The new season is four weeks away and there are 18 players in the current Arsenal first-team squad but the Academy is looking threadbare.
18 is a small squad size but is good enough to win trophies and five short of the maximum 23 players allowed by the FA. After all, Manchester City managed to win the title a couple of seasons ago, but they relied on luck and lack of injuries. That formula failed them in recent seasons as tiredness hit in the second half of the season.
As of Sunday evening, Arsenal have two goalkeepers, five defenders, six midfielders and five forwards.
Should all players remain fit, that would be the perfect squad size, as no-one would be left at home every game. You can have 18 players on the teamsheet for nearly every game, although only 16 in the FA Women’s Cup.
But the current situation is not that simple.
There are three injured players at the moment. Danielle Carter has a long-term problem and will miss most of the season. New signing, Tabea Kemme is recovering from an injury she picked at her previous club. Jordan Nobbs also has a short-term issue.
Therefore, the current squad of 15 players should be complemented by youth players from the Academy that is now managed by Lauren Phillips and fringe youngsters from last season.
This is a problem. As far as I know, there will be just three players returning from last season’s Development team regulars.
Lauren James has moved on to Manchester United in the second tier. Two fringe players, Anna Filbey and Jessica N’Gunga, are close to joining our North London rivals who also play in the Championship.
Then you add the youngsters that decided to follow Chris Phillips, the former Development Team manager, to Millwall – Gabriella Ravenscroft, Lia Cataldo, Yelani Priest, Kelani Peart and Beth Lumsden.
Four players also left to go to University in the USA – Shannon Cooke, Georgia Eaton-Collins, Grace Neville and Ellie Perkins.
That leaves us, realistically, with two players who could supplement the first team – Ava Kuyken, who made a few appearances last season, and Miri Taylor.
So while the first team is short of players, the now Academy side (u21) needs to be rebuilt, almost from scratch.
In two weeks’ time, the first team will play its first official friendly against Juventus and we will have an idea on players’ availability before they travel to France to play the TILC in Toulouse.
The Academy side will also play some friendlies, but I expect to see a young team few players ready to help the first team if called upon.