Tag Archives: She Wore A Yellow Ribbon

Arsenal fans unhealthy obsession with young players

The rise of social media has confided with fans having an unhealthy obsession with young players who have achieved nothing the in the game.

Previously, “fan accounts” were for a clubs best players. Alexis Sanchez. Mesut Ozil. Aaron Ramsey. And so on.

However with fans now driven by “being first”, many any end “fan boying” young players. They can then say “I was a big fan ever since he was 1 if he makes it.

These sort of people probably run multiple account for every young player; in the hope one makes it and they gain thousands of followers. A fairy sad existence.

But what it has led to at Arsenal is the over hyping of Willian Saliba and Folarin Balogan.

Saliba has been overhyped since the day we signed him around 18 months ago. “The new van Dijk” or “the Mbappe of central defenders” they called him.

The reality is he was just 18 when he signed and had barely played senior football.

Fans then cried that Mikel Arteta was not playing him. They would post up videos showing one good tackle. One good control. One good clearance. But they turned a blind eye to his rashness and mistakes.

These people had not actually seen him play. They hyped him up for clout; and as an extension of the Mesut Ozil debate.

They hate Mikel Arteta over his treatment of Ozil, so automatically any player Arteta doesn’t play becomes brilliant, and any he plays is awful. It is very transparent.

Most of those slating Arteta for not picking Saliba are also firmly in the “Ozil is a legend” camp. They don’t really rate Saliba, they just rate any player Arteta does not.

But ultimately Arteta sees Saliba every day in training. He sees him alongside Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi, Gabriel and Pablo Mari.

Arteta is best placed to make a decision on young players. Not some kid who has never seen him player.

People seem to have forgotten that Virgil van Dijk was playing in Holland for Groningen at 18.

He then moved to Celtic in Scotland before coming to the Premier League at 24. Not to join a big club but to join Southampton.

It was not until he was 26 that Liverpool made him the most expensive defender in the world.

Van Dijk was not even a full Dutch international until he was 24. As a young player he was very much recognised as someone who was a fantastic physical specimen but rash in the challenge and error prone. A bit like Saliba.

From what I have seen of Saliba he reminds me of a young Rio Ferdinand. He strolls through games but is too casual on the ball.

Ferdinand, like van Dijk, did not become the worlds most expensive overnight.

He started at West Ham before joining Leeds United.

Manchester United signed Ferdinand at 24, by which time he had played nearly 200 Premier League games.

Saliba will become a very good central defender. But he has a lot to learn. He needs to get 100 appearances under his belt, improve his game awareness and grow. Even if we do not see him for another 2 seasons he will still just be 21.

He needs to be given the time to develop.

Like Saliba, Balogun has a fan base which is mystifying.

People are claiming that Balogun should be playing ahead of Eddie Nketiah, ahead of Gabriel. Ahead of Alex Lacazette.

This is a guy that has performed well at youth level. But it is way to wary for people to be writing him into starting XIs.

Compare him to Bukayo Saka.

Saka is 2 months younger than Balogun and has over 60 appearances.

I see some say “Arteta hates young players”; but Saka disproves that.

It is clear that Arteta will play you regardless of your age as long as you are good enough.

Saka is good enough, Balogun is not yet.

That does not mean Balogun will not become a good striker, but as it stands he is 5th choice – behind Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gabriel and Nketiah.

The best comparison at the club for Balogun is Gabriel.

Born within days of each other, Gabriel has shown he is Premier League quality. Balogun has not.

A couple of goals as a teenager off the bench in the Europa League does not suddenly make him a superstar. It is no more than what either Gabriel or Nketiah have done.

The Balogun deal is reportedly held up either due to money or playing time.

On money; it is ludicrous to say “just pay him what he wants”. I have seen some say “sell Nketiah and pay his transfer fee to Balogun”. These people do not know much about football.

Chelsea paid Callum Hudson-Odoi a reported £120,000 a week to keep him. This would make Balogun one of Arsenal’s top 10 paid players.

