Young Guns Under the Radar – Part I
At the start of every season there are certain players who hope to make it into the frist team squad, they are given chances on the pre-season tour and in the Carling Cup.
Here is a resume of some of those players and what they managed to achieve this season.
At the start of the season there was great hope that Jack Wilshere will establish himself in the first team squad. He was only 16, but had a great pre-season with the first team. Young Jack is short and diminutive in the Walcott mould, but he is also a fiery little lad. He got his chance in the first team with several cameo appearances.
The fans liked what they saw and were hoping to see more of him. This was a little too much to expect especially as we were struggling, to play him in a struggling team would have sapped away his confidence. As with many people so young, their form will dip and rather than expose him further Wenger has allowed him to feature in the FA Youth Cup team and the reserves.
So impressed was Capello with Wilshere that there was talk of him being fast-tracked into the under-21 squad despite him only being 16 years old.
There is no doubt that Wilshere has a big future, it is a case of nurturing him, rationing his exposure to first team football so that we do not get burn out too soon. I would like Wilshere to appear on the bench more often, this might be problematic with so many players available to Wenger, but it is one way to ensure he will get more playing time next season.
Wenger was reluctant to allow this young prodigy to go out on loan this season, unless he believes the boss believes he will use him next season, he could be allowed to go out on loan.
Fran Merida has had so much hype both before he joined Arsenal and since he joined. Many have likened him to Fabregas, some have gone as far as to say he could be a better player. What is certain is that he has not had the meteoric rise that Cesc did at the start of his Arsenal career.
Merida is at a stage in his development that he needs to play some form of competitive football on a regular basis.
Many coaches at the club expect a lot from Merida, but they all acknowledge that he lacks the physique to be a first team contender.
He has made the bench several times this season and even making his Premier League debut against WBA, but he needs to be pushing for a first team squad place.
Wenger has stated that he expects great things from the Spaniard. If Merida is not to be considered as a member of the first team squad, then he needs to go on a season long loan next season.
People at the club have been talking about Henri for some time. His progress has been blunted by an illness last season otherwise he would have been ahead some of the other players at the club.
Knowing that he had time to make-up, young Lansbury accepted a two week loan spell at Scunthorpe United. This was after he had scored twice for the FA Youth Cup in a 4-0 win over Sunderland; he knew he was turning his back on a potential FA Youth Cup winner’s medal. Scunthorpe is one of the outposts of football that players retire to, but Lansbury saw this as a challenge. He knuckled down and has since extended his loan spell. He has played well and was unlucky in Sunday not to score in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final.
I expect Lansbury to be part of our pre-season in 2009 and he should be able to push for a first team squad role next season in a similar way that Wilshere did in 2008.