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Nineteen: what a difference two months can make.

 “The difference between the Jenkinson in those first games and the Jenkinson of the WBA game is amazing.

By Walter Broeckx

Nineteen. And I don’t really mean the song of Paul Hardcastle about the Vietnam war. No, I’m referring to the age of Carl Jenkinson. Nineteen.

What a lovely age (or so it seems as I look back over my shoulder). An age when you are just adult but maybe you could still believe in fairy tales and maybe in a miracle?

I think it is fair to say that apart from the people who visited the former excellent Young Guns blog from Jamie Sanderson, not many had heard of Carl Jenkinson before he joined the Arsenal this summer. I certainly had never heard of him. And when we signed him we didn’t know what we were getting at the time. A young right back. Who had played 8 games for Charlton Athletic.

A part of the Arsenal fan base who have a tendency to get furious about such things got furious because Wenger was buying Jenkinson for £1m. And that at a time when Liverpool and Manchester United where paying sums of around £15m to £20m for defenders. Another example of Wenger have lost it.

So I was curious to see what kind of a player Jenkinson would be or become.  What I liked from the first moment was the fact that Jenkinson had always been a Gooner. His family had (and still will have these days I think) season tickets at Arsenal for many years and he came whenever he could to see Arsenal play at the Emirates.

In the pre season games I saw a young player who had a very good physique. You could see that he could run around a bit, was rather fast and ran with big steps. A bit like an athlete. And I don’t know if this is correct but since then I have been reading that his father was a bit of an athlete in fact. If so then this could explain his ability to run as effectively as has been doing recently.

I remember in the pre-season games also that Jenkinson looked very nervous. But if you shared that view, just put yourself in his place. Even if you have passed the age of 19 like I did a long time ago you can imagine sitting in the Emirates as a Gooner and suddenly you are transformed into a situation in which Wenger is coming in to the stands and pointing his finger at you and saying: He you, get in to the dressing room, put on the shirt and play for the Arsenal.

Impossible? Yeah for you and for me. But in fact this is what happened to Carl Jenkinson.

He will have dreamed about it (as I have dreamed when being a kid about playing for my local favourite team – nobody came to me…). But would he have believed that it would happen let us say 2 years ago? If 2 years ago someone would have said to him: “In 2 years time you will be playing Champions league football for Arsenal and playing in the Emirates” would he have started laughing? Would he have considered this as a real possibility? He would have loved the thought, as we all would love it. But really to say: I will be an Arsenal player in 2 years time. Would he have believe himself if he would have said this?

And then suddenly it happened. That far away dream became a reality. He became an Arsenal player. A player of the team he supported from his childhood days. Now who wouldn’t be nervous when you had to play your first games? And as a result he had a bit of a difficult start. In the pre-season games he sometimes made mistakes. You could see him doing his best but the nerves were also very visible. So his performances where not up to the standard we are used to at right back. But well… being compared with probably the best right back in the EPL in the last 3 or 4 seasons is a bit hard on a boy at the age of 19. Being compared with Sagna is the last thing you need at that age.

I remember from the pre season games… that majestic own goal at FC Köln. I was there behind the goal in which he beat Szczesny with that high looping ball. This could have killed him off. And a week later in Portugal he also wasn’t lucky. So the mob was out after Wenger for playing him and for buying him. I even felt the need to write an article in which I said that it was important in these games to play him because it was in those games that he needed to adapt to a team coming from a third division team in to a top team in the EPL.

I said that the loss in such pre season games would later be the gain in the league if we had to play him. And we did have to play him. Sagna being injured a bit meant even that he had to play in that disaster game at Old Trafford where he even got sent off after a not so lucky performance. We should have bought Jones, Henderson, and every other right back and not that cheap unknown right back from Charlton who had hardly played in the 3rd division, was the word in some parts amongst supposed Arsenal fans.

