Arsenal's Next Generation: The Players Waiting To Set The World Alight
It has become an accepted standard of the modern game that Arsenal plays young players. It seems that, at the moment, the team that promises to take the world by storm is almost ready. I'm not on about the current set up. I'm talking the youth players mostly. The current team is a transitional team. Whilst fantastic and appearing like they might finally end the trophy drought, it is the youth being brought through to watch.
Been at Arsenal since the tender age of nine. Although a well known West Ham fan, he will not be blowing bubbles until the twilight of his career. He's set the Emirates cup alight 3 times in a row and, after a successful loan spell at Bolton, it appears he is finally ready to play alongside Fabregas in the midfield.
I remember seeing him at the only Emirates Cup that Arsenal didn't win. It was the second match day and we beat Real Madrid 1-0 via a penalty. Wilshere was brought on fairly late into the game in the 75th minute. The reception he got was unexpected. The fans who had been there the day before gave him a standing ovation and it soon became clear why. I sat in the bottom corner in front of where he played. I remember his impressive runs and you just knew he was the Arsenal future.
My, I must sound old. But not as old as Wilshere, born the year before yours truly, who has displayed excellent close control several times this campaign. His passing range looks to be improving steadily and his vision is epitomised in a couple of excellent lobs into dangerous positions. His back heel to Chamakh also displayed a confidence that is quite rare among 18 year olds.
I did fear that he learnt to tackle at Bolton. By that I mean poorly. A few games into the season however and it appears that those dodgy tackles were more a lack of experience and now he's settling down, I doubt we'll see too many red cards for him.
There is nobody better for him to learn his trade from than Fabregas. He may be the next Liam Brady, but anybody would benefit from Cesc's wisdom. May I be the first to dub him as Arsenal's Messi.
Unlike Wilshere, Ramsey was touted to be the next Fabregas. Signed from Cardiff at 17, he very quickly settled down and became a fan favourite. Rambo showed a grit and determination that set the Welshman apart from other youngsters. It is unfortunate that Shawcross deigned that the Welshman was too fast for him and, even though he's not that type of player, saw fit to make such a dangerous tackle. I will admit that I am bitter about this. Who can blame me? It was an awful tackle and the media sympathy was unjustified.
He is clearly loved by Arsenal fans already. In his short time at Arsenal, he became the driving force behind Arsenal's title push. Do it for Rambo was what they said. It is ironic that we did win the league for him, but it was only the fairplay league. I'm wondering who else noticed the irony in this.
The biggest question over Rambo's career is whether his growth will be stunted and fade away, like poor Eduardo, or if he is young enough to come through it. Personally, I feel he has enough years and support that he can fulfil his true potential and become an Arsenal stalwart in the coming years. We just have to wait and see.
Where do we start with this one? Selected for the 2006 World Cup at the tender age of 17. A man deemed worthy to wear the fabled number 14. Thierry Henry's own protégé. Enough pace to strike fear into any defence. Theo's sudden rise to fame has been stunted by his sudden rise to fame. He went to the World Cup and wasn't used once. Despite this, many England players resent TW14 for being selected without kicking a ball in the premiership. The huge media pressure has been evident every time Walcott does anything mildly spectacular. The famed Arsenal injury bug has left this winger unable to meet the rate of development expected by the world. This was epitomised when he was left out of the 2010 England side. Fortunate for him considering their performance.
Walcott has all the echoes of Henry. A winger with blistering pace, he terrorises the defences of teams such as AC Milan, Liverpool, Chelsea and Barcelona. Many people want to see him play a more central role and, in time, this may happen.
Already out with an injury after hitting top form with a hatrick against Blackpool and a goal against Blackburn, he must now watch Arsenal from the sidelines.
The eternal nice guy in interviews, he has been around the first team for a long time now, but is still very young. He will eventually be hugely important to Arsenal, he just needs time.
The England under-19 captain has been around at Arsenal forever. He joined from Norwich City in 1999, at the age of 9. I must confess to not knowing a huge amount about this promising young midfielder. His growth has been stunted by injuries and illnesses but he looks set to push the envelope in terms of the Arsenal team. Many believe he would be ahead of Wilshere were it not for his unfortunate hindrances, and I would like to believe them.
Whether he will decide to leave Arsenal or stay, he will be an excellent player with a glittering career.
JET is one of the players Arsenal fans are getting excited about. And with good reason. He is described as having the physical presence of a monster. Captain of the double winning youth side, his position is one of contention. He seems able to play almost anywhere upwards of the defence, and his exciting name just adds to the hope that rests on his shoulders. He joined Arsenal back in 1998 and is part of the legacy Wenger seems to be creating.
He makes up a third of the emerging trio of Aneke, Afobe and JET. This is a trio that will be known by the entire world in the coming years as Arsenal fans continue to demand first team action for the young Londoner.
The up and coming youngster is on everybody's lips right now. He is already being dubbed as better than Clichy at the tender age of 20, and has seen a senior England call up convince the world that he is both Arsenal and England's future left back.
His play is often likened to that other Arsenal youth product, Ashley Cole. He is strong in attack and keeps his head in defence.
It's hard to talk about him because you already know it all. Unlike some of our other prospects, he should have no problem finding a place in Wenger's plans. He is already ahead of Traore, loaned out to Juventus, and should really be forcing Clichy to protect his place in the first team.
