Arsenal: How Good is Their All-British Team?
Arsenal are often criticised for being a 'foreign' team with no English players. While fans have known the reasons for that for a while, football lovers across the globe are only starting to realise the talented crop of British youngsters coming through the ranks.
Craig Eastmond's accomplished debut last night against Liverpool in the Carling Cup was yet another reminder of the depth in Arsenal's youth development, cited by England manager Fabio Capello as the model for other clubs to follow.
So what team can Arsenal field now if it can only include British players? (sorry...British because I wanted to include Ramsey!) How good do you think this team would be? Good enough to stay in the Premiership? I think so...
Goalkeeper: James Shea
A midfielder turned goalkeeper. Kept goal in last year's amazing run for the U18s and have now made Reserve appearances. Not in the running for first-team action yet, but one to watch.
Right back: Kerrea Gilbert
Made first-team appearances in 2005 but then went out on loan spells. Now back in the fold and a regular starter on the Carling Cup team. Would make a solid back up to Sagna and Eboue.
Central defender: Kyle Bartley
Part of the successful U18 team, and now a regular starter for the Reserves. Tall, imposing and calm...as well as a threat in front of goal.
Central defender: Gavin Hoyte
Versatile defender who can play central or right back. Captained both the youth and reserve teams and now making an impact on loan in the Championship.
Left back: Kieran Gibbs
No description required. Could even factor in England's World Cup squad next summer.
Holding midfielder: Craig Eastmond
Craig's debut against Liverpool in the Carling Cup was a surprise to many but he more than kept up with his senior first-teamers.
The versatile defender-turned-midfielder will surely feature more in the first team this season.
Midfielder: Jack Wilshere
Again, no description required...a superstar in the making.
Midfielder: Aaron Ramsey
Yes he's a Welshman, but too good to miss out. If we had to stick with English players, there are plenty of solid replacements in Mark Randall and Henri Lansbury, who's impressing in the Championship on loan.
Right wing: Theo Walcott
If he stays fit and gets enough games, he will surely be a starter for England at the World Cup.
Left wing: Sanchez Watt
Highly regarded by Wenger and has been used by the first team as a striker, but equally comfortable on the wing. Another one to watch.
Striker: Jay Simpson
Has been out on loan for a couple of seasons. With so many attacking options in the current first team, will Jay be able to break in?
When I first started this process, I didn't think I could fill a bench with quality but how wrong I am. Still left out of this team are JET, Randall, Lansbury, Afobe, Murphy, Ayling, Freeman, Cruise, and so on.
So what do you think of this team? Who would you put in or leave out? How good would they be?