For the second year in a row Arsenal were pitted against Sheffield United in the Carling Cup. This time the tie will be played at the Emirates and the Arsenal faithful will have a chance to glimpse the stars of the future. A far more experienced side than the one expected to take to the field this time around, went to Bramall Lane last year and came away with a solid 3-0 victory. That was the day Arsenal fans saw their first instances of Eduardo’s deadly finishing. Who will shine this year?
Seeing as the side will be very unrecognisable this year I will put it early on in the article:
The side is clearly a very young and inexperienced one but one I am personally very excited to see. This team has played together in the reserves for a few games now and I have watched a few quality performances from the second string. There are a few of the ‘old heads’ in there to provide some big match experience. The scary thing is that these older players are Fabianski (23), Bendtner (20), Song and Djourou (both 21). It is no coincidence that these players will form two of the key areas on the pitch. I have little doubt that Song and Djourou will make up the centre back pairing. This will hopefully provide a solid base that the others can build on. In front of Fabianski, Wenger will hope they will keep Sheffield United out to allow the younger players with the time they need to settle into the new surroundings. Bendtner also provides a considerable goal threat for Sheffield United to deal with as Wenger knows he needs a guaranteed goalscorer on the field.
With Justin Hoyte at Boro’ now, it is the time of Gavin to try and lay down a claim for a career at Arsenal. Gavin has sown potential in the same manner as Justin BUT he has age on his side. It will be tough to break into the side but he has shown enough to think he’ll give it a right good go. Kieran Gibbs on the other hand has emerged as a very surprise package at left back. Many expected to see him make his trade as a winger. His early days at Arsenal saw him play out wide but last season he covered in the full back position and excelled. Now he has developed into a very competent left back, adding to the great crop we have at Arsenal right now.
If I was going to suggest one for the future, I think it would be the man that many fans would go for. Jack Wilshere is an exceptional talent. Every few years there is a player that emerges with a natural talent in the game of football. From what I have seen so far, Wilshere is one of these and as Arsenal fans we are very lucky. Fabregas made his rise to the first team very quickly and I can see the same happening with Jack. Like Fabregas, he has a natural ability on the ball that makes him look like a seasoned pro. These are the games that will give him that extra edge when he begins to make strides with the first team.
Another man that Wenger has great faith in is Aaron Ramsey. When a team is 2-1 up at the Reebok, managers tend to get nervous as the usual bombardment begins to arrive into the box. On Saturday Wenger threw Ramsey into the thick of it when the pressure was really beginning to grow. The easy thing would be to leave the side as it was and prevent any risk of Ramsey’s inexperience costing the team. Wenger however trusted the young lad and he proved his worth as he chased all the way back to the Arsenal by-line and provided the springboard for the counter attack that effectively ended the game. HE has an eye for the killer pass as we saw at Ewood Park. Few expected him to make many first team appearances this season but he is clearly doing something right in training. Now he has the chance to show what he can do from the start.
Mark Randall has been around for a while and he also made an impression in this competition last season. Crunch time is approaching for Randall as he gets older. With the Arsenal squad being so young, he needs to start making that step up to try and force his way into the first team. Fran Merida is the same. He has been an Arsenal player for a while but has had to spend time on loan to get games. Now he is back and determined to fight for a place here rather than spend more time on loan. I admire this in him as he clearly wants to get to the top and is wasting no time in his efforts to do so.
The link-up of Vela and Bendtner is something I am very excited about. In pre-season we caught a glimpse of how they can play together. They showed an understanding that resembled the likes of Bergkamp and Henry, Wright and Campbell. They will be able to develop this if we get further in the Carling Cup and this is one thing I really hope we get to see a lot more. Vela has had to wait an awful long time to get the papers to play for Arsenal. Now he is here and raring to go. He is an exciting prospect and another Wenger has very high hopes for.