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Could Wenger shape new England?

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Phil McNulty | 10:24 UK time, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Fabio Capello travelled to Arsenal on Tuesday night to watch Chris Kirkland in action - and may just have got a glimpse into England's golden future.

Not in the shape of Kirkland, but in the form of a glittering array of young talent who gave Wigan's goalkeeper a busy, and ultimately unhappy, evening against Arsenal.

And the man who can shape some of the key components of England's next generation is a manager who has been wrongly accused of ignoring home-grown talent in favour of polishing gems found on foreign soil.

Arsene Wenger has always judged players on ability as opposed to passport, and the start of an eloquent answer to his critics may have been on display as Arsenal demolished Wigan in the Carling Cup.

Wenger, as part of his usual strategy, has given youth its fling in the Carling Cup.

The results have been spectacular, with Sheffield United thrashed 6-0 and Wigan beaten 3-0 in dazzling displays of attacking football that have set the Emirates alight.

And, to the undoubted delight of Capello, there is a heavy English accent about Arsenal's current crop of youngsters.

It is a fact Wenger is keen to underscore, telling BBC Sport: "It is fantastic for the club, and don't forget that in this squad there are many strong English players."

Only time will tell whether these players develop sufficiently to become Arsenal regulars or force their way into England contention - who can make that definitive judgement yet? - but if they are good enough, Wenger will play them.

The signs, and the sounds coming out of the club, suggest this is a group of English players Wenger will be more than happy to place his trust in.

And with Aaron Ramsey of Wales also in the ranks, Wenger is ready to give the lie to those accusing him of ignoring young British talent.

David Bentley is the name often thrown in Arsenal and Wenger's face as a gifted home-grown talent whose route was blocked by imports.

But was he good enough at that time and have Arsenal really missed him? The answer to that, in my opinion, is "no".

Let's not forget he had an undistinguished season on loan at Norwich City before building his reputation at Blackburn Rovers and moving to Spurs. There have been very few days when Arsenal have cried out for Bentley.

And you could hardly quote Steve Sidwell, James Harper, Matthew Upson and Fabrice Muamba as examples of the ones who got away. Good players yes, but never likely to become Arsenal regulars.

Now we have the new breed, and Wenger is as excited as he has ever been about a group of young players under his tutelage.

Arsenal youngsters

Sheffield United manager Kevin Blackwell saw their quality at painfully close quarters in the Carling Cup third round, and he told BBC Sport: "We knew they were a good set of lads at Arsenal, but nobody knew how good they were.

"They were awesome at times and would have beaten most teams. A lot of people would like to know how Arsene Wenger can do it.

"He has gone around the world to pick out the best - but there are also four or five top-class English kids in there so that can only bode well for the future of the national team.

"Arsenal are one of the few teams I would pay to watch. I've spoken to Arsene and he's admitted that these are the best single group of players he's had, they're exceptional. That's the best set of youngsters in Europe"

Jay Simpson took the headlines with two goals against Wigan, and he is an example of how Wenger nurtures and tests his players before deciding whether they will be a long-term proposition at Arsenal.

He was loaned out to Millwall last season, where he scored eight goals in 44 appearances and won the Professional Footballers' Association's fans League One player of the year award.

Like so many others, he has been at Arsenal since he was nine and has already won a place in the club's history as the first player to score a competitive hat-trick at the Emirates in an FA Youth Cup tie against Cardiff in February 2007.

The 19-year-old has pace, power and an eye for goal, as Wigan found out. Now he must take the next step.

The jewel in Arsenal's crown, however, according to those with an inside knowledge of the club, is 16-year-old Jack Wilshere.

He is already being tipped by many as a certain England player of the future, and his wonderful pass for Simpson's first goal against Wigan just hinted at the quality he possesses.

Wilshere is a slight figure and only made his reserve team debut in February, but the buzz surrounding him is already spreading beyond north London, and make no mistake Capello will know his name.

He has been likened to a young Liam Brady - praise indeed and an early sign of the weight of expectation on his shoulders.

Henri Lansbury has just turned 18, but again the gifted midfield man is already earmarked for great things and has earned England recognition.

Other names ready to push for places are Mark Randall, who was loaned out to Burnley last season, Kieran Gibbs (loaned to Norwich) and Gavin Hoyte.

The success of Arsenal's youngsters in the Carling Cup has led to inevitable questions about whether they could take the Premier League itself by storm.

Wenger the realist will know this is an experiment he would never undertake. They would acquit themselves well and would not struggle, but it is stretching reality to breaking point to suggest he could field these youngsters long-term and stay in the top four.

How would they perform away from the Emirates? How would they cope with regular exposure to the physical demands of the Premier League?

Wenger will drop these young players into the team when the occasion is right. Those occasional appearances, the Carling Cup, and those crucial loan spells will be their proving ground.

And, with some Arsenal fans believing one or two established names are feeling a little too comfortable about their places, the sight of these lavishly-gifted young men parading their talent may just cattle-prod anyone out of complacency.

I have never bought into the theory that Wenger was obssessed with foreign talent. He simply wants the best players playing in his team.

If they are good enough they play. If they are not they do not. It does not matter if they come from Peckham or Paris.

And he has paid for young English talent in the past and been burned. Remember the £16m he spent - and in large part wasted - on Francis Jeffers and Richard Wright?

All the questions being asked today about Arsenal's rookies will be answered in time. We do not know how far they will go, but it will be fun finding out.

What we do know is that Wenger has some gloriously exciting young talent under his wing - and England should be glad he is the man charged with their development.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Arsenal's young-guns being English certainly is promising. I think we'll know more this time next year or the year after. Stuart Pearce is probably licking his lips.

  • Comment number 2.

    It is a shame you couldn't incorporate an opinion of, arguably, the best talent on show Aaron Ramsey.

    He, barring Jack Wilshere, looks to be the next big thing. He is basically a Welsh equivalent of Cesc Fabregas.