The level below that is Saka and Gabriel.

Both recently signed new deals for a reported £90,000 a week. Both deserved their new deals after consistent performances.

Anyone who thinks it is logical to pay Balogun more – or even par – to Saka and Gabriel is a plonker.

We have enough disharmony in the squad without paying an unproven youth player more than establish youth players.

Even paying Balogun the same as Rob Holding (who will deserve his new deal) is wrong. Balogun has literally achieved nothing in football and some fans want us to tie up £25m in a contract for him.

If it is playing time Balogun wants, then he has a two options.

Sign a new deal and take a loan or leave.

The fact is Balogun has players ahead of him in the pecking order at Arsenal.

Even if you discount Nketiah (whose time is probably running out); he is still behind Aubameyang, Lacazette and Gabriel. He has not shown he is better than any of those.

So sign a contract and take a 6 month loan deal. Go smash in half a dozen goals in the Championship. Come back having proven that you can compete with Gabriel to be back up to Aubameyang (I think Lacazette will leave in the summer). But the key is go and prove what you can do.

We have seen good youth strikers before at Arsenal. Lupoli, Afobe, Akpom, Nketiah. Dominated U18 games does not mean you will automatically step up.

His other option is to leave. To follow the likes of Stephy Mavididi and Xavier Amaechi out the door. Where are those two now?

Of course, some will say he is the “new Gnabry” – something people put out every time a young Arsenal players leaves.

Mavididi and Amaechi have done little since leaving the club.

Donyell Malen has dropped a level and is now performing well in Holland. But Saka is levels ahead (and the same age).

I would imagine if Nketiah left for Holland, he would outside Malen.

A lot of people also point to Jeff Reine-adélaïde as “another Gnabry”.

“The Jeff” is now 22 and has yet to do anything to prove Arsenal wrong in letting him go.

He went to Angers, where after a good season he earned himself a big money move to Lyon. They have now loaned him out to Nice. He turns 23 in a week.

Is Jeff better than Saka? No. Is he even better than Willock? Probably not. And Emile Smith Rowe is not too far behind.

Balogun and Saliba are good young players, but they are not on the level of senior first team Arsenal players. Anyone that thinks they are is either deluded or agenda driven.

For every Cesc there is a Merida. Every Wilshere a Zelalem. Every Anelka and Afobe.

Bar Gnabry – who had not played for 2 years – Arsenal have not regretted losing a young player. Not been proved wrong in allowing them to go.

It will happen again. But we have to back the decisions of the coach. The management.

And ultimately back the players who are at the club. Who want to stay here. Not those that think the grass is greener elsewhere.


Match Report: WBA 0 – 4 Arsenal

West Bromwich Albion (0) 0 Arsenal (2) 4

Premier League

The Hawthorns, 9 Birmingham Road, West Bromwich B71 4LF

Saturday, 2nd January 2021. Kick-off time: 8.00pm

(4-2-3-1) Bernd Leno; Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Pablo Marí, Kieran Tierney; Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka; Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang; Alexandre Lacazette.

Substitutes: Willian Borges da Silva, Alex Rúnarsson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Nicolas Pépé, David Luiz, Mohamed Elneny, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli.

Scorers: Kieran Tierney (23 mins), Bukayo Saka (28 mins), Alexandre Lacazette (61, 64 mins)

Yellow Cards: Hector Bellerin, Dani Ceballos

Arsenal Possession Percentage: 62%

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Assistant Referees: Darren Cann, Harry Lennard

Fourth Official: Darren England

VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR Jonathan Moss; AVAR Stephen Child

Attendance: A maximum of 300 attendees due to UK government coronavirus restrictions

Firstly, Happy New Year to everyone! Secondly, the pressing matter of tonight’s game. After winning the previous two matches, this evening’s contest becomes paramount in our restoration to a decent Premiership position, one that a club of our stature should be rightly pround of. Today is all about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is set to make his one hundredth Premier League appearance; and by the way, he has also been involved in seventeen goals in fifteen Premiership matches against promoted opposition, scoring thirteen goals and four assists. To date, he has scored fifty-seven Premiership goals (with thirteen assists) since he started here at Arsenal in the 2017-18 season. Congratulations, may there be many more goals and assists for us from him, starting with tonight’s match at The Hawthorns. Let’s go! 

