Academy kids versus known quality, what’s the difference in cost?

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I have often had this debate with fellow Arsenal fans, we develop our teams and the manager is rightly proud of that, but are we genuinely saving money by farming our teams?

Let’s look at some of our kids against some of our ready mades, let’s take three of each in Wengers era.

Ready mades

Nasri, Arshavin, Vermaelen total cost to buy say £33mil But ready to play and making and immediate impact on the team, paying back their investment from the off.

Paid for academy kids

Walcott, Ramsey, Denilson total cost £17 million, time taken to make the first team? Denilson 3 years, Theo 2 years and Ramsey still waiting. Are they making an impact? You judge, what are their salaries compared to the three above them? Not far off if Theo is on £60k a week. Add up there salaries for the years they take to make the first team and I suspect we could have bought three ready mades for the same price and not gone through the pain of watching them screw up in games.

True Academy kids that cost us nothing

Jack Wilshere, Jay Emmanuel Thomas, Henri Lansbury, now they did actually come through the ranks, I would like to see them used and given the chances Cesc was, remember when Cesc broke into the first team, he was Ok, but he didn’t look as good as Wilshere, and he didn’t get loaned out, so if the boss wants to perservere with kids, I would be happy if he did it with those three.

Early Wenger purchases

Henry, Pires and Freddie total cost £21.5 million, payback, ha, ha, you tell me! How long? 9 years and ready from day one. (well almost and there was a bunch of ‘player of the year’ and ‘golden boots’ in that little lot, not to mention second in ‘World player of the year’)

So to summise I think we need a few more ready mades, we have too many academy kids that are just not up to the fight, it wouldn’t take much to remedy.

Every successful Wenger team had a lot of bought players in it, even the invincibles had only two that were academy kids, Parlour and Cole, Parlour was a sub and Cole and Clichy swapped, you may say Clichy was a kid and he was, but he still cost us £200k from Cannes.

The same with the double winning side of 1998 and the double winning side of 2002 apart from Anelka (500k), most of them were signings, you see for me that’s what football is about, buying players, winning games, lifting trophies, we aren’t in property development and we aren’t a bank, football is an institution, fans spend the money, management buys players, teams win trophies.

If the clubs want to make a stand against spending vast sums and prudently running clubs then perhaps they should look at the offensive money they pay their players and staff.

How many of you lot could afford to buy your girlfriend a Ferrari at 21? How many of you lot could afford to buy a Ferrari period?

One of Arsenal’s greatest ever heroes, Charlie George, who scored the winner in the 1971 Cup final – that was the subject of my art ‘O’ level, he couldn’t have afforded a Ferrari at the peak of his career.

So what I’m saying is, if you want to champion not spending huge sums of money on players that could win us the league, start championing the huge sums that you are paying to average players that aren’t (winning us the league).

Onto today, 3 points and nothing else will do, and to be honest 3 points against Hull is nothing less than I would expect, we need to get a good performance in because Villa won’t be so easy, so I hope he fields a team today that has the next game in mind.

Never mind playing your favourites Arsene, try this side.


Eboue Gallas Vermaelen Traore

Ramsey Song Nasri


Walcott Vela

I said Fabianski because Almunia is really not very good, he has had too many chances and it’s way past time when even Wenger can see that.

I would put Eboue in for Sagna as I think Sagna has lost something and I would put Ramsey on because when he plays a good game, it’s better and more influential that Denilson and Diaby when they decide to have a good game.

Up top I have Arshavin in the hole, his preferred position and let Theo and Vela rip, up top.

I know many of you can give me the example of how Flamini turned out in his last season, and I agree, he did, but we had to suffer at least 3 shit years waiting for that one good season, all I’m saying is we shouldn’t have to wait, get someone in that’s good now. I’m sure Denilson and Diaby will come good one day, but playing them both at the same time now, well it doesn’t work does it.

Finally, all those great teams and trophy years, Wenger bought them, not me, he can do it again, even mix it up, and he still has January to do something, come on Arsene!

Have a great day today Grovers, I expect a big win today and a message for Martin O’Neil.

Cesc is missing but fear not, Denilson steps in. Worst PLAYER results are in!

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So now it’s official, Cesc is out for the Hull game, but not to worry, Denilson steps in, so we could have a midfield of Diaby, Denilson and Song or even Eboue, Denilson and Song, or wait for it, the ultimate fantasy Denilson, Eboue, Song with Diaby in the hole.

It may be the stuff that my nightmares are made of but it has to be Wenger’s ultimate fantasy team, fortunately though it’s only Hull, and although they did beat us once at home we have stuffed them each time we’ve played them since, so I’m not too worried.

