Young Guns (Go For It) Part II – The Next Generation

Following on from last week’s review of the ‘more established’ young guns, this week I thought I’d look at the chances of the ‘next generation’ on the outskirts of the match day squad and assess their chances of making the grade.


To push to understudy Le Coq?

To push to understudy Le Coq?

Krystian Bielik: 

The young Pole was signed in January 2015 from Legia Warsaw for the obligatory ‘undisclosed fee’, muted at about £2.5m. (Still a lot of dough for a 17 year old) and, to the surprise of many, was instantly granted a first team squad number (36).

At the time, the masses were calling for a CB and many viewed his signing as ‘another kid with potential’ and not what was needed.

Most wouldn’t have known much about him and to be fair, I was in that boat, as they don’t show much of the Ekstraklasa on FoxSports Australia.

Reports about Bielik were promising;

A 6’ 2″ defensive midfielder, who likes to anchor the midfield with smart distribution and composure beyond his years. He also has an eye for the goal, making surging runs from his deep lying position. He is a regular in the Polish U17 side & holds the record for the youngest appearance in the Europa League, at 16 years 341 days old.

So far, so good;

At the time of signing Krystian, Wenger said he would train with the first team squad and go into first team contention. This, in hindsight was probably more of a necessity at the time, given our DM deficiencies, being prior the revelation that was Le Coq. But it did outline Arsene’s faith in the player and his long term plans.

Since then Arsene has revoked that thinking, saying,

“Let’s not forget that he is 17 years old, comes from Poland, I have taken him in January more for next season, because to give a boy of 17 time to adapt to a competitive environment is needed.”

Now all his paperwork is ship shape, he is a regular in the U18 side, showing the ability in which Wenger obviously has faith in.

As for his progress to the first team, well, I reckon next season will see a few League Cup outings & any further involvement will probably depends on Arsene and this summer’s transfer activity. If a big name CM arrives (Vidal/Bender) then Krystian will have to be patient and wait a few more years for his chance. If no big name arrives, then it’s up to him to take the reins and push Flamini/Areta for the role of backup Coq.

Bielik believes he will do it, as his Instagram posts sets out his personal goal.

“Aim? The aim is simple. This place is going to be mine in the future”

“Aim? The aim is simple. This place is going to be mine in the future”

Damian / Emiliano Martinez:  

(OK not that young at 22)

Damian, Emiliano, I’m confused, for the purposes of this blog, we’ll call him Damien, it’s easier to spell.

To date, Damo has had an interesting career at Arsenal. He made his League debut in May 2012 as an emergency loan to Oxford United. He was in goals in the milk cup roller coaster against Reading in October 2012. He then went on loan to the Wednesday side of Sheffield and impressed all who played with him.

His big break finally came on 23rd Oct 2014 away to Anderlect in the Champions League. Arsenal came away winners and Martinez came away with the plaudits and MoM.  He then backed this up with a stellar performance against Dortmund, in which he kept a clean sheet and was named in the UEFA team of the week.

Following a 2nd half appearance against ManUre and with both Szcz and Ospina continuing on the treatment table, Marty went into make his first EPL start against West Brom and again started 4 days later vs Southampton, keeping clean sheets in both.

Following the return of Things 1 and 2,

Damo dropped back down the order to number 3, but in his stint in the limelight, he proved to all is is a quality keeper with a bright future.

With the arrival of Cech, dibs on the top spot maybe out of reach for the next few seasons, but with Szcz’s erratic form, Damian could easily slot into the role of understudy and be waiting in the wings for the top job when it is next up for grabs.


Isaac Hayden:

A loan?

“He is maybe not a creative player but everything he does is intelligent. I like his intelligence and with his other qualities together make me choose him.”

Wise words from Le Proff regarding Isaac, but not particularly awe inspiring.

In 7 years at the club, Isaac has made two Milk Cup appearances, almost to the day exactly a year apart and apart from that hasn’t really had sniff at his preferred position of CB.

Even when we were down to the bare bones, Monreal & Debuchy were played in the centre ahead of him.

It’s not about his ability, it’s about his experience and he needs to gain some regularly first team football if he’s to push the likes of Chambers for a minimum of a slot on the bench.

Issac’s best bet must be a season loan to get regular games and then back AFC to prove his worth.


Chuba Akpom

Tough for Chuba with 3 ahead in queue

Tough for Chuba with 3 ahead in queue

Chuba has been with the club since the age of 6, made his U18 debut at the age of 15 and signed professional forms the day after turning 17.

He made his competitive debut for the club in September 2013 in a 3-1 win over Sunderland.

Since then, he has had loan spells with Brentford, Coventry and Forest, which were seen as largely successful in his development.

Since his return to The Emirates he has flirted with the first team squad, mostly down to injuries, but Arsene saw enough in him to agree a 4 1/2 year deal in February 2015.

Wenger obviously believes in Chuba’s ability, stating in December 2014 that, ‘he was close to the first team’.

However, Akpom has a lot of hurdles to overcome to make the CF role his own, with the likes of Giroud, Wellbeck and the revitalised Theo blocking his path to the top. Not to mention, the rumoured arrival of a big name striker in the summer.

I fear that Chuba’s potential may never materialise at Arsenal and that he will have to follow his predecessor, Chucks Aneke and depart to pastures new to further his career.


Arsenal Young Guns, The Next Generation, maybe combing to a stadium near you soon!!


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