And when Sagna broke his leg at Tottenham we only had that young bloke as cover at right back. But by that time this young player had been guided by the manager and the rest of the training staff. This young man had learned from his mistakes. And suddenly we saw that this unknown, uncertain at first young player became more certain of himself. And we saw a more matured player.

The difference between the Jenkinson in those first games and the Jenkinson of the WBA game is amazing. His running up and down the flank reminded me of Sagna. His crosses looked very sharp and some of them could have lead to a goal if an Arsenal player would have gotten at the end of it. His defensive work was excellent. And all this at the age of 19.

Jenkinson will make mistakes in the future. We can be sure of this. But all players make mistakes whether they are 19 or 29. The most important thing is that after only being in the hands of Wenger and the rest of the team for a few months this boy of 19 was playing like a right back of 29 against WBA. His progress in such a short period of time is amazing. And that is the most important thing. He has shown he is a learner. He has shown he can raise himself. He has shown that despite the most terrible start of Arsenal and him being involved in that terrible start he still has remained confident and made progress.

And as long as he keeps on progressing and getting better with each game he plays we maybe will look back in a few years and think once again: How on earth did Wenger spot this totally unknown player and made him such a great player once again?

And we will think: Just imagine how it must have been to get called from the stands and to play in the Emirates for the team you support. Well Carl knows how it must feel. Long may he stay and be what we hope that all players will be: Not just being a Gunner, but most of all being a Gooner on the pitch.

—————————

Player perspective…

Carl Jenkinson played his first game for Charlton in the Football League Trophy Southern Section semi-final away to Brentford in December 2010.

On 16 August 2011, he made his Arsenal competitive debut in the qualifying round of the Champs League against Udinese as a second half substitute, replacing Djourou who was injured.

He made his Premier League debut against Liverpool on 20 August 2011.

He made his competitive international debut in the 2011 UEFA U19 Championship qualification.  He scored his first competitive international goal in a 6–2 win for Finland against Moldova.

In total he played 8 games for Charlton 4 for Eastbourne Borough, and 10 for Welling United.

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33 comments to Nineteen: what a difference two months can make.

  • Mikster

    Great article!

  • Laundryender

    Walter I am not one for bigging myself up, but I said to my mates after Emirates trophy he will be a great player and that he was already the best crosser of a ball in the team.

    I now extend that to he will be the best crosser of a ball since Beckham, he delivers a ball at the right height, the right angle and with lots of pace and whip, he may even end up taking set pieces.

    His engine is remarkable, and for a 19 year old his defending is none to shoddy.

    I am also impressed with Kyle walker at Spurs, will be interesting watching these two compete for the England place for many years to come

  • Now this is an article that has been written by a real gooner. it covers everyones thoughts regarding buying “unknown” players when your rivals are spending millions and still cannot get it right (Liverpool is a current example).
    This is why I believe that Arsene and Arsenal are the role model for all other clubs in the world.
    When you have the money to buy any player you want you don’t need to nurture and mature young players. This is where Arsene is so brilliant for oue club and why those morons who were calling for his head at the start of the season have no idea what this great club of ours really stands for.
    Let’s have more of this positive thinking and thanks for the article.

  • Gf60

    Very nice Walter. For those who can’t remember Carl’s OG…Carl Jenkinson got an own goal that some folks are comparing to Lee’s effort against Coventry so many years ago. I think that’s a bit unfair. Lee’s 35 yard back pass may have been a bit over-cooked, http://www.coventrycitybanter.co.uk/2008/08/best-own-goal-ever-arsenals-le.html but he’d be able to duplicate it. Carl can practice his effort for the next 10 years and not get close. Pure mis-kick. Let’s hope that’s the last mistake of his Gooner career.

    He really is looking a wonderful prospect. Oh to be 19 again!

    I look in the mirror and these days the hair has dropped to the chin; shoulders and pecs dropped to the belly; and hamstrings snap if just a walk around the bed is called for! Unlike me, the gooners have improved with age!

