The British core

Posted: January 18, 2013 in Arsenal
Our five, young Brits penning new contracts.

Our five, young Brits penning new contracts.

At the time of writing this, it has just been made official that Theo Walcott has signed a new 3 1/2 year deal. This sees the Englishman’s contract saga put to an end, and the start of a British core beginning to develop at the Arsenal.

“You need a core. We had that before, and now we are creating it again” – Arsene Wenger. Long gone are the days when Arsenal fielded more foreign players than homegrown; now, Wenger has the choice to start six incredibly gifted ones in the same match. Six players who are well spoken, seem to have a bond with everyone in the team and are loyal. Here is my breakdown of the six:

Jack Wilshere:

Where do I start with Jack? He’s just returned from a 15-month injury, and has been playing as though he was never set-back. An outrageously gifted player who’s blessed with a footballing third eye, fantastic tackling, great shooting (despite not having belief in his own shooting) and, most of all, he’s an incredibly passionate player; “he’s a complete midfielder” – Arsene Wenger. You only have to look at his two goals this season – Montpellier (H) and Swansea(H) – to see how much he loves this club. Easily one of our most consistent players this season; some even argue that he should be captain. And, to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jack followed in the footsteps of Tony Adams and Cesc Fabregas in terms of earning the captain’s armband at the age of 21. Having mentioned those two players, Jack seems to possess the heart and commitment of Tony Adams, and the vision of Cesc Fabregas. As much as Wilshere shouldn’t be playing this many games, because he’s just returned from a lengthy injury, it’s looking increasingly difficult for Wenger to rest him as he’s such a key component of both the midfield, and the team as a whole.

Kieran Gibbs:

It’s hard not to draw comparisons between Kieran Gibbs and Ashley cole. Like Cole, Gibbs is an academy product, a left-back who’s defensively sound and incredibly effective when going forward. With the Cole comparisons, I’m strictly speaking of his attributes on the pitch and not the fact he left for one of our biggest rivals; that’d be blasphemous. Very much like Wilshere, Gibbs is a passionate player who always seems to be shouting and screaming at his team-mates when they make mistakes. Having mentioned mistakes, Gibbs seems to have limited his since returning from injury last season. he’s one of those players who’s concentration levels rarely ever drop. His partnership down the left-hand side with Podolski is one of the best in the league. When Gibbs goes forward, Podolski drops back; it really works well, they seem to have an ever-growing relationship on the pitch. The only problem with Kieran Gibbs is the fact his legs are made of twigs. He’s very fragile and prone to injuries. Having said that, he has gone a few months now without picking a knock, and I hope that he can continue this injury free streak going until the end of the season. In a nutshell, he’s a cracking left-back and one of the most underrated in Europe.


With a huge price-tag came a player with huge raw talent and potential. An explosive winger who, unlike our other wingers, can effectively beat a full-back with a trick. Great upper-body strength and drive means that Chamberlain is built like a central-midfielder, a position in which Arsene Wenger believes the 19-year-old will mould in to. Having had a lot of people raving about him, following last season’s performances in an Arsenal shirt, and being called up to the England Euro 2012 team, ‘the Ox’ has tailed off this season. He’s had two good games, but he’s seemed out of depth in most of the others. He was coming into form before being prematurely taken off against City, so I believe he’ll be raring to go in his next start. The talent and potential is there, we just need to hope that his head is too.

Aaron Ramsey:

The scapegoat. A man who receives an incredible amount of unjust criticism from his own fans, as well as others. Having just returned from a career-threatening injury last season, Ramsey was thrown into the deep-end; he started too many games and was constantly seen as some sort of Samir Nasri/Cesc Fabregas replacement by most Arsenal fans. This season, Ramsey’s had time to come into his own and not be forced to emulate the playing style of former key Arsenal players. Some say it’s stupid playing him on the wing, but there are many reasons why he does: 1) He’s being shaped into a better central midfielder 2) The play is twice as fast on the wing and therefore his decision making becomes faster and more effective 3) his awareness of those around him increases, which means he’s more likely to unlock defences and find runners off the ball. You only have to look at his last three cameos prior to the Swansea replay (1-0 Arsenal) to see how playing on the wing has made him a much better central midfielder. The potential is there to see him join the ranks of Arsenal’s midfield greats.

Carl Jenkinson:

Another player who, like Aaron Ramsey, was thrown into the deep-end last season. What more could you have expected? He was a very young lad who had only played at league 0ne and non-league level. He was torn to shreds in the 8-2 mauling at Old Trafford, and was even sent off. This season we’ve seen the resurgence of a lifelong Arsenal fan, and former season ticket holder. Before Sagna’s return from injury, Jenkinson had started every single Arsenal game at the start of the season; he played superbly in all of them and was even named man-of-the-match away at Manchester City. He’s one of those players who will always keep on running for the Arsenal and would even run into a brick wall for the club, too. It’s a joy to watch him play as he represents the dream of every single one of us Arsenal fans watching him. He even picked up his first England cap, last November, in a friendly against Sweden. Future Arsenal first-team right-back for years to come, and maybe England too.

Theo Walcott: 

He's signed it!

He’s signed it!

Finally, an Arsenal contract saga which ends well for the club. Theo’s claim to play centre-forward has grown this season, and Wenger has finally given him his chance. To be honest, he’s been a bit hit and miss. Three good games in that position, two of which he scored a hat-trick in; but he’s only played there six times. Some have become restless with him after a few poor games, but you need to remember that he is still learning his trade in that position and therefore isn’t going to shine in every game. Some say the £100k-a-week wages aren’t justifiable, but I beg to differ: he’s an England international, he’s played over 200 games for the Arsenal, he’s still only 23, he consistently gets ten goals and assists every season in the last two, and he can now operate as a centre-forward meaning he offers some versatility. I think Theo will be a star for Arsenal in the near-future, should this season be a learning curve for his time spent playing up-front. Is he a winger or is he a striker? Only time’ll