By Avenell Dave
There are a lot of people out there who criticise the AKBs, the Arsene Knows Best brigade.
Fair criticism, fair observation is justified, in my opinion but at the end of the day I am an Arsenal fan and that means backing the team as much as I can.
I know full well what an incredible job Arsene Wenger is doing and how important it is to value his unique contribution to the club.
I know that when he goes, we will do well to maintain the level of competitiveness he brings us, let alone exceed the achievements he has had.
I often wonder how much Wenger's refusal to bring in experienced recruits is down to financial constraints and how much down to his own stubborn belief that if, by some extreme miracle, he can win the title or Champions League with a bunch of youngsters, it will be seen as an even greater achievement.
Many have said how one or two additions could make such a difference and the impact of quality signings like Andrey Arshavin and Thomas Vermaelen has underlined the validity of that arguement.
The young players will have learnt a lot from playing against Stoke. The one major disappointment apart from going out of the competition is that the opportunity to play in more first team games has now gone for some of the younger squad members until next season's Carling Cup.
But for me, the backing I personally give some of the more experienced of the younger players is becoming difficult to maintain.
- Lukasz Fabianski is a seasoned international and has played full seasons at his previous club, but his fumbling and failure to come for crosses on Sunday cost us dearly.
- It's hard to assess Theo Walcott. He's hardly played this season and he is one of the few players we have with pace. It's ironic though that his Nike advert is all about him being about more than just speed, and yet he has done little to justify my assertion that he will provide more in games than just impressive runs on the break which have so far proved to be his best moments in an Arsenal shirt. He just doesn't do enough and I sincerely hope my colleague Graham McNorthbank is wrong when he says that Theo simply will never be good enough for Arsenal. he's starting to win me over though.
- Carlos Vela is another who flits in and out of games. He just doesn't look capable of accepting that English football is physical and that you have to be strong before you can express yourself. He had a good second half against West Ham in the last round of the FA Cup and impressed in the Carling Cup but is that enough? Some say that he needs a run of 8-10 games and that may be true, so why doesn't Wenger give him that opportunity? Does Le Boss not trust him either?
- Denilson has scored a few goals for us, including a deflected effort against Stoke on Sunday and his willingness to shoot from distance is something too many other players lack. But while Alex Song ahs improved immensely over the past three years, the same cannot be said for the Brazilian. Does it say much that he has still not been capped at senior level? His sloppy failure to track back cost us the second Stoke goal but overall, I just don't see how much he brings the team in general play.
I want to believe all the afore-mentioned to grow into world class players for Arsenal.
They have all had time to acclimatise and the doubts get larger.
I'll keep cheering them, keep backing them and hope Wenger's confidence in them is well placed.
It's unfair to say that time is running out for any of them, but we need more quality and more consistency from all of them if Wenger's dreams - our dreams - are to come true.