    The way that he seems to have all the time in the world when on the bal and the ability to spot a pass is fantastic. An eye for goal too.

    I am a Cardiff fan and as much as it pains me that we sold Ramsey for buttons, I am SO, SO PLEASED that he is Welsh.

    He will be integral to the National team for years to come. We finally might turn the corner in World football.

    What do you make of the lad Phil?

  • Comment number 3.

    Nice blog Phil. Not to undermine your point, which I think is spot on, but although he's not a JT or Rio I think Arsenal would potentially cry out for Upson at the moment. The central defenders aren't playing well, and Upson is big and good in the air (and English of course!) unlike his current pairings. Maybe Wenger hasn't missed offensive players that he's released, but perhaps this isn't the case in terms of defense? I'm not a Hammers or Gunners supporter FYI.

  • Comment number 4.

    Jeffers a waist....... he's doing wonders down at Hillsborough these days ! lol

    Yeah they do look good the youngsters and now Theo has broken into the first team some of the other English players could follow!

    Good article.

  • Comment number 5.

    I seem to remember Arsene Wenger did not want to lose Matthew Upson.

    Instead the player ran out of patience and asked for a transfer so he could get regular first team football.

  • Comment number 6.

    Matthew Upson didn't come through the ranks at Arsenal - they bought him from Luton.

  • Comment number 7.

    The future is bright for England with these lads. Hopefully they won't be like Bentley and realise that it takes time to become quality players and even if it means spending a few more years in the reserves and on the brink of the first team in the long run it will be so beneficial for them,Arsenal and hopefully England! I pray to God other smaller teams don't come in and start waving money under their noses and then their off thinking their gods gift with out ever playing in the premiership properly. Good Article Phil, supposedly there's a couple of young Irish lads coming through who are suppose to be brilliant, don't suppose you could spread some light of them could you?

  • Comment number 8.

    I think Phil McNulty is showing a lack of knwledge about Bentley and Upson.

    I certainly don't remember Bentley's season at Norwich as being "undistinguished." Indeed, it was anything but "undistinguished."

    I seem to recall Bentley rattling the crossbar from 30 yards at Old Trafford on what was, I think, his debut. A few days later he scored a stunner against Newcastle at St. James Park.

    Also, he was injured his time at Carrow Road but still managed to recover in time to play a key part in Norwich's shock 2-0 home victory over Manchester United.

    Yes, Norwich were relegated but that was to be expected and was hardly Bentley's fault. Moreover, it later emerged that Bentley was also suffering from a gambling addiction during his time at Norwich. All in all, he did very well all whilst suffering personal problems.

    Moreover, if Bentley had had the chance to play at Arsenal I think his Blackburn form gives us a glimpse of what he could have achieved. And certainly, I would have played him over a fading Ljungberg or a Hleb who initially struggled to impress.

    On Upson, I'll keep it brief. He's gone on to full England honors and is he really any worse than Senderos!?! I know who I'd prefer as a reserve centre back!! To be sure, if Senderos managed to achieve squad status at Arsenal, then Upson at the very least, would have matched that.

  • Comment number 9.

    Yes, these players can form an important part of England's future..if they move to another club where they'll get the chance to move on to the next stage and not have to make do with Carling Cup appearences.

  • Comment number 10.

    great blog. Cant stand all this zenophobic rubbish claiming Wenger is anti whats good for the English game. If the English talent is there Wenger will develop it. England is lucky that Wenger is in England as English talent will be easier to spot than somewhere out in Africa or Eastern Europe.

  • Comment number 11.

    is pointless to compare a Club team to a National Side.
    i don't really understand this article.
    Coaching a team 5 days a week for years is not like having to put together 11 players that hardly play together 5 times a year.

  • Comment number 12.

    Great article. There are indeed exciting times ahead for both Arsenal and England. A special mention should also go to Vela, even if he is not English. That lad will be one of the World's best in time.

  • Comment number 13.



  • Comment number 14.

    exciting times at the Emirates. The young English contingent have looked phenomenal and have taken everything that has been thrown at them.

    Randall looks an assured player, he was prone to giving the ball away last night but in the reserve games I have seen him in and the occasional first team appearances he has looked high quality.

    But Wilshire looks a much more frightening prospect, his composure, his skill and his refusal to show any fear no matter who he is playing against are traits that could see him becoming a world-class player. obviously, it's still early doors but my word the potential looks fantastic.

  • Comment number 15.

    We've heard this all before. Every year Arsenal's "young guns" blaze a trail in the league cup, and most if not all of them end up signing for Middlesboro 2 years later

    It is very boring

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm not sure I would class Bentley and Sidwell in the bracket as the other players some would argue upson as well but for me he is over rated- getting to the point i think wenger has stiffled for the chances of young players in the past but then if you look at some of players he has brought through then you can't argue with his judgement that said i personally think sidwell is one of the most underated players in the premiership although now at villa is started to show is potential and I think that Bentley came through at a time when Wenger had many attacking options I think as well sidwell would be a perfect foil for farbergas although bentley would still probably sit on the bench not because of his quality but im not sure he fits into wengers formation. but i really hope these youngsters get a real chance to shine often with young players you get a false dawn hopefully not in this case
    Pete a spurs fan but also a England fan
    ps wenger would be an amazing England manager along with Redknapp!

  • Comment number 17.

    didn't see the latest rendition of the arsenal wonder kids last night, but sounds like another great performance.

    A question though, that was being asked on another thread i was just reading, is when is all of the promise of the arsenal squad eventually going to be realised?

    Arsene wenger is without question one of the best talent spotters to ever grace football management. But with a first team that already has an average age which couldn't be any higher than 25, when are the young players from this reserve team ever going to get a regular first team place?

    for example, jack wilshire is getting rave reviews at the age of 16, but i have read that most believe his best position will be central midfield, a position that is currently taken by another young, super talented midfielder who broke into the arsenal team at a similar age. likewise, at left back arsenal have clichy, at right wing walcott. Assuming that arsenal don't lose these players to injury or transfer (which would obviously weaken the team) when are the talented reserves going to get a chance to add their weight to pushing arsenal to the promised land of winning either the prem or champions league?

