Can Bartley, Frimpong, Emmanuel-Thomas & Coquelin Step Up This Season?
With Arsene Wenger only making one addition to the squad in Thomas Vermaelen, opinion is divided on whether Vemaelen will be Arsenal's Vidic or the second coming of Igor Stepanovs.
Arsenal's first team was unsuccessful in winning major honours, in contrast to this; the youth team swept aside the competition and completed the double. Jack Wilshere was one of the key figures in the team’s success, four other players were arguably even more instrumental than Wilshere.
Due to these performances in the reserves, youth cup and the youth league there is no reason why Bartley, Frimpong, Emmanuel-Thomas, and Coquelin cannot be considered for the first team.
Arsenal possess one world class centre back in William Gallas, Djourou is not the finished article, Vermaelen is unproven but I believe he can step up to the Premier League. Song is being gradually shifted into defensive midfield but Senderos and Silvestre are error prone.
Kyle Bartley,18, was a tower of strength throughout the youth's team triumph, standing over six foot, well built, very composed on the ball, positionally sound, a strong tackler and possess pace and power, these are all of the necessary ingredients for a world class centre back.
With Senderos possibly departing Arsenal will be left with five centre backs it would make sense for Bartley to promoted to the first team because Silvestre and Gallas are in the final year of their contracts, neither have been offered a new deal.
The worst case scenario is that Gallas will not sign a new deal and Arsenal will have lost a world class defender. It would be wrong for Bartley to step in to replace Gallas, but I would recommend that he is integrated into the first team like Wilshere.
Even though Bartley has been praised heavily by Brady and Bould, realistically, Bartley will feature in the Carling cup. I think Wenger would be reluctant to play Bartley in the Premier League this season, as centre back is one of the hardest positions in football, one mistake will erase all of the good work done.
Bartley will be an Arsenal regular in the coming seasons but 2009-2010 season is too important for Bartley to play in the Premier League or possibly the Champions League. However Gael Clichy and Kieran Gibbs played for Arsenal in the Premier League and Champions at 18 and 19 respectively, so there is an opportunity for the English Youngster.
Emmanuel Frimpong, 17, stands below 6'0" but is the dominant figure in the centre of the pitch. In the Vieira mould, a powerful figure, athletic, an amazing tackler, possess a ferocious shot, a great passer of the ball, a versatile midfielder but will surely be moved into the centre of midfield.
Although he missed the youth cup final through injury, Frimpong's dominating performances did not go unnoticed, as Wenger has allowed him to train regularly with the first team.
Frimpong does have a chance to break into the first team due to injuries, and with no-one able to vacate the holding midfield role, apart from Song, who will be shifted to centre back from time to time, and Diaby, who is injury prone.
Frimpong has a presence on the pitch that would allow him to vacate the role, do not be fooled by his age as I would not be surprised to see him in the first team this season as he trains regularly with them.
If Wenger is planning to use 4-3-3 a defensive midfielder is needed, Barcelona were so successful last season because Yaya Toure protected the back four so well. Frimpong will get a chance in the Carling cup; he may get his chance in the odd Premier League game or in the Champions League, providing Arsenal qualifies.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, 18, made captain of the youth team at 16, athletic, extremely versatile, quick, strong and possess great control of the ball. The player at the heart of Arsenal youth's sucess, goals against Tottenham and Man City were important in Arsenal's progression to winning the youth cup and the league.
Featuring in preseason, Emmanuel-Thomas did not make much of an impact, but due to his versatility and his quality he has a chance of breaking into the first team.
Injuries are a certainty, and with the stars of the youth team featuring in the Carling cup, Wenger may include Emmanuel-Thomas on the bench as an impact player but to start a Premier League or Champions League game this season would be a step too far.
Francis Coquelin, 18, tipped to be the new Makelele, due to the similar styles of play, highly regarded by Arsene Wenger, positionally disciplined, a great range of passing, like Frimpong a great tackler of the ball, but he possess an advantage over his English counterpart, as his reading of the game is superior.
Arsenal's need for a midfielder to protect the back four is a necessity especially if Arsenal is to incorporate 4-3-3. Coquelin and Frimpong partnership was great, and Coquelin's performances in both legs of the final against Liverpool were superb, he allowed Emmanuel-Thomas and Wilshere to support the attack, Arsenal ran out 6-2 winners.
Coquelin has already played in the Carling cup, this year he will feature in this competition. Wenger is a big fan of the Frenchman; I would not be surprised if he comes off the bench this season in the Premier League or Champions League.
All four players have the ability to play for Arsenal, Frimpong and Emmanuel-Thomas should spend a further year in the reserves to improve their development.
For me, the other two (Bartley and Coquelin) stand a greater chance of coming into the first team this season as Arsenal need a commanding centre back and a defensive midfielder who is positionally disciplined.
To come into the first team this season where there is so much pressure to deliver, may make Wenger reluctant in using any of the four youngsters. He is the master of nurturing young talent into World class players just ask Clichy and Fabregas, by the age of 18 both had Premier League and Champions league experience.
Clichy and Fabregas have become influential players for Arsenal, possibly the time has come for Bartley and Coquelin to step up.
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