Arsenal’s senior side may have made a stuttering challenge for the Premier League title this season but the Arsenal’s youth side showed with their win over Tottenham, why the future is bright at Arsenal.
Arsenal came from a goal behind to beat Tottenham in the FA Youth Cup quarter final to play Manchester City in the next round. Promising striker Jonathon Obika put Spurs in front but goals from Bartley, Emmanuel-Thomas and Murphy sealed the win for the Gunners.
When Wenger joined Arsenal, one of his first priorities was to improve the youth set up but urged fans to be patient in seeing English talent coming through as it would be eight years before we will see the fruits of the coaching staff’s labour. Last night there was nine English men in the starting line up and a further five on the bench. Of course all these players have a long way to go yet, even Wilshere but the potential is there for at least half of the starting line up to make to step up to the senior side.
The central midfield partnership of Coquelin and Frimpong were the basis of the side and with a bit more technical work can be future first team players. Frimpong in particular made some crunching tackles and deceptively clever while Coquelin has already featured in pre-season making a couple of commanding performances and took the corner for the first goal. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas is more than just a utility man having played nearly every position in the book but his ability to command matches and a threat around the box is sure to earn him a Carling Cup place next season. Steve Bould has wanted to move the midfielder to central defence to allow Luke Ayling to play full back which is arguably the one weak area of the youth side. Substitute Murphy has endured a torrid spell on the sidelines recently but his superbly taken goal was a reminder that the talent is permanent.
More importantly it was a team win, playing the Arsenal way with great movement. There was patient build up play, keeping possession, looking for the right pass and denying pressure on the back-line. Overall they showed resilience and ability to defeat a strong Spurs side featuring Bostock displaying maturity was beyond their years.
The last thing Wenger wants to do is talk up these youngsters as it is important to keep their foot on the ground. Including Wilshere in such a match shows great man-managing from the Frenchman who is keen to stress to the playmaker that hard work hasn’t ended yet.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1):Shea, Eastmond – Bartley – Ayling – Cruise, Coquelin – Frimpong, Wilshere – Thomas – Watt, Sunu
Subs:Mann – Evina – Blackwood – Freeman – Murphy.