The British core lead from the front as Wenger finally finds his balanced side.
Looking from the outside into a very private club it was obvious to see that things were not quite right at Arsenal during the last eight seasons. It seems many of the problems can be traced back to either the stadium move or the foreign money coming into the premiership teams.
It now seems that the two reasons of relative failure could have helped Arsenal in the long term. When considering the most obvious positive to come from this, it has to be that Arsenal can now compete financially with other top clubs. This had been proved by the huge fee placed on Ozil in the summer transfer window.
The other good thing to have arisen from one of the worst phases in Arsenal’s history is that players who didn’t want to be there were given good reasons to leave.
This forced Wenger to eventually add a young British backbone to the side. The loss of top players was a big blow to Arsenal fans in the short term but replacing them with a group of talented youngsters will benefit the side in the long term.
Going British was always something Wenger had claimed he wanted to do, amid criticism dating back more than a decade that he was filling the side up and achieving success with foreign stars, mainly French.
That aspect still remains, but Arsenal now have a collection of Brits which have higher potential than any other club in the league can now boast.
Cost was blamed, and Wenger has taken his time to add them at cheaper prices in their youth before they reach their potential, only Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was bought for an eight-figure sum
All the young British players have at least one international cap to their name and I am sure they will also star for their countries as well as Arsenal. This British group of youngsters have now benefitted from a sustained run in the side playing against the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United. On occasions they have come off second best, but we have seen real character and quality against these teams also.
They are all ahead of most players in their age group in terms of maturity, the only shame for Wenger is that they all have had a long injury each. This group of players are not only developing in quality but also in leadership, in particular Wilshere and Ramsey have been identified as future captains. In terms of form, Ramsey and Gibbs have to be highlighted for this season.
Being good friends on and off the field, has also benefited the squad. They have shown they are willing to fight for each other, this is infectious to the rest of the squad who all seem to have jumped onto the bandwagon. Towards the end of last seasons Arsenal went onto an incredible run, much of this has to be attributed to the team spirit these players have created.
If you look back over the best Premier League teams over the past twenty years it is clear that all the teams have had a group of British players mixed in with a few quality foreign stars. The young British players will benefit from the class that Ozil brings, they will be hoping that he has a similar influence to what Bergkamp or Cantona brought their clubs in the late 90’s.
I believe Arsenal now has a great balance to the side, this is a basis to challenge albeit I feel that the squad depth is lacking a little for this season, the young British players will have a big part to say for the following seasons to come.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald