Stefan O’Connor- the victim of Krystian Bielik’s progress


Everything was going so well for Stefan O’Connor. The defender made his Arsenal first-team debut last season, in the Champions League no less, and was training frequently with the first-team squad.

Just a month after that game against Galatasaray, however, an incident occurred that would alter the course of O’Connor’s Arsenal career, at least in the short term, as the club signed the talented Krystian Bielik from Legia Warsaw.

The Poland youth international was initially seen as a defensive-midfielder, but he has featured increasingly frequently at centre-back, which has hampered the progress of O’Connor.

It is true that the Hale End product has struggled with injuries at times this season, while he also had a short loan spell at York City, but O’Connor has been restricted to just four UEFA Youth League and two U21 Premier League appearances for the Gunners this season.

Taking into account how little he has played this campaign, it is difficult to make a fair judgement on whether O’Connor has progressed over the past year. It has been an extremely frustrating time for the youngster and now, whilst Bielik is on the cusp of the first-team squad, O’Connor finds himself isolated- too old for the U18s, not really under consideration for the U21s and nowhere near the senior side.

With Julio Pleguezuelo likely to go on loan at some point next campaign, O’Connor could well reclaim his place in the side at U21 level. It seems rather strange, however, that the youngster finds himself in this situation considering that he established himself as a key player for the second-string in the first year of his scholarship.

Now time is starting to run out for O’Connor, and the youngster will know that if he is still at Arsenal next season then it will be a crucial campaign as far as his future at the club is concerned. He is effective at bringing the ball out from the back but remains prone to lapses in concentration, and can ill afford any slip-ups next season.




      1. Don’t really see the connection between Jamie Vardy and an Arsenal youth player, tbh. I would be more inclined to compare O’Connor to Paul Rodgers, Rene Steer, Justin Hoyte, Gavin Hoyte, Semi Ajayi, Danny Boateng, Thomas Cruise and the various other not good enough centre backs we have had down the years.

    1. What like it has taken 5 first team players to get back to div 1.against an Aston villa team only with youngsters or like the national team who haven’t won a trophy since 1966.

  1. How is it possible for a player to be on the ascendancy (o’connor)and then suddenly be moved out of the picture altogether, because of some new kid on the block. Although bielik may have the potential to be a top player, how the hell could arsenal move him into o’connors position at CB to develop him (bielik) and then totally disregard o’connor who beforehand they saw as a player of promise. It’s disgraceful from the top right down, should not be allowed to happen.

    1. Because they saw he was a bad player, maybe? Even York City, relegated from League 2 with a shocking defensive record, couldn’t get rid of him quick enough…

      1. “A bad player” not at all mate” according to the arsenal website wenger claimed o’connor was ready for the next level. They don’t know what their doing, it’s farcical like your comments. By the way he was injured at York just before the end of his loan period.

      2. D’jeezus you have a lot of opinions and no facts reading your comments are like reading jeorge birds they are often incorrect.

      3. Wow, Mr Wenger builds up an Arsenal player. Must mean he is good!!
        Mr Wenger also said a lot of nice things about a lot of our youth players now struggling to make a career in non-league football. O’Connor will be heading down the leagues as quick as those before him.

      4. Your comment shows you haven’t got a handle on what the reality is.

        Firstly: York City had a shocking defensive record before Stephan O’Connor got there. A bit unfair to expect a young prospect to go to a struggling side and miraculously lift them above the mire they got themselves into.

        Second: As you state “York City couldn’t get rid of him quick enough”. Rubbish. Again you are speculating like you actually have any idea of what actually happened. O’Connor sustained a long term injury during Dec/Jan period which the prognosis was a long term recuperative spell. It didn’t make sense for him to stay at the loan club when it’s clear that he wouldn’t be getting any game time.

        You make it sound like he wasn’t cut out for York City, let alone Arsenal and that by that stretch he’s a poor player. But the basis you use to draw comparisons to back up your claims are weak.

        Anyway I’m sure in the time you’ve taken to read this you will have lost precious time from Championship Manager so I’ll leave it there…….

    2. He got injured, they needed someone to cover so Bielik took his place.
      Bielik played better than O’Connor.
      Seems quite clear to me.

      If he does get another chance then hopefully he’ll appreciate that he needs to concentrate for the full 90mins.

  2. If you don’t like reading Jeorge’s comments then maybe this is not the blog for you!
    And yes, I have a lot of opinions. Not sure what ‘facts’ you want about O’Connor – other than he has been dropped by Arsenal and flopped at York – but at least my comments have relevance to the article I am replying to. Your first comment really makes little sense to the subject.
    Not really sure what is incorrect about any comment I have made here.