  • WalterBroeckx

    Laundryender like you said it.
    In the WBA game some of his crossing was excellent and brought confusion in the WBA defence on a few occasions. One of his crosses had to be diverted under pressure and led to a corner from which Vermaelen could (maybe should?) have scored.
    And if your keeper is without a job for almost 86 minutes in the game then your defending must be rather all right also I think.

  • I always say it and still will continue to say it ” Asene knows best” asene is a role model, give him the man city or Barca squard and he will become ” INVINCIBLE ” again. Asene knows better.

  • Jenko”s Family must rightfully be very proud, somewhat dropped in at the deep end he has performed superbly, looks like bargain of the year well done Arsene.

  • TheSKAGooner

    Top stuff, Walter. 🙂

  • What makes all this so extraordinary is the price: at £1m it is clear that no one was talking him up as a great prospect in the way that perhaps Theo was when he was young.

    Likewise there was no queue at the door for him; I don’t think we were beating off the likes of Man U and Chelsea.

    Which is what makes all the rumours in the papers so funny, they are all full of big name signings all the time – while we go along and get someone who can become a great player very quietly for a very modest fee.

  • John

    This young man has all the raw ability to take over the mantle from Sagna in a year or two and is there a better right back in the country to study under????.

    I really love his engine, his fitness level is something all professional footballers should trived towards but I think his best attribute is he doesnt give up even when someone beats him. He will run his heart out to get back at them and put pressure on the ball.

    Okay his positioning needs work but he is very young I’m really delighted we got him.

  • Mahdain

    its articles like this that really puts untold miles ahead of other blogs and one of the reason i love it so much..brilliant article walter…seeing him playing for the first time i knew we had a great prospect in hand and i have ad to defend him on several number of occasions against the AAA abuse..he will become a great player for us and having to sagna to learn from will help him a lot..once again it has been proved..WENGER KNOWS!!!

  • Byo

    I am so proud of CJ, the way he has come along. I must confess that I had my anxieties early in the season, but I believed he had the time to learn from Sagna(the football goda thought different).

    He really does not have to take over from Sagna in 2 years as suggested by John, we will just have 2 world-class RB!

  • hoot

    Wait…he’s from Finland?

  • His mother is from Finland, his father from England, so he can play for either, Hoot.

    The rules are very relaxed on who you play for – just recently a player who was totally English but went to school in Scotland for a few years was picked for the Scottish team.

    So it goes.

  • Iniez

    Extremely off topic, but I want to propose something, not too sure if we would be able to do it though. Now I’m all for freedom of expression and opinion. But what le grove is doing is just plain ridiculous. I’m really sick and tired of what they’re writing. I know if I don’t agree with it I don’t have to read it, but other people are and this site is a horrible influence on arsenal fans. It’s just pure pessimism and negativity, there’s no support at all. You could consider them a site created just to slate the arsenal, they abuse our club. Just because they throw in a few words of approval doesn’t make them supporters. Would we be able to start a petition or something to get them to either tone it down or close the site completely? I don’t want to appear to be so arrogant that I can’t accept an alternate view, I am genuinely offended by what they write and their very existence is an insult to this club. Just like we would stop a rival fan from slating our club what makes these people any different. Just because they hide behind the guise of arsenal supporters doesn’t allow them to talk about our club this way. I’ll concede that sometimes their articles are somewhat decent in terms of pessimism but it’s far too rare. People would get extremely violent if a rival fan came to them and said some of the things they publish. They’re desecrating the name of this club and enough is enough, this is far more than someone talking smack in the comments section. I know I sound closed minded but my god these guys can’t claim to be supporting the same club we do

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    This kid is the real thing and when compared to AOC’s cost, was a bargain! Wenger is building up his team for the very near future and expect to see the likes of Sczesny, Jenkinson, Wilshere, Frimpong, Coquelin, Walcott, Ramsey,AOC, Aneke, Lansbury, Miyachi, Mannone, Miguel and others playing regularly at a very high level in anticipation of their becoming first team regulars.
    Jenkinson, Wilshere, Walcott, Szcesny and Ramsey are already there and with players like Arshavin, Almunia, Squillaci, Bendtner, Denilson, Benayoun, and Chamakh either moving on or too old or not up to AFC’s standards, there will be room for these kids sooner than later!

