Arsenal: Serge Gnabry Is One to Watch for During Tomorrow's Cologne Friendly
Germany national team manager Joachim Low faced a dilemma as he headed into his side's Euro 2012 quarterfinal match with Greece.
His side had been effective during the group stages, emerging from the purported "Group of Death" by defeating Portugal, the Netherlands and Denmark. But like any master tactician, something seemed to be missing. Something needed altering to make the machine run more smoothly.
Against Greece, Low made the changes. And he made them with abandon.
Out went Lukas Podolski, Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez—each of them seasoned international campaigners.
In came Andre Schürrle, Marco Reus and Miroslav Klose.
While the third name shouldn't have surprised anyone—since bursting onto the scene with a hat-trick against Saudi Arabia in the 2002 World Cup (Germany won that match 8-0), Klose has continued scoring goals at major competitions for what seems like forever.
The intrigue lay in the choices of Reus and Schürrle.
Replacing Podolski—who reached 100 career caps for Germany during the Euros—and Muller, who was one of the revelations of the 2010 World Cup, was no ordinary task, but the two youngsters made it look as easy as breathing.
The 4-2 victory was almost an afterthought. The real story was the sheer jealousy every national team manager around the globe must have felt boiling throughout his mind as they watched Reus, who has joined Borussia Dortmund for the upcoming season, run the Greek defense ragged.
That Low could call upon such talented substitutes seemed terribly unfair. But that is the state of German football at the moment. Very good, and always getting better.
But this is an Arsenal story (albeit with a German twist), so to Serge Gnabry we turn.
Serge Gnabry—all 17 years of him—can consider himself one of many German youth internationals eagerly awaiting a chance to shine at a major international tournament.
While it may be some time yet before Gnabry hears Low calling his name, the winger has made enough of an impression upon his club manager to merit inclusion in Arsenal's final preseason match.
A match which is, fittingly enough, in Germany.
Gnabry's ascent through the youth ranks at London Colney has been nothing short of astounding. Scorer of six goals for the Under-18s a season ago, he quickly earned a promotion to the reserves side, earning rave reviews for his terrific pace and nose for goal.
He tallied two goals in six appearances for the reserves—good enough for "wunderkind" status, one might think.
But even with that stellar return notched on his career CV and a brand-new professional contract signed, sealed and delivered—his first at Arsenal—this summer, Gnabry hadn't expected this latest award.
Cracking the first team this soon had been beyond his wildest dreams.
"I wasn't quite sure if I was going (to the Germany camp) because I had some injury problems before," Gnabry told the club's official website. "But when they finally told me I was going I was buzzing."
While Gnabry is a former member of the VFB Stuttgart set up as opposed to Lukas Podolski, who came up with FC Cologne—Arsenal's opponent on Saturday—the match will provide Gnabry the perfect platform upon which he can make a statement ahead of the upcoming season.
He's targeted the Capital One (formerly the Carling) Cup and the first team as his goal. Lofty, no doubt, but given how far he's come since joining the club as a first-year scholar last summer, it'd be tough to bet against him.
Wenger has urged him to take advantage of this opportunity to work with the first team, and Gnabry has already said that he has "learned a lot already" from the players during this tour.
Against Cologne, we'll see if he continues his knack for finding the back of the net.
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