This also seems to be the bosses season for having a whine up and his latest outburst makes no sense, how can he have a go at Wolves for fielding a reserve side when he did the same thing in Greece which gave Standard Leige no chance of qualifying, what’s the difference? Hypocrisy springs to mind, large.

I’m with Tony Pulis on this one, and Pulis also said why would you not expect to play twice a week if you were a young athlete, I agree with him, anyone remember double headers? When you would have to play 90 minutes after 90 minutes because of fixture congestion? …I do.

Anyway, Hull are a shadow of the team that beat us, so I really don’t see much of a problem tomorrow, maybe this is the time to unleash Theo and Vela up front and play Arshavin in the hole, for me the way to beat teams like Hull is to play around them, pass them off the pitch.

What is apparent, is we do miss our big forwards and as we have Robin gone for a season, and who knows how he’ll return and how long it would take, then we really ought to go out and spend at least what we got for Ade.

I had about 4 tons of snow when I trudged to work this morning but London was clear, anyway Grovers I’m tied up most of the day in meetings, so be good to each other!

Today we find out who we play in the next round of the Champions league, let’s hope it’s one of the easier teams left, if in fact there are any easier teams left.

We need to win all of our Christmas period games to keep pace with the leaders but beating Villa is more important now than ever, because the chasing pack are stronger and more numerous than ever before.

So we need to make sure we make use of the January transfer window, I have a feeling we’ll raid the big clubs surplus players, like the Madrid’s of this world.

Remember, tomorrow you’ll see why Wenger has so much faith in this side, tomorrow we’ll bury Hull and get our season back on track, come on the Arsenal!

Finally… for  a bit of a Friday laugh, see the results of the UK Golden bins.

We had the largest return on a vote EVER at Le Grove, so I suspect plenty of people forwarded the post onto their mates… and below are the results… there were only 10 votes between the top two… and the favoured ‘other’ was Kolo Toure.

Adebayor, the worst signing of the summer, as confirmed by the Le Grove Grovers!!!

Answer % Split
Adebayor 17%
Alberto Aquilani 17%
Lescott 16%
Pavlychenko 12%
Zhirkov 10%
Santa Cruz 10%
Robbie Keane 6%
Glen Johnson 6%
Valencia 3%
Tevez 2%
Other (see below) 2%
Kevin Doyle 0%
Votes 3126


Angry? No, just disappointed. Ratings and Review

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I normally write the match review directly after the game, but tonight I thought I’d give it a couple of hours. I thought maybe I’d feel a bit more passionately about the loss. Well, it didn’t happen… I just feel deflated.

How can I get angry?

If the dog keeps shagging the cushion, you can only berate it so many times before you have to accept the fact that the dog is always going to shag that cushion.

I wouldn't rest your hand on that...

It’s the same with this current team. There will be moments when you think they’ve finally got it sussed, then bang, out of the blue… we’re metaphorically shagging that bastard cushion again.

‘Beating the Scousers was fantastic but we must not get too ahead of ourselves… premature gloatation is a dangerous thing. I must say I am more worried about the impending games against Hull and Burnley. If Arsenal couldn’t motivate themselves for the first half at Anfield, how are they going to feel about playing away at Burnley or Hull?’

I felt bad writing that, even worse requoting myself like some sort of prophetic wizard but I had to put it down because it happens so often. All of the ridiculous gloating that comes the way of Le Grove after a solitary win annoys me, not because these people are retarded enough to think winning upsets us, but because at the back of my mind, I know it’s going to come back and bite them in the arse sooner rather than later.

Burnley deserve all the praise in the world for how they performed tonight. Mick McCarthy should look at what they did and feel ashamed of the team he put out against United. They caused us plenty of issues without the use of bully boy tactics. They hit the wings, they walked through the middle of us, they took pot shots and they fully deserved their point.

Arsenal need a team of fighters, not a select few players who want to turn up in the glamour games in the safety of the Grove. It’s debatable who those fighters are, but I’ve got a list in my mind who I’d want on my side when the chips are down… Song, Vermaelen, Gallas, Cesc and Arshavin are probably the only players who’d make it onto the list from last night. I know Arshavin might be a contreversial choice, but he’s a hard worker and I think one of the reasons he looks as if he goes missing is because he returns very deep to get the ball when things aren’t looking good.

We started off quite brightly, creating some fine chances, most of which came through the good work of Cesc Fabregas and Andrey Arshavin. We got our reward when Cesc lost the ball on the edge of the box, fought back to win it with Diaby, jumped on the loose ball, bundled into the box and slid it home.

