Rating The Arsenal Youngsters….

Posted: March 4, 2010 by curtisreidbarnes in Uncategorized

Is it time to separate the Wheat from the Chaff….
…or is the jury still out on the Arsenal youngsters?

As another season draws towards its final leg, it seems time again to reflect on the development of those players which have been at the forefront of the Arsenal development programme for the past few years. We have lauded many of these players with the honour of being the future of our team, but have also deemed a number of them to be simply not good enough for the Arsenal squad. So have they improved? Who are the diamonds in the rough, and who do we think it is safe to believe are lost causes? Deep into this season, I’d like to look at the merits and developments of Arsenal’s first-team youngsters, and decide who is worth it and who needs a good dose of foot in arse.

At the top of my list, I couldn’t look past Alex Song. This guy’s improvement has been simply phenomenal. Song has copped a lot of criticism in seasons past, branded by many as being a waste of space, but I think it is apparent to us all now, even the doubters, that he is more than deserving of an Arsenal jersey. I’d go as far as to say we have a real gem, and a player who is fast developing into a truly top-class defensive midfielder. Credit to Wenger for his support and vision of what Song can and may still yet achieve.

Full name: Alexandre Dimitri Song Billong
Date of birth: 9 September 1987 (1987-09-09) (age 22)
Place of birth: Douala, Cameroon
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)[1]
Playing position: Defensive midfielder, Centre back, Right back

Abou Diaby has proved his worth on more than one occasion this season, and will hopefully play a major part in the remaining matches. Although he is still hampered by inconstancy, I think we have seen gleaming glimpses of what Diaby can do; his goals against Aston Villa and Liverpool have been crucial, and he seems to be a true big game player. We have seen Diaby’s skill and confidence on the ball, but his game is weakened by poor decision making at times and a tendency to stay on the ball too long, and chance 50/50 passes. I’d look to his dilly-dallying on the edge of the area in the first game against standard Liege as a glaring example of this, and you can probably take your pick of every second match and find him losing the ball 4-5 times. Even so, Diaby is remarkably improved at times, and if this continues, I’d like to think he will be a barnstorming Arsenal midfielder. I feel very positive about him.

Full name: Vassiriki Abou Diaby
Date of birth: 11 May 1986 (1986-05-11) (age 23)
Place of birth: Paris, France
Height: 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)[1][2]
Playing position: Central or attacking/left midfielder

What is there to say about Denilson. He seems to show glimpses of capability, but in all honesty, having this guy on the pitch is like a ticking time bomb. I just simply do not see what he brings to the Arsenal squad; he lacks technical skill, power, pace, and has simply NO defensive awareness. Although he has scored a couple of really nice goals this season (his goals versus Everton, Standard liege, and his freekick against Hull), these are few and far between, and simply cannot be justified when juxtaposed with the poorness of his average performance. And to consider that this guy is our second-choice defensive midfielder! Denilson lacks any capability on defence. Every time we get broken against, you will see Denilson jogging back, oblivious to the threat; look to Rooney’s goal against us, where Denilson’s apathetic defence was criminal. And in general play? He is nothing but a link man, and is often bypassed by the Arsenal players out of dread of what he may do. I can’t say I wouldn’t be happy to see the back of this guy, but he doesn’t look to be going anywhere.

Full name: Denílson Pereira Neves
Date of birth: 16 February 1988 (1988-02-16) (age 22)
Place of birth: São Paulo, Brazil
Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)[1]
Playing position: Midfielder

Carlos Vela has been a figure on the peripheral of Arsenal’s first team the entire season; however, injury and poor performance have hampered his stepping up to a more permanent role on the few occasions he has had to show his skills. Unfortunately, Vela to me seems to typify the wrong choices in forwards for Arsenal of late: too small and severely lacking in killer instinct. I don’t see a long term future for him at AFC, and things don’t seem to be getting better. I had high hopes for him, as I’m sure we all did, but he just seems a player who can’t cut it in an environment has tough and fast as the Premier League. Then again, he has recently signed a long term contract, so obviously Wenger thinks otherwise.

