Arsenal Times
Can Bould Get A Good Tune Out of Medley
By Matt Sadler
July 9 2019

Saturday marked a long-awaited return to watching the Arsenal for me, albeit a very young Arsenal side in the annual friendly against Boreham Wood.

Unsurprisingly for an Arsenal side, the first half featured some very poor defending. Boreham Wood opened the scoring 3 minutes in when Zech Medley and left back Dominic Thompson went for the same header, both failing to win it as Boreham Wood poked the flick on past the keeper. Although Medley later proved effective up the other end, assisting Matt Smith’s well-taken finish, he found himself culpable at the back again right on the stroke of half time, as he gave the ball away cheaply and deflected Boreham Wood’s eventual shot into the net. 3-1.

 I believe this first half summed up some of the more common criticisms of Medley. On paper he is everything you’d want in a modern centre half; tall, powerful, left-footed (because they’re rarer right?) and (generally) excellent on the ball. However, despite this, on occasion his defensive work can let him down, with concentration a more prevalent issue.

 Last season was an excellent one for Daniel Ballard from a personal point of view as he featured prominently for our U23s, performing well consistently and earning himself two call-ups to the Northern Ireland senior team and a contract extension in May. He has since joined League Two side Swindon on a season-long loan in what I think could be a very good move for him in terms of his development.

 It wasn’t a bad season for Medley either, as he made three first team appearances, but I said a few times last season that I believed Ballard is the better central defender of the two at this point in time, brave and solid with a handy habit for making goal-line clearances. HOWEVER, despite this, I believe that Medley could have the higher ceiling and, given this and the plus points I mentioned previously, could give him the edge in the future. Still, he has got to improve defensively.

 Saturday’s friendly marked Steve Bould’s first match in charge of the U23s again. Following his switch back, Bould said “I have always had a deep commitment to developing young players & am delighted to be back working in an area which is so important to the future of our club. We have great young players & my job will be to help them maximise their potential.” After Saturday’s friendly he said “The only interest I have is development and I mean that. That’s not necessarily winning games, it’s about players learning the next step, the next level and improving themselves tactically, technically, mentally and physically.”

 I couldn’t help but think of Medley after these quotes, talk of maximising potential and improving tactically and mentally…

 Medley, who turned 19 today, was reportedly a loan target for a number of football league clubs, but was apparently convinced to stay, for at least half a season, by Bould himself, and there are rumours he could be named U23 captain. This tells me that Bould, a former top centre half himself, very interested in the development of young players, specifically wants to work with Medley. His potential is there for all to see.

 I’ll be interested to watch his development this season. If Bould can get a tune out of Medley, we could have a hit on our hands.