    1. You’ve missed the whole point of the matter. It’s about building someone up and pulling the rug from underneath them immediately, that’s not on, no matter who it is or what you think about them. The fact that you don’t understand that seems as if your making it personal.

  3. Dropped by Arsenal well look at what it took after so called dropping him to be promoted ! By the way I saw this kid play last season in my opinion he has great potential with the right coaching the sky is the limit. Ignorant people like you, opinions mean nothing. Grow up and learn football.

  4. Dropped by Arsenal well look at what it took after so called dropping him to be promoted
    With him we… got demoted !!!

    By the way I saw this kid play last season in my opinion he has great potential with the right coaching the sky is the limit.
    If only you were in charge of our youth teams rather than the professionals.

    Ignorant people like you, opinions mean nothing. Grow up and learn football.
    In a couple of years, when O’Connor joins the likes of Rodgers, Steer, Cruise, Gilbert and so on struggling to make a career you will grow up and learn football!

    1. “In a couple of years, when O’Connor leaves Arsenal for another PL team you will grow up and learn football!”

      Fixed it for you.

      Also we’ll be sitting in the stands watching a player who used to be an Arsenal player making life difficult for us and singing “he’s one of ours” like we do with Harry Kane.

  5. D’Jeezus how much do you charge for a view of your crystal ball .Do you think that you can predict the future then ? Good thing that Wengers in control and not someone with your name.

  6. i am hitting a raw nerve now aren’t we!
    .. We got demoted …!!!!! Who are we .. Did you play any matches ? Or coach a youth team?
    Was it just O’Connor in the team ? I think not!
    Youth teams omg you hit the nail on the head .. They r youth players and as said with the right coaching belief and dedication the “sky is the limit’ .. The players that you mention are the past this kid could b the future ..

  7. I don’t need a Crystsl ball to know that you are talking rubbish! How could you possibly predict . Your cheap comments are both irritating and worthless.! The problem with comments like this for UK youth trying to break through is that money is then spent outside of the U.K. . Where can I get your crystal ball and magic wand from as I want to win the lottery next week.i can now see that reading jeorge bird website has done you no favours you joker

    1. “How could you possibly predict .”
      “I saw this kid play last season in my opinion he has great potential with the right coaching the sky is the limit” –

      Surely suggesting a youth team player could be world class (sky is the limit) is predicting…

  8. i am hitting a raw nerve now aren’t we!
    Because I am answering your points, whereas you are trying to throw personal insults?

    We = Arsenal. The players, the staff, the board – and most importantly the fans!

    I never said O’Connor was the only player, you just made the comment about what we needed to get promoted without O’Connor and I pointed out that with him we got demoted. And then failed to get promoted the next season with O’Connor being a mainstay. Maybe you should review your own comments before replying to mine.

    They r youth players and as said with the right coaching belief and dedication the “sky is the limit’
    Oh, now we are getting to it. A blind belief that anyone in our academy/youth teams is top class and it is the coaches that are failing. When you grow up you will start realising not every kid is destined to be world class, and the majority fall out of the picture very quickly.

    1. A raw nerve .. I don’t think so !

      Personal, Yes I am taking it there. So get ready.

      We Arsrnal the players, the staff, the board and most importantly the fans !

      Now it’s getting interesting as your we, is still very broad and in my opinion it is clear that self preservation is stepping in for you.

      However, again, I state that it took exp in the team to be back in the premiership. I doubt that is down to any Young defender.

      I will not join you in agreeing your opinion of this young kid, who is being taught by Arsenal to play football.

      It takes goals to be successful I’m
      Tired of reading articles about defenders taking the blame.

      The whole team needs to work as a unit, then relegation would not step. Look around other successful academies ( which I chose not to name) they tend to work as a unit! It’s not about individuals it’s about winning as a team. This blame culture is just not washing with me.

      With regards to the coaches I have no opinion as I do not see them in action. But what I will ask is, are the players a reflection? If your statement that the majority fall out of the picture is true and are not world class. You are not encouraging belief that there is hope for UK players to be recognised as potential.
      That’s is on you, the board, the players the staff and most importantly the fans.( using your words!)
      I wish Young O’Connor every success in the future I hope that he does not take useless opinions like yours, on board.

      Thank God Mr Wenger is in charge ! At least he gives opportunity to these kids.

