Monday, July 4, 2022

All hail Hale End – Arteta pays tribute to Arsenal’s academy

Emile Smith Rowe’s debut for England marked an opportune moment for Mikel Arteta to pay tribute to those who run Arsenal’s Hale End Academy.

Joining the club as a 10-year-old, the midfielder spent most of his teenage years being educated at the facility, which plays host to trainees between the age of 9-16, before making the jump to London Colney where the under-23s play their football.

While Smith Rowe’s path to the Gunners first team is not unusual – a source of pride for the club – his involvement at senior international level sees him join an upper echelon of recent graduates that includes, amongst others, Alex Iwobi, Kieran Gibbs, Hector Bellerin, Emi Martinez, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Wojciech Szczesny and Bukayo Saka.

Having played alongside some of the above names, Mikel Arteta is keenly aware of the importance of Hale End funnelling talent his way.

“I knew about it about because of my time here as a player,” he said ahead of Saturday’s trip with Liverpool.

“I had already seen some of the talent come through and I played with some of them.

“It’s part of our identity, to raise players. We have a great academy, we have coaches that deserves so much credit for the education that they are giving those players, and for how they have been coached.

“And then – like anybody – they need opportunities, they need game time to prove that they can do it at that level.”

While he wouldn’t compare Arsenal’s academy, which is managed by Per Mertesacker, to those run by other clubs, he doubled down on the club’s commitment to young homegrown players getting their chance to shine at the highest level.

“I cannot rate compared to others,” he said. “What I can say is that I’m really happy and proud, and that this is not stopping here. We have to continue to evolve it, to improve it, and to keep providing players, because it’s a huge boost for the club – and obviously it’s very beneficial for many aspects.

He also made clear that the club will always look to the academy before spending money in the transfer market.

“Always in our system,” he said. “Whether it’s a player, whether it’s a staff member, whether it’s in any (other) part of the club.

“If we need some recruitment, first of all we look inside: what do we have, can we promote them, do they have the qualities to do it. If we don’t (have it), then obviously we have to start the process outside of our club.”

Hale End first received Academy status in 1998 and became integral to the evolution of the club’s football philosophy under Arsene Wenger.

It underwent a multi-million pound revamp four years ago and now incorporates a number of full-size pitches, including an exhibition pitch with the same Desso surface and dimensions as Emirates Stadium, an indoor sports hall named after David Rocastle, changing rooms, a restaurant, classrooms, offices and a medical space.

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Johnny 4 Hats

Everything happens for a reason. And that terrible run of form in Nov / Dec 2020 happened so The Smith could be let off his leash.

But in all seriousness, if we don’t hit rock bottom, maybe Smith Rowe never quite gets a look in.

Basically, in short, God is a Gooner.

Bleeding gums murphy

The injury to Xhaka has helped to, we are unbeaten since and the midfield looks so much more mobile and dynamic with Lokonga in there. If Xhaka was fit he wouldn’t be playing. Just saying 🤓

Bleeding gums murphy

Just to clarify if Xhaka was fit Lokonga wouldn’t be playing.

Johnny 4 Hats

We’ve been amazing with Lokonga in there. But I still don’t think it’s proper or accurate to say that we benefit from a long term injury to a key player. Arteta can always drop Xhaka. But it’s important to have options. If you asked Mikel, he’d want Xhaka in todays squad. Personally, I think we could have found Xhaka a useful addition in games where we really struggled to control the game. Thankfully we were a few goals up by then and weren’t punished for losing our grip. Bringing on Xhaka to steady the ship could have been really helpful.… Read more »

Bleeding gums murphy

Absolutely captain. I’m not happy for the injury was just agreeing with you really that sometimes the gods help out 😂 if Willian and a few others were fit or hadn’t gone abroad during a pandemic then it’s likely esr wouldn’t have started against Chelsea.

God is a Gooner

Hi Johnny


I moved a few months ago, then realised after a few days I’d moved a couple of streets away from Hale end road:) surprised the road sign still there … 😉 (Agree about Xhaka too;))

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