Monday, December 5, 2022

History urges caution when predicting bright futures

48 players have represented the Arsenal first-team having graduated from the club’s Academy system since its inception in 1998, and that figure could well pass half a century when Shrewsbury Town visit North London in the Carling Cup later this month, but, upon closer analysis, the number of those products who have gone on to carve out a long-term career at the club is comparatively small.

To date, only four players, Ashley Cole, Cesc Fabregas, Nicklas Bendtner and Johan Djourou, have gone on to make in excess of 100 appearances for the club having come through the Academy, whilst the latter pair join Wojciech Szczesny, Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs as the only current members of the first-team squad to have progressed through the system.

Of course, it is never going to be the case that a large proportion of youngsters will make the grade at the club, with new signings, injuries, and in some cases a lack of ability or determination proving stumbling blocks. On some occasions, however, players who seemed destined for a prolonged stint in the first-team end up faring considerably worse on the big stage than had been anticipated.

Take the infamous scholarship intake of 2007, for example. This group, containing the likes of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Henri Lansbury, Sanchez Watt, Craig Eastmond, Gilles Sunu and Kyle Bartley was expected to prosper, with the majority having progressed all the way through the club’s Hale End system learning the intricate details of eachothers’ games. They succeeded in winning the FA Youth Cup in 2009, but, two years on, the group as a whole has not made as big a dent in the first-team as perhaps had been expected.

Emmanuel-Thomas was sold to Ipswich this summer following just a handful of first-team outings, whilst Gilles Sunu is now a Lorient player on a permanent basis after struggling to command first-team opportunities during his four year stay at the club. Eastmond is currently recovering from injury, but when he returns he will find himself having been overtaken by the younger Francis Coquelin and Emmanuel Frimpong, and Watt is likely to join Lansbury out on loan shortly with first-team opportunities, even in the Carling Cup, appearing out of reach at present. Bartley has perhaps made the most progress out of this group, and will spend the season with Rangers, but even his chances of succeeding at the club in the long term are not beyond doubt.

This is not to suggest that the Arsenal Academy system is a failure, far from it. If you were to pick up a newspaper on a Sunday morning then you would doubtless find reports of matches in the top two divisions of English football containing the names of several former Gunners. The likes of Cole, Sebastian Larsson, Fabrice Muamba, Matthew Connolly and Armand Traore are all currently plying their trade in the Premier League, with plenty of others operating in the divisions immediately below.

It is highly unrealistic to expect many of the impressive current batch of youngsters to still be at the club in five years time, let alone commanding a regular place in the side. Arsenal is a club where young players are likely to receive more opportunities, particularly in the Carling Cup, than they may do elsewhere, and the excitement generated when an internally-produced youngster pulls on the red and white in a competitive fixture for the first time should be allowed to diffuse.

It is worth remembering, however, that in the long run only a select few will succeed in ‘making it’ at Arsenal.


Jeorge Bird is the author of,  follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird


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Stuart Hammon

Out of the current crop who do you think has the talent to go on ? Afobe to me looks good ! But the one thing i worry about with all our youngsters is that we dont have to many leaders or players with a winning mentallity that can teach our huge crop of talented youngsters how to actually win ! Its a frustrating time to be a gooner even with the experience we brought in this summer !


I think ‘Ozzy’ has a good chance, Afobe & Coquelin also.

Aneke has been feted for some time.

As regards ‘leaders’ – there are no shortage amongst the new signings –
Per Mertesacker – 26 years old, Former Werder Bremen captain, 75 Germany caps
Andre Santos – 28 years old, 22 Brazil caps
Mikel Arteta – 29 years old, 161 Premier League appearances – more than any other Arsenal player
Yossi Benayoun – 31 years old, Current Israel captain with 83 Israel caps
Park Chu-Young – 26 years old, Current captain of South Korea with 53 caps


WhoTF is Ozzy?




26 + 28 + 29 + 31 + 26 = 140….140 / 5 = the average age of our “end of summer” signings is 28.

We got just what we wanted – experienced players – and not just that, but experienced leaders as well.

Simply cannot wait to see how improved we’ll look on the pitch…
Bring on Swansea!


