How good is the next crop of youngsters coming through the ranks at Hale End and London Colney? We have been waiting for OUR golden generation of youngsters for some time, the club has invested millions in training young boys and hoping they will be the real deal. We have had several false dawns, namely the back to back FA Youth cup winning teams of 2000 and 2001.
The current crop of youngsters is being used for both the Academy tem and in recent weeks they have been mainstay of the Reserve team. Reserve football has shown the boys the next step along their development path. They have often encountered team full of first team players.
The pinnacle of any youth player is the FA Youth Cup and they dispatched the current holders Manchester City with consummate ease in the semi-final. They now face Liverpool in the final.
The Arsenal team consists of mainly English players, with only Sunu, Coquelin and Szczezny being the non-English players. The belies the claim made by many that our youth squad is crammed with kids form all over the world. The same cannot be said for Liverpool.
There are several players in this squad that will do well next season in the reserves and Carling Cup team, namely Wilshere, Freeman, Frimpong, Emmanuel –Thomas, Coquelin, Bartley, and Sunu, whilst Benik Afobe (16 years old) is causing quite a stir. Over the next three to four seasons I hope we see these boys start to establish themselves in the first team squad. That would put an end to the constant sniping aimed at Arsenal and Arsene Wenger over the lack of English players coming through the ranks.
The first leg of the final is on 22 May 2009 at the Emirates with tickets available to members for £3 adults and £1 concessions. The game is also live on Setanta Sports. The return leg takes place on Tuesday 26 May 2009 at Anfield.