    Of course you could argue that it is a squad game and that all these players will get there chance, but arsene wengers arsenal are unique (maybe only the old ajax team of the 90's compares) in that the first team is team of young players, backed up by a still younger players patiently waiting for fabregas and co to...retire??

  • Comment number 18.

    Wenger wants players that can play a certain style. Unfortunately there were very few English players that could play like that, or at the very least that were not already committed to other clubs.

    These young lads have been brought up and trained with this style. Long-term, Wenger could be one of the best things to ever happen to football in the UK.

  • Comment number 19.

    watched the game last night and was at the sheffiel united game. if the kids can play like that inthe next 3 games of the competition we will walk it!

    i wounder how wenger does it but have long since stoped being amazed at the guy's ability to spot and nurture amazing talent.

    if we were in america i have a feeling he would already be a hall-of-fame-er!!

  • Comment number 20.

    Hearts fc have a much better youth team than Arsenal.

    Hearts reserves would have hammered wigan last night.

    Arsenal only managed 3

  • Comment number 21.

    Yes, it was a good performance of skills, vitality and enthusiasm. Plenty of promise there for future Arsenal and England. One swallow doesn't make a Summer though and more performance like this will help endorse the current optimism.

  • Comment number 22.

    Robbieo79 are you a spurs fan by any chance

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm still savouring the performance of the team and, more especially, of the two players that stood out from the rest - Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere. Aaron is almost a complete player and Jack will be a sensation in a couple of years.

  • Comment number 24.

    As a Spurs fan, I'm tempted to be worried about this, but I wouldn't bet my house on these youngsters.

    Everyone has seen the comparisons between england u21s and senior teams 5-10 years later. Half usually end up in League 1 and below.

    Secondly, Arsene has had a few good youngsters in his teams, but he has also had people like Senderos (what WERE Milan thinking?) and Muamba (already a Prem journeyman at Bolton).

    Lets wait and see before drawing conclusions on this - the Premiership doesn't usually accommodate a team of 11 technical passers of the ball - where would Arsenal have been without Adebayor and Flamini last season?

  • Comment number 25.

    Funny how things change in a week, lets all just wait and see what will happen with these new youngsters. How many have actually made it through to Arsenal First 11 in recent years?. They tend to go out on loan and then you never really hear much about them since. They have some very talented prospects and at a young age they look like they can be very handy. However will all know that some players peak early and never turn out how they were meant to.

    Jon Harley, John Curtis, Jody Morris to name but a few.

    Wenger is one of the best managers around, but arsenal fans must also remember that the first team is not that young anymore. Spurs had a younger team than Arsenal in their 4-4 game. The players are getting older, not much older but are at ages now where they should be winning stuff. Its great to say look at our youngsters, but theyve been saying that for the past four years.

    Yes some of those players are English, but lets see what happens to them in five years time. Bentley was one of the best things since slice bread, but the english culture and Wenger do not get on, and alot of those great players will find themselves at other clubs.

  • Comment number 26.

    Arsenal supporter by any chance??

  • Comment number 27.

    I have constantly criticised Wenger for not playing English talent, I like to see a club representing where they are from at the national and hopefully local level. I was previously of the opinion that Wenger stifled English talent by not playing them but now have come around to the idea that he has actually benefited the national team by raising the standard. I do applaud his 'I don't look at the passport' stance and I believe that if an English youngster does come through at Arsenal they will have the talent but crucially also the mentality to succeed for the national team.

  • Comment number 28.

    Why is everyone getting so excited about the young english talent at Arsenal - this is only because they have been straved of it in the past (except Walcott). Other clubs such as Boro, Villa, City, Spurs and even Man U have been playing their young english players and giving them first team opportunities - they are the teams Capello should be getting excited about !!!

  • Comment number 29.

    Realistic comment. The youngsters will be good if they have patient and let AW develop them to their full potential instead of getting big headed and want to be transfer like some others that, I won't say no good anymore but certainly not as good as they would have been if they had stayed in Arsenal.
    These lot now will certainly make PL players given time and more moulding by AW. Hope to see them playing 1st team football in couple of years.

  • Comment number 30.

    After watching the young gunners again last night, I have to say that I was very impressed by their pace, technique and awareness. It was a joy to see young players expressing themselves through their tallents and enjoying every minute of the match.
    Young players no longer come cheap, Arsenal have invested a fair few million in their youth sides over the past few years, but as Mr Wenger knows, it is cheaper to buy them young and coach them to be what the club wants, than to go out and buy the fruits of another coaches labours.

    A final comment on the game last night, I would like to congratulate Steve Bruce and his Wigan side, it is never easy when being outplayed, and must have been pretty galling to be mauled by a youth side, but they kept their discipline and went home with a lot of credit....

  • Comment number 31.

    I know he's not English, but Carlos Vela was a bit special last night. His goal was sublime, I was sure it had taken a deflection because it was such fantastic finish, but the boy simply Suker'd, Kirkland. He also showed great pace.

    Wilshere was fantastic, if anything I thought Ramsey was not at his best last night, he and Randall were not brilliant together, but Ramsey still managed a few brilliant moments.

    If the Arsenal first team were all unavailable, you wouldn't be worried about playing these lads against 50% of the Premier league. I kind of wonder how they would've done against the likes of Stoke, Hull and Fulham!!!

  • Comment number 32.

    I've been the staunchest of staunch defenders of Arsene Wenger in the past 3 years when there has been criticism of his methods, and of his tendency to place method on an equal footing to result.

    But the other Saturday evening, after the defeat at Stoke, I had a dream that he left the club by mutual consent and woke up on the Sunday to a day of questioning within myself whether that would have been such a bad thing. Maybe the end of the line had been reached? I eventually dismissed the idea, but the thought had at least entered my head.

