Arsenal Loan Analysis: Does Henri Lansbury Have a Place in Wenger's First Team?
Arsenal were unable to eradicate their notorious trophy drought during 2010-11 despite a number of opportunities to erode the burden.
To sum up the Gunners' season was a campaign that Arsene Wenger's side were their own worst enemy. The North London giants have now endured sixth successive seasons without the satisfaction of silverware ensuring the demand for new influences into Wenger's young squad by the disgruntled fans.
Naturally, the French tactician has now been linked with numerous high-calibre players with potential big money moves to the Emirates, but as with most transfer windows, it appears unlikely if any rumours will materialize. However, could an answer lie internally?
Since Wenger's tenure at Arsenal began in 1996, the Gunners have become renowned for their exciting array of youngsters. From the academy through to the reserves and first team, youth dominates Arsenal which has not only dazzled and thrilled spectators but ensured that they have maintained a quality approach without spending immensely like their fellow rivals.
One process each and every youngster must experience before attempting to seriously manipulate the Arsenal first team squad is a loan spell at predominantly a lower league club. The spells enables the teenagers to make the step up from reserves to professional football alongside experiencing consistent first-team football and conveying the talent they possess to world football.
Each campaign an outstanding number of young prospects are sent away predominately to the Npower Championship and League One of England but in some cases, work permits, etc., young guns are sent around Europe.
The 2010-11 season saw 19 youngsters experience a stint elsewhere and for some it was a case of showcasing their evident ability to other clubs as their contract expires at the Emirates, others thoroughly put forward their statements for Arsenal first-team honours.
Henri Lansbury was easily the standout performer of all the loan stars. The English midfielder is no stranger to the loan system.
Having joined Arsenal as a nine-year-old, Lansbury progressed through the Academies and reserves emulating his evident potential.
During the 2008-09 season, the youngster spent the latter part of the season on loan at Scunthorpe United in League One, where he impressed greatly making 16 appearances and four goals before returning to Arsenal to help achieve the famous double of the FA Youth Cup and Premier League Academy competition.
Lansbury's form and composure in the midfield ensured many believed he had the potential to make it at the Gunners, this was then furthered with a superb season stint with Championship side Watford during 2009-10. The English U-21 star was one of the Hornet's most consistent performers amassing 39 appearances and five goals.
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The young midfielder was then asked to train with the Arsenal first team during the recent summer preseason before starting and starring in Arsenal's 4-1 third-round Carling Cup triumph over rivals Tottenham in the opening stages of 2010-11. Lansbury scored the opening goal.
However, opportunities were failing to properly introduce themselves and in November the 20-year-old joined Championship side Norwich City, initially on an emergency loan before it became a seasonal stint. Lansbury was integral as the Canaries gained a shock promotion into the English Premier League, the Englishman secured 23 appearances with four goals, becoming a fan favourite.
The spell furthered Lansbury's ability and potential but now a big question remains over what is to occur now for the 20-year-old. The Englishman is certain to be included in the Arsenal preseason squad but it is understood Norwich City are eager to utilize the services of the playmaker in the English Premier League.
There is no denying the youngster has the ability to become a sterling midfielder. Blessed with impressive strength, composure and vision that compliment great speed and passing, Lansbury has drawn slight comparisons to England star Steven Gerrad.
However, in order for the Englishman to continue his rapid growth, he needs to maintain consistent first-team football, a privilege Norwich City can offer, and in the English Premier League. But although the likes of Jack Wilshere, Cesc Fabregas and Alexandre Song were strong throughout 2010-11, there were concerns regarding the depth of the Arsenal midfield.
Does Henri Lansbury have a chance in Wenger's first team?
The likes of Denilson, Tomas Rosicky and Abou Diaby all failed to perform consistently and at their peak during the season, particularly during stages of Arsenal's late-season demise. Denilson and Rosicky have been heavily linked with moves away from the Emirates this summer.
This could enable Lansbury alongside Aaron Ramsey to become the integral depth of the Arsenal midfield and received increased playing time. Furthermore, there is always the option of loaning Lansbury back to Norwich City for a full season in the Premier League that would undoubtedly improve his growth. However, that could entice the Englishman into a permanent move to Carrow Road.
There is also the possibility Wenger will secure the services of a quality midfielder during the upcoming summer transfer window. The increased funds at the Frenchman's disposal enables more freedom and the likes of Charlie Adam, Scott Parker and Mathie Valbuena all linked with moves to Arsenal.
Wenger is a natural at utilizing the best in his youngsters, Jack Wilshere is a shinning example and there is every chance that in 2011-12, Henri Lansbury completes a similar season.
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