For all the moans and groans Arsenal Football Club recieve over their club’s lack of strength in depth, and ultimately, experience, in the Premier League, you really have to oggle at the sheer senselessness of Arsenal’s performances in the Carling Cup.
Match reports can be found on the official site, as well as the ever-excellent Cultured Left Foot – but in short, it was young Englishman Jay Simpson (a player famous for scoring the first hattrick at the Emirates in the youth cup) who slotted a neat brace after a stellar pass from the astounding Jack Wilshere, and hard work, pace and flair from Carlos Vela for the second.
Vela himself added a third four minutes later, but to put it like that is a crime against good taste. The goal took the breath away as he chipped the excellent Chris Kirkland for his only goal of the night. The first touch to recieve Aaron Ramsey’s skidding pass, the burst of pace from two-thirds up the pitch, the angle, and the peach of a finish oozed with Maradona-esque class. Only, it was all on the left foot.
Hype, sure. Sometimes I get ahead of myself. But so begs the question: Which of these players actually look destined for the Arsenal first team, in x-number of years?
Still has some way to develop, but the talent is undoubtedly there. A magnificent double save from De Ridder and Zaki was a blatant sign of match-winning potential. It helps that he’s practically been earmarked to succeed Manuel Almunia, which will take no longer than ’til the end of next season.
Was quick, agile, and defensively astute. But we know his brother is Justin Hoyte. Which means we actually know two more things: He’ll hopefully continue on the top-professional attitude his eldest had, and he could be little more than an underwhelming squad player. Wenger does rate him, though, and he’s very young. More time in the cup, in the reserves and on loan means there’s not much to say on Gavin at this point in time.
Already considered part of the first team squad, but will find it more to his benefit to grab hold of one position, scream in a tribal roar ‘I claim this land!’, and stick to it. Is it defence? Is it midfield? From what I’ve seen, it’s midfield, with defence a mere utility. If Flamini had just settled for a utility role after the 05/06 Champions League exploits, he may never have achieved his full potential (or, ironically, a move to the match fixers). Song also needs to learn how to jump straight into games when coming off the bench (something that has cost the team a number of times), a problem he does not seem to have when starting.
First team plays against Spurs: Concede 4 goals. Djourou plays against Fenerbache: Clean sheet with reserve keeper in scoreless draw. First team plays against Man Utd: Awesome match which, thankfully, we win, but concede a goal in injury time. Djourou plays with a bunch of kids against Wigan: Another clean sheet. What does this kid have to do to get in to the first XI? Though we may not like to admit it, Gallas and Silvestre may yet prove to be a good enough partnership (who am I to guess Wenger’s justification?), but Djourou, without a shred of doubt in mind, has to be our future lynch pin. Tall, pacey, with accurate passing and can head a ball. Sign him up!
Suffers from the Armand Traore syndrome in that he’s not really a left back. More of a Gio van Bronckhorst type who belongs up-field and in on goal. An exciting display of this youngster’s talents and one who I am now finally convinced by. He always looked a bit lightweight to me, but last night looked genuinely dangerous going forward. Pity about the defensive positioning. But, as Ashley Cole proved, attacking instincts may remain, the defensive side can be taught. Is his career dependent on Martin Keown signing on as a coach?
In a word: Yes. The future is Red and White, Dragon on Flag, Welsh Rambo, ladies and gents. A pocket-gladiator who stands up to those double his age. A rasping shot. Twinkle-toe skills. In your face aggression. This boy stands up for himself. This boy dominates. This boy is the real deal.
As is this kid, incidently. Passing, dazzling dribbling and perception beyond that of a mere 16 year old. Patience is all I can plead for with regards to ‘Little Jack’ – He’s not ready for the Premier League yet. But he will be, soon. Wow – just, ‘Wow’.
I cannot make up my mind if he has the skill but less the intelligence, or vice versa. While clearly gifted, Randall does not strike me as the Arsenal-type of gifted. Try imagining him as a 27 year old, and we might have a decent squad player who can gel a good side together every now and then. But frankly, I’m still waiting for that ‘special something’ that does not feel like it’s forthcoming.
This is where it gets interesting. No player came into the Reserves setup with more hype than Francesco Merida, and so far, we have not seen what youtube said we would. A smart player, a crisp passer of the ball, but I have not seen the kind of shots he hits for the Reserves when playing in the cup, bar the one against Blackburn last season. Still, the talent is there. But just because he had hype does not mean his future is as plotted as some other players might be.
I feel Jay has a future at a number of clubs from at least mid-table, maybe even as high as a team chasing 5th or 6th in the Premier League. His performance was bright, strong and troublesome to the Wigan defence, but he had the advantage of having nothing to lose. It’s well discussed amongst bloggers that these kids will be truly tested in a Premier League environment where the stakes are significantly higher. Still, I know no-one that was not pleased for the Englishman and his brace. He needs a bit of luck on his footballing journey. He has one worth looking forward to, whether that be at Arsenal or another Premier League outfit.
Carlos “Kiss my Boots” Vela
I have rediscovered religion. It is the church of Carlos. All hail the wonder that is.
To summarise: Those that (I think) will ‘make it’, with phat gold chains, snarling r&b grins and hoochies cavorting their stuff:
Fabianski, Djourou, Gibbs, Ramsey, Wilshere, that Mexican-God-Guy
Those who, for no lack of effort or skill, will not ‘make it’, taking up a more clean boy-band allegory:
G.Hoyte, Randall, Simpson
With question marks of possibility hanging over Alex Song and Fran Merida.
On another note: great to be back. My last major semester of university is out of the way, and I can now focus on my new job at a certain Australian online news-provider.
Let me know what you think of the new design – I’m quite used to scathing criticism, so go nuts.
You will see me in a day’s time. I’m doing all I can to be back, baby.