Arsene Wenger's skill for nurturing talent is legendary, and two new members of Arsenal’s first team squad look likely to be the next boys that the Frenchman turns into men.
Aaron Ramsey and Carlos Vela have taken very different paths to the Gunners (the youth program at Cardiff City for the former and three Spanish sides via Guadalajara, Mexico for the latter), but both have shown great promise in Arsenal’s warm–up fixtures, particularly in the 10-2 slaughter of Austria’s Burgenland XI.
Granted, the Bergenland XI posed no serious challenge to the youngest Gunners, but that doesn’t reduce the obvious quality these two players possess.
Vela had the flashiest day, completing Arsenal’s second hat track (Nicklas Bendtner struck the first) just before the hour mark. He also had two shouts for a penalty, one in each half, which the Austrian ref ignored.
But scoring goals and the threat of goals wasn’t what was most impressive about Vela’s performance. It was his poise with his first touch.
His foot is glue, and when the ball hits it sticks. But that's not all. Once the ball is stuck to Vela’s foot he has the patience to wait for his opening and pick his spot carefully, even under pressure, before taking the shot.
Can he do the same against Chelsea and Liverpool? Only time will tell, but if he can, he will be one of Arsenal’s most dangerous and important men in front of an opposition goal.
If nothing else, maybe Vela can teach Emmanuel Adebayor a thing or two about bringing balls under control.
Aaron Ramsey is also exceptionally talented with the ball at his feet, only in a different way from Vela, rivalling outgoing Alexander Hleb as a dribbler of the ball. His footwork kept the Burgenland XI constantly at bay, as would be expected against such weak opposition, but Ramsey was equally strong against a much tougher Barnet side in Arsenal's opening training fixture a week before.
Close control is not the only thing Ramsey has going for him, however.
Much like his potential midfield partner Cesc Fabregas, Ramsey appears to have a natural talent for finding space in the midfield. Every time he touches the ball there seems to be an empty zone that surrounds him.
Still, his game still has some holes, particularly when it comes to defending from set pieces, but the boy is still only 17. If his skills grow at Arsenal, as they should, Ramsey may soon be pushing for a place in the England side ahead of teammate Theo Walcott.
First things first, though. Ramsey and Vela need to make Arsenal's starting 11, which is a notoriously tough nut to crack. Just ask Bendtner and Walcott.
Even so, if Ramsey and Vela continue as they've started they should be pushing for a regular place in Wenger's team in very short order.