Monday, July 22, 2024

Wenger: Arsenal must rely on youth to get back to the top

Arsenal’s under-18s have been in impressive form in recent months and Arsene Wenger believes the latest generation of Academy prospects have what it takes to help return Arsenal to the top of the Premier League.

Kwame Ampadu’s side recently went 14-games without defeat, a run that has seen them climb to second behind Chelsea in the Premier League South table and into the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup; a tournament the Gunners haven’t won since Jack Wilshere, Francis Coquelin and co. lifted the trophy in 2009.

Ahead of the under-18s quarter-final clash with Colchester United, Arsene Wenger underlined his belief that the next few years will see Arsenal reap the benefits of considerable investment at youth level.

“I always have an eye on that [the FA Youth Cup],” the Frenchman told Arsenal Player this week.

“We spoke about our DNA and that’s part of us as well. The quality of our youth is very important.

“We invest a lot of money in there and it is to have end products. End products are players who have the quality to play for the first team. That’s why you always look around when it’s international competition or national competition, like the FA Youth Cup. It’s always very important to know where we stand compared to the other clubs.

“Behind the players that we know already, like Nketiah, Willock, Dasilva and Nelson, we have another group of young players just behind who are very good as well.

“I’m convinced that in the next two or three years, Arsenal will have a lot of satisfaction on that front. I’m convinced that the way for Arsenal to come back to fight for the Premier League is to rely on a core of young players to come out of our football club.”

From the summer, the responsibility for the Academy will fall under Per Mertesacker’s remit. He faces a tough job striking a balance between attracting the very best talent to the club, developing them as players and men and also ensuring that the environment in which they hone their skills isn’t too comfortable.

Arsene Wenger has spoken recently about his desire to see the FA and Premier League combat wage inflation at youth level because, in his opinion, the influx of cash is stunting the hunger to succeed at the highest level.

There’s also the issue of big clubs snapping up all the best schoolboy talent and ultimately not being in a position to give them first team opportunities. For context, Chelsea have won the FA Youth Cup in six of the last eight years, the last three times beating Manchester City in the final.


For more updates on the under-23s, under-18s and the youngsters out on loan, make sure you check out our ‘Reserves & Youth‘ section, updated weekly by resident Academy specialist @JeorgeBird.


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Next two or three years…….secret Wenger contract talks happening? We are fucked!

Mein Bergkampf

Nah, not buying it. You’ve had the Europa League this season and countless games where we could’ve seen a start or two from the young lads. And you’ve always ignored them for the Walcott’s and Elneny’s of our squad – players we know all too well what they are capable of. We’ve maybe once seen Nelson start a game from an attacking position, AMN has had a similar amount of action in DM and Eddie seems to have been marginalised after his heroics at Norwich. Besides, which older professional on the field is going to take these players under their… Read more »


exactly. He is just looking for last straws. because he knows fans will get behind youth players . but wenger is no longer a good coach for young players coming at arsenal. He used to be but not anymore. walcot bellerin ox chambers holding countless players he has mismanaged. ox was so fed up he took a paycut just to get better coaching for klopp. and even if we take the case of this season . he could’ve given Amn a chace instead of xhaka who has been for all his potential a disaster . How bad could it have… Read more »


How many players have come through our youth team and been successful (played in the first team for a few years) in the last 20 years? Even if we count Cesc, Walcott and Ramsey, who grew up in other teams?

I’m struggling to get to 10, but happy if anyone can tell me it is more.

I don’t think we can rely on youth based on the evidence.

Pedant can’t find that many successful youth teamers, can find loads that weren’t successful.


Exactly. Long list of players who were meant to be top class players by now and all we’ve got is Bellerin and Wilshere.
And some supporters would argue they aren’t good enough


I think you can make a pretty reasonable argument though that especially in his later years Wenger has not been the type of coach that young players need to develop. His strength early on was scouting (he knew the golden French generation while most of England relied on English players) and psychology. As Lee Dixon said yesterday (and many other former players have hinted at) the players he inherited from Graham did a lot of the actual coaching of players like Cole or Henry who were coming through. If we sign a manager who is adept at coaching young players… Read more »

Reality check

Isn’t this the rhetoric from project youth era and the British core.

Charles Charlie Charles

Yep. PY didn’t work ten years ago and it won’t work now.

Reality check

Few years ago, we all pinned our hopes on new sponsership money believing he’s still got it. Turns out, he hasn’t. Instead of improvement, we’ve instead seen a gradual decline in both his on and off the field management
Trust me, there have been a lot of conversions from AkB to – he’s lost it, including me. I converted when we were the only team not to have bought a singal outfield player and foxes of all clubs won the league. we finished above all the big boys but still couldn’t lift the league..


Just playing the hits on the farewell tour




On recent signings, Wenger has failed to improve any player that has been brought into the club like we used to see. Welbeck, xhaka, mustafi, kolasinac, lacazette, Cech, Debuchy. They have all gone backwards not forwards.