      1. A raw nerve .. I don’t think so
        They were your words not mine. Unlike you I am not trying to attack anyone for having an opinion, I am just offering mine and answering people who reply to me.

        Interesting, you don’t think of Arsenal as ‘we’? I am sure the majority of football fans say ‘we’ when talking about their club. Not sure referring to the club you love as ‘we’ is self preservation, nor do I see why I would need self preservation when offering an opinion on a player. Again, it is you taking things off subject and trying to be personal, whereas I am trying to keep the discussion on topic.

        A lot of your replies seem to suggest that just because a player is in out our academy he must have the quality to make it and it is down to coaches. This simply isn’t true.
        Also you mention ‘more successful’ teams – assumably referring to the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City’s? That depends on how you rate success of youth teams. For me it is rated on the number of players who break into the first team and become regulars. In that case ours is extremely successful, whereas the two other clubs have yet to strike gold. But even a successful academy/ youth system is always going to have a vast number of failures more than successes.

      2. “The whole team needs to work as a unit….” – For reference see Leicester City. A team that one the Premier League this season by playing as a unit and adapting to the playing styles of the teams they were up against.

        One of the D’Jeezus comments was saying that he couldn’t see a correlation between Jamie Vardy and Stephan O’Connor. Well for one he was released from numerous clubs, played for a club six leagues below Arsenal and in six seasons has won the premier league.

        In years past he’d be written off as a nobody.

        As it stands. Player of the year and the attention of the world.

  9. So let me break my response up for you.

    I’ll start with picking up on your choice of words AGAIN!

    I have already challenged you on “We” now I challenge you on your statement around “Our Academy”

    I’m an Arsenal fan but do not refer to it as “Our Academy” I refer to the Academy as Arsenal Academy . So yet again I am questioning whether you are more importantly a Fan, The Board, the Panel etc (your definition of the word we)to be leaving these kind of comments on this blog

    The fact that this blog was written in the first place makes me curiously wonder whether there is another motive .

    Victim of an incident there was no incident each academy player should have a chance to prove there worth so I’m glad for Beilik. Competition if that’s what the incident brought is healthy for any youth player but again I refuse to accept that singling out players is either Arsenals approach or culture. Apparently JB is not Arsenals official blogger . Sorry JB I have nothing against you personally!

    Number of players that transitioned across the corridor – single figures in a decade.

    Failures your choice of words.

    My choice of words, development, belief, opportunity.

    Back on the subject of the player in question.As this kid is just 18 he still has time to grow into his mans physique .So I will personally not write him off just yet mate. There are no CB in P league that play week in week out for a first team that are u21.

    There is an issue, if there are more failures than successes in the Arsenal academy. With your comments no kid would want to join in the first place.

    1. The fans are Arsenal. It is our academy, we won promotion from the 2nd tier, we won 2 FA Cups. We did that as a club that definitely includes the fan under the words ‘we’ and ‘our’.

      There have been more than 10 youth team players step up in the last 10 years. There are 5 in todays squad (Gibbs, Wilshere, Iwobi, Bellerin, Coquelin).

      There is no issue at all if more academy players don’t make it at Arsenal than do. It is absolutely ridiculous to think all 20 odd players we have used in the U-21st are successfully going to step up – 2 or 3 would be a success for any year group.
      Getting the impression you see the “Class of 92” as the norm rather than the rarity that makes it something people still talk about.

  10. Politics, agents and politics, that is what is going on here, you get a player develop them, this Polish lad was obviously no good in his original position, so put him at centre back at expense of oconner, it’s a game of agents not development, develop the player praise his strengths don’t pick out weakness that’s why it’s called DEVELOPMENT, why do fans, bloggers get of on cussing some kids I think they get turned on by it and feel powerful and they have a role in some lads development, the only role blogs like this have is negative on the players and it’s funny there seems to be no balance! good players who bloggers rate cant have bad games or be criticised but funny they can do no wrong even when they play crap. Crap players in bloggers eyes always get slagged of no matter what they do….OR HOW WELL THEY play, a true blogger offers balance whether they like you or not. Not do the bidding of there paymasters acting like golem on the side line get a life let kids play this helps no one.

    1. I’ve criticised Bielik on many occasions and actually feel he’s better in midfield at the moment, but it’s clear that he has much more potential than O’Connor. When O’Connor has a good game I praise him, when he doesn’t I criticise him, it’s the same with any other player.

      1. Funny how your more recent post, where he scored, says very little about his actual performance on the day. In fact very little in this post is based off his performances.