Nice article. I have to say, that along with many others I ‘drank the kool-aid’ with the class of 2007. For me, the moment I stopped investing so much hope with the youths was following Nacer Barazite’s failure to launch. For literally years I read one hyperbolic article after the next about how this lad was the next Bergkamp, something really special, nailed on for the first team, amongst the brightest prospects in Europe. Aren’t we so lucky to have unearthed this glittering diamond?! Well, at 21 he might still come good, but playing for Austria Wien is hardly the… Read more »


Great article Jeorge, good to see you on Arseblog! I always remain hopeful for the future with Afobe, Aneke, Ebecilio plus new guns Gnabry, Toral, Bellerin and U-16’s Jebb, Akpom, Lipman. The future is bright even if only a few make the first team. I still hold out hope for Bartley too. I believe you have to be special to make it at Arsenal – Wilshere, Cesc, Szcesney! In Arsene We Trust

Midfield Corporal

I don’t think we have done the youngsters any favours helping them progress into the first team. Players like Lansbury, JET, Gavin Hoyte were lorded as the future of the club by Arsene, yet they don’t seem to have been given a real chance and when they do it is generally in a team full of reserves and kids. Would the Romford Pele, Parlour have made it if he hadn’t been in a team with Adams, Dixon, Keown, Bould, wright etc to help guide him through games. Maybe if JET had had a mentor such as Vieira or gilberto to… Read more »


Can you really say the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Nicklas Bendtner came through the academy. Both came in relatively late on in their development ffrom other clubs.


I guess you have to look at it from the perspective that you cannot simply produce all of your team. Our youth system is much larger than the actual academy. It includes young players like Jenkinson and Song who were bought a bit older but were still younger than 20. And if you can get one or two of these players a season, you’re producing at a very high rate. Song Wilshere Szczesny Those 3 have made their breakthroughs in the last two years. That’s a high rate. Even Barcelona’s much talked about class of ’87 only ever produced three… Read more »


Great article. Of course the better your team is the harder it will be for these youngsters but if you can produce one Jack Wilshire from every 50 players you can’t complain. If you look at the likes of Chelsea who only have John Terry make it through their ranks in the last 10 years or Man City who will never bring a youngster through their ranks as long as they have money I think we’ve done well. I think we need to take a leaf from Utds book though and get these youngsters playing alongside more experienced members and… Read more »


Midfield – that’s, in part, why we send them on loan. There are plenty of senior figures at Cardiff but Jet was not much of one for listening by some accounts.

Also JET had outings with the reserves when he would have played alongside senior Arsenal figures.

To an extent you have the right attitude, like Wilshere, or you do not.

In hindsight maybe the writing was on the wall, with regards JET’s character, when he drove a 100K Mercedes McLaren without a provisional license and failed to stop for the police…

Midfield Corporal

Fair comment, I guess JET looked the ideal footballer, big, strong and skilful, but never applied himself. If he had the brain to look at what players like Dixon and Winterburn achieved with limited ability but the willingness to work hard and desire to win he might have made it with us, but I guess you can’t coach a players personality.


Agreed – I think, as much as anything, you can’t instil desire/hunger if it isn’t there. You are certainly right about JET’s talent – I always thought he would come good – I hope ending up at Ipswich is the shock to the system he needs but of course it may already be too late to gain what he lost through lack of application whilst young. Pennant being an obvious example.

Frimpong is, arguably, less talented than either of them but will go on to have a much better career.


Arsenal are limited geographically from recruiting kids in England, right? I wonder if Barcelona have the same kind of limitation in Spain.

Manx Gooner

I don’t know if Barcelona have the same geographical restrictions for requiting kids in Spain as we do in England, but Spain has fewer work permit restrictions. Therefore they can bring someone like Messi from Argentina at a young age, which English clubs won’t be able to do unless the work permit laws are changed.

It also explains why the young players we ship over from the Americas have to be loaned out to Spanish clubs for several years so they can gain Spanish citizenship and hence no longer require a work permit.


Excellent article. Pretty thought provoking. You do instinctively think that we’re better than the other clubs at bringing these kids through, certainly when you compare against the Moan U’s, Chelski’s, Citeh’s etc. And three of the actual and potential quality of SZCZ, Jack and Gibbs, pretty much as 1st team starters is good going in anyone’s book.


good article. shows what a shower of shit these kids are. get rid. buy some experienced talent ffs!


Moronic, simplistic response.


The academy is still a fairly new set up it takes decades to bed in properly


By lauding our youth, we only serve to put them on a pedestal. After a while they start to believe their own hype, and that’s when the problems start.


Na$ri is a cornholed CUNT


Just a quick message for $amir Na$ri: Enjoy your BREAK you fucking cunting cunt.


can’t perform his favourite pass-time for a while now


Give me Ray Parlour any day.

The Adventures Of Batmanu Eboué & Robin Van Persie

The only player that I can see coming through our Academy, who will have a big impact is Jon Toral Harper. Him and Samper where pencilled to move into Barca B in the next 2 years.

He was very highly rated in Barcelona alongside Samper and Grimaldo, who are the most promising bunch since the 87 generation which had the likes of Messi.Fabregas and Pique.

Expect him to be in the 1st team within the next 2 years.

Or he could be Fran Merida.

I think our first team is slightly better than Barca B.

[…] Campbell. Another good read would be by Jeorgebird, who paints the tough lifes of our young talents, and how we should not expect too much of them. Don’t forget to subscribe by either leaving a comment and clicking on the notify me of new […]


And in the barca team the year after in that case


Would like to see Frimpong, Bartley & Lansbury make it, they all seem like they would run through brick walls for the club.