The only one I can remember in recent years who has really improved is Monreal.

He simply cannot get the best out of players anymore.

Cliff Bastin

So like Southampton


Haven’t seen Southampton challenge for any trophies, much less the league…


Except Southhamptons youth is better than ours. Dont really see anything special in any of them. Some of them are quick, but thats about it.


Project youth! Welcome to 10 years ago!

Toure motors

Agreed. Touch of the Marty McFly’s off that statement.


Let’s give credit where it’s due. Let’s respect Wenger when it comes to giving youth a chance. whicb club does that? Totally proud of our club for this.


Yeah, because we have seen so many youth products who just bursted into the squad in the last decade… Come on.


Been there, tried that and failed…

Belfast Gooner

Just go already! No more wasting money, and no more project youth! It’s over!


Sounds strangely familiar.

Jack Action

The point about Chelsea and City dominating the youth leagues lately is valid but it also points to an opportunity – neither of those teams are giving academy players a shot at the first team. If we became more of a club that pushed youth players through then eventually young players would see the better path we’d represent and not sign for City or Chelsea, regardless of the money.


Cultivating and selling youth prospects? The more you have to sell, the more you make whether they ever play in your first team. That’s been Chelsea’s M.O. for a decade.



Or, as I thought you were going to say, buying those talented prospects not being given a chance at those teams… aged 19/20 etc…??


Boy does he not know what not to say right now. A new team is what we need but a team of fucking superstars. Please leave before it’s too late..


It’s now at the stage where I’m totally fucking uninterested in what he says about anything. I’d just like him to leave. This saddens me a lot. My first real season when I could afford to go to home games was 98, his first full season in charge. my whole adult life with the bloke in charge for Christ’s sake. All of that time spent having total and utter respect for the man. How did he / the board let it come to this?

Yorkshire gunner

As excited as I am at the growth of out young guns, shout out to Jorge Bird for keeping us up to date, it kinda feels like we’re back to square one. The way wenger talks about it, it seems the “competing with the likes of bayern Munich days are already over, or at the very least, that’s what wenger wants


I do believe this is the club’s vision, especially with the hiring of the fella from Dortmund. Furthermore, Stan is all about the money, which the youth vision accomplishes (assuming it works). Unfortunately the PL is too money driven in terms of predicted results, and we’ll need more than youth to get to the top. We’ll also need a new manager and a new owner.


I do think it could be highly effective if we bring in a manager like Jardim who really is skilled at coaching and developing young players. What I would like to see and where I think we are headed is similar to Dortmund in trying to sign the top young players – the Malcoms or Dembele’s of the world vs. just trying to take punts on very low priced players like we have the past few years. I think that’s a totally valid strategy as it’s going to be very hard for us to attract the top tier players and… Read more »


The money for stan is in the value of the club. The value of the club is linked to performamces on the pitch, therefore stan wants us to win.


So no big recruit for next season. Anyway who would like to come…

Danish Gooner

In all those 21 years he have been manager only a handful of talent have come through the youth ranks the rest is long forgotten,why suddenly would we reap 5 or 6 top quality players,it makes no sense.Wenger smokescreen trying to hold on to his 10 mil a year.

Danish Gooner

wengers youth comment is as fradulent a comment as when he constantly tells us he can turn it around,if he could why the fuck does the same failings exists in this team as it did in project youth.


Bild reporting today that we may be in for Bernd Leno this summer. 26 years of age, has played a lot of Bundesliga football, rated highly in Germany.
Thoughts on him replacing Cech for the next season?



me 2

Is this a hint that the bastard is going to be kicking around for even longer to repeat an experiment that failed miserably to begin with?


I’ve just got no interest in what this man says no more he is a joke we are going backwards he is taking Arsenal down


So in summation..we are all feeling pretty confident about our future prospects


The younger players when they come in to first teams can sometimes make an immediate impact bc of surprise factor. But once the league susses it out, you see Bellerin for instance and Iwobi having to readjust. Its foolish to thing just bc they are performing at youth level they are going to be instantly effective in the senior set up. OTOH I for one am a great admirer of Nelson. I think the Jeff has also been looking good again in the youth set up. BOTH these players may have good role to play for us. The big example… Read more »


santori give it a rest. sven has been here for 1 window and sanhelli for less than 1 as part of a team that literally is falling apart in front of our eyes with a manager who doesn’t seem to get he’s the main problem. trying to convince anyone to come here right now a major job.

spanish gooner

This is one of the areas where I feel Wenger has really regressed. The man who once sold Viera to give the midfield to a teenage Cesc Fabregas now wouldn’t even play Nketiah (who is banging goals in ever week for the u23s) over Welbeck, has had a team desperately short of wingers but the likes of Nelson, Jeff haven’t been given a sniff. Every other top 6 club bar Man City have been doing better than us in terms of giving minutes to youngsters this season – even Mourinho gave McTominay a chance in midfield vs Chelsea!


