Progress of youngsters halted by cold snap and injuries

Progress of youngsters halted by cold snap and injuries

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Arsenal’s youngsters have endured a rather stop-start beginning to 2013 after their FA Youth Cup Fourth Round tie with Fulham was re-arranged for a fifth time yesterday due to an icy pitch at Barnet’s Underhill Stadium.

The club’s coaches and playing staff are growing increasingly frustrated at the situation, but it is hoped that the game will finally go ahead next Tuesday evening, with both sides keen to play the game as soon as possible due to potential fixture congestion. The winners of that game, when it eventually does go ahead, will host either Everton or Plymouth in the next round, meaning that the Gunners have a real opportunity to go on a lengthy run in a competition they last won in 2009.

Many of Arsenal’s youngsters haven’t played for two weeks or more due to games being cancelled, but the U18s are back in action tomorrow as they travel to face Middlesbrough, with coach Steve Gatting likely to hand run-outs to many members of his Youth Cup squad. There is also an U21 fixture against West Ham on Monday, in which several players who recently returned from loan spells, such as midfielder Conor Henderson, are expected to feature.

Another player who has recently seen a loan deal come to a conclusion is Chuks Aneke, who has spent the majority of the season so far with Crewe in League One. Aneke has caught the eye at the Alexandra Stadium, weighing in with a fair share of goals and assists, and is currently mulling over whether to extend his deal with Crewe for a further month or seek a fresh challenge elsewhere, possibly at a Championship club.

The midfielder, 19, is now reaching a point in his career where such decisions could have a potentially huge impact on his future career, with Arsene Wenger continuing to monitor his progress carefully with regards to whether he could eventually step up to the first-team squad.

Further players could well head out on loan before Thursday’s transfer deadline, with the likes of Thomas Eisfeld, Ignasi Miquel and Martin Angha, who all have first-team appearances for the club under their belts, prime candidates to do so. Meanwhile, several players returned to the club over Christmas having picked up knocks whilst on loan, with the likes of Craig Eastmond, Sanchez Watt and Daniel Boateng all currently receiving treatment on injuries.

Serge Gnabry and Jernade Meade, meanwhile, would likely be challenging for a place in the matchday squad were it not for injuries they picked up last month. Gnabry is particularly keen to make a swift return as he is eligible for the aforementioned Youth Cup tie with Fulham.

Jeorge Bird is the author of www.arsenalyouth.wordpress.com  Follow him on Twitter@jeorgebird

13 COMMENTS

  1. Somehow the interest and enthusiasm about Arsenal’s youngstar has died down over the course of last 6-7 years, and the Lansburys of this world are released and forgotten. “State-of-the-art” academies possibly are not as prolific as we initially thought they’d be.

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    • It is not an exact science but with the sale of younsters, and the sell on fees, it is paying for itself and then some. Not a wasted investment at all. It takes longer than a few years for the club to truly profit from it though. The Barca philosophy was implimented by Cryuff many years ago and it is only now that the conveyor belt has truly started flowing.

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    • I have to disagree. While it is true that Canteras like those of Barcelona are way more prolific than ours, from the Academy in the past 6 years we’ve got Wilshere, Gibbs, Bendtner (kinda efficient in its first two seasons), Sczsesny, Djourou, and, to an extent, Fabregas. Surely our hopes rely on Gnabry, Eisfeld, Meade and Toral to soon make the grade.

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    • Could it be that the reason our academy doesn’t sound good compared to the likes of others is that we’re close enough to our club’s academy to hear about the successes AND failures and too far away from the likes of Barca’s academy to even hear of their failures.

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  2. I think the youth investment is more than self sufficient but equally can not understand why so many are not moved on earlier

    Eastmond
    Watts
    Boateng
    Shea
    Wellington
    Galindo
    Etc

    Are never going to be first team players so why keep them on the books as salaries. I fear Yennaris too even though a gooner is not at sufficient standard

    Afobe is still unknown quantity but at almost 20 and not making the first team at Bolton is a worry

    Here’s hoping for Gnarby Eisfield Toral and Meade if he grows

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    • Quite agree. It seem extraordinary that Shea, Eastmond and Watts are still here. Presumably they’ve got contracts and are sitting comfortably in London with no desire to go out on loan; that, or there’s no takers?

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  3. I think it’s due to so many players being hyped to the heavens and then turning out to be decidedly average… not taking into account Wilshere and Gibbsy that is!

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  4. For a youth player to get into the first team isn’t easy at all. You can be a very good player at youth level and still get nowhere near the first team, look at Jay Emmanuel Thomas for example.

    I think it takes patience, persistence, talent, a good bit of luck and most of all, I think, is you need to prove that you have the right attitude. A player like Gibbs, even though unlucky with injuries gets into the first team because he shows promise, but also because we havent had a first teamer who really was undisputable in the position (Clichy).

    Wilshere shows that you can break into the first team and compete against likes of Cesc or Cazorla if you are really good enough.

    Players like Eastmond, Watts etc aren’t good enough and now at an age where they need to play, so moving them on is the challenge here.

    Then you have a whole bunch of players that seem promising (from the little we know): Eisfeld, Akpom, Jennaris, Frimpong, Gnabry, Ryo etc.

    Will they get into the first team? Very hard to tell, you need a mixture of experience and youth in the first team IMO, so some good players will not be able to break in simply because there isn’t the space. For some players that isn’t good enough and for them it’s more important to play regular football than to bide their time to break into Arsenal’s first team. That’s an issue Arsene mentioned when talking about loans and how they can have an effect on a player.

    As much as I’d like to see all our promising youth players make the grade and make up the bulk of the team in the future, that’s highly unrealistic, UNLESS Wenger specifically adjusts his transfer policy to accommodate the transition. So I suppose we’ll only see player transferred in at the age of 26/27+ for positions where he is reasonable confident that a youth player can take over.

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  5. You think Miquel may be going on loan? With only three central defenders left in the first team, wouldn’t we be in a bit of pickle if – hardly an unlikely occurence with us – two were to be injured or suspended? With games coming thick and fast at this time of year, surely he ought to be featuring at least in the FA Cup so as to get some first-team experience. Not rotating for the easier games makes injuries more likely and we’d find ourselves having to use a kid who’s never featured in the first team in his life in an important and difficult game like Spurs or Bayern.

    Second question: if Barnet’s pitch is unusable in cold weather, why on earth can’t the games be played at the training ground or even the Emirates? No games for weeks, then massive fixture congestion is, as you suggest, not ideal for the kids’ development.

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