Frimpong aside I think Miyaichi is gonna strut his haduken ninja skills & outperform all the other kids this season….
Dutch fans are a savvy bunch & anyone who saw him play last year knows that they ain’t taking the piss when they nicknamed him Ryodinho… even though me thinks it should have been Ryonaldo.
The board are tight sphinctered, profit loving CUNTS and are gonna let that Hill Billy CUNT scavenge our club into mediocrity….
Almost forgot…. Na$ri is the CUNT de la CUNT of CUNTS…. Fooking CUNT biscuit.


They didn’t call him Ryonaldo because there is a similar named prick playing for Real Madrid.

Bromley Gooner

Wish people would stop going on about the board being tight, brand new stadium that is nearly paid off!!!!!!! Engage brain before fingers, the future could be a very long time you have to plan ahead in everything u do otherwise end up like Leeds


Oh Yeah… You do realize that arsenal shares pay out the highest dividends…. In my book, they are investing the bare minimum into the club while paying out handsomely… Great point about financial prudence & not doing a leeds, however, the future of the club is also dependent on having a fan base… In today’s world, tv rights & merchandising dwarf match day gate takings… Look at the fanbase that’s developing in emerging economies in Asia… The biggest supported clubs are the Mancs & Barca…. They win stuff! All I’m saying is that to ensure a future fanbase, the team… Read more »


They don’t pay dividends at all.

The Big Man

We don’t receive dividends, matey…


On the positive side, especially if we consider SCZC a product of at least some Arsenal system training, there is this:


The fact is if our youth academy keeps producing talents then it’s still a good source of revenue even if they don’t cut it for the first team. There’s an enormous amount of successful ex-gunners plying there trade with other teams that we flogged off to other teams for decent money. For the likes of Lansbury and co. It’s just a case of being an exceptional talent, but the lessor of 3 exceptional talents. Wilshire & Ramsey are well above Lansbury and arsenal simply cannot afford to have more than these 2 as the apprentice midfielders of the first team.… Read more »

Midfield Corporal

Not sure we can really assess whether or not Lansbury is good enough until he plays 10-15 games in the first team. Agree that he is unlucky with timing but personally I think we need more steel and commitment, which Lansbury would give. I can see him being another Seb Larsson or Steven Sidwell, good pro’s that we should have kept but let go because we had Eboue and Denilson.

[…] of which, the latest reserves/youth column on Arseblog News by Jeorge Bird is well worth a read. I have often wondered if the increased expectation on young […]


If we had 11 Ray Parlour’s on the team we’d win the league in a canter every season. He was the perfect combination of talent & never-say-die attitude on & off the pitch. As much as i hate to admit it i have to agree with Gary Neville when he wrote that the 1998 season Arsenal team was the best Arsenal team ever. Arsene! Clone some Ray Parlour’s for the youth academy!!!


Are you sure about the `off the pitch` bit? Remember he was TA`s drinking pal in hundreds of drunken binges. Agree more with the rest though.

David Young

You forgot to mention Frimpong as a current first team squad member. That aside though, whilst I understand the point of what you are saying, surely getting ridiculously over-excited about homegrown players coming through is, and always has been, part of being a football fan? It is true that only a small percentage make a real impact – but hasn’t that always been the case? The Arsenal Academy do a fantastic job. From the young players’ perspective, if they last the course but don’t make it with Arsenal, there is a high chance they will be picked up by other… Read more »

Smeer Na$ri (with shit)

agree with some points, but i do think Walcott has improved, considerably. Also, I don’t buy the argument that Wilshere might have been sold to Bolton. I think he was only ever going to go on loan there, and, having had a brilliant season for them, was a shoe in for a first team spot although he did play way more than was expected last season. He had already been earmarked as a great player for the future, especially after his displays at the Emirates Cup before his loan move. He was just loaned out to add the final touches… Read more »

Theo Van Ramshere

I’d even say you can’t count CESC. Didn’t he play 33 1st team appearances in his 2nd year at the club. He developed playing for the first team, not the youth system.


2008 Youth Cup and League winners in first team include:


Others to follow:



Hoping Henri Lansbury makes it, concerned that if he does impress at West Ham he may well move on with his contract running down and you couldn’t blame him given a deal has not been offered (as far as we know) and the limited game he as ad to date. I guess e was victim of one too many young players to blood at once. I like that he mixes it up, drives into the box for the end of mixes it up, good engine, gutsy player and a little spark about him. Worth more time. Wasted by England U21… Read more »

Nija Gunner

…nice article, but are you guys saying that the Arsenal Acedemy has failed?

[…] Link: Arsenal Youth System – History urges caution when predicting bright futures […]

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