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Age shall not weary them

Age shall not weary them

In a frustrating season the all too familiar complaints about the perceived failure of Wenger`s youth policy have once more come to the fore. The paradox though is that the famed youth policy, at least in regard to transfers, was brief and actually ended three years back. Its impact though was protracted. The delicate task of timing the departure of expensive experienced players with the development of precocious talent with more value in their legs has disappointed in trophies and perplexed those who didn`t foresee the financial need for such a strategy.

Since 2005/2006, prior to the opening of the Emirates stadium when, in the space of 6 months between July and January, Wenger bought a collection of teenagers in Walcott, Bendtner, Mannone, Traore and Diaby, then added Song and Denilson in August, he has only bought one other teenager, Aaron Ramsey, as a first team squad member. All of his first team signings since then have been more developed players with Nasri at 21 the youngest. Five signings in the last 3 years have been 24 or older, Rosicky, Eduardo, Sagna, Silvestre and Arshavin with the average age of the 10 transfers in that period 23.6 years.

The current first team squad is made up of 29 players, a reasonable size for the PL, though this includes Senderos and Traore, both currently out on loan. The average age of the squad at the beginning of the season was a touch over 22. It will end this season over 23 with the help of the comparatively ancient Arshavin. If the squad remains unchanged then that will, naturally enough, climb to around 24+ by the end of next season which is pretty well an average age for a PL team. Much the same as the `71 double winning side with youngsters George and Kennedy balancing more mature players like McLintock.

That picture would only change if older players were to leave. While van Persie has yet to sign an extension to his contract, and there might be some questions about Gallas, plus the ability of Rosicky to continue playing, space in the first team squad is likely to be made by the removal of those like Senderos, Traore and possibly Bischoff. Given Arsene`s recent statement that "...if we buy, it certainly won't be players who lack experience. We have enough of those." the expectation is that the average age might take a modest upward turn this summer.

Looking at the average age of the current first team squad, while still a young side, much of that imbalance of youth and experience is in one area - midfield. The average age of our attack is nudging 24 with the older Eduardo, van Persie and Adebayor balancing Bendtner and Vela. Our defence is a relatively ancient 25 with only Gibbs and Traore true youngsters. If this squad remains together then our attack by the end of next season will be looking towards the 25 mark and defence 26. But our current midfield would barely average 23 even by the end of next season. Take Rosicky and Arshavin out and we are looking at still only 22 by then. Even with Rosicky included we kicked off this season with a midfield squad still shy of 21 as an average age. It`s seems clear where experience is needed which would mean players like Ramsey and Wilshere could find their progress hindered by an endeavour to redress that imbalance with Bischoff perhaps having to look elsewhere.

As a club we will and should always look to recruit and develop exciting youngsters but they are unlikely, other than in Carling Cup competitions, to be afforded quite the same degree of focus that they have had over the last 3 or 4 years.

As the team continues to mature, particularly next season, the door to the first team squad won`t open quite as widely for the youngsters in the future as it has done. Unless that is, our experienced players show the same frustrating tendency for protracted injuries as they have done this season.

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Date:Monday May 11 2009
Time: 12:58PM


I wanted to write something worthwhile, yet disappointment by Sundays game in not winning made it hard. People all over are running us down, and where I expect shelter even our own fans are running us down. There opinions are worthwhile but one minute we are wonderful and everyone loves the Gunners yet two games minus almost the back line and we are rubbish. So I thought I might just pass on the following facts for the die hards who wear rose coloured glasses like me. 1999-2000 final points 73 2000-2001 final points 70 2001-2002 final points 87 2002-2003 final points 78 2003-2004 final points 90 2004-2005 final points 83 2005-2006 final points 67 2006-2007 final points 68 2007-2008 final points 83 2008-2009 at this time 68 (possible 74) Considering we have had to manage without many of the team for large parts of this season, is someone telling me the Boss has done a bad job? We have the best football ground (IMO) in England, are financially secure and the best young talent in Europe. The boss for the past six games has had two English born players in the side;(one a full International and the other who will soon be (IMO). Yes agree we need a GK and central defender and a bit of beef up front although young Nick will as I have been harping one will fill that place. Sorry but I do see silver ware on the horizon and I do believe in the boss and this team to produce the goods. I so hope we stuff the pipe up Evra backside and show Manure we are a side to be reckon with. Go the Team i love the Gunners.
11/05/2009 14:54:00
Should be their sorry
11/05/2009 14:56:00
Always, while it is often beneficial to point out stats from years gone by is it not the duty of the club to match the standards being set around them by other clubs who currently lead the way otherwise we could find ourselevs slipping further behind. The premier league is tougher now than in many previous seasons where our current points total would see us not far off challenging for the title. The rest of the league has adapted and moved with the times, so must we mate.
11/05/2009 15:38:00
LG I just wonder when the pigeon comes home to roost; (I well remember Leeds when they were kings of Div one) re the amounts other teams have spent, because it will sunshine, it will.
11/05/2009 15:47:00
I think the dissapointment is the manner we have lost it all in a few short weeks. A bitterly poor effort against Chelsea to get knocked out of the Semis, Outplayed but lucky to get a draw aginst Liverpool, a battering at Old Trafford but got away with it, Out of the Home tie within 10 minutes, Revenge gone sour with a humbling 4-1 scoreline to our chav neighbours. 5 games no wins & 4 losses against our closest rivals when it really mattered. Leaving that a side we were out of the league title in november having lost 5 games in 14, Squandered a 2 goal advantage against the enemy in the dying moments, Gallas stripped of the captaincy in the manner he was, 2 Goal advantage against Villa surrendered, Adebayors fall in to lazy mediocrity and all round tw**ness, 4 consecutive 0-0 home draws to teams we should be beating, lack of transfers last summer exposing weaknesses we all could see, Battle of the boardrooms with a disgusting fat troll ex kgb war criminal as a major shareholder. All the above with the highest priced season tickets in the league make for a difficult season the most gunners fans.
11/05/2009 15:49:00
On a more positive note & for next year we have signed Arshavin, the emergence of Gibbs, Song, Denilson & Bendtner, European football next season(if we win qualifying game), Squad being a year older, Van Persie staying relativly injury free, Eduardos return and we are still better than Spurs.
11/05/2009 15:55:00
The league has improved but the top 4 have improved at a steeper curve than the rest, we have players capable of beating the rest of the league, but above us - we need some serious luck to beat those teams. Also, 'The wonder of you'... eurgh.
11/05/2009 15:58:00
The points needed to win the title hasn't really changed that much since the PL was formed - ManU needed 92 points back in 93/94. I think the overall quality of all teams has improved but that's likely to mean fewer points takes the title not more. We weren't good enough this season but we aren't that far away either. The club is getting stronger which means the team will too.
11/05/2009 15:58:00
Due to the CL the top 4 have had more money than the rest. There isn't a great secret in this. ManU have generated about £500m more revenue than we have over the last 10 years Chelsea have had slightly more pumped in in half the time. The most successful business wins the trophies more often than the others.
11/05/2009 16:01:00
"Also, 'The wonder of you'... eurgh." shewore - Oh please someone shoot me when they start playing that poxy tune before games.... What a way to build makes me want to chew through my own veins!
11/05/2009 16:03:00
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