The spearhead of the youth trio, he has been consistently promoted above his age group. Playing for Arsenal's under 16s in 2007, he scored an almighty 40 goals in 33 appearances. Having scored 120 goals for the under 16s, he was promoted to the under 18s at the tender age of 16.
This is an English striker who promises to take the world by storm. He scores goals for fun. He is an amazing talent who just keeps scoring.
The other player in the trio. A superb midfielder. This youngster is captain of the under 16s following Afobe's promotion and promises a lot in the future. The right footed youngster is a towering figure, although not when standing with JET, and this gives him the ability to command the pitch at will.
At the age of 14, he was described by Le Prof as "technically perfect". Just imagine him when he hits his prime eleven years later.
Known as Chuks, short for Chukwuemeka (I promise I haven't made that up), he is set to become an Arsenal favourite and a future England Stalwart.
A Dutch midfielder who's technically gifted and creative?! Well I never! Well, that only tells some of the story. He is of Turkish descent. He was being tracked by Ajax, Barcelona and Inter Milan. He is Holland's under 17 skipper which will only impress all who read this. This young talent was signed from AZ Alkmaar in 2008. At the ridiculous age of 15, he was already playing for his club's reserve side. He's known to pop up with some useful goals too.
Slightly liable to be a tiny bit lazy, but I'm sure he'll be a great success.
A young man from a town near me, Brighton. He plays for England's under 19s but has been bitten several times by the injury bug. He is considered, when fit, one of England's most lethal and exciting prospects. Whether he can leave his childhood injuries in the past or whether he is the new RVP, he is an exciting talent and we can only hope his body becomes immune to injury.
Well well well. Where to start with this one? By putting it into context. Most people believe that Arsenal needed to sign a new goalie to challenge for the title. Wenger wasn't willing to spend any more than £2 for Schwarzer.However, Wenger is a busy man and, after tracking this winger for two years, he shelled out three million pounds for a youth prospect. For anybody who doesn't understand the enormity of this, he hasn't even got a work permit to work here and we can't actually have him until January due to Brazilian law. This is the same Wenger who is oh so stubborn in the transfer market. You don't get him paying that much for a 17 year old unless he is a serious talent. I mean world beating talent. I believe he'll be deployed as winger though he can play as a striker.
He is also extremely passionate. Football is his way out of poverty and you only need to watch this interview to see what it means to him.
This one is special. There are no two ways about it.
This is a young talent who should have been deputising for Song this season. But, for an unfortunate injury just after promoted to the first team, he would be. This holding midfielder is Ghanaian by birth but, as Wenger pointed out, is eligible to play for England and Fabio has been urged to snap him up ASAP. Not sure if he will properly recover from this injury and his name doesn't inspire the excitement that Ramsey or Wilshere does, but there's a reason he was chosen to play for the first team. Not to mention that it was only in the last season that Song was recognised as anything other than rubbish. For people to be a little unsure on this one could therefore suggest he'll be the best there is.
With a name like Tom Cruise, there is only one way for this starlet to go and that's to be a top gunner. This left back will also play in midfield and is rated very highly by many. He started his career as a centre back and all this leads to me believing he is going to be a very versatile player.
At 18 years of age, he faces stiff competition for the left back spot. He must usurp Clichy, Gibbs and Traore before even getting a sniff of first team action. Will he do it? I sincerely hope so.
This is a player who is expected to be the best. You might not be able to say or spell his name, but you won't get a shot past him either. He played against Arsenal, for Legia Warsaw, at the age of 15. That is extremely impressive. He has also played an Under 21 friendly against England having represented Poland at the under 17 and 19 categories.
During a summer full of demands to rid North London of the, unfairly, demonised Almunia, Szczesny was cited as the future. A not insignificant number wanted him promoted to the number 1 spot at the age of 20.
As it currently appears, he is a guaranteed future star for Arsenal. A very big future too, at nearly 2 meters in height.
Having signed this talented left winger, Arsene decided to immediately loan him out to UD Salamanca. He plays a lot better than he looks. Promises to be a seriously good future player for Arsenal. I'm afraid I can't give you much more information at the moment but I believe there are some youtube videos of his play.
Once believed to be the future of Arsenal, the Hoyte brothers' stock has fallen somewhat. With only Gavin still at the club, one has to wonder where he'll end up.
Not quite sure what's happening with this DM, perhaps his development rate will accelerate soon enough.
The future of Arsenal is one that is considered safe. If you look at Liverpool, Chelsea and, to a lesser extent, Manchester United, you see the present, not the future. Chelsea's aging squad will soon require an enormous injection of cash and the well seems to be running dry. Manchester United currently have no answer to Giggs and Scholes, whom are rapidly aging. Liverpool is just a glum place to be right now. Although I have exaggerated the situations of these clubs, they are worlds apart from Arsenal.
Arsenal fans get to look forward to a huge income once the stadium is paid off. Our current first team is young and willing to finally win trophies. Fabregas' eventual departure will leave us £60m richer and Wenger's master plan will come to fruition. Of the 14 players I've talked about, nine of them are eligible to play for England. Ten of them are from Britain. At least seven of them should play for England. A lot of this talent has been at Arsenal since about 2000 and it's a mystery that Wenger hasn't used them to rebuke the idea that he doesn't like English players. This is a foundation for a squad that will take the world by storm.