20 December, 2007

The Arsenal Youth Team / Carling Cup Team

It’s not often that this site will dish out gushing praise about Arsenal of it’s own accord, but there’s only so long you can ignore what’s in front of you. I strongly believe that Arsenal’s youngsters have now got to the stage where, if entered in the Premier League, they would comfortably finish in the top half.

Essentially this pool of players were enterprising and fearless last season, reaching the Carling Cup final with relative ease. This season however they seem to have brought even more to the table, most notably, resolve and fight. Tuesday night’s game against Blackburn was the thinly-veiled motivation behind this piece, and anyone who saw the game could not fail to have been impressed by a dogged performance against what was 95% Blackburn’s first team. Arsenal meanwhile had made 11 (count ‘em) changes to the side that beat Chelsea at the weekend, with the average age of the starting team a staggering 21.

First team players such as Fabregas and van Persie have been rightly drowned in praise over the last couple of years, and it seems that since the departure of talisman Thierry Henry, Arsenal as a club have gone from strength to strength. The great thing about all of this is the attention that Wenger seems to devote to those players coming through into the side, wanting them to play the same style of football no matter where they are or who they’re playing. We have already seen the likes of Diaby, Diarra, Denilson, Eduardo and Bendtner run riot in the Premier League when given the chance, but looking past these (still young) guys even further into the future, there is a wealth of talent unmatched in this country.

Of those we have actually seen at professional level, the below are ridiculously impressive, while also being depressingly young. Note also, Arsenal nay-sayers (and I include myself in this category) how many are English also:

- Vito Mannone (goalkeeper, Italian, aged 19)

- Gavin Hoyte (centre-back, English, aged 17)

- Paul Rodgers (centre-back, English, aged 18)

- Kieran Gibbs (midfielder, English, aged 18)

- Armand Troare (left-back, French, aged 18)

- Henri Lansbury (midfielder, English, aged 17)

- Mark Randall (midfielder, English, aged 18)

- Nacer Barazite (striker, Dutch, aged 17)

- Fran Merida (striker, Spanish, aged 18, footage from his days as a Barcelona trainee -

When you then think about the number of first team squad players who are themselves under 25, including playmaker Fabregas who is still only 20, you have the makings of a true dynasty to match that of the Liverpools and Manchester Uniteds of the last 20 years…and this is coming from someone who hates the club with a passion, ask anybody!