With Balogun refusing to commit and out of favour, Martinelli injured and Greenwood leaving, and despite the Arsenal fans wanting to see Aubameyang played centrally, Arteta is entering the new season with only Lacazette and Nketiah as is centre forwards. Or is he…?
Last summer we saw glimpses of Tyreece John-Jules, and these glimpses made not just Arsenal fans take notice, but also several clubs around Europe. However, John-Jules committed his future to Arsenal, when he could have followed his friend, Xavier Amaechi, (with whom he shares an agent), to Germany. Indeed, there were even rumours of AC Milan interest. A year on, his ex-U23 teammate has yet to make an impression for Hamburg and John-Jules might be just about to be given a chance to impress Mikel Arteta.
The striker’s loan at Lincoln in the Spring may have been cut short after 7 games and one goal at Lincoln with an ankle injury, but he has knocked in 13 from 15 for the U23s prior to January. The question is: can John-Jules show this form if given a chance for the first team? Gunners Town caught up with John Williamson – who knows as much about Arsenal youth set up as anyone – to find out…
DS – John, for those who don’t know you… (where have they been?!)… perhaps just tell the readers how often and for how long you have watched our team’s young talent
JW – I have been following the youth team since the mid ’70s and our academy since the early 2000s when Hale End was first opened; I attend as many matches as possible when there are no First Team or Reserve matches to attend.
Combined, I usually get to around 50 youth and academy matches in any normal (non-Covid) season!
DS – I admit to being no expert on Arsenal’s Youth, which is why I always sense check others views with you. Firstly what would you say are TJJ’s main assets and strengths and also his failings or area she mist improve?
JW – Tyreece is a strong player with pace; he can play as an main centre forward, a No. 10 role behind the forwards, or on the right wing. I like him behind the forwards where he can use his pace taking defenders on.
Over the years, in my opinion, one of the areas of concern was recognising what was going on around him. It looks as though this is being addressed as he has improved on this. His left foot is slightly weaker and, like most, he rarely heads the ball – as the majority of football throughout the Club is played on the ground.
DS – He could have left last summer but committed to Arsenal. Was this loyalty, comfort or a genuine belief in his own ability to break through at the club he loves?
JW – Tyreece is a confident lad; I feel there is a genuine belief that he feels that there is a decent pathway for him to break into the first team. I certainly believe that as long as he keeps working hard and improving as an all round player and person, his time will come.
He has been with us for 11 years, joining us as an 8 year old, therefore his ties with the Club are strong; he is also surrounded by a supportive family. Both these help keep his feet firmly on the ground.
The Club’s philosophy is to bring at least two players into the first team squad through the reserves, via the U18s and the academy every season. Over the past couple of seasons, we have seen more coming through; with the current crop of U18s and below we have some serious, potential talent. Tyreece is heading towards the end of that process – if he can keeping scoring goals, his chance will surely come.
DS – I feel with Greenwood’s departure and Gabby’s injury, Arteta might need to use him in the Cups – until January at least. Do you agree? and would you be confident he can take his chance as Eddie did?
JW – I agree. Being in the Europa League is critical for all our younger players’ development, where it opens up opportunities – particularly for players like Tyreece. It is a competition where we should go far and with the number of overall matches in a shorter season, Mikel will need to use his whole squad plus U23s – as we’ve seen in the lockdown matches.
DS – For the readers, it might be useful to compare him to established strikers they might be more familiar with… Perhaps an Arsenal player and/or a non-Arsenal player?
JW – I would compare him with a young, raw Ian Wright; Tyreece likes to get the ball deep and take players on, he can also score goals when unexpected! Obviously not to Ian’s levels just yet!
DS – I think you just gave me my headline for the article there, John! 🙂
In an ideal world: how would you like to see this season pan out for TJJ? Is being on the first term fringes until Martinellii returns and then going out on loan ideal? Or would you rather see him on a season-long loan now? And should the loan be in in Europe or perhaps to the Championship?
JW – Thats never an easy one. At 19, Tyreece is still young – with time on his side; if he stays, he would need to remain a regular in the U23s and be at least in the squad for the Carabao Cup and Europa League – where he still may not get much game time. I feel another loan spell in the Championship would be best suited. With his strong family ties, a loan deal abroad may not be of benefit.
DS – Thanks John. Enlightening – as I knew it would be.
You can follow John on Twitter and I suggest you do @willow1886.
Passionate fifty-something Arsenal supporter who has been making the journey to N5 regularly since the early 1980s – although his first game was in 1976. Always passionate when talking about The Arsenal, Dave decided to send a guest blog to Gunnersphere in the summer of 2011 and has not stopped writing about the Gunners since.
He set up his own site – 1 Nil Down 2 One Up – in February 2012, which he moved on in 2016 to concentrate on freelance writing and building Gunners Town, which he launched with Paul in 2014.
The objective of GT was to be new and fresh and to give a platform for likeminded passionate Arsenal fans wishing to write about their team. Dave still of course, writes for the site himself and advises the ever-changing writing crew.