Misguided faith: Arsenal and Liverpool are held back by broken British talent

In a time when the Premier League is awash with foreign talent, it can be hard for British players to get the game time they need. There are some who are willing to give it a chance, though, and Arsenal and Liverpool are among them.

In their current squad lists sit no fewer than 31 British players, with the Reds boasting 19 of them.

The problem is, several of those players should not be in there. They shouldn’t even be at the club. The club’s support of broken British talent is holding both clubs back. To explain, let’s start with Arsenal.

When thinking of broken British players and Arsenal, the obvious selection is Jack Wilshere.

Once the bright, next big thing for England, Wilshere is pretty much a broken man. A loan spell at Bournemouth last season got nowhere near to rekindling the fires.

He now finds himself back at the Emirates on the fringes of the first team squad and once again wondering where it all went wrong. His injury record suggests he won’t be making many appearances for them this season but that would be foolish.

Arsene Wenger loves Jack Wilshere and if he’s fit, he’ll be back in that team before too long. That’s a major issue. Ask Arsenal fans and most will tell you the club desperately needs a new centre midfielder on their side. Someone in the mould of Patrick Vieira, a man who can dominate teams and let the likes of Mesut Ozil flourish.

The problem is, the Gunners are not going to sign that player anytime soon. Why? Because Jack Wilshere is still floating around the club.

Arsene Wenger is the Premier League’s eternal optimist and some part of him still dreams of Wilshere becoming good and realising his potential. It’s not hard to imagine he still daydreams about that performance against Barcelona six years ago.

Wilshere isn’t going to realise that potential, though. The injuries have taken their toll, his time on the south coast last season proved that. Only Wenger can’t see it.

It’s not just with Wilshere where the Frenchman is blind. The likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott have all benefitted from his loyalty. Instead of moving on and signing quality replacements, Wenger persists with his British nearly ran’s while their rivals sign big-name quality players.

The same damaging show of faith is happening on Merseyside with Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool. Daniel Sturridge is the obvious selection.

It’s been apparent for some time that Liverpool need a top class centre forward to finish off their team. Indeed, some have even advocated moving for Diego Costa this summer and that man is hated at Anfield.

Liverpool are not going to sign one though. Why? Because Klopp continues to believe Daniel Sturridge will come good.

There’s no denying Sturridge is top class when fit but that’s the problem, he’s never fit. Even when he and Liverpool think he is, he isn’t really. There’s always an injury waiting to happen.

It’s a similar issue with Jordan Henderson. The Liverpool captain has been nursing an ‘incurable’ heel problem since 2015. Last year he missed four months with a foot injury.

His team miss him awfully when he’s out with the midfield looking light without his running power. Klopp knows this and targeted Naby Keita this summer as a replacement.

Yet when that deal didn’t happen, the German didn’t go look at other targets. He instead put faith in Henderson because he played well in pre-season. It’s misguided faith, as Henderson will likely be injured before too long and Liverpool will be in a mess once again.

Sure, the faith shown by Klopp and Wenger is admirable but ultimately it’s holding both clubs back. In this modern game, there’s no time to sit back and hope these players can become good.

Just look at the Manchester clubs. City have jettisoned Joe Hart out for the last two years, United got rid of Rooney this year. Why? Because both players would ultimately hold the club back, removing them was necessary to push forward.

Arsenal and Liverpool are already playing catch up when it comes to spending and that is likely to show this year. It’s their loyalty to failed British talent that is really holding them back. Both managers need to show some ruthlessness.

Start the discussion

to comment