By Tony Attwood
Last summer we played a little game of guessing which players would break through into the first team this year?
One name was easy and stood out: Jack Wilshere. We also had high hopes for Jay Emmanuel Thomas and Henri Lansbury.
Plus there were several players who we knew would come back from injury – and by and large they didn’t let us down. Djourou did make it, Ramsey came back (eventually) and we also found ourselves with an ever declining number of goal keepers, which meant ultimately Szczesny (of whom much was hoped) made it to the fore.
Other names were mentioned: Eastmond particularly looked to be in contention, but they didn’t really get the chance.
So what of next season: who is going to make it who is already on our books?
If you look on the Arsenal web site today (3 June) the headlines only have one youngster listed: and that’s yet another goalkeeper: Damian Martinez. He’s mentioned because he is 18 and has just been called up into the Argentinian squad for international friendlies against Nigeria and Poland as cover for Adrian Gabbarini following an injury to Oscar Ustari.
He came to us from Independiente, and played three times for Arsenal reserves last season. I can’t see him breaking in this year, but it extraordinary the range of keepers we have coming through.
Also in the news is Ignasi Miquel who has joined the Spain under 20 squad for the World Cup in Columbia between July 29 and August 20. We saw him play against the Orient, and I for one was very impressed indeed. But he’s only 18, which was not too young for Tony Adams, but is seen to be too young today for central defenders. However…
I have been writing about Francis Coquelin since I saw him a couple of years back in the pre-season games in Austria. This last season he was in France with Lorient of Ligue 1. He’s played full back but is now described as a midfielder, and played 24 times last season, getting one goal.
Gilles Sunu was at the same club for the second half of the season, but only got substitute appearances. I had expected more, after his appearance for France in last summer’s tournaments, but then he was injured and almost vanished off the radar for quite a while. So probably not for the coming season.
Jay Emmanuel Thomas got caught up in the insanity of the loan situation that can surround a club with financial woes. Cardiff City were seriously listed as promotion candidates, despite having one of their directors under suspicion of fraud at the club (the case is yet to be heard), and despite having seven of their first team loaned to them. One being JET. But the laws say you can only play five in a game – so he kept losing out.
JET played 15 times including the two semi-final play offs against Reading, but I doubt that this is enough to warrant much further action at Arsenal. Another prediction of mine from last year hits the dust I fear.
But if JET struggled with a Championship side, what of Kyle Bartley? He signed a long term contract and joined Sheffield United, got injured but then came back and made 23 appearances.
Before going to Rangers. I still find this amazing. I mean I know that Scottish football is a two horse race and all, but for a loanee to go to the Scots Champions, and win a medal with them…
He played in midfield, played in the quaintly named “Old Firm” matches, and started eight games before getting medial ligament damage in a Europa League game (yup, he played in Europe too). I don’t know how long he’s out for, but if he’s fit, he might just stay and play for us.
Henri Lansbury played for Norwich as they came up to the Premier League, after joining them in November, and made 24 appearances in total, scoring four times. He told Arsenal.com “I’m upset I’m not doing it at Arsenal but maybe my time will come. You’ve got to make a name for yourself and I’m trying to do that here. I definitely want to push for a first-team place [at Arsenal] and I’ve got to do that by working hard and showing the boss what I can do.”
One gets the feeling that it is almost, but not quite.
Which then takes us to Ryo Miyaichi who came to us from Japan in January and went to Feyenoord. He scored in his first game, and made 12 starts. So big was his impact that Arsenal issued an edict saying that he must not give any more interviews.
Japp De Groot of De Telegraaf said, “He has got everything; he has got speed, he is very direct, he has skill, he can take people on, he scores goals and he has good technique…. He is a great talent and a pure football player. He is an uncomplicated player who just wants to play his game. I think it is very important that he plays at a club that fits his qualities and Feyenoord is a team that plays the authentic Dutch way with two wingers and one centre forward. He played from the left side and that meant he was not forced to defend a lot and he could play his game. Arsenal’s decision to send him to a Dutch club has been a very good choice.”
Mr Wenger has said he will join the first team squad this season – but, and this is big, there are passport problems. And we have to remember that Wellington is not figuring now, because he has passport problems, and has had a miserable loan spell in Spain, just making two appearances.
Emmanuel Frimpong was on the list last season as Song’s backup, but he got injured, and only just made his way back at the end of the season. He is often championed as being from the same group of players that gave us Wilshere, and if he is that good, we could well see him in the team.
Craig Eastmond was the other player that really looked like he could make it. But he only got four starts with Millwall this year, so maybe he just wasn’t as good as I thought.
Of course there are more players we could consider – from Carlos Vela to Tom Cruise, from Botelho to Afobe. I’ll stop here and choose my four who will actually be playing in the first team at some stage this season, before you tell me why I am so wrong.
- Emmanuel Frimpong
- Ignasi Miquel
- Kyle Bartley
- Francis Coquelin
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Please do note, this article is about players we already have who might step up. Not about players we ought to buy, or players we ought to sell. (I know that’s obvious, but there’s a number of people in the blogworld who don’t seem to get what I am talking about, and like to come in and chat about something quite different).
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