    The approach against United on Saturday strengthened my belief that Wenger is the only man for this club. Which other top manager in world football under such pressure, with his team out of form, against a major rival, would have sent his team out to play with such freedom and abandon? Rafa or Jose... Ancelotti, Capello, Macnini and maybe even Sir Alex himself would undoubtedly have instructed their troops to batten down the hatches and "keep it tight" to "grind out a result" to "win when playing badly." Not Wenger. He sent them out to express themselves and play.

    Then last night really brought home what he has done. He has built the club a structure for the 21st century. A wonderful new home, that reflects Wenger's vision, a team that plays football the right way, and a club that sets out to entertain people.

    To see essentially a youth team tear apart a Premiership outfit with such youthful abandon. This isn't the Arsenal Carling Cup sides of even the past 2 years including second string players. Take out Djourou, the keeper and Song and the rest wouldn't make the second XI (one could argue for Vela).

    This genuinely is a bunch of kids, playing the beautiful game, and doing it with smiles on their faces and joy in their hearts. It's the boys born in Stevenage, Walthamstow, Tottenham and Milton Keynes with the boys born in Douala, Cancun and Barcelona. It's football as it should be played by the cosmopolitan new world order, played by young men for the enjoyment of the game.

    We have a youth set up now which is the envy of the world..... bringing through our own and and bringing in the best.

    There is only one man who could have created that.

    There truly is only one Arsene Wenger.......

  • Comment number 33.

    I have been saying it for ages but the entire football community should sit up and applaud what Arsenal do with our young players.

    1) First and foremost, we give them a football education that will ensure that the vast majority make a career in the professional game

    2) We give them more chances than any other club to find their way into the first team

    3) We use the Carling Cup exclusively as a youth player competition which gives them big game experience as early as possible in their education

    4) If a player isn't deemed ready or good enough for our first team we never stand in their way to get a transfer and never hold clubs to ransom for silly transfer fees, despite massive premiums being charged by other clubs for English players.

    Hopefully, this bunch will remain level headed and grounded (unlike Bentley) who thought he should be in the team at 18 years old ahead of Pires and Ljungberg in their prime.

    I hope the two performances in the Carling Cup this season will put to bed those arguments that Wenger ruins our national team - I doubt there has ever been a group of young English players at the core of a team that produce such fluency and comfort in possession as they have produced.

  • Comment number 34.


    I've been accused of being a Chelsea fan on a few occasions but this is the first time I've been asked if I am a Tottenham fan!!

    I don't support a club side at all. I only support England. As such, I follow young English players with a keen interest.

    Bentley impressed me from the get-go. His debut for Arsenal in the FA Cup with that chipped goal...then those aforementioned first two games for Norwich...I knew this guy had something special.

    I've been banging on about Bentley for years. He's a class act and one of the few (Rooney and Joe Cole being the others) truly technically accomplished, creative players that the England national team currently has.

    If I had my way, I'd build the future England team around attacking talents like Bentley, Rooney, Joe Cole and Theo Walcott.

  • Comment number 35.

    It's no coincidence that Arsenal's Carling Cup side has suddenly started to produce not just quality young players, but English ones.

    The likes of Simpson, Randall and Lansbury were among the first in-take of Wenger's reign, so I for one am not surprised that many of them have the chance to make the grade.

    Most Arsenal fans would admit that they would love to see a team full of English talent, but Wenger has shown patience in bringing hi own through the ranks rather than splashing millions them.

    Hopefully the English contingent will put an end to claims that Wenger has some kind of phobia of English talent - he has always said if they're good enough they will play, and that is now being demonstrated.

  • Comment number 36.

    "And you could hardly quote Steve Sidwell, James Harper, Matthew Upson and Fabrice Muamba as examples of the ones who got away. Good players yes, but never likely to become Arsenal regulars."

    The reason we can't list more examples of successful English players is because Wenger, based on his record, doesn't give English Players a chance. The above listed are the only examples of players who started their carers at Arsenal and since moved to other clubs.

    This will be the defining season for Arsenal. When they were winning the league or finishing in the top 2, nothing much was said about Wengers lack of British players in the squad. Now it looks like they are going to be struggling to compete for the title AND will have few British players in the first team. If any of the teams in the bottom half played regular football with as few British players as Arsenal did I think there would be much more noise but for some reason we let Wenger get away with it.

    Bring on the 5+4 rule!

  • Comment number 37.

    You should see West Ham's young English kids who beat this lot 1-0 in a reserve game the other week!

    Sears(18) - 2 Premier League goals.
    Noble(21) - Best U21 midfielder in England.
    Tomkins(19) - Best young defender in Europe.
    Stanislas(18) - Wilshere? This lad's better.
    Payne(17) - Cheltenham's best player atm.

    And there are more!

  • Comment number 38.

    To #1, he probably didn't mention Ramsey so much because a) the article is called 'Could Wenger shape new England?' and b) he isn't home grown, they bought him from Cardiff.

  • Comment number 39.

    This blog will only be judged in time. If in 5 years there is a core of English players in the Arsenal first team then yes I have been wrong about Wenger's stance (what is the opposite of xenophobia? Xenophilia?)
    I still think that when it comes to the first team he would rather bring on a good foreigner than a good local lad. Walcott is given as the 'proof' that this is not so, but he is an exceptional talent who would have made it anywhere. The real question is 'how good would Upson have been if Wenger had nurtured him properly?'. We will never know, but there is no doubt that he and Bentley and others have proved that they are good enough for the Premiership - although Bentley seems to be a pain in the Arsenal so perhaps that is why he went.

    As I say, if in 5 years time the Arsenal team is riddled with local talent then perhaps Mr McNulty has it right, but until then we wont know.

    Of course the real cynic might say that he is only nurturing local talent in case the UEFA 6 + 5 rule is brought in...

  • Comment number 40.

    Let me answer a few points.

    On a general point, do people seriously think Wenger would hold back an English player to favour a foreigner even if that English player was better?

    Not a chance. He is too professional.

    Of course I knew Upson came from Luton, but I was referring to his time as a youing player at Arsenal, when he did not really show enough at to warrant regular inclusion.

    It was not a case of Arsenal's manager holding him back, and on the other side of the coin, has Wenger not done English football a service by providing young players with a football education, even if they do not make it at Arsenal?

    I have tried to hit a note of caution about these players, as some have also done, but at the same time it is only right we get excited about young talent emerging on to the scene.

    Time will tell whether they fulfil their potential. Arsenal fans will hope and pray they do.

    And to our friend from Cardiff, I have mentioned Ramsey, and I have spoken to several people with Welsh connections who believe he will be truly outstanding in time.

    It is a credit to Wenger that these players are coming through.

    I felt he was justifiably asked questions in the aftermath of the Stoke City defeat, but at no time would I even think of agreeing with those who felt his time at Arsenal was up.

  • Comment number 41.

    Another Arsenal wonderkid team...Another trophy-less season.

  • Comment number 42.

    Lets hope the English players coming through at Arsenal keep improving under the tutelage of M. Wenger and co.

    There seems to be a few spaces to fill in the international setup. Adequate players are no substitute for talented ones.

    The same comment applies to all the young English players coming through at our big clubs. Arsenal seems to have the pick of the talent at the moment... or is it all down to good coaching and belief?

  • Comment number 43.

    good article phil.

    i just hope (like a few others on here) that these youngsters keep their faith in Wenger and keep their focus and feet on the ground. thinking about it now, i does seem extraordinary that Bentley decided to leave after deciding he should have been in the first team at a young age.

    added to the excellent academies at Eastlands and at Middlesborough, if Wenger can nurture these players as we know he can, there seems to be a bright future for English (and Welsh and Irish) football. i just hope they all make the grade.

  • Comment number 44.

    I think the real question is just how good could Bentley, Sidwell et al been if they'd had the benefot of actually playing regularly and flourishing in the Arsenal side.

    Wenger doesn't have real faith in these players. He's using them in place of his real players, so that they can have a rest, in a competition he's stated on a number of occasions means nothing to him. I would wager that no more than 1 or 2 of these players ever becomes a regular for Arsenal.

    The other thing is that Ramsey hasn't come through the Arsenal youth system, he came through the Cardiff system and they poached him for a nominal fee, not quite the same thing.

  • Comment number 45.

    I have to say, if every club plays football instead of some garbage tactic just to get a point or so, Arsenal would won the PL every year, well maybe MU would have a say. These are the only two teams that can really play football in the PL. Most other team relies on physical aspect of the game and some not so legal tactic and tackles to stop good teams playing or jam 11 men in the penalty area.
    The youngsters are also fast and if they continue develop their foorball skill, the sky is the limit

  • Comment number 46.

    Whilst these young players are talented and exciting to watch, it is still vitally important not to get too carried away. The furore surrounding Teho Walcott going to the World Cup probably set him back a little bit and it is only recently that he has bounced back from that.

    It's important not to hype these young lads up too much and keep their feet on the ground. They are only kids afterall!

  • Comment number 47.

    If these kids have real world class potential, they'll make it at Arsenal. If they don't, then England loses nothing. We don't need more mediocre players (besides which, they'll still develop their limited talent wherever else they end up)

    Blaming it all on the foreigners is a complete red herring. Since when has competition *ever* reduced quality?

  • Comment number 48.

    Wenger gets his teams to play football the way God intended. Any lover of football will love the Wenger way.

  • Comment number 49.

    good blog,
    i agree that lot's of rubbish is written about arsene ruining english football, but he really doesn't care about passports. the national bias comes from the strength of the scouts and the french and spanish scouts have been very good recently.

    as for the players mentioned, where is the disgrace in a player being a decent pro? to make it at any of the top 4 a player has to be world class and how many english players fit that catagory? but not one of those players would say they regretted their time at the club or could have got a better education elsewhere.

    as for the current team, apart from the 3 players who have already played for the 1st team, i would say that 5 will definately play for the arsenal . another 3 could and the rest will make decent championship players. that is indeed an embarrasment of riches, and luke freeman hasn't even come through yet, or norved.

    lots and lots to look forward to!

  • Comment number 50.

    Good article Tim.

    I whole-heartedly agree with you that Wenger has recieved unfair criticism for not playing enough English players.

    Firstly, I believe that Wenger does not have a responsibility to the England national team, only to Arsenal, so he doesn't necessarily have to play English players.

    Secondly, as you say, if the player is good enough, they will make their way to the first team eventually, regardless of nationality. I think people slamming Arsene for selling the few English players he did have are just trying to find any excuse to have a go at Arsenal.

    But it is fantastic to see a number of young English players performing so well. Like I said before, if they are good enough, they will play, which suggests that these English players are destined for great things.

    I'd like to ask those who previously slammed Arsenal for not having enough English players in their squad, can you name another Premier League manager who would be willing to give young English players a chance to play? Barring Fergie's young team (which was over 10 years ago now), I don't think you could name anyone else.

  • Comment number 51.

    Come on Spurs fans, cast aside your jealousy. I'm a West Ham fan, but can still see quality when its so blatantly on view.
    Ramsey is going to be a star, lucky Wales.
    Wilshire is phenomenal for an English player.
    Lets just hope for England, he can continue to progress

  • Comment number 52.

    15. At 12:56pm on 12 Nov 2008, Kapnag wrote:
    "We've heard this all before. Every year Arsenal's "young guns" blaze a trail in the league cup, and most if not all of them end up signing for Middlesboro 2 years later

    It is very boring"

    Well, us Smoggies don't mind...Boro are doing okay at the moment.

    Being serious for a moment, I too have my doubts as to when, if ever, Wenger will be able to field a team, largely made up of players who have made the jump from youth team to first team.