        Some would wonder what your objective is and whether you are actually basing your opinion on fact/performance rather than a veiled attempt to needlessly put one player down by exalting another.

      2. That was because the game was in Germany and I wasn’t able to watch it so I couldn’t provide an assessment of how he played. I have praised his performances on several occasions and I have also criticised him when I have felt he hasn’t played well. I don’t have anything against O’Connor.

      3. You seem to have closed replies to your last.

        But don’t worry that won’t stop me making a valid point.

        If you aren’t commenting on games you haven’t seen then where do you get off critiquing a player who’s appearances you aren’t watching?

        Is this a serious blog?

        If I want to read a load of drivel trotted out by someone who watches a few matches a season I’ll head on over to reddit.

        Basically you are saying: “I don’t think he’s as good as Beilik. But I don’t watch him play so any good performance he has doesn’t make a difference”

        You are truly unreal.

        How about you stay silent on him until you actually watch him play a few matches?

        I suppose it’s too hard to say he had a game so good that he scored the winner?

      4. I haven’t closed any comments.

        I didn’t see him play in that one game. I have seen him play lots of times and, in my opinion, he has had some good games and some bad games.

        I think Bielik is better than O’Connor, yes, but that is just my opinion. If you think O’Connor is better that’s completely fine.

        I welcome debate and differences of opinion but I really don’t understand the criticism of this article.

        On Monday, 23 May 2016, Jeorge Bird's Arsenal Youth wrote:


  11. I have watched Bielik last few games and he has made plenty of errors and I have not read any criticism I’m not criticising you jorge! But a bit of balance is what I like to read I appreciate all the hard work you put in but I think you get caught up in personal conflicts with players who you don’t know and it becomes less about the football and more about the lad. And when I watch games were lads have played crap and you ain’t said a dickie bird and this lad oconner comes back into squad scores does well and you gotta put a negative spin on it? Its just weird mate don’t get it, maybe I’m looking at it wrong, but guess you know best mate. I haven’t got any coaching badges so guess I’m not an expert

    1. I wrote the article before he played the other day. In the article I wasn’t criticising him, I was just pointing out his situation and how Bielik has overtaken him in the pecking order at the club.

      On Mon, May 16, 2016 at 12:52 PM, Jeorge Bird's Arsenal Youth wrote:


      1. I have always enjoyed reading your blog Jeorge as true arsenal supporter I find that you provide good insight and allow me to keep up to date with what’s happening within the academy.( the children are the future )

        But this article for me has over stepped a mark in my opinion. There is a negative undertone throughout the whole article. Which of course would persuade your fans/readers to sub consciously dislike this player.

        You say yourself that its ‘difficult to make a fair judgement’ and you mention that he has barely played this season- but you do in fact make many judgments throughout this article.

        Based on what ?

        If he’s rarely played this season, then why write a whole article based on speculation and judgement.

        Since this article you have then written about his return – in which he scored a goal- the only goal for the game – the winning goal.

        But the level of praise does not match the level of criticism. It doesn’t make sense.

        I also cant think of an occasion since reading your blog that you have presented your readers with an article focusing on kicking a player when they are down. Which by reading this article could lead me to believe that the kid is doomed. yes, your slandering a kid.

        Do us a favour jeorge and with your future articles keep us updated with facts and updates on the progress of the young players rather than choosing to ‘Victimise’ or ‘tarnishing’ them.

        Don’t put anymore young players or your readers through another distasteful article like this.

        Your readers want info and insight not what seems to be your opinion forced upon us.


    2. I have read criticism of Bielik on here from the author. I have also read praise of him which I disagreed with. But it is all about opinion. Not sure why people think you are not allowed to offer criticism of players just because they are Arsenal players.
      This article doesn’t even criticise O’Connor – just says he has missed out because of the decision to move Bielik to CB. Even says he could win his place back next season – hardly damning condemnation of the player.

      Getting the impression you have to fawn over every player or get personal abuse!!

      Maybe Mr Bird should put at the top of every article that it is the view of the author and not Arsenal football club – but that should be blindingly obvious to you angry mob.

  12. Having read through the article again I don’t think it’s overly negative. Given that it is an analysis article it will inevitably contain some opinions- if every article was just a straight assessment it would be very boring to read. I try and be fair to all the youth players- I stopped doing player ratings as I didn’t want to be seen as being overly critical. However, if you’re not allowed to state your own opinions at times then there is little point in writing a website at all. I have praised O’Connor when he has played well in the past, Bielik just happens to be a better prospect.