  • Anne

    @Iniez:

    I replied to your comments about Le-Grove on the thread from my last article.

  • Gooner Gal

    I can’t think of a tougher match thus far for a player to come on and make a home debut in, than the Udinese game. We desperately needed that win and he would of seen from the sidelines that the Udinese side were quick and strong. Jenkinson overcame his nerves and handled the pressure really well.

    After that game I said on here that the UK scouting network deserved a round of applause for what looked like an amazing buy, I also said that he would end up providing Sagna with needed competition, which I think will soon be the case. The media and some Arsenal ‘supporters’ dismissed him because he didn’t cost over £15m. Which is good in a way because he hasn’t had to deal with the added wider pressure which comes with a big price tag.

    Jenks said recently that he often stays behind after practice to work on different aspects of his game (à la Bergkamp) and it is paying off for him. As over the past couple of months he has gone from strength to strength and has grown more confident with each passing game.

  • Gooner Gal

    A bit off topic, but I read a decent article written by a fooball journalist today about the English football media and poppys. I thought I would share.

    http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard-sport/article-24008802-its-the-moral-crusaders-who-are-the-poppygate-tyrants-not-fifa.do

  • nicky

    Yet another gem, by the sound of it, from Wenger’s magician’s hat.
    I hope the Colney coaches are ensuring we take advantage of these marvellous crosses he produces. They will be of little use without people in the middle to receive and dispatch.
    Another Pat Rice? Or George Male?

  • RedGooner

    To be honest for the first few matches I was seriously concerned about Carl Jenkinson you could see the strain on him emotionaly during games he looked so far off the pace of the game.
    He has come on leaps and bounds and might even be better than mentioned above as if we got more players into the box on those crosses he might have quite a few assits by now.

    Delighted the lad is doing so well.

  • Banatunde

    Does anyone else have the feeling that after a long, mediocre season Bendtner will return with his tail tucked having realised what a privileged postion he was in being at a great club, rather than being an average striker at an slightly above average team?

  • Banatunde

    Would Bergkamp and Van Persie have made a good strikeforce or are they too similar? How would they have been best utilised? One in front of the other or side by side? Dennis scored goals but his goal creation play was the pinnacle of his football. Van Persie is now a goalscorer foremost but he seems equally adept at creating opportunities. Unlike Bergkamp though, he does not have a Wright or Henry to finish chances. Very few players in the world look equally at home in both the no.9 and no.10 positions as it takes a very special skillset. In the league, Silva will be a great 10 but couldnt be a 9, in fact i think only Rooney is probably equally comfortable in both positions in the league right now. We’re very lucky to have witnessed 2 players of this calibre and if it wasnt for injuries, we’d be talking about Robin as one of the very best which he could still become. I would love for him to spend the next 4-5 years with us because once the pace goes and goals dry up, you know that just like Dennis, he could be played behind a decent striker and still serve chances up on a plate like an artist painting by numbers. A valuable asset and he deserves to be the highest paid player at Arsenal.
    Would Bergkamp and Van Persie have made a good strikeforce or are they too similar? How would they have been best utilised? One in front of the other or side by side? Dennis scored goals but his goal creation play was the pinnacle of his football. Van Persie is now a goalscorer foremost but he seems equally adept at creating opportunities. Unlike Bergkamp though, he does not have a Wright or Henry to finish chances. Very few players in the world look equally at home in both the no.9 and no.10 positions as it takes a very special skillset. In the league, Silva will be a great 10 but couldnt be a 9, in fact i think only Rooney is probably equally comfortable in both positions in the league right now. We’re very lucky to have witnessed 2 players of this calibre and if it wasnt for injuries, we’d be talking about Robin as one of the very best which he could still become. I would love for him to spend the next 4-5 years with us because once the pace goes and goals dry up, you know that just like Dennis, he could be played behind a decent striker and still serve chances up on a plate like an artist painting by numbers. A valuable asset and he deserves to be the highest paid player at Arsenal.

