While many clubs, media members and pundits alike often look down on the Checkatrade Trophy, there’s a good idea in there somewhere beyond the car crash of its inception. As we gear up for another season of domestic football, it seems as if the bigger clubs are starting to take more notice of the competition, with Arsenal confirming that they will enter an under-21s team for the 2018/19 campaign.
They are one of 16 ‘Category One’ academies that will enter the tournament, in addition to the League One and League Two clubs that will participate. Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, who actually did quite well last year, will also take part. The 64 teams in total will be split into pools of four clubs with every group having an academy team present.
The criticisms surrounding the changes that were made centred around the fact that smaller clubs would have less of a chance to get to Wembley. Now, however, it seems as if the tides are turning and there’s more of a general acceptance regarding its existence. For Arsenal, and higher ranked clubs in general, it serves as a proving ground for the stars of tomorrow – and that should be seen as a really exciting prospect.
Nobody really knows how these youngsters are going to fare on the big stage until they get there, and while that’s certainly been a proven tool for success in recent years, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the only way to find the answers to these questions. We aren’t suggesting that the level of competition in the Checkatrade Trophy is on par with the Premier League or anything ridiculous like that, but what we are saying is that we should give this idea more of a chance.
After all, it serves as another chance for the Gunners to try and pick up some silverware – even though most people won’t even remotely care about winning it. There’s never such a thing as too much football, as we’ve seen throughout the start of the World Cup, and there are positives to draw from this. Perhaps we can allow ourselves to get back to the roots of our football fandom by getting behind a series of youngsters who could prove to be the next crop of superstars for Arsenal Football Club.
Are you excited about Arsenal entering this tournament?