    1. I am with you there, Mr Bird. I don’t see the massive criticism of O’Connor in your article – maybe they are morphing your article and my opinions together?
      Anyway, you are not a cheerleader – you are a blog writer who gives his opinion. All these people care enough to follow your blog, and I bet they haven’t started a boycott.
      Don’t let them discourage you from offering opinion – even if it does include criticism.
      I am sure I will continue to comment, and will often disagree with some of your views. But I won’t be accusing you of trying to destroy careers and boost others, or other such ridiculous claims.
      If these people watch the youth teams they will have their own opinions and should be able to construct far better replies than the ones in this thread 🙂

  13. I really don’t understand the torches and pitchforks in the discussion here 0_o I come to this blog from time to time, to check on the players, the games and, yes, the opinions of Jorge. I didn’t actually find anything suggesting that he doesn’t like O’Connor, or that he doesn’t think he’ll make it, or whatever else kind of mischief a huge part of the readers here are accusing you of.

    I like to keep tabs on the goings on of the Academy, checking on who’s up next, who can we get to see in the first team, who’s making progress and how well do they develop. And yes, this has been the most informative place for this kind of news and gossip, unlike the Arsenal page 😉 I don’t get the bashing you’re getting here. I really don’t. (and yeah, I’m also a lot more inclined to Bielik playing in the DM role, especially since that’s where we are in the most need for backup in the first team)

    And it made me laugh, when in the same sentence someone asks you to refrain from giving out opinions, yet asks you to share your insight 😀

    1. “Your readers want info and insight not what seems to be your opinion forced upon us.”


      1.the capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something:
      “his mind soared to previously unattainable heights of insight”

      Correct me if I’m wrong but, the key word in the description of insight is ‘Accurate’.

      1. Not sure how Mr Birds opinion is being forced onto anyone. No-one is forced to read this, it isn’t even an official Arsenal page. You are obviously interested enough in Mr Birds opinion to read the blog.
        Has Mr Bird ever pledged to give info and insight but no opinion? I was under the impression this was a blog for Mr Bird to express his opinion.

      2. Correct me if I’m wrong, but both these things are opinions? Or is insight something fundamentally objective and, as such, does not in any way channel through someone’s knowledge, observations, experience…? Insight is also based on one’s perception. It is an opinion of sorts – more knowledgeable, more professional maybe in terms of definition? But still an opinion.

        But hey, that’s just my opinion 😉

  14. D’Jeezus.

    I clearly stated in my first post that yes I am fan of this blog. I find it interesting and useful and it helps me to keep up to date with the youth academy.

    The point I was making that Mr. bird as you call him, is a blogger and its his blog and he is entitled to write whatever he chooses- in saying that, This blog has a lot of views and Mr. bird needs to be aware of the level of influence he has and the amount of readers he gets.

    So subjecting a player to a whole article of judgment and opinion when they haven’t even played didn’t make sense. Writing is all about angles.

    ‘Stefan O’Connor- the victim of Krystian Bielik’s progress’


    ‘Kristian Bielik- the youth on the cusp of the first-team’

    This ‘analysis’ article could have been about the success of bielik and informed your readers of his successes/progress this season. Rather than speculation on this oconner kid who literally hasn’t played due to injury.

    So I’ll say it again. I appreciate this blog, and am grateful to Mr. bird for providing us with youth team information.

    Also, D’Jeezus.-You have many opinions within this comments section which I find to be uncalled for- But – you do not write this blog and your opinion holds no power over any of these youths futures-. Hence why I have no interest in responding to your unknowledgeable comments.

    As a fan of the blog I want to tell jeorge that I truly enjoy his work but this post was out of character and uncalled for.

    1. The focus of the article is mainly on O’Connor, not Bielik. It is detailing O’Connor’s situation and why he hasn’t played often this season, which is partly because of injury but mainly because Bielik is considered to be a better prospect.

      That’s not to say O’Connor isn’t a good prospect himself, just that Bielik is rated higher by the club and that happens to be an assessment I agree with.

      I also make the point in the article that next season is hugely important for O’Connor and it is because the club will have to make a decision at the end of next season regarding whether to keep him or not.

      I hope O’Connor and all of the youngsters do well but there is nothing said in this article that is unjust.

      On Tuesday, 17 May 2016, Jeorge Bird's Arsenal Youth wrote:


    2. Pretty much sums it up. Any criticism is “uncalled for” and we should pretend all our academy players are destined to be world class superstars.

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