Sunday, December 10, 2023

Youngsters, Villa + Arsecast 281

Morning all,

it was a sad day at Arseblog HQ yesterday as we lost Bill the Cat, the most meowing cat in all the world who we’ve had since Mrs Blogs rescued him some time in 1996. I estimate he used up about 23 of his 9 lives down the years, so he got to be a good old age, but it’s always a wrench when they go.

Ack! old chap, as Berkley Breathed might say.

In terms of football it was dead quiet again, with nothing happening but a major cull of youngsters announced. Players released include: Sanchez Watt, Conor Henderson, and James Shea while the likes of Eastmond, Angha, Ebicilio and Monteiro have already found new homes.

Most of them, should they apply themselves, will have a decent enough career in professional football, and while there are some talents bubbling under the academy really hasn’t produced anything first team worthy for a little while. The class of Szczesny and Wilshere was the last to come through with Gibbs slightly before them, so there’s certainly an element of ruthlessness in letting so many go.

Those on the fringes now, with the best will in the world, are not the players who are going to transform a team which came fourth into champions. As I mentioned earlier in the week, there are sink or swim loan spells necessary for all those who have the potential to break through. Catching the eye, and gaining experience elsewhere, will be fundamental to their chances but if we see even one from Gnabry, Eisfeld, Bellerin, Olsson, Yennaris or Akpom we’ll be doing well.

That is the harsh reality of professional football at this level, and it hasn’t changed. The attrition rate from academies up and down the country, not just at Arsenal, is incredibly high, and the fact that the youngsters have more exposure doesn’t mean they’re better or more capable than they used to be. We know more about them through new media, and competitions like the NextGen Series are streamed live so we get to see them play, but it’s as tough as it’s ever been to make the step-up at a club like Arsenal.

Elsewhere this morning, the name of David Villa has resurfaced, with Sport saying the Spaniard has offers from Arsenal, Sp*rs and Liverpool to consider. Clearly, given the nature of the other two clubs, there’s only he’d like to join, but with Barcelona looking for €14m for an injury prone 31 year old you would have to question the value for money.

If we were able to negotiate a better price it’s certainly an option I’d like to us to consider. While he’s not a signing for the long-term, or someone with any resale value, he’d instantly add quality and depth to this Arsenal squad. Let’s not forget some of the smartest money we’ve spent in recent seasons was the £10m on a 30 year old Mikel Arteta, a man who has been one of most consistent and important players.

He’d also provide a different kind of option to Giroud who, like it or not, is somebody I think Arsene Wenger believes will be better next season than this. Which isn’t to say I’d be averse to a top, top super quality 25-26 year old who would compete directly with the Frenchman, but I’ve always liked Villa and I think he could be the kind of player who’d do a good, but perhaps diminishing, job for us for two or three seasons.

Anyway, we shall see. Maybe we could get a bundle deal from Barcleona … *cough*

Bonus reading: A Cultured Left Foot has a nice look at some of the boardroom issues that the club face this summer.

Right then, in the absence of any other news, it’s time to get on with this week’s Arsecast. It was recorded live last night as a Google Hangout thingy, and while there were some visual bits which might sound a little odd – including the moment early on when I had a browser window open and got the start of the broadcast in my headphones – the discussion is easy to follow.

I was joined by @gunnerblog, @thegoonerholic and @aallensport to go over the season, with some of our favourites and not so favourites, and there’s a brief, speculative look at what we might do in the summer. It’s also the last Arsecast of the season as it takes its summer break, so I’d just like to thank everyone who listens to all my waffle and nonsense throughout the season, it’s very much appreciated.

You can subscribe to the Arsecast on iTunes by clicking here. Or if you want to subscribe directly to the feed URL you can do so too (this is a much better way to do it as you don’t experience the delays from iTunes). To download this week’s Arsecast directly – click here 30mb MP3) or you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.

The Arsecast is also available on our SoundCloud channel, where you can leave comments and such, as well as via the Soundcloud app for iPhone and Android.

And finally, finally for today – the winner of the Arsenal Photowall, is Feargal Hickey. I’ll be in touch with you to get the details. And make sure to check out Photowall for all your gigantic Arsenal mural needs.

Right then, the sun is out again, sort of. Have yourselves a good Friday and as it’s a bank holiday weekend here, the timing of stuff might be a little off.

You know yourself.

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