Full name: Carlos Alberto Vela Garrido
Date of birth: 1 March 1989 (1989-03-01) (age 20)
Place of birth: Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)[1]
Playing position: Striker, Winger

If one was to believe the hype about Theo Walcott, you would be more than disappointed with an encounter with the real thing. It seems the media has finally started to turn on Theo, and the general consensus is he’s more a case of a ‘never was’ than a ‘has-been.’ Personally, I don’t agree with this. I think Walcott still has something to offer, but the boy had better knuckle down, and knuckle down fast. Improve on your basic skills, Theo; your ball control, crossing, and decisions on attack. His pace still proves a benefit, as has been obvious in recent games, but his end product has been poor beyond words. He struggles to cross, pass and shoot accurately. You’ve still got a chance in my books, Theo, and evidently in Capello’s too, but you’d better shape up quickly or you’ll be out of the England squad for good faster than you can run a hundred metres.

Full name Theo James Walcott
Date of birth 16 March 1989 (1989-03-16) (age 20)
Place of birth Stanmore, London, England
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)[1][2]
Playing position: Striker, Winger

My hopes couldn’t be higher for Nicklas Bendtner, and he finally has a chance to really show us what he can do. Bendtner, to me, is a victim of Wenger’s positional experimentation. His reputation has suffered a lot amongst the fans after many games being played as a Right-Attacking Midfielder; a position which he has neither the pace nor positional awareness to do well at. But put this lad in front of goal for a string of games and I was hopeful he would come right, which it seems he has. It’s great to see him on the score sheet, and he now has two goals into games, including a truly stunning one against Stoke. This may be just what Bendtner needs; a chance up front to show what he has been boasting he can do for so long, and it could prove CRUCIAL to our title chances that he does well, after Wenger opted not to bring a new striker in during January. Again, at the moment it seems like credit is due to the manager for his good judgement, as Nicklas’s performances have been getting better and better over the last few games. His tendency to stay on the ball too long, still evident at the start of the season before his injury, seems to have been squashed a bit. He is less wasteful in possession too, it seems. His finishing still has a long way to go, as he loves to remind us with his wayward shots on the edge of the area. But, hey, if he keeps pounding headers in like against Stoke, he can take all the crappy longshots he wants, in my opinion.
Full name: Nicklas Bendtner
Date of birth: January 16, 1988 (1988-01-16) (age 22)
Place of birth: Copenhagen, Denmark
Height: 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)[1]
Playing position: Striker

I’m going to hold off on Ramsey’s analysis in light of his recent injury. Who knows how this could affect him as a player but my greatest hope is that he will come back stronger and better for it; he is looking like the most complete midfielder of his generation. My heart goes out to him as it is a depressing blow to suffer at such a young age. Similarly, I will withhold judgement of Wilshere until after his Bolton loan has ended, although he looks to be coming along nicely; although he still reeks of his extreme youth in some of his EPL matches. He has also had a few good showing for Bolton, particularly against Manchester City. Kieran Gibbs is another player I considered analyzing, but as his injury has sidelined him for so long, it is difficult to get an idea as to where he is at. He looked great before the injury though, and is great going forward. I wish him a speedy recovery too.
On top of this, we have seen precious little of Fran Merida? Why is this? He has appeared to be a quality player in the few games he has played in the past two seasons, and yet rubbish like Denilson still get to start ahead of him, even when he makes mistakes week in and week out. Most likely we will lsoe Merida, which will be a real shame.

Agree? Disagree? Please Comment,
and make sure to visit our Arsenal Action Forum to have your say.

  1. ken says:

    How hilariously hypocritical that a site that has constantly berated the club, the players and the manager is now praising players that they have trashed relentlessly this season like Diaby & Song.

    Arseholes! Got a whiff of the title and now supporting the team again. Go back to school you spotty virgins!

  2. Ben says:

    Spot on mate

  3. cheese says:

    We’ll all differ on players but i find it funny how this article proves how our weak minds turn on one player to the next. Take Song for example, so many silly people slated him, and without good reason.

    Then there is Diaby, who can be frustrating, one good game and he’s Vieira, a bad one and we should sell him!!

    As for Denilson, he began the season in great form, got injured, returned, scored some important goals, struggled with fitness, had a bad game on a big stage, and gets injured again. I dont see how people can condemn him for this year, and he has improved. Its not as though he’s surrounded by experience, or has had the same midfield to work with in each game!!! His stats in some games speak volumes about his potential, and when fully fit he wins the ball back in attacking positions more than anyone else, a vital contribution.

    Vela – injured

    Walcott – injured

    Bendtner has played well for the last 12 months – when fit.
    Those that slate him players do not have a clue about football. His experience out wide has also helped his overall contribution to the game.

    I do not accept youth as an excuse for poor performance, but often we lose when none of these are on the pitch and they’ll still be blamed!!! Just like what has happened recently to Denilson and Walcott.

    I tend to look at the facts, these facts state that we have had Van Persie, Rosicky, Eduardo, Fabregas, and Nasri out for much of this season. People could argue that is 5 of our best 6 attacking players. We are 3 points off top with a good run in, and players like Song, Denilson and Diaby deserve huge respect for keeping this tough season alive. They haven’t had a Rooney or Drogba to count on, instead they have stepped up and scored important goals themselves, made big tackles, and won us games.

    People should stop looking to see if our young players are too weak and start seeing how much we owe them this season.

  4. Willy Young says:

    I agre we should support all our players at the ground but surely fans should be able to debate whom they rate without criticism of being disloyal

    personally I think Walcott and Denilson albeit ok are not yet and will never be at the required level fit the Arsenal

    merida and Vela need more time without injury

    I do wonder given our huge wage bill why the likes of Randall Hoyte Gilbert and Simpson are not sold off given they struggle to impress or even be selected in lower league teams?

  5. Paul says:

    Mr. Curt.B, what you have written about Denilson, Theo, Vela etc is ver unfair. Please do you these lads are still young and fastly developing. Most of the time people forget that these guys are still kids and require time to mature. Of course there are players that mature fast but others take longer time to mature. Look at Viera or Thiery when they were ages of the trio, you will agree that there were nowhere as compared to the trio.

  6. cheese says:

    Willy Young, your statement here is fine:
    ‘personally I think Walcott and Denilson albeit ok are not yet’

    and you are entitled to that opinion.

    You then say ‘and will never be at the required level fit the Arsenal’ which is a big thing to say, no doubt you have said the same in the past, perhaps about Song?

    If you do make such a remark, saying that a player will never make it, you should probably give some detailed reasoning to support your claim, otherwise you will be labelled disloyal. Its fine to discuss player quality, but without showing some insight into your views, its simply bad-mouthing the player.

    As far as those youngsters that are very far from the 1st team, Randall for example. A good player but one struggling to break through, we offered him a contract, and its important, especially with young players, to honour those contracts, then in the future we can expect that same sort of loyalty. Many of these kids grew up together, so i can understand if Wenger would rather keep a sense of family at the club, then introduce and expect these young players to be used like objects. I know thats not what your intentions were, but i think thats why the club honour their contracts a lot

  7. Turf Lawn says:

    Great post!! Keep up the good work…Home improvment is the thing to do 😉

  8. OC says:

    I’m getting quite fed up of the Denilson-bashing that Arsenal fans seem to enjoy so much. Sometimes it is so venomous that I think you want us not to win the League, just so that you can say “I told you Denilson wasn’t good enough”.

    I’ll admit he is not our most creative or strongest defensively, but he does a job and is important to our flowing football. He is always available and never hides, unlike some of our bigger players. This may also contribute to him making seemingly making more mistakes.

    I wouldn’t have him in the starting 11 with everyone fit, but I would definitely want to keep him at the club. He is already a good player, and can only improve.

  9. Carlos says:

    Carlos Vela has handed small disciplinary action by his club for losing his passport in front of the Champions League.

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