Arsenal FC: Picking an Under-25 Team to Rule for a Decade
When it comes to finding and developing young talent, Arsenal are easily the best club in English football.
Sure, maybe it doesn't win them trophies as of late, but the eye-catching young talent on display in North London is some of the best in the country. The Gunners always have some young prospects at the club, as well as former young talents that have prospered into some of the current and past best players in England, like Ashley Cole, Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Ray Parlour and...well, the list goes on.
So the challenge that Arsenal face isn't developing their young talent—it's keeping it. The North London outfit have to hang on to their gems and let them win trophies at the Emirates, not at other clubs.
Here is an Under-25 Arsenal team to rule for the next decade.
GK: Wojciech Szczesny
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Since his incredible breakout in the middle of last season, Wojciech Szczesny hasn't looked back, developing into one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League.
At only 21 years old, it's scary to think about where this kid will be in the prime of his career—I think he'll be the best in the world.
Not only is Szczesny the long-awaited solution to Arsenal's trouble between the sticks, but he also gives them a reliable keeper for as long as he stays in North London.
LB: Kieran Gibbs
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When he's not the physio table, Kieran Gibbs is one of the most promising young left-backs in World Football.
In terms of attacking, Gibbs has pace, is quick to go forward on counter-attacks and can even cross. His defending is...well, he defends like an Arsenal player. While the youngster can certainly get better in this area, he's still just 22 years old and has shown vast improvement already since last season.
As long as he somehow becomes less injury-prone, Gibbs is bound for a fine career with Arsenal and is sure to be the successor of Gael Clichy and Ashley Cole.
CB: Ignasi Miquel
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Born in Barcelona and a product of the Arsenal Academy, 19-year-old Ignasi Miquel has impressed as captain of Arsenal Reserves, poised for a breakout season sooner or later after short stints in the Arsenal first team during their full-back injury crisis.
The Spaniard has been solid in Carling Cup matches for the Gunners this season, showing more maturity than one would expect from a player of his age and even making significant contributions on attack.
Hopefully Miquel can be the solution to Arsenal's defensive fragility in the years to come. With a breakout season he could be Arsenal's next big star in English football.
CB: Kyle Bartley
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Kyle Bartley is currently at Arsenal on a long-term deal, and although he's been on loan at Rangers for two straight seasons now, the 20-year-old has the perfect mould to become a solid force at the back for the Gunners.
Standing tall at 6'3", Kyle Bartley has a strong build and looks like a classic English centre-back in the making. Even though he hasn't made as many first team appearances as other young talents at the club, he's been successful in his loan stints at Rangers and will hopefully make more of an impact on the first team next season.
Watch out for Kyle Bartley.
RB: Nico Yennaris
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It was between Nico Yennaris and Carl Jenkinson, and to be honest I just picture Yennaris having more success in an Arsenal shirt than Jenkinson.
Jenkinson has been fairly impressive in his first-team performances so far for Arsenal, but my projection of the kid is that he'll be an injury-prone right-back lacking confidence and will never really flourish for the North London club.
Yennaris, on the other hand, is a prospect I like. In his performance against Leeds, he was relatively untroubled on defense, taking advantage of this to go forward on attack and actually make a significant impact.
Once "Mr. Consistent" Bacary Sagna starts to age, Nico Yennaris should be able to slowly ease his way into the first team.
CDM: Emmanuel Frimpong
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Although Emmanuel Frimpong faces yet another injury setback, the youngster is surely the next rock in midfield for Arsenal.
His first-team appearances have been limited this season, but when he does play in Carling Cup matches—or in his loan spell at Wolves which has unfortunately come to a halt—Frimpong was immensely impressive.
Protecting the back four in a defensive midfield position, Frimpong stopped the opposition's play countless times due to the timing and aggression of his tackles.
If he stops getting ACL tears, the loyal youngster will be Arsenal's midfield enforcer for years to come.
CM: Aaron Ramsey
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Aaron Ramsey's season so far has been the best of his career.
Sure, he's had some performances in an Arsenal shirt that he really shouldn't be proud of, but in my opinion a majority of those performances are down to fatigue.
Because of Jack Wilshere's injury, Ramsey has been forced to play week in and week out for Arsenal, so a lot of the Welsh captain's performances end up being weary and not sharp.
However, when the boy's legs are fresh, he can be the difference-maker. He showed this last season against Manchester United and more recently when he scored the equalizer after coming on against Sunderland.
At 21 years old, Aaron Ramsey is finally breaking out and looking like the future of Arsenal's midfield, along with one other brilliant youngster...
CM: Jack Wilshere
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In the 2010-11 season, Jack Wilshere broke out as one of the best young talents in the world.
Not only did he establish himself as a consistent starter in Arsenal's first team, but he caught the eyes of millions with his brilliant performance against Barcelona in the Champions League.
On his day, Wilshere controls the midfield with his silky dribbling skills and inch-perfect passes, already being touted as the next Arsenal and England captain.
But Wilshere's fortune seems to have taken a turn for the worse, as his ongoing ankle injury means he still is yet to play for Arsenal in the 2011-12 campaign. Devastatingly enough, he may very well be out for the season.
When Wilshere returns from injury, expect him to come back with a bang.
LW: Ryo Miyaichi
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It only takes a quick search on YouTube to come to the conclusion that Arsenal's Ryo Miyaichi is "The Japanese Ronaldo."
Although he's not quite there yet, Ryo is certainly on the right path to becoming a wing wizard for the Gunners. After impressing in a Japan High School tournament, the Arsenal boss picked up the 19-year-old in a "classic Arsene Wenger transfer."
Ryo was sensational in his loan spell at Feyenoord, dazzling defenders left and right with his immense pace and silky step-overs.
This is one prospect Arsenal supporters can't wait to see more of.
RW: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
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Once again, who else?
After his Man of the Match display against Manchester United and bagging a lovely brace against Blackburn, "The Ox" is now the next big thing in football, turning into a household name at just 18 years old—yeah, you read that right.
Although he draws comparisons to his teammate Theo Walcott due to their pace and the fact that they both came from the Southampton Academy, the two really are different players. While Walcott usually relies purely on his pace, Chamberlain seems to be a more well-rounded player—he's fast, he has a ferocious strike and his decision-making is surprisingly mature for an 18-year-old.
As long as he keeps his feet on the ground and doesn't get too burnt out, AOC is going to be a superstar.
ST: Joel Campbell
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After impressing for Costa Rica in the summer during the 2011 Copa America, Joel Campbell caught the attention of a number of Premier League clubs, eventually putting pen to paper with Arsenal.
Since then he's been touted as the next Thierry Henry, proving himself for Costa Rica as a pacy forward with remarkable dribbling skills and a lethal finisher.
Campbell has since gone on a season-long loan to Lorient in Ligue 1, scoring three goals so far this season in his seven starts and eight appearances as a substitute.
In Arsenal supporters' eyes, Joel Campbell may already be more impressive than Marouane Chamakh and Park Chu-Young, but with more development from Arsene Wenger, Campbell is sure to have his breakout season sooner or later.