Tag Archives: Hale End

Say it ain’t so, Smith Rowe! Could Emile exit the Emirates…for Stamford Bridge?

With the summer transfer window set to close in a matter of days, rumours of our own Emile Smith Rowe leaving the club have run rampant. After having missed most of the 2022-23 campaign due to a persistent groin injury and subsequent surgery, I think I speak for most if not all of us when I say I expected to see more of him during last season’s run in, the preseason, and the early stages of this campaign. However, it starts to feel like he’s more likely to leave the club than to ever feature for it. It all comes down to midnight GMT on 1 September. Chelsea are lurking. So too are West Ham.

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Mudryk? Pffft! We have Cozier-Duberry and Nwaneri!

From the funeral pyre that is our 0-2 loss to Juventus in the penultimate match of the—what’s that? I’m being told that this was not a match of record, and that the result means nothing in the grand scheme of things. In fact, its only purpose was to embarrass Vlahović and maybe spank an Italian side that’s so corrupt the Mafia are taking notes. Still, from those ashes, a phoenix rises. Make that two because we have two precocious talents on our hands in Amario Cozier-Duberry and Ethan Nwaneri, each of whom impressed against Juventus on Saturday despite the result. Arteta offered a significant vote of confidence to both teenagers, sending them each on despite us having conceded an own-goal against the run of play just before halftime and hoping for and equaliser. Am I exaggerating their performances just a little bit? To pose another rhetorical question: can anyone determine the location of ursine defecations in arboreal ecosystems? Who needs Mudryk when we have these two waiting in the—wait for it…—wings?

Whereas some managers eavesrop on other clubs and try to poach up-and-coming players, Arteta seems comfortable and confident enough to instead develop academy players. True, this wasn’t a knockout round or anything, but sending on two teenagers sends a message, all the more so when we’re chasing the game rather than killing it off. True, the two only played a combined 40 minutes or so (28 for Cozier-Duberry, 12 for Nwaneri), but they got the message loud and clear: Arteta sees a future for them in the first team even if that future isn’t immediate. Other Academy players will have seen this, and their mates’ appearances earlier in the season, as inspiration.

Seventeen year old Cozier-Duberry in particular impressed (he did have more time on the pitch after all), replacing Xhaka and pushing forward fearlessly while also tracking back, and he may get another call-up to face Oxford United in the FA Cup third round. The left-footed winger might remind you of Saka with his directness and willingness to take defenders on. Give him a gander in this highlight clip:

Fifteen year old Ethan Nwaneri, who made history as the first player to feature for the first team at the Emirates who was born after the stadium opened in July 2006, is another left-footed midfielder and was almost as impressive as Cozier-Duberry but clearly still very raw. He never looked intimidated, though, although he did get dispossessed several times. Still, he acquitted himself in the busy middle of the pitch. Check out his cameo here:

Now, am I serious when I dismiss a move for someone like Mudryk on the basis of 40 minutes of football in a friendly? No, but I have to do something to lure readers in, and I hope the title isn’t too lurid and the article isn’t too vapid. Neither youngster is ready for the weekly grind and pressure of the Prem and will need more time with the U18s and then U23s. They’re projects, but it’s good to know that they’re in the pipeline. Add in Charlie Patino, on loan at Blackpool; Karl Hein, who impressed during the Dubai Super Cup; and quite a few others, and Hale End is looking very productive indeed. 
By all means, let’s hope the club do bring in someone like Mudryk or (and?) Felix, but let’s remember that the club have to prepare for the long term as well as the short term. To all outward appearances, we’re looking good in both.