This Season’s Young Guns – Arsenal’s New Crop

It’s that time of the year again. The weekends will soon be filled with the familiar anticipation, stomach-churning, finger-crossing, intense agony and happiness. And of course, hope. The long-cherished hope of Arsenal fans that this will finally be their year again. Will it? Only time will tell. But there’s no harm in looking over the junior prospects likely to make a mark at the first-team level, is there? And let’s not forget the new arrivals either!

Maroune Chamakh’s exactly the kind of tall, physical, natural striker we need to pair with RVP up front. (though he looks as comfortable when the lone striker) Not only does he have a good eye for goal, but he is also a composed finisher and strong in the air for the long balls.

Laurent Koscielny on the other hand, seems to be a good prospective centre-back to pair up with Thomas Vermaelen. His assuredness, anticipation of the ball and positioning are impressive, especially in the Emirates Cup 1-1 draw versus AC Milan. He does seem a bit on the ‘delicate’ side as compared to the Premier League standards, but there is nothing to stop him from gaining a bit of muscle over the next months.

Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner are hardly considered among the ‘younger’ players anymore but we need to remember that they are still 21 and 22 respectively. As it looks like, this season is crucial for both of them. They have impressed on their days and have been equally ‘let-me-pull-out-my-hair’ frustrating (Bendtner more than Theo!), but they haven’t been consistent enough, especially in the big games to merit a straight first-team spot. For me, this is the season for them to step up a gear and do justice to the immense faith put in them by the manager. Theo needs to demand more of a striking role, not being suited in the least to his current winger position. Bendtner, statistically speaking, had a better season than it appears and I really won’t mind if he continues in the same vein with only a bit of improvement. I mean, every team needs a player like him. Of course, I wouldn’t be averse to him turning into a lean mean striking machine overnight! (wishful thinking?)

Carlos Vela and Aaron Ramsey are two other players who have got a chance to showcase their talent for the first team and I am certain of the fact that if not for the unfortunate Shawcross incident, the Welshman would have helped the team to gain more points in the final games of the season than what they did eventually.

Ramsey was in a great burst of form just before his injury, and provided that he returns the same player he was, I would put my money on him being an integral player of the Gunners first team over this and the next season, helping Cesc (wishful thinking again?) orchestrate the midfield and also scoring goals like he had in the months before his ghastly leg-break.

As for Vela, this is the season for him to step up and shine. The addition of Chamakh to the front-line and the subtraction of Eduardo (All the best at Shakhtar, Dudu!) means that Vela faces no more or less competition than last season. I strongly feel that Vela needs regular first-team action to turn his considerable potential into something consistent that Wenger and the team can rely on. Last season, he should have been the player asked to step in and fill the big boots left by the injuries to RVP, Bendtner and Walcott. But strangely Wenger only used him sparingly, preferring out-of-form Eduardo and an out-of-position Arshavin instead. Vela is quick (though he could use a bit more muscle), with a good instinct and eye for goal, and has shown himself more than capable of scoring sumptuous goals any striker would be proud of. (He had a strike rate of 50% in the games he did play last season in the league) His case of still being a fringe player has more to do with the woefully less playing time he gets in the EPL, than a lack of talent or consistency.

In the midfield, all eyes will be on Jack Wilshere, who will finally get his chance to showcase his impressive abilities for the Gunners on a regular basis.  Emmanuel Frimpong is another option for the Professor, after having had good games in the Emirates Cup versus AC Milan and Celtic. Both are still young, but have enough first-team experience (Wilshere more than Frimpong) to be able to have some sort of impact.

Defensively, it is the 20 year old Norwegian Hardvard Nordveit. He has spent successful and impressive loan time at Salamanca, Lillestrom and especially at Bundesliga side FC Nurnberg. Young age apart, he has enough versatility and tactical awareness to step up to the plate if necessary. He has shown himself capable of holding his own in the centre back, right back and holding midfielder (CDM) position. And at 6ft 2, he is a much-needed strong aerial threat.

As for between the posts, Wojciech Szczesny is a highly rated prospect for the near future. Impressive performances aside, I do not see him play regularly in the Premier League for Arsenal this season, unless we do not sign a new keeper and there are injuries to the first three choices. Speaking of which, I would really like Vito Mannone have more game-time this season. He was excellent in his outings last season (remember the Fulham game anyone?) and I felt that he should have played more.

2 Responses

  1. I have not mentioned Denilson in the above piece because I have made my feelings about him very clear in a couple of articles last season. I don’t think he’s going to be an asset to the club unless he shows an incredible burst of consistency and improvement. He’s talented but hasn’t proved himself good enough to be playing week in and week out for the Gunners.

    Gibbs (another player I didn’t mention) on the other hand has a bright future for the Club and I’m glad to see him fighting fit after his injury. I dunno if this is ‘the’ season for him, but no doubt he’ll be the obvious choice groomed to replace Clichy in the future and stand in for him when necessary.

  2. Mannone for me should be number 1, he has real quality and performed well everytime he has played

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