makes token efforts to win the ball back when the opponents have it. Going forward both players offer a lot of flair, but I’m not sure you can have two players with this kind of attitude in one team, even if Guendouzi covers enough ground to make up for one of them, at least. I think you can get away with playing both Ozil and Mikhitaryan in friendlies, but not in Premier League games, where overall work rate is a factor. Last season, Spurs covered a lot more ground than Arsenal on average, and you’d like to think that Emery is going to address this issue.

A good example of working hard for the cause is Mohamed Elneny, who like Guendouzi, tries to make himself available for team-mates. The central midfield pairing of those two seemed a case of putting together like with like, but playing both of them was an experiment that worked, as they seemed to be on the same wavelength.

Meanwhile, working out the best central defensive pairing is a much harder task. Shkrodan Mustafi seems determined to claim one of the starting berths, and then it’s just a question of who plays alongside him. The 22-year-old Rob Holding might get the nod, as he’s been generally impressive in the pre-season, capping his performance with a looping, headed goal.

On the subject of goals, upfront the Jason Derulo lookalike, Alexandre Lacazette, continued to impress with two well-taken goals. The 19-year-old Eddie Nketiah added a fifth to put the game out of sight for PSG.

Based on the friendly performances so far and on what we saw at the tail end of last season, I’d be tempted to start the following team in the Premier League: Leno; Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Monreal; Elneny or Torreira; Ramsey, Guendouzi, Ozil, Lacazette; Aubemayang (4-1-4-1).

Looking at the team, you can see the need of a right winger. Ramsey can play there, but it’s not an ideal solution, which is why I’d sell him for around £30m to Chelsea, if needs be. Then the money could be used to bring in someone, who actually relishes the chance to play wide right.

I really can’t see Ramsey staying, as he won’t be happy being moved out to the right. Then again, perhaps Emery won’t do that, but Reiss Nelson doesn’t look ready to start on the right wing yet in the Premier League.

Some people may be questioning why I’ve left the 20-year-old Ainsley Maitland-Niles out. The truth is I’m not sure of his best position, so I’d rather have such versatility on the bench.

For all that’s been made of the current crop of homegrown players, I’m much more impressed with some of the players that have been brought in since Sven Mislintat arrived. Those expecting a similar revolution at the club as that experienced under George Graham are set to be disappointed.

With the possible exception of the prodigious talent that is 18-year-old Emile Smith Rowe, there does not seem to be many budding Paul Mersons, Michael Thomases, David Rocastles, Paul Davises, Ray Parlours and Tony Adamses at the club right now unfortunately. That’s why Arsenal need to buy their way to the title. All I am saying is you don’t necessarily have to give homegrown youth a chance, if you want to win trophies.

About the Author:

The Loose Cannon (TLC) is a labour of love set up by the former FromTheTerrace managing editor and freelance Sky News football pundit, Joe Broadfoot. I know I'm opinionated and a bit left-field, but other contributors are most welcome to send in their opinions, news pieces and so on regarding Arsenal FC for potential publication. Don't forget, if you've got something to write about Arsenal, it would be great to hear from you!

4 Comments

  1. Jack Johnson July 30, 2018 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    Why so much negativity? The left back got beat for pace in one play and you make a gigantic conclusion as to his general play. In the humid conditions, they were very impressive. A pertinent observer will notice an embroyinic development of a more structured positioning on and off the ball. Perfection takes time, effort and desire, exactly the focus of the new head coach. Cynicism and nolstagia is not needed.

    • Joe July 30, 2018 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      There’s not that much negativity in the article. I’ve stated, which is a positive, that Matteo Guendouzi looks like an astute signing and even a player previously brought in, like Rob Holding, may finally get his proper ‘breakthrough season’. How is negative to state that? Additionally, I am not usually a Kolasinac detractor, as I actually think he brings a lot to the team. I made a comment about his fitness level, not about his ability. I also questioned whether he will fit into the new regime, as some players may not enjoy working harder than they have ever done before at Arsenal. We shall see.

      As regards the George Graham ‘nostalgia’, I was actually reacting to comments by pundits, who seem to think that Arsenal’s homegrown talent will get more opportunities this season than under Arsene Wenger. Personally, I don’t think this will happen, as even the great ‘homegrown hope’, Jack Wilshere, was told he wouldn’t be a regular starter, which is why he is now at West Ham. Meanwhile, I do agree with you that perfection takes time and this is just the beginning of a huge change. If you read the article more carefully, you may have noticed that I am optimistic about Arsenal’s chances this season, even if the likes of Nketiah and Nelson don’t play as big a part as some are expecting.

  2. silentstan July 30, 2018 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    it was Ozils first game back ffs

    • Joe July 30, 2018 at 10:12 pm - Reply

      You are only as good as your last game! Based on that, Ozil did okay, as he scored! If he can make any lifestyle changes that may be necessary (by that I mean cutting out smoking, going out late etc) to become the best professional he can be, I’m sure he can improve his fitness levels. To be a total success under Emery, I believe he needs to that. Actually, I think Ozil will give his very best this season after the disappointments of the World Cup, which ironically he was saving himself for at the end of last season.

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