On an absolutely freezing night in the West Midlands, both sides started quite slowly, probably due to the chilly nature of the weather tonight, but we looked the livelier of the two teams when Hector Bellerin drilled a low shot at goal which goalkeeper Sam Johnstone managed to clear the ball away after just four minutes. Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe got extremely close to opening the scoring, but in both cases, the WBA goalie saved well; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also came close to scoring (via a Bukayo Saka cross) after fifteen minutes, but only suceeded in wrapping himself around the far post! After twenty-two minutes, Kieran Tierney beat Darnell Furlong twice on the left, cut inside, and scored a beautiful opening goal with his right foot that sailed past Sam Johnstone and into the top right-hand corner of the net. Five minutes later, we got the second goal of the evening, when Bukayo Saka received a pass and fed Alexandre Lacazette, who rolled it into the path of Emile Smith Rowe in the box; he then merely laid it on a plate for Bukayo Saka who tapped the ball into an open net from a couple of yards out, which finished off a Barҫa-like movement perfectly, and in the middle of a snowstorm too! Sublime. Despite being two goals ahead, this did not stop our hunger for more. Rob Holding came close with a powerful header that the WBA goalie managed, somehow to hold, and just before the healf-time break, Alexandre Lacazette was desperately unlucky not to score from close range, when his powerful shot cannoned off the goalie for a corner.

Just a couple of minutes into the second half, the home side did manage to get the ball into the back of our net, but fortunately it was cancelled out for offside. Phew. Anyway, we composed ourselves and got back into the match with some very good work on the wing by our two full-backs, and less than ten minutes after the restart, surprisingly it has to be said, Ainsley Maitland-Niles replaced Hector Bellerin at full-back. Just after the substitution, Dani Ceballos picked out Alexandre Lacazette, but he was forced wide by Sam Johnstone allowing Dara O’Shea to get back on the goal-line and hack the goalbound shot clear; it made no difference, as just after the hour, Bukayo Saka got involved again as his cross was volleyed onto his own post by Semi Ajayi; he then blocked Emile Smith Rowe’s follow through, but the ball fell nicely for Alexandre Lacazette to convert a low finish from about five yards out. And again, three minutes later, Alexandre Lacazette grabbed our fourth (and his second) of the night, when a Kieran Tierney cross was diverted into the back of the WBA net by our number nine, who was having a superb night. Bukayo Saka made way for Willian after seventy minutes, and six minutes later, Joe Willock replaced Emile Smith-Rowe in order to get new legs out on the pitch for the remainder of the game. And still we came forward, hungry for yet more goals. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Kieran Tierney were unfortunate not to score, and despite the disappointment of Dani Ceballos receiving a yellow card for a pointless challenge a couple of minutes before the end, that was pretty much the end of things here at The Hawthorns tonight.

We appear to have risen, phoenix-like, from the ashes of the possibility of relegation. Nine points from three games, eleventh in the Premiership, three points from sixth place. Wow. The demolition derby that took plave in the snowbound West Midlands tonight was a football lesson, the likes of which we have not seen from the team this season. It was a joy to watch from start to finish; accurate passing, good running both on and off the ball, and above all this, they had complete control. Great to see Alexandre Lacazette getting on the scoresheet again, and just how good was Kieran Tierney tonight? A superb way to start a new year. Keep it up, chaps.

Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Newcastle United at the Emirates on Saturday, 9th January at 5.30pm (FA Cup). Victoria Concordia Crescit.


Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.

