Arsenal may be out of the Carling Cup but the potential of these youngsters is still huge. After beating Sheffield United and Wigan so comprehensively, they knew away to Burnley would be a tougher test for different reasons and without the calm and commanding partnership of Djourou and Song made the game even harder. Burnley took the game to the youngsters and overall were the better, the early goal crucial. Had Arsenal take their chances not to mention the inspired performance Jensen, it may have been a different game.
Arsenal Column looks at those youngsters that lost against Burnley and whether they have a long term future at the club. Plus loan players. (For those rated ‘No,’ there is potential to improve and would like for them to prove me wrong or if not can still forge a successful career).
Lucasz Fabianski: Had a hesistant game typified by the first goal but also showed his class with a good save from Paterson. Like all goalkeepers they require confidence and a run of games to fully express their qualities and Lucasz is no different, especially the anticpation side which is meant to be one of his strengths. Playing an inconsistent amount of games will not be the judge of him but at the moment a capable deputy though can stake his claim should the opportunity arise.
Fran Merida: The Spanish playmaker is steadily improving and showed signs of that development so far in the Carling Cup. Blessed with a great technique and a superb passing range he is adept as a central midfielder or a more advanced position. However his improved ability on the wing could see him become one of Wenger’s creative wingers similar to David Silva of Valencia.
“[Being compared to Fabregas] is a big task as well but I think he has a similar talent,” said Wenger. “You see in training and in the first team, he is always an asset. But at the moment in the Premier League you need power and I feel Fran is a late developer physically, but I do think he will come on.”
Jack Wilshere: Stevenage born Wilshere is destined to make and it seems unlikely and unfortunate circumstances will only deny him that. A wide playmaker who always looks to get the ball and support the player in possession. Drifts off the right flank to create chances with his left foot and makes sure he remains in control of the ball always by shielding the ball away from the marker as soon as he makes his first touch. He needs to develop more variety to his game especially on the right flank where cutting in all the time will be too predictable and may lead him to a congested are of the pitch.
Francis Coquelin: Hasn’t had too many games as of yet and niggling injuries seem to be a slight problem but the defensive midfielder has maturity beyond his years. Good tackler, work rate, positional sense, low centre of gravity and a adept passer of the ball, which is needed nowadays for such a player.
Henri Lansbury: Played at right back against Burnley but his potential has been known longer than some of the other English players. Missed a chunk of last year through illness but his ability was evident in the match. A central midfielder with bags of energy but his professionalism and passing range could be bettered.
Nacer Barazite: His introduction has coincided with Derby’s improved fortune. Plays as a winger but really made his name as a future Arsenal star for the reserves upfront. Versatility could be a double edged sword but the Dutchman seems best as a skilful yet creative striker similar to Segio Aguero of Athletico Madrid.
Kieran Gibbs: Tempting to say he will make it and the feeling from Wenger is that he too has the ability to make it but the amount of work he puts in could decide his fate. Great stamina and a potent threat when surging forward, it’s his defensive work that will stand to the test of time. More matches against such quality opposition as Jesus Navas, Eagles and De Ridder will decide his quality and against the latter two showed improvements and discipline to sacrifice a bit of his attacking instincts. May be a better potential than Traore though older.
Jay Simpson: Reports suggest he will sign a new contract after impressing Arsene Wenger and the duration of the contract requires improvement if he is to become an Arsenal striker. Strength and pace are his obvious assets though it is in his link up play, movement and hold up among others that need work on. His improvement has been vast and could be compared similar to Gabriel Agbonlahor’s ability at his age. Thierry Henry singled out the striker for praise while at the club.
“Jay Simpson has improved a lot,” said Wenger “His main strength is good runs around the box and he is a good finisher.
“We have a choice up front because there is Nicklas Bendtner, Vela, Simpson, Rui Fonte, so there is a good fight for places in there. That is why, even in the Carling Cup, if you want to be in the team you have to fight.
Mark Randall: Written off by some but like Lampard could develop into a top player slightly later on than most Arsenal central midfielders. His mental attributes (decision making, positioning etc.) rather than his technique seems likely to determine whether he will make it at Arsenal but if not can be a top player in the Premier League.
Armand Traore: On loan at Portsmouth and impressing without being too explosive. Still seventeen, left back looked to be his position until confidence was sapped right out of him and is trying to re-establish himself as a winger. Still feel full back is the position best for his potential but Gibbs has looked to steal the march on him.
Amaury Bischoff: Signed for a year, the competition may be too high for him to make it. Good technique but is he better than what there is currently? Time will tell and after a few more games and fitness can really decide. Will be a good player at a good European club at the least.
Other: Emmanuel Frimpong
No: Gavin Hoyte: At eighteen and still improvements aplenty to be made. Fast and reads the game well but needs to bulk up. Centre back seems to be his best position though deployed at right back in the Carling Cup without being overly impressive.
Others: Paul Rodgers, Mannone, Steer