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Comparing Arsenal and Blackpool Based On Where Players Were Born

Marouane Chamakh Arsenal 2010/11 Arsenal V Blackpool (6-0) 21/08/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

There’s very little in common between Arsenal and Blackpool. Both clubs couldn’t be more opposite. But they do both enjoy playing an attractive style of football rather than hoofing it up the pitch. But perhaps one of the biggest differences between the clubs is the number of foreign players that play for both sides.

Looking at the starting eleven for both Blackpool and Arsenal, you can see how stark the differences are (Blackpool played Birmingham, while Arsenal played Manchester City) by viewing the interactive maps below. All eleven players on Arsenal’s side this past Sunday were foreign. And all eleven players on Blackpool’s side this past Saturday were born in the United Kingdom.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But it does illustrate the stark contrast between where players are born. If you click on the maps below, it’ll show you where each of the starting 11 were born.

Here are interactive maps of where the players were born (feel free to zoom in and out and move the maps around to get the full idea):

First, Arsenal:

View Arsenal, Starting 11 Birthplaces in a larger map

And here are the locations of where Blackpool’s players were born:

View Blackpool FC, Starting 11 Birthplacess in a larger map

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  1. Baz

    October 28, 2010 at 9:42 am

    It’s a pointless article because to compare something, the comparison is only interesting when all other things are held equal.

    ie. compare two of the big teams. Where are the players born and then make conclusions on what you find. (Perhaps influence from the owners, or where most of their scouting is based, or even their particular style of play)

    You can’t make any reasonable conclusions here. Not much is equal between the two besides playing in the same league.

    Yes i am an Arsenal fan, but this has nothing to do with the whole Arsenal are a foreign team argument, just plain logic really, or lack thereof.

  2. cam

    October 28, 2010 at 3:33 am

    I’m happy to see that the birthplace of St. Petersburg is St. Petersburg as seen on the first map.

    • The Gaffer

      October 28, 2010 at 6:00 am

      Good catch. That is now fixed and listed as Andrey Arshavin’s birthplace.

      The Gaffer

  3. SantaClaus

    October 27, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    I think it is a very interesting observation, one that I did not know. The reason I think it is interesting is that these days even the smaller clubs or newly promoted clubs all have some foreign players in the starting 11. Blackpool are really an exception. I wonder if Blackpool has any foreign players in their squad.

    • Kip

      October 28, 2010 at 11:17 am

      The Blackpool player in the picture is Israeli international Dekel Keinen.

      There’s also Roger Kingson – who was Ghana’s keeper in the WC – and Frenchmen Ludovic Sylvestre, Elliot Grandin and Malaury Martin.

      It was just a bit of a coincidence that none of them started at the weekend.

  4. Chelsea MPLS

    October 27, 2010 at 5:42 pm


    Great observations, it was a good read. Keep them coming. I have no idea why people are getting so up in arms. If you don’t like the site go somewhere else, or don’t read it.

    • The Gaffer

      October 27, 2010 at 6:49 pm

      Chelsea, I get used to it after a while. No one article is going to please everyone. But hopefully there’s enough variety to keep most people coming back.

      The life of a soccer blogger is one where you never really know which article is going to be a big hit or a dud until after you hit the publish button and the readers respond. After a while you put out your best work and hope for the best!

      The Gaffer

    • jleau

      October 28, 2010 at 3:30 am

      This is my favorite point of view. If you don’t agree leave. “If you don’t like it don’t read it” That’s not even possible. I can’t know if I’m going to like it before I read it. Apparantly you want the readership limited to clairvoyants.

      Gaffer does a good job, but he’s not always right.

      Criticism that’s not nasty is not only fair but good. Plus these comments are a big reason why people read the articles so they can interact. Also, comments are part of the business model, even the negative ones pay a little. The last thing Gaffer wants is for us to go somewhere else.

      These are tame anyway.

  5. Football Souvenirs

    October 27, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    This is an interesting statistic when you consider WHY the top sides are buying talent from abroad and the failure of the national team

  6. vermaelen5

    October 27, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Interesting piece.

  7. Pakapala

    October 27, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Shocker!!! A newly promoted very small & poor team has 2 foreigners (last I checked England, Scotland, Northern Ireland are separate countries in football terms) in its starting 11 as opposed to a “top 4” team in the EPL fielding 11 foreign players in the starting squad. Talk about Captain Obvious!

  8. gunning 4 glory

    October 27, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    whats the point what does it matter if blackpool have 100 players born in england none of them are good engough to play for england arsenal may only have gibbs, walcott and wilshere who are first team regulars that are born in england but they all have played and will play for england for years whats better for england 22 players who are not good enough or 3 who are arsenals squad is doing more for england than most premier league teams even if they play more english players its about quality not quantity

  9. ozzie_gooner

    October 27, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Mate, in a league where 11 clubs are fully foreign owned and most others have partial foreign ownership, why are you worried about Arsenal fielding a side full of foreigners.

    FFS, the English team seems happy to have a foreign manager, the English cricket team seems happy to play foreign imports. Smells like hypocrisy to me..

    • Nick

      October 27, 2010 at 12:24 pm

      I think there’d need to be a value judgment in order for there to be hypocrisy. He explicitly says, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Why do you think the Gaffer is “worried” about this at all? He just seems to find it interesting.

      • ozzie_gooner

        October 27, 2010 at 11:01 pm

        Fair dinkum. My comments were rather aimed at DinMN than The Gaffer.

        • DinMN

          October 28, 2010 at 10:36 am

          I wasn’t saying there was anything wrong with it, I just find it interesting is all. It’s interesting to note that a top team in the Premier League won’t field a single english player (without walcott) especially after catching a bit of an earlier article about there being no english players in the running for the Ballon d’Or:

          “In all honesty nobody could say they are surprised to see not one English player nominated for the award.”