  • bob

    Walter,
    Bravo! Beautiful piece.

  • Prasanna Veeraraghavan

    As a matter of fact when I put forth this comment its a bit too late but kind of travels made me read this post quite late considering the timing standards.

    I first started reading about Carl Jenkinson when there were talks about he being monitored by Arsene Wenger. Remember reading in Le Grove, Justarsenal and some other forums of him being just another kid on Wenger’s radar. I felt even sad for him because here is a guy who was playing in a different league sometime back and is playing top level suddenly. I also believe some of his first games were not that excellent but each time he was running the body language showed a fire to perform. The fire in the belly which comes when a person knows what the Manager expects out of him. A desire to excel.

    Today when I read blogs and articles that praise this guy it brings me tears. When Arsenal goes greater heights he will be one of those pillars of strength holding fort for years to come.

    A wonderful article!!!!!!!

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    The reason Wenger and his scouting team seem to find unheralded players where others cannot is the ability to look at a player out of context. Everyone else sees the player within the team. Jenkinson is an Arsenal grade player, like Koscielny and Arteta, who used to play with players below our level. The best way to understand this is to think of the playmaker who constantly gives the ball away. Most would say he can’t pass, a deeper investigation would reveal that if only his teammates had seen the opportunity they might have had a shot on goal.

  • FinnGooner

    I actually noticed one great thing about Carl being in Arsenal in summer. For the first time Finnish news paper wrote anything about Arsenal’s preseason. So the article was about our Finnish boy. Also now Arsenal get’s mentioned more on paper (or score of the match, last year Saturday’s matches were often ignored).
    I really like him as I can see him getting better by age and playing time. He was not ment to be 1st team player this year but due injuries had had to play and that has improved him.
    Only thing I’m now worried is that Captain of Finland’s u19 will not make the move to play for our 1st team but chooses that NT that likes to over play their young players (England and case of Theo Walcott).

  • Drew

    Nice piece Walter, I too felt Jenko (!) offered something fresh when he arrived and that if he bed in (with such a reliable RB ahead of him) then given time he might merge as an excellent buy. But of course Bak’s injury has thrust him into the limelight and we have to have faith and patience. Anyone can see how hard he tries and that’s is all the lad can do right now. His crossing is great and as I said before on this site, once he scores I think he will get a few more.

    as for the comments about @legrove’s site by @Iniez this doesn’t need any action. Comment is free and all views have a place. I don’t read @legrove anymore because I don’t like what he has to say, i suggest @Iniez does the same.
    all the best and glad to see you inside the marble halls (well sort of!)
    Drew

  • MOG

    Wenger seems to have knack for unraveling raw talent,Jekinsön seems to be his next project,within a short time he is becoming a better player,growing from strength to strength and from game to game,am seeing him up there in a few years time among the mix of good and quality defender in the EPL and maybe europe.

  • Mohammed

    I am one of those disappointed when Arsene unveiled Carl in the summer, and was asking “Carl who?” but to be honest with you, I ws pleasantly surprised and impressed with his game against WBA. I hav a feeling that this wil be yet another shrewed acuisition by Arsene…as in the case of Anelka, who he bought for a little over 500K pounds, and the rest is history….

  • Mahdain

    im sure you must be smiling right now walter..congrats your article has made it through on arsenal.com on media watch

  • walter

    Mahdain,

    🙂

    😉

  • Anne

    @Mahdain & Walter:

    🙂

    🙂

    🙂