Modern day players, they just do not know what it means to play for The Arsenal. They see the club as an employer, they do not love the club, they do not have passion for the club, they have no loyalty. It is just about a pay check.
I completely agree with the above statement, but the reality is, on the pitch, does it really matter?
In 2004, we had a team that had one local lad in the starting XI. Ashley Cole. And look how he treated the club. We went invincible with a team, a squad full of foreign players.
Look at Manchester City this season. A team of expensive imports. Not a single one from Manchester in their first team squad. And they are running away with it.
Whilst I would love a team full of XI local lads, showing passion for the shirt, winning things, the reality is, knowing what it means to play for the club is overrated in the modern game.
Look at Spurs. Harry Kane is a boyhood Arsenal fan. He watched the 2006 Champions League Final at a friend of mines house. Wearing his Arsenal shirt. He cried when Arsenal lost. He might play for Tottenham, but he is certainly not one of their own.
Passion is often bought up when it comes to the North London Derby.
Lee Dixon joined Arsenal in early 1988. He joined a team which contained the likes of Tony Adams, David O’Leary, Kenny Sansom, Rocky Rocastle, Paul Davis, Paul Merson, Michael Thomas, Martin Hayes and Gus Caesar. A lot of local lads who knew what it mean to play for the club. Knew what the North London Derby was all about.
Compare that to today.
You look all over the pitch and wonder does anyone actually care. The answer is no. The likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Theo Walcott, Hector Bellerin,. They are not Arsenal lads. None are London lads. And only one is English.
The 1986 team knew what it meant to play for The Arsenal. The 2017 do not.
So Lee Dixon joined in 1988. He had 8 years at the club, under George Graham then Bruce Rioch, playing alongside players who knew what it mean to play for the club. Playing in a team that won 2 league titles.
Then Arsene Wenger came along and changed the club. Less local boys every season, to a point where there have been plenty of occasions in the last 15 years where not a single Englishman has been on the pitch.
We then have the last 8 years. A team of underachieving, over paid mercenaries who do not care about the club and have not even been near to winning a league title, let along achieve what that 1988 team did.
So it is then interesting that Arsenal’s record in the last 8 years home & away and in all competitions against Spurs is actually better now that it was during the more successful period when players knew what the North London Derby meant.
Showing passion on the pitch, and having local boys coming through, is good for the fans, but means nothing if it does not translate to results on the pitch.