World Cup Summer
Of the players that made it into England’s very successful World Cup squad over the summer, 5 of the 23 were Tottenham players. This is more than the number of Arsenal players to have made an international appearance for England in the last three seasons combined.
As enjoyable as it would be, this is not an exercise in bashing Tottenham. This is a serious consideration for Arsenal, who haven’t been producing quality England players for a significant period, compared to Spurs, who have a rich recent history of churning out English international players.
Arsenal went through a strong period between 2012-13 and 2015-16, with an average of 4.25 English players making an international appearance each season. Over the course of the last ten years, those four seasons account for 63% of all Arsenal England international appearances.
On the surface, as England haven’t been particularly successful over the last ten years, similarly to Arsenal, this stat is hardly surprising. But what is surprising is how many players Tottenham manage to get into the international side, despite being even less successful than Arsenal over the last decade.
During 2009/10, Tottenham had 6 English players make international appearances. They have a knack of producing quality footballers who have grown up in the country, or at least buying such players, giving them a core of English footballers. They had this in 2009 and have it again now in 2018.
Arsenal, by contrast, had their spell between 2014 and 2016, with Welbeck, Walcott, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gibbs all making multiple international appearances. After only three seasons, however, only Welbeck continues to play for England, with the remainder no longer at the Arsenal.
What is it that other clubs are doing right to tie down genuine English talent that perhaps Arsenal have been missing for many years, particularly under Wenger?
Where Did It Go Wrong?
I have cited it before, but in 2008 Arsenal annihilated Championship side Sheffield United 6-0, using an exceptionally young team, which included 8 English players. These included Wilshere, Gibbs and Henri Lansbury, and despite all being fine young footballers, none went on to set the world alight on the international stage, expect perhaps Wilshere.
In fact, despite all of the players involved in that match all being in the prime of their careers now, the only player from that squad to still be at Arsenal is Ramsey, who just so happens to be one of the two talismanic players in the Welsh national side, and also may be on his way out of the Arsenal door soon.
In short, Arsenal need to be doing more to tie down top English talent, which is clearly out there, and is clearly becoming more prominent, considering the quality of the side at this year’s World Cup, and the success of the youth teams in 2017.
There is plenty to get excited about, in the form of Holding, Chambers, Nelson, Nketiah and Smith-Rowe, but it is crucial that these superb talents are nurtured how they should be, to ensure that Arsenal that more Arsenal players can go on to represent the England side over the coming years.