    I agree its a mouthwatering prospect - both for club and country - but so much depends on whether they really can make the step up and whether the first team opportunities will be there for them.

    Wenger seems to be trying to balance Premiership performance with youth development, which maybe explains why they've come up short in the league and Europe for the last few years.

    Still, I won't condemn him for that. Arsenal still play arguably the most attractive (if not the most effective) football of any team in England...possibly Europe too.

  • Comment number 53.

    There is an argument here that these young English players won't get a chance in the Arsenal first team, but I'm sorry I don't agree. If they are good enough they will. Jack Wilshere, who is 16 and was at school last year is already a member of the first team squad and has already made his Premiership debut away to Blackburn. Also it is swings and roundabouts to a certain extent because if Wenger played all these youngsters in the Premier League and Arsenal got thrashed you'd all be on here saying "what was he thinking playing 19 year olds with no Premiership experience". They have to be patient and not expect to play week in, week out after a few good performances, ala David Bentley. Also, I'd much rather have Theo Walcott on the right that Bentley anyday.

  • Comment number 54.

    Great job Arsen, what this shows is that players should be picked based on their ability, rather than where they come from. Just as Phil said, it doesn't matter if you are from Peckam or Paris, if you are good enough you play, and if you are not, then you don't play. I think that is faire enough for all

  • Comment number 55.

    Wenger is the best manager we've had in England in the modern era. What's he done is revolutionised not just his club, but our approach to football in this country. He's consistently punched above his weight, spending no more than an average Prem League team. The secret is the scouting network and of course top class management. In Wenger we trust.

  • Comment number 56.

    "43. At 1:32pm on 12 Nov 2008, igor wrote:
    good article phil.

    added to the excellent academies at Eastlands and at Middlesborough"

    This has to be some sort of joke?!

    Man City and Boro have produced about 5 England players in the last 40 years!

    WEST HAM UNITED, THE ACADEMY OF FOOTBALL, have produced the following England Internationals in the last 40 years:

    - Moore
    - Peters
    - Hurst
    - Lampard snr
    - Brooking
    - Martin
    - Cottee
    - Ince
    - Ferdinand
    - Lampard jnr
    - Carrick
    - Cole
    - Defoe
    - Johnson
    - Richardson

    And that is ignoring all the Internationals West Ham have produced for the likes of Wales, Ireland, N.Ireland and Australia as well!

  • Comment number 57.

    It has also been stated by many with Arsenal associations that Wenger has always felt it would take ten years to bring through his best English talent.

    Now could be the time.

    I honestly do not believe Wenger would have ignored English talent to show a preference for non-English players.

    We can, of course, add Jermaine Pennant to the list of young players (admittedly signing initially from Notts County) who Arsenal have not missed.

  • Comment number 58.

    Those who have commented here stating that few of the Carling cup team, one saying they just end up at 'bourough clearly watch little of Arsenal. Out of the Carling cup sqaud that played at the begginning of last season 4, Walcott, Diaby, Dennilson and Bendtner have made the journey up to the first team sqaud and didn't feature last night. Sure they don't all make it and Hoyte and Alliadere are now doing their bit for 'bourough but the promotion of 4 in a year is not to be sniffed at surely?

    Also for those who say that Bentley and Upson could find a place in the Arsenal squad, well may be your right. Unfortunately Arsenal fans didn't get a chance to find out as they were impatiant and requested transfers. May be critics of Wengers policies regarding these two should be asking why these two young Englishmen were so impatient to try their luck at none Champions league clubs unlike players like Flamini or Clichy who were willing to wait till well past 20 to get their runs in the first 11. Alliadeire may not have made it and the same goes for Hoyte but at least these two gave it a proper go and didn't bale out, Bentley and Upson actually showed a serious lack of belief in themselves in asking to transfer to lesser clubs at such young ages.

  • Comment number 59.

    I think you've got your blog spot on.
    It is an exciting time for England (and Wales, if you count young Ramsey).
    And to those who say 'yes, we've seen it all before, they will all end up at Middlesborough or wherever', look at the facts of the Carling Cup Final in 2007. No less than five of those 'young' players on show that day were in the starting line-up against Manchester Utd on Saturday.
    In short, Phil is right - those naysayers who thumbed their noses at Wenger because of his foreign contingent should finally realise that the future is most definitely homegrown.

  • Comment number 60.

    That is some list from West Ham isn't it? Fantastic.

    Let me hear from other clubs about your production line of young talent.

    And tell me which English - make that British - players who you feel have been held back on their development because of the arrival of foreign imports.

    Maybe I am naive, but I do not believe any manager would ignore a superior English talent in favour of a foreigner.

  • Comment number 61.

    The problem, as someone has already mentioned, is that Arsenal's current first team are already very young. None of them are going to be retiring anytime soon, so when are these kids going to get a chance to become first-team regulars?
    Sadly, it seems they'll end up leaving for better opportunities (and perhaps better pay), ending up scattered across the continent, and we'll never see this group together at the peak of their powers.
    I'm hoping I'm proven wrong though. (Being a United fan, that is tough for me to say)

  • Comment number 62.

    "We've heard this all before. Every year Arsenal's "young guns" blaze a trail in the league cup, and most if not all of them end up signing for Middlesboro 2 years later

    It is very boring"

    Erm, who have Boro bought in the last few years? Hoyte. One player. Get your facts right, you make it sound like Boro are an Arsenal B Team, which is total rubbish.

    We've got our own youth system thanks, and proud to say most that come through are English unlike Arsenal.

  • Comment number 63.


    Thanks for the response.

    Not so much at the moment, but when the big boys are all fit, I think that CHED EVANS & DANIEL STURRIDGE will suffer from the influx of foreign talent at Manchester City.

    They are getting the run out at the moment and would surely have thought that this was their year to make an impression - and then they get taken over and have a bottomless pit of money and to kick things of ROBIHNO signs.

    They must have been gutted, I think that these two are potentially great players and will have to look elsewhere to develop there career.

