Thursday, October 2, 2014
Arsenal struggle in NextGen despite possessing waves of talent

Arsenal struggle in NextGen despite possessing waves of talent

When Arsenal entered the NextGen Series this season, the club were at pains to emphasise that participation in the competition would enable its young charges to test themselves against the best players of their age group in Europe.

With one game remaining in the group stages, though, Arsenal have not made quite the impact on proceedings as they may have anticipated, having failed to win or score in any of their last four fixtures, most recently being held to a goalless draw by 1o-man Athletic Bilbao in Spain last night.

It all started so well for Terry Burton’s charges, too, as they comfortably swept aside Marseille at home in their opening fixture, but the subsequent games have all been frustrating for one reason or another as Arsenal, despite being able to call upon a plethora of attacking talents such as Thomas Eisfeld, Kristoffer Olsson, Serge Gnabry, Jon Toral and Chuba Akpom, have struggled to make the breakthrough.

The goalless draw at home to Olympiacos was perhaps the most difficult to take as Arsenal created several chances but failed to take any of them against a Greek outfit who were stronger physically and much more aware tactically. Perhaps one factor behind Arsenal’s stuttering start to life in this competition has been the sheer number of games being played this season at both U21 and U18 levels, which, not even taking into account first-team and international call-ups, must have had some impact at least on the sharpness of the young Gunners.

All is not lost, though, as a victory at home to Bilbao in the return game at Underhill early next month will likely secure progression to the next phase given that, in addition to the top two teams, the four best third-placed teams from the six groups will also receive a rite of passage to the knockout stages.

Even if they do progress, however, Arsenal will know that significant improvements will have to be made if they are to compete with the likes of Barcelona. Results are not the be-all and end-all at this level, of course, but it has been the performances more than anything which have caused the most concern.

Nonetheless, Arsenal still have some promising talent amongst their ranks and, providing that some of the players involved are produced for the first-team, how they fare in tournaments such as these will not prove to be the most important thing in the world.

 

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17 comments

  1. Gaizidis: The future is bright \m/

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  2. Sorry to say this, but its the same story in the first team. Our ‘waves of talent’ just not combining.

    Hopefull this will change v the spuds. My prediction 2-1 to the arsenal:
    COYG!!

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  3. We’re putting too much pressure on these guys. They’ll learn a lot from their opponents and build on from there I’m sure of it.

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    • Too much pressure? Playing against their own age group from supposedly little clubs like Olympiakos or Athletic Bilbao? Sure, the development is the main thing, but learning how to get a result is a pretty key part of that development.

      I sometimes think our players suffer from a lack of determination, confidence and tactics. Our possession stats are a poem but we don’t seem to do tactics at all and, because we don’t, we too easily lose to less talented opponents. Tactics and winning breeds confidence – which leads to more winning. Lack of tactics breeds uncertainty and despondency. Worrying to see the younger generation with its huge wealth of talent already learning the habits of the first team. Won’t be long before they’re losing 1-0 to Norwich.

      OK, maybe the excuse of too many competitive games at the moment is a fair one. Trouble is, last time I looked at the scores not all the English teams were doing as poorly as us. Spurs were going great, beating Barca something like 4-1, and I bet they don’t have the talent that we’ve got.

      Perhaps a bit of pressure (aka a kick up the arse and a Fergie-style pet talk) is what’s needed to turn these kids into winners, even though that will probably mean they’ll be leaving us to be winners elsewhere.

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      • I wouldn’t term Bilbao a little club in terms of academy. As the club only selects and plays Basque nationals, they have to create 99% of their first team players themselves. They put a strong emphasis on their academy and producing talent. The results against them really show this.

        Olympiakos shows the other side of youth production. Big, strong and fit are chosen because they appear better than the less physical youngsters, but by the time they all reach 21 and have stopped growing these advantages fade away.

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  4. Winning competitions at this level is always good, but the priority is developing players for the first team.
    Hopefully these lads learn from playing foreign opposition, and what they learn some of them, who make it, can take that knowledge with them into the senior team.

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  5. Waves of talent?
    Many chances created?
    Little to show for results?

    Shocking!

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  6. why are you making excuses for the young gunners flopping, every other team has the same amount of games being played weather it be for 1st team or u21’s or u18’s

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  7. “Yes. Yes. They’re coming along nicely”

    Arsene Wenger

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  8. You have to breed a winning mentality. Our first team and now these young Gunners seem to be lacking in it. Both squads definitely have the talent but they have to realize their potential & improve in every outing. The desire to win shows in the effort put forth. 1,2,3 goals up and there still needs to be a drive for more. It shouldn’t take the team having their backs to the wall like in the Reading match to realize there needs to be a fight.

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  9. This tournament is about gaining experience in CL type tournament. If even 3 of these players go on to have a long successful career at Arsenal that will be an achievement

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  10. Especially considering if they are any good they will be sold as soon as their value reaches 8 figures

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  11. The most used player for the reserves youth and next gen this season is isaac hayden 11 starts and 3 sub appearances. is that really that thick and fast. lets not forget there is a squad of around 40 odd players to cover those 3 tournaments. i dont think its too excessive for a young professional.

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  12. Talent is not the same as determination which seems to be lacking in the entire club at the moment.

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  13. typical arsenal, like father like son.

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