          Keep in mind, I’m an american and following the EPL from america. I saw a lot of articles on sites touting english football as having a resurgence (prior to the world cup), so I find it interesting that Blackpool+England=14th, whereas Arsenal+Europe=2nd (both table places). About the closest I see (correct me if I’m wrong) is Newcastle in 9th (as to english players in the first squad).

          I couldn’t care any less if Arsenal had an entirely european squad, again, I just thought it was interesting.

  10. Jon

    October 27, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Hey Gaffer,

    Interesting, although there are a couple of comments on the comparability issue that I think are raised inferentially that deserve to be addressed.

    First, the only real reason that place of birth matters is for the player’s availability to their national team. The real comparison, unless you are talking about developing players for England, should be how many of the players were “home grown” for each club. I mean, Cesc Fabregas was biologically born in Spain, but most of his football birth is English. That’s true of a number of the Arsenal squad who have been with the club for a long time. I know you haven’t said this, but I constantly hear people complain that Arsenal hire foreigners and play a “foreign style” (whatever that means) but the truth is that a great deal of Arsenal’s foreign talent is educated in football on English soil at an English club. The place of birth is purely a statistical accident which is irrelevant, unless one is talking about availability for a national team.

    Second, I would be interested in this same comparison in three to five years. Arsenal have a long-term youth development policy that started when Wenger came in 1996 and is just now starting to bear fruit. It might be true that on Sunday Arsenal’s starting XI were all foreign born, but soon there will be Gibbs, Wilshere, Ramsey, and possibly Jay Emmanuel-Thomas all in the starting lineup, with others like Eastmond and Frimpong as possibilities. Also, Walcott would already make the starting XI but was injured on Sunday. So Arsenal actually appears to be on the cusp of a bit of a English revolution in terms of its squad and I would expect the demographic of the team to change once the youth policy is given time to produce its end products.



    • The Gaffer

      October 27, 2010 at 11:45 am

      Jon, there’s definitely several ways you can slice and dice the information. Yes, Arsenal has some UK players who are on the fringes of the squad and that number will grow over time. But I disagree with you regarding Fabregas. This was a player who was brought through the Barcelona academy system and his time there has been more influential there on the type of player that he is than his time at Arsenal. At the Gunners, he has been able to hone his skills and become one of the best in the world, but I would consider him more of a Spanish player than an English footballer.

      The Gaffer

  11. Martin

    October 27, 2010 at 11:22 am

    This is interesting because it can show you the reach of some teams and how they use their available resources. A team like Blackpool may not be able to scout and search for players worldwide and heavily depend on the local crop of players. Where as Arsenal have the resources to basically pluck any player from around the world.

  12. DinMN

    October 27, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Is the point not that a team in England’s Premier League, Arsenal, have 11 players starting and not one of them are from the UK vs. Blackpool’s 11 UK-hailing starters? Seems pretty contrasting to me.

    • Dave C

      October 27, 2010 at 1:40 pm

      Isn’t that obvious to the point that it doesn’t even need mentioning any more. I mean Arsenal have been fielding a nearly entirely foreign starting XI ever since the Dixon-Keown-Adams-Winterburn were phased out. The fact that Blackpool’s team was
      entirely British was slightly more interesting, but hardly news.

      I look forward to future articles such as “Have you ever noticed how Old Trafford is a much bigger stadium than Craven Cottage” or “Comparing Man City and Blackpool’s transfer expenditures”.

  13. Jleau

    October 27, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Reader’s Choice note – This is the kind of post that drives me nuts. What is your point? This isn’t even a complete thought. Quality over quantity, please.

    • The Gaffer

      October 27, 2010 at 11:16 am

      Jleau, to each his own. I find it an interesting observation. I didn’t know each of the Blackpool players was UK-born.

      The Gaffer

      • The Gaffer

        October 27, 2010 at 2:31 pm

        Jleau, one more thing. You’re an Arsenal supporter, correct? If so, no wonder this type of post drives you nuts. You’re not impartial.

        The Gaffer

        • Thomas

          October 27, 2010 at 4:29 pm

          This is being rehashed over and over and over again. This post just sums up how useless this topic is. How many players (current and up and coming) are Blackpool supplying to the national team? 0

          Arsenal’s got three massive talents in Walcott, Wilshere and Gibbs. Not to mention players like Jay-Emmanuel Thomas and Lansbury.

          Like Jleau said, Quality over quantity, please.

        • jleau

          October 28, 2010 at 3:03 am

          I am a Gooner and will admit that I have my biases. I don’t see how that’s relevant. My comment is not a disagreement over your point of view but the fact that you don’t have one. I can’t say that I agree or disagree with you. You haven’t made a point. Why is this observation worth making? What is it that you want me to take away from this?

          I enjoy this site and have been a regular reader for a few years. My expectations may be too high but this is not twitter. A post should simply have a point.

        • Dave C

          October 28, 2010 at 12:24 pm

          Gaffer, I think assuming JLeau is not “impartial” because he is an Arsenal fan is grasping at straws. I’m not an Arsenal fan, but I also think this article is incredibly pointless.

          • Doc

            October 28, 2010 at 12:47 pm

            i am an arsenal fan and think this is interesting. who cares if arsenal supplies ANY english national team players, and it doesn’t hurt my feelings one bit if somebody does make fun of wenger for it(not that this article is doing that). wenger’s job is to find the best ARSENAL players, blackpool’s job is to find the best players they can. arsenal’s reputation is large enough to be a draw for international players, blackpool is not at this time. no big deal. i’m not saying this is the best article this site has ever produced, but it’s also an interesting comparison of two ends of the footballing universe.

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