Nketiah was anonymous when he came on for us.

Its a very different level from youth to first team.

Akpom was baniging in goals but could hardly affect the game in the first team.

AND at present time with the team struggling for confidence, it is a poor environment to plunge younger players into.


Eddie wasn’t anonymous at all, he tracked back and successfully won the ball back in one instance, I can’t remember the last time one of our wide forwards did that oh yeah sanchez.
He also played some nice 1 2s with Auba and welbeck.
He wasn’t given much time and you admitted he wasn’t given much time.


This has been the problem. he has never been able to get the balance entirely right and he mollycoddles certain players too much whilst mismanages the development of others. Some cases in hand : 1) The Ox and Gnabry. Rather than force Chambo to put pen to paper when Gnabry was showing true delivery on promise and gunning for first team inclusion, he doted on the Ox and we ended up losing BOTH. 2) Gabriel. Rather than retain a player (who admmitedly may not be a world beater) but was vastly improved, we ended up banking on two young defenders… Read more »


Interesting Comment from DM: And so the carnage begins. Even loyalists like Dixon are now turning. The noise about Wenger being useless tactically, especially defensively, has always been there. Inherited a sensational back four & David Dein was the one who bought Sol Campbell. Remember the story of them being at dinner, Dein sees Sol across the room, tells Wenger he’s running down his contract at Spurs and asks Wenger whether he wants him. Wenger turns to Dein & says, “of course. He’s the best defender in the Premier League. Possibly the world! But how much would it cost?” Dein… Read more »


Frankly despicable that he’d say this. The horrible new stadium, the ridiculous ticket prices, the embarrassing trophyless years, they were all supposed to ensure we could compete financially. Him saying this shows it was all for nothing. Give up Wenger. Just give up and go.

Lack of Perspective

I would argue the most recent years have been more embarrising but have bought 3 fa cups. Not sure exactly how to view the rest of it.


The problem for the board is Wenger’s minimum finish has been high an extremely consistent. Considering money spent (remembering that Barca, PSG, Real, Bayern, City, Chelsea, United can all spend more), its difficult to rock the boat. Whether of course we are achieving our maximum potential is another thing. We certainly have failed to contest for the title despite. BUT last season’s warning came in the form that we failed to achieve minimal standard for the first time. Now the board was prepared to see it as an aberration over a 22 year tenure. BUT this season’s continued malaise is… Read more »


For the sort of ticket prices, we should be delivering way more.


Everytime we lose a game, there should be free fish and chips paid to every fan that made that game at expense to the players on the pitch.


Moral of the story; Get in the youth team manager! 14 games with no losses?


Hey… Gatusso earned his chops in the Primevera set up for Milan.;)

Lord Bendnter

The way Chelsea’s youth system is set up sickens me. It’s like a produce market.


Speaking of Mertesacker, why hasn’t he been given more games this season? He clearly felt he still had something to offer on the field and I don’t see how he could’ve done any worse than Mustafi.


I thought for the man city game, back 3 with kos mert and mustafi would have gotten a look in.


Yeah its weird, Arteta’s last season was the same. It is as though Wenger likes to pay his senior players to to do nothing in their final season. If Wenger won’t play Mertesacker even though our defense is terrible, why keep him at all?


In my view, he should have been given games alongside Rob Holding to mentor him into the role. It was clear in the pre-Cup Final interviews last season the respect that Holding had for Mertesacker and they were a phenomenal double act in the Final against Chelsea. Maybe that game would’ve proven a flash in the pan, but we never got the chance to find out. Instead, we got Wenger’s apparent determination to maintain his perverse tradition of a non-playing club captain, and a young player of real promise being left to stagnate for most of this season who must… Read more »


Does anyone really believe that any of our young players will come through to the first team and make a significant impact? Wenger’s been trying to achieve this for over a decade and it hasn’t really happened, apart from Bellerin and Cesc, who we nicked off Barca and Wilshere (to an extent). Would we call Ramsey one of our youth players? I used to love watching our latest crop of youngsters competing in the league cup, but then they never really progressed. If we’re relying on youth to save us then we’re bollixed.


Seems like a reasonable answer from the boss. What do you expect him to say in advance of the youth cup quarter final…’ it’s not an important game because youth is not the future of the club and we need to buy in ready made talent ?’.how would that help the team to prepare for tonight’s game..ffs give the man a break…


“I’m convinced that in the next two or three years, Arsenal will have a lot of satisfaction on that front. I’m convinced that the way for Arsenal to come back to fight for the Premier League is to rely on a core of young players to come out of our football club.” Mate, it’s a bit late to go for the Ferguson method.


Go manage Southampton or something if that’s what you want.


Arsene having belief in players and convinced of a young player ability to make it to the top hardly fills me with any confidence these days.

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