  • Comment number 64.

    "Yes, these players can form an important part of England's future..if they move to another club where they'll get the chance to move on to the next stage and not have to make do with Carling Cup appearences."


    I presume you have current names of players who have done is well to back up this rubbish?

    Bentley? Err thats it. And his short love affair is over. Hes not good enough so he got moved on.

    These players are all under 19. Some are only 16. So they are hardly getting held back are they. They are getting more actual first team top level experience than youngsters do at any other club.

    Are you annoyed that you cant moan about our lack of english talent anymore?

    Get over it.

  • Comment number 65.

    bentley in my view is a slimey snake who has the most annoying smile of all time.

    he thinks he deserves to play in the top4 when he was at blackburn. he doesnt even deserve to play for any premier league club.

    why do we get these clowns nowadays thinkin they have the right to play in champs league, world cups WHEN HE HAS DONE NOTHING OF SUBSTANCE, EVER..

  • Comment number 66.

    Ramsey has been a class act for a long time.

    Cardiff City are mugs for selling him so cheap.

    He will become a major player - not on loan at Boro or Birmingham, but playing for a top team like Arsenal.

    He will go on to run the Wales team too and help us get to where we've threatened to go for a long time - a major tournament.

    I am so glad this fella's Welsh.

  • Comment number 67.


  • Comment number 68.

    Wenger and his "youngsters" is one of the most boring and overplayed "stories" in English football.

    It's madness - he wins nothing. Beautiful football with no point whatsoever. And journalists blowing hot air over and over - year after year.

    How boring.

  • Comment number 69.

    As a united fan watching the game last nite i was pretty impressed with the gooners. the two front men looked pretty good and velas goal was class,but lets not forget wigan did have titus shambles at the back!!

    Anyway i think it would be great if we can get you lot in the next round. Lets not forget utd have some potentially very good players coming through such as welbeck, gibson, possebon,da silva twins... I think it would be a cracking game,and it would be interesting to see it at old trafford. see how these youngesters get on with 60-70,000 utd fans on their backs.

    United for the quadruple!!!!!!

  • Comment number 70.

    post 62- didnt aliaderie go to boro from arsenal!!

  • Comment number 71.

    "Every year Arsenal's "young guns" blaze a trail in the league cup, and most if not all of them end up signing for Middlesboro 2 years later"

    It's already been said, but let's make it clear :

    Fabregas, Clichy, Bendtner, Djouru, Song, and Denilson all came through into Arsenal's First team via the Carling Cup side.

  • Comment number 72.

    Jack Wilshere has always been an amazing player, I have seen him play when he was only thirteen playing in the Arsenal youth academy as he was playing my younger brothers Watford Academy team.

    There are many other great sparks in football as well, Tottenham has a great academy producing many great players, look for a player called Nathan Byrne, you heard it here first!

  • Comment number 73.

    England has to be thankfull to Martin O'neill for the young english team he's building at villa, he's the world greatest coach. Shame the FA overlooked him for the england job but thats villa's gain. Gabby agbonlahor will fill owens place but with extra pace.
    Aston villa are the model team a family club to be admired.

  • Comment number 74.

    And Ashley Cole, too, for that matter...

  • Comment number 75.

    We should consider ourselves very fortunate that Arsen Wenger is here in England, not only coaching our youngsters but setting an example to the cloggers and thugs who would rather maim than aim a little higher.

  • Comment number 76.

    Please, you've got to sort out the moderation. It is stifling a discussion.

    Either go back to reactive moderation or return these blogs to ordinary 606 style threads. I have asked why they changed but have never been answered.


  • Comment number 77.

    Arsenal is the future of the England team and will be for a long time, the fact is that Arsene appreciates the English game and how it should be played more than anyone.

    Campbell, Cole are prime examples of top Arsenal players that play(ed) for England

  • Comment number 78.

    I mentioned at the time of the arrival of the Abu Dhabi United group that I really hoped the influx of money would not be to the detriment of the great academy system at Manchester City.

    The good news there is that I think Mark Hughes City is a manager who will want to see the academy flourish rather than be ignored.

    I hope so anyway.

  • Comment number 79.

    post 70 - yeah forgot that one, oops. Still not many though. (And they're both good players to boot).

    Before that, the last I can remember would be Ray Parlour!

  • Comment number 80.

    I think between him and O'Neil, they're doing a heck of a lot.

    Then with Fergie close behind.

    As for a manager ignoring a British "talent" over a Foreign "talent". They'd never do that simply because they know that that is what English or British football fans want to see. To get a crowd behind a young English...sorry British...starlet is something very special.

  • Comment number 81.

    Is this not the same arsenal kids side that villa reserves thumped at arsenals ground a few months ago 4-1 and our kids looked the better players

  • Comment number 82.

    Wenger's full of Bull s**t. Aresenal are a disgrace for the way they fill their youth teams with foreigners. The same goes with their first team. Arsenal fans should hang their heads in shame.

  • Comment number 83.

    Lets hope so Phil, for their sakes.

    Though who knows how much longer Sparky may be at the helm, if any of these rumours come to fruition.

    On the flip side, it can do no harm for Ched and Daniel to train alongside big players like Robinho is suppose.

  • Comment number 84.

    Phil McNulty - BBC Sport wrote:
    I mentioned at the time of the arrival of the Abu Dhabi United group that I really hoped the influx of money would not be to the detriment of the great academy system at Manchester City.

    The good news there is that I think Mark Hughes City is a manager who will want to see the academy flourish rather than be ignored.

    I hope so anyway.

    You are right that Man City produce some useful players and hopefully will continue to do so. In fact, just the other day you and I agreed that Hughes should stay.

    However, it ain't you or I in the boardroom is it.

    The new owners may see that promoting the youth would be a good solid way to get them somewhere. I would suspect though, cynically perhaps, that they won't wait the time it has taken Wenger to get there.

    Would you agree?

