Arsenal Optimist: The Kids Are Alright

The news today was full of praise for current Arsenal man Alexis Sanchez and his place in Chile’s rich football history. However, as you look across the entire football landscape, you’ll notice something. Arsenal has players in many of the major tournaments occurring this summer and in most cases contributing. Their presence and contributions bode well for the future of the club.
England’s youth soccer renaissance is, of course, being aided by Arsenal’s roster. The Young Three Lions yesterday defeated Poland to advance in the U-21 European Championship, and the squad is deep enough that it could match the feat of the U-20 side and win a major trophy. A key component of this U-21 side is Calum Chambers. The Boro loanee impressed the England staff so much that he won the start against Poland over Rob Holding (who’s better than Cannavaro) and impressed over 90 minutes. Both young Arsenal defenders have won praise from those watching the England side, and this is particularly positive for Chambers. Despite his hefty transfer fee for a young defender when Arsenal signed him from Southampton, the loan to relegated Boro and the ascent of Holding in the new Arsenal 3-4-3 means Chambers was a forgotten man in the Arsenal defensive shuffle. However, with clubs like Everton and Southampton circling, Arsenal may have to recommit to Chambers or lose him.
England are not the only side benefiting from an Arsenal player in the U-21 championship. Hector Bellerin contributed an assist for Spain’s first goal in their 3-1 victory over Portugal. The full-back has been a regular starter for the U-21 side and is a key player in their quest to try and win the trophy. Also, news that Barcelona have stopped their annoying pestering of Arsenal to acquire him no doubt allows Bellerin to focus on the summer and his season ahead.
It is clear that the U-21 Gunners are trying to maintain the standard of excellence set earlier this summer by now-senior player Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Despite suffering from some injuries in the group stage, Maitland-Niles was particularly impressive in the midfield in the critical match against Italy, where he was asked to play less in attack and more as a ball-stopping midfielder. His performance on this stage has Arsenal fans and scouts again excited about his ability to contribute this fall.
There is still one more chance for an Arsenal youth to shine internationally this year. Emile Smith-Rowe is in the mix for a U-17 call-up for the World Cup, taking place in October in India. Despite being stuck on the bench during the U-17 Euros, the Arsenal youth player has a bright future for both club and country.
All in all, the future looks good for Arsenal if international play is any indication.

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