Carl Jenkinson – The Corporal

8th June, 2011. Arsene Wenger signs a little known Right back from Charlton Athletic, who barely featured in Charlton’s League 1 campaign; in fact, he was on loan at Eastbourne Borough a lot of the season.

So why, when the club was crying out for quality in Midfield with the imminent departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, was an untried full back being brought in?

The answer is simply, that Wenger is so good at seeing potential in a young player. He saw something in Carl that no other top clubs saw, which was the potential for a great player. However, his first season perhaps wasn’t how he had envisioned; making his debut vs Udinese at left back, he then featured in that awful 8-2 defeat to Man United, and he even saw red late on.

What followed was a series of nervous performances; a player who many thought would struggle massively. When Bacary Sagna broke his leg, many believed it was Carl’s time to shine, but a stress fracture in his back kept him out the side for a long period. He featured a little towards the end of the season and was ok, despite looking naïve tactically. Many were hoping for a new right back in the summer when Sagna unfortunately suffered another leg break, thinking our Flying Fin wasn’t up to it.

However, no right back was brought in (or anyone remotely defensive for that matter) and Jenkinson would be starting the season as first choice right back. Le Boss has a history of knowing young players and if they were good enough, and the faith he has shown to Jenkinson proved to be the right call, as we saw a completely different player to the 11-12 Jenkinson, or even the one who didn’t look very good at all in pre-season.

He has learned when to hang back now and stay in position, as opposed to bombing up the pitch far too often, with blatant disregard for what’s behind him. He rarely lets a player past him and always works hard; his crosses when in the final third are great and Gary Neville said he would ‘run through walls for you’ very true.

Of course, he isn’t perfect. He gives the ball away too much in our own third and still has a tendency to pull shirts when in trouble; however, he’s come on leaps and bounds since his arrival from Charlton, and it’s very easy to love our Carl; a boyhood Arsenal fan, he loves the club and we love him.

And lastly, I was very disappointed he wasn’t in the England squad; he’s played much better than Glen Johnson this season and if he plays for Finland and not England, the FA will have made a massive cock up not securing him as an England player sooner. If he keeps up his early form from this season, we have a very promising player on our hands. Keep the faith.

Paul Hill

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