After Arsenal’s deadline day dash to sign Danny Welbeck from Manchester United for £16m, Arsene Wenger’s squad now has a strong domestic core running through it.
Just under nine years ago Wenger named the first ever 16 man Premier League squad not to feature an Englishman, yet he could now feasibly pick six English players in his starting line-up. Welbeck has joined a squad already containing Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Calum Chambers, Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Some have commented that this marks an admirable shift in policy towards “homegrown” players at Arsenal, but how do the Gunners really compare against their Premier League rivals when it comes to English players and internationals?
Including Welbeck, who picked up an ankle injury yesterday (he’s fitting in already), four Arsenal players were named in the current England squad making them the biggest benefactors to Roy Hodgson alongside Liverpool.
Everton will have three representatives at Wembley tonight with defenders John Stones and Leighton Baines in the starting lineup and Phil Jagielka on the bench. Manchester United have two players present (captain Wayne Rooney and Phil Jones) as do Manchester City (James Milner and Joe Hart). Gary Cahill is Chelsea’s only representative.
In fact, Chelsea have just two current or former England internationals in their entire squad and one of them (John Terry) has retired. Only Swansea, Burnley and Newcastle United have fewer internationals, with the latter two having none whatsoever.
However, while the quality of Arsenal’s English players is high across the board (Carl Jenkinson is on loan at West Ham), the overall quantity remains low. In fact only Manchester City and Chelsea have fewer Englishmen in their ranks than Arsenal’s six. Last year’s Premier League champions have three English players while Chelsea have just two.
Chelsea’s small English contingent could come to haunt Jose Mourinho as he picks his Champions League squad. Uefa rules determine that competing clubs must name eight “homegrown” players (players trained by a club within England for at least three years between the ages of 16 to 21) in their 25-man Champions League squad. Clearly Arsenal will have no such headache this season.
In contrast, Liverpool have 13 players eligible to play for England. Their impressive second-place finish last season demonstrating that it is still possible to achieve success with homegrown English players, with youngsters such as John Flanagan and Raheem Sterling forming an integral part of Brendan Rodgers’ lineup.
Unsurprisingly, Liverpool’s squad boasts the highest number of collective England caps in the league. Cumulatively, the Reds have 220 England caps. Arsenal are a long way behind with a collective 100 England caps, the seventh highest total in the league. Even QPR have more.
However, Liverpool’s squad does include Steven Gerrard - no longer an active England international after retiring from the side this summer. QPR’s total is boosted by retired Rio Ferdinand, Manchester City’s by the century of caps accumulated by Frank Lampard.
With retired players’ caps not included in the final tally, Arsenal shoot up the rankings as all of their current Englishmen are aged 25 or younger and set to form an integral part of the national team for many years to come.
England squad for friendly vs Norway and Euro 2016 qualifier vs Switzerland in full: