Few can forget the humiliation of the 8-2 thumping at Old Trafford last season. Especially so for Arsenal’s 20-year-old right back, Carl Jenkinson. Brought in from Charlton Athletic in the June 2011 as a little-known local boy, Jenkinson was almost immediately called into first-team action despite his lack of experience due to an injury crisis to Arsenal’s defence. On that woeful night, Jenkinson didn’t even have the opportunity to complete his terrible game as he was sent off for a poor challenge on Javier Hernandez. I personally felt that he was bound to be one of Wenger’s rare failures on the transfer market.
Fast forward to this season: the young right-back has put in a string of stunning performances to make his critics eat their words. His defensive work has been excellent – perfectly timed challenges, good covering of spaces, anticipating the runs of attackers. Occasionally a lapse or two when it comes to playing opponents offside, but nonetheless still outstanding. Not only that, he’s been able to double up as an offensive player on the attack. Good overlapping runs, coupled with decent crosses – Sagna must be feeling nervous about his first team spot when watching him play. Let’s not forget that he’s already showing such potential at the young age of 20. Kudos to Wenger and the scouting team for bringing yet another gem for the squad. I’m excited by the prospects of this young lad developing and playing for Arsenal in the coming years.
It seems that Arsene Wenger has been tweaking his youth policies quite a bit. He’s been trying to get more local talent, with the likes of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. It’s probably a lesson learnt from the departure of his key players to greener pastures overseas. Three captains have left, Viera to Juventus in 2005, then Henry to Barcelona in 2007 and Cesc Fabregas similarly in 2011. It’s a disturbing trend, one that should discontinue with immediate effect. Hopefully the grooming of local talents will make them more attached to the club. It would be disastrous to see the likes of the Verminator leave. Year after year, same story, different talisman. Truth be told, I’ve yet to watch RVP play in the tablecloth kit of Manchester United. It just isn’t right. No matter, this season seems like a great leap from the last.
In Arsene we trust.