  • Comment number 85.

    to #10. good point. but in the words of stewart lee your comments would lend themselves more weight if you "hadn't have spelt xenophobic with a "z" instead of an "x" which means of course an irrational hatred of japanese budhism"

  • Comment number 86.

    Maybe Wenger should take a look at the boys at Crewe Alex.
    They have produced some quality players over the years, largely down to the guidance of Dario Gradi.
    An article of his dedication to youth policy may be of some interest.

    great article though........

  • Comment number 87.

    this post is a joke right?
    wenger has done NOTHING for english football apart from make bentley, the only decent player.

  • Comment number 88.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 89.

    the best english nucleus is def spurs.
    they have lennon, jenas, huddlestone, bent, bentley, campbell, woodgate, king and a good few others, the majority of whom are under 24.
    wingbacks though scottish and welsh in gunter, bale and hutton are the future of britain too.

    arsenal have done NOTHING for the british game other than ruin it.

  • Comment number 90.

    We've heard this all before. Every year Arsenal's "young guns" blaze a trail in the league cup, and most if not all of them end up signing for Middlesboro 2 years later

    It is very boring
    Agreed. Everyone was saying the same thing when Arsenal came to Anfield in the league cup and won 6-3 with Aliadiere the hero. And then what happened? a year later Liverpool were dumping them out of the quarter finals of the champions league and Aliadiere was at Boro!

  • Comment number 91.

    spot on blog mate
    succes is almost everything but so long as wneger finishes top 4 im happy for him to play attacking football and filed young talent!
    trophies will come!

  • Comment number 92.

    Mr BlueBurns...I have referred up your query about moderation. Hopefully we can provide an answer of some sort on that one.

  • Comment number 93.

    its' refreshing to see wenger fielding some of britian's future stars. He's always maintained that he doesn't look at passports when buying players but his track record says otherwise. Wenger doesn't like to pay big money for any player, not just the overpriced british ones, so his solution to finding british talent is to buy them young and groom them.

    An to imagine that many of these "youngsters" are just an injury away from the first XI is promsing.

  • Comment number 94.

    McNulty - now you are being naive if you think those City boys will get a look in. make a note, this time next year, Sturridge and Evans will be will Mark Hughes - replaced by some overseas hot shot.

    Look at the England manager - it's not just the players who are not getting an opportunity because of foreigners, but the managers too.

    Hopefully Redknapp's success at Spurs is one in the eye for the Ramos' of the Premiership.

  • Comment number 95.

    Two words:- Calm down. Wenger may be a good youth team manager, maybe the greatest, but his job is that of FIRST-TEAM COACH. And in that facility, he hasn't won a trophy for nigh on 4 years. Get a grip, reactive, sycophantic journos.

  • Comment number 96.

    In reply to ozziesdream at 12:50pm on 12 Nov 2008:

    No offence but you sound like a sour spurs fan (ozzie ardilles by any chance?). I'm not a big fan of arsenal, but i would happily pay money to watch them, Arsene Wenger is a fantastic manager, and if players like Upson and Bentley had had some patience then they would be world class England stars by now. If the current crop of gunners are half as good as reported, as an Englishman, i hope they bide their time and stick out reserve team and carling cup appearances. Arsene will get the best out of them and that will only be good for the national team

  • Comment number 97.

    About AW and english players:
    to use the argument of our spanish meastro:
    Arsene Wenger NEVER set out to ruin english football and NEITHER is he now the saviour of it.
    He is the manager of AFC!

    And to be honest, as a gooner, i don't want to see anybody else leading us then AW. He's our coach, has the right vision for us and is the right man for us. You will be hard pressed finding any true gooner saying otherwise. I don't care if we don't win anything for several years, it ain't our right to win anything at all.

    Because what this man has been doing at our club will be remembered forever as there is an AFC, just as we still speak of Herbert Chapman.

    And as a much as it's true that trophies create history, all gooners will always remember that this strange bespectacled proffessor-like moody frenchman has laid down a path for this club to follow that is as important, if not more so, then what the great Chapman did for us.

    All the bleating from rival fans about hot air, ruining footy, magic youngsters and not winning anything aside, i bet that all of you (except ManU fans and rightly so) wish that you had such a visionary manager as this at your club.

    For us this man is a saint.
    In Arsene We Trust
    Come on the Arsenal!!

  • Comment number 98.

    Can I just say that when AW took over he wanted to see the talent coming through the ranks at Arsenal. Unfortunately it didn't happen and yes he said it would take about 10 years as he pointed that out as to why suddenly you got a lot of very good French players. They set up their national academy about 10 years before.

    I don't think AW can take all the credit for what has been happening even though he should get most. You have the likes of Liam Brady head of youth development, Neil Banfield and Steve Bould. It's a team effort that has taken years and will hopefully continue. You even have the likes of Bergkamp saying he wants to coach back at Arsenal.

    The way AW brought new philosophy to the country when he arrived prolonged the footballing life of the Arsenal back 4.

    If you want to see who's doing damage to English football then why hasn't anyone pointed the finger at Chelsea. From what I can see they only have 1 home grown player and that's John Terry. The rest were all bought in!!

  • Comment number 99.

    post 11

    I don't get why you don't get the article!

    He is not saying that because arsenal played well last night that england will play well in 5 years.

    The point of the article is to highlight the young english talent that is coming through the ranks at arsenal. The point it makes is that these players have potential to be good, and since they are english, could also be good for the national team...nothing more, nothing less. If you watched the game last night (or the previous round) you will know this already and therefore find this pointless. I, and presumably a few others, did not see the game last night, and therefore was pleased to hear of the progress of young english talent.

  • Comment number 100.

    Arsenal kids to conquer the world? Now I'm sure I've heard that before somewhere, oh that's right every year and yet every year the Arsenal trophy cabinet stays empty. Will the Arsenal supporters never learn? In the new year they'll all be going on about how unlucky they have been and that the referees have been so unfair to them.


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