Being from abroad myself, I have nothing against foreign players. In fact, the main reason the Premier League is so exciting is its ability to attract the very best players from all across the globe. However, that being said, I do think Arsenal would greatly benefit from a larger share of British players amongst its ranks, in particular in the backline. That said, when it comes to betting on the Arsenal you can save yourself some money by using this American Promo Code and staking your house on us qualifying on Thursday night!
Although we may have worded it slightly more eloquently than Troy Deeney, I think it’s fair to say that his infamous ‘cojones’ statement was not far from what many of us have been thinking for a long time. The Arsenal of recent years has undoubtedly failed to show the character it once used to when the various Keown, Vieira and the like were playing week in and week out. Now some of it may perhaps be down to a less motivated and less motivating Arsene Wenger, yet I think it is also undeniable that the character of some players is just not fit for the fighting spirit Arsenal needs to mount a resurgence starting next season.
As I have already written in previous pieces, I believe we will need to have an active summer transfer window this year, in terms of players coming in as well as those going out, and I think a principal target for the window will be to address this lack of character.
In my opinion, an easy way to do that is to sign more English players. Looking at Arsenal’s squad, aside from the youngsters that have been getting more minutes this season such as Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson, who cannot be expected to influence the dressing room’s character, we only have five British players in the squad: The Welsh Aaron Ramsey, and the Englishmen Wilshere, Welbeck, Holding and Chambers. Out of these five, only two of them are somewhat regulars as Welbeck, Holding and Chambers are more like options of last resort for Wenger, and justifiably so I would add.
That is just not enough. We need more players that, having grown up in the UK, see Arsenal as a point of arrival, not a passing point en route to bigger and better things. I believe that building a strong core of British players is the solution to so many of the character problems we have seen from Arsenal in recent times, and could be a stepping stone towards mounting a greater challenge for trophies in coming years.
I would point at Juventus in Italy, for a model we could aspire to recreate. After depressing seasons not so different from the ones we are now experiencing, they appointed a young, ambitious Italian manager in Conte, and built a strong core of Italian players such as Buffon, Chiellini, Bonucci and Barzagli who understood what playing for Juventus entailed. Immediately, they bounced back to their former heights. Since then, the Italian core of the team has somewhat shrunk, but it is undeniable that it had a huge impact on the initial revival.
Looking at their success, I see potential for their model to be transposed upon Arsenal. If Wenger were to go (as I think he should), I would strongly urge for the appointment of a young English manager. Looking around, there is no one that seems to be of Arsenal calibre, but the same could have been said about Conte before Juventus took the gamble. Eddie Howe, to me, seems like someone to gamble on. He has had remarkable success, and although Bournemouth have had a rather troubled season, I believe he would bring a much need breath of fresh air at the Emirates.
Along with Howe, I thinking signing the English trio of Nick Pope, James Tarkowski and Ben Mee from Burnley would be a great solution. Not only could they be snatched for peanuts compared to other players in the market, but they would also have the benefit of having played together for a long time, and thus need less time to get accustomed to each other. Pope is having a sublime season and many are talking of him as England’s number one in Russia, while Tarkowski and Mee have both had remarkable seasons. Of course, playing for an expansive Arsenal is different from the compact, deep-lying Burnley style, and both Mee and Tarkowski are not exactly John Stones on the ball, however, you could count on them sacrificing every last inch of their body to keep the ball out, and that’s the type of attitude we so desperately need.
While one can agree or disagree with the names I mentioned, I think the main argument for a greater need for English players is sound. Going more British next season, could be the right step in building foundations for a return of Arsenal Football Club where it belongs.