Paul Tomkins has written an interesting article over at liferpoolfc.tv, in which he talks about tonight’s game at Anfield, the falsity of the notion that Liverpool are a 2-man team, and hypocrisy of the media in lauding Arsene Wenger’s transfer record while trashing that of Rafa Benitez.
Here are a few excerpts:
Arsenal are a young side. But Liverpool are also a fledgling team, and unlike Arsenal, the majority haven’t been part of the set-up for years. The 18-man squads involved in last Wednesday’s match had average ages of 25 (Arsenal) and 26 (Liverpool). By comparison with the other English teams involved, Manchester United’s was 27 and Chelsea’s 28. (Players’ ages correct to the last day of this season.) And of course, had Agger been fit to play instead of Hyypia, the average age of the Reds’ starting XI would come down by a full year.
While Arsenal have a few youngsters who are regularly on the bench —— Walcott, 19, and Bendtner, 20 —— they are not this team of raw kids as which they are portrayed. Almumia is 31, Gallas 30, Rosicky 27, Hleb 27, Toure 26, Eduardo 25, while van Persie and Adebayor are 24, and Eboue is nearly 24. Senderos is now 23, and Clichy will be 23 in the summer. The one truly young gem they have is Cesc Fabregas, who is about to turn 21.
The key difference is that most of Liverpool’s younger players are new to England this year, and part of a newer project, and as such are lagging behind Arsenal’s younger players in terms of adaptation. You will always get the exceptions to the rule like Torres, who adjusted very quickly (although has still improved), but the majority take time. Incredibly, none of Arsenal’s starting XI arrived into English football after 2005, and nine were either at Arsenal (or Chelsea, in Gallas’s case) in 2004. No wonder they play with a lot of understanding, of English football and of each other.
Contrast that with Liverpool, where six had arrived since 2006, and four of those since the start of 2007, and you can see the relativeness newness of BenÃtez’s project. Arsenal had two subs who arrived in 2006, but otherwise they all pre-dated 2005. In other words, Wenger had collected nearly all of his squad before or during BenÃtez’s first year. Liverpool’s bench contained four players signed in the last nine months.
While Fabregas and Clichy are now top-class top-level players, you need to wait at least two or three years to judge BenÃtez’s youngest signings, like Hobbs, Insua, Pacheco, Bruna, Nemeth and the impressive Plessis, who mixes midfield destruction with a sweet left foot.
One of my main bugbears is how Arsene Wenger’s mistakes in the transfer market somehow get overlooked.
While, as with BenÃtez, he has unearthed a lot of great players, he’s also bought a fair few failures and disappointments too. Stepanovs, Jeffers, Wright (Richard), Boa Morte, Diawara, Cygan, Wreh, Grimandi, Chukwunyelu Obinna, Danilevicious, Luzhny, van Bronckhurst and Baptista (bar one game, at Anfield) —— to name just a few; in all, a mixture of substandard players and a couple of talented ones who failed to settle.
Meanwhile, Wiltord and Reyes were £10m+ players who hardly set the world alight. With BenÃtez, a few cheap flops like Nunez, Josemi and Paletta (a mere kid) get brought up as if they are par for the course. You could add those three to the fee of Morientes and still not get what Arsenal paid for either Wiltord or Reyes.
Hard to disagree with some of the points Tomkins makes about Arsenal’s and Liverpool’s transfers. What do you guys think – is he right or wrong?
Hat tip to Arvin for pointing me to the article in the first place.