Almunia pulled off a couple of crucial saves and commanded his box uncharacteristically well.

Burnley were are threat though and weren’t going to go down without a fight. Arshavin hit the post after some superb interplay with Cesc.

Not long after Vermaelen allowed them an opportunity to equalise when he rashly challenged in the box, the ref pointed to the spot, Alexander smashed home emphatically.

Arsenal came out for the second half like they’d been asked to repeat the first half against Liverpool. Cesc went off with a thigh injury and Rambo struggled to replicate the creativity of the Spaniard. Arsenal were a team bereft of ideas. The team had 50% fight in them. Gallas was bombing forward, Vermaelen too, Song was trying his hardest to force an opening but outside those boys, not much else was happening. Too many players are clueless. None of them have a plan b when threading the ball through the eye of a needle proves ineffective. Is it possible that the most intricate football in the Premiership has become predictable… one dimensional if you will?

Burnley were doing there best down the other end, striking the post and creating other chances. The most worrying moment of the second half was a cross that looked bread and butter for Almunia, he mistimed it and let it slip under him… Burnley put the ball in the net, luckily the lino flagged dubiously for offside.

Shocking, shocking goalkeeping. No excuses. That was one of the worst goalkeeping errors I’ve seen an Arsenal keeper make. If he isn’t dropped for the Hull game, consider him undroppable.

The game whimpered out. Arsenal had undone all the good from the Liverpool game. We slipped back in the title race once again.

So how do I conclude this?

Well, I think it’s safe to say we’re not out of the title race mathematically. We’re firmly in it. However, for me, tonight was a demonstration as to why I doubt we’ll win the league. In your heart of hearts, after watching that performance and numerous others this season, can you honestly see us challenging in May? Our problem is we lack fight. It’s the same old same old. If you don’t buy players with that hunger needed to win Championships, you’ll never win Championships.

Listening to the coach talk about the team being jaded made me laugh. We’ve got the youngest team in the universe, yet they can’t muster the stamina to beat Burnley.

So what is it? Is it the youth policy? When you pay kids huge sums at a young age, is it all a little too easy? Is it Arsene overlooking personality type when scouting players these days? Or is it just the wrong mix of players?

That’s not for me to decide. However, I’d say if we want to kick on we’re going to need to do something about the culture of this team because it certainly doesn’t smell like a winning recipe.


Almunia: Started brightly, then faded horribly. Letting the ball slip under you so easily is appalling. How can a professional keeper sleep at night after displaying such a lack of concentration. He must be dropped, time is up, he has to be replaced by Fabianski. 4

Silvestre: I thought he had a nightmare. I’d be pretty miffed as a Burnley fan that the ref didn’t give a penalty for his blatant handball in the box. Still, when every left back in the club has been cursed, your selection is forced. 5

Vermaelen: Clumsy challenge to concede the penalty, but overall, a great performance from a player who looks like he has a deep love for the club already. Give me 11 Verminators and I’ll be a happy man. 8

Gallas: A battling performance from a player who seems to feed off the passion his centre back partner shows. Again, for all his faults, he genuinely cares about winning. 7

Sagna: Unconvincing for me. He’s been very inconsistent this season, especially going forward. Not a great night for the Frenchman. 6

Fabregas: An inspired start to the game considering he went into the game with an injury complaint. He limped off early in the second half and apparently it’s serious. A very big worry for us. Wenger’s master plan is without direction if the Spaniard isn’t there. 7

Song: I thought he has a good game. He’s never going to tear open a defence, but at least he wears his heart on his sleeve and is prepared to fight it out. 6.5

Diaby: I thought he did ok for the first 40 minutes. The rest of the match was classic Diaby. No real direction, no real threat and very limited impact. He just doesn’t cut it at the moment. 5

Nasri: A player we all expected big things from, but so far, he’s in the same boat as Theo. He’s just not doing it for me. Although he has far more natural ability than the Englishman, he doesn’t seem to have much grit about him. He drifts in and out of game which is a waste, because skill like that should be forced on these types of situation. 6

Walcott: Did anyone see a short stocky player who looks a bit like Lewis Hamilton on the pitch tonight? I know I didn’t. Virtually zero input bar that look of shock on his face everytime he fired a shot 40 yards over the bar, or he misplaced a pass. A Very poor return from a player we were hoping was going to light up next years World Cup. 5

Arshavin: Had a very promising first half, but struggled to come to terms with the second half. There was no creativity from anyone else and he looked a little lost if I’m honest. 6.5