Match Report: Brighton 0 – 1 Arsenal

Brighton and Hove Albion (0) 0 Arsenal (0) 1

Premier League

The AMEX Stadium, Village Way, Brighton BN1 9BL

Tuesday, 29th December 2020. Kick-off time: 6.00pm

(4-2-3-1) Bernd Leno; Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Pablo Marí, Kieran Tierney; Mohamed Elneny, Granit Xhaka; Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Substitutes: Dani Ceballos, Alexandre Lacazette, Alex Rúnarsson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Cédric Soares, Nicolas Pépé, Shkodran Mustafi, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah

Scorers: Alexandre Lacazatte (66 mins)

Arsenal Possession Percentage: 00%

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Assistant Referees: Gary Beswick, Sian Massey-Ellis

Fourth Official: Michael Oliver

VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR Peter Bankes; AVAR Matthew Wilkes

Attendance: A maximum of 300 attendees due to UK government coronavirus restrictions

So we can do it then. The Boxing Day battering of Chelsea at the Emirates proved beyond reasonable doubt that this group of players are more than capable of meeting challenges head on, and coming through them releatively unscathed. Not only did our remarkable and unexpected victory end our seven-match winless Premiership sequence, but it gave notice to everyone that we are capable of a cohesive, ruthless performance that can put the very best of them to the sword. Now all we have to do is keep it up. Let’s go! 

The match started off fairly even, with both sides halting each others’ progress, but overall, we created the more opportunities to score in the first quarter of an hour or so. The game started to get rather ploddy, with players attemtping to capitalise on some half chances that never really had much of a chance of coming off. Just after the half hour, from a direct free-kick, Granit Xhaka’s left footed shot from outside the box went too high and into the empty stands. Bernd Leno made a superb double save from Alireza Jahanbakhs, which was by far the best chance the home side have had this match. With chances few and far between for both sides, it was an absolute relief when Martin Atkinson blew his whistle for the half-time break.

With no shots on target in the first half, we hope that at the start of the second half, our strikers find their shooting boots in earnest here at the AMEX stadium tonight. Less than a minute of the restart, Brighton claimed a penalty over a suspected foul by Rob Holding, but thankfully VAR cancelled the rather tenuous claim. Minutes later, we had out best attempt to score of the match so far, when Bukayo Saka fired over a cross from the left, to be met by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose shot from point-blank range was pushed aside by the goalkeeper. Then Gabriel Martinelli fired a superb shot over the bar from close range after some sterling work by Emile Smith-Rowe, cutting in from the left, and already, we have looked more lively in the first ten minutes of the second half than all of the previous one! The match started to quieten down and the pendulum swung back a little in the home team’s favour with their forwards showing desire to score. And so, with twenty-five minutes left of the game, Gabriel Martinelli made way for Alexandre Lacazatte; an inspired choice by Mikel Arteta, as literally seconds later, Bukayo Saka tore down the right wing, crossed a low ball, and who was there to tuck the ball away? Yep, you guessed it, our substitute, who announced his entry into the match in the most positive and grandest manner. Bukayo Saka nearly added a second goal five minutes later, when Kieran Tierney cut a ball back from the byline, but his shot was blocked by a couple of Brighton defenders. Dani Ceballos replaced an already injured Bukayo Saka, who hobbled off the pitch after eighty minutes, and following a rejig of the formation, we carried on regardless. We did have one or two lapses of concentration in the final few minutes of the match, but that was addressed by Ainsley Maitland-Niles replacing Emile Smith-Rowe to shore things up at the back somewhat. And it worked, so now we have back-to-back wins in the Premiership in December, and for that we all have to be truly grateful, my friends.

Whatever went on in the dressing room at half-time, it certainly worked! The first half was extremely lack lustre, but the second half was a totally different case in point. They played like a different team, and although it certainly was not pretty at times, we grabbed the three points, which is what counts at the end of the day. Happy New Year.

Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns on Saturday 2nd January 2021 at 8.00pm (Premier League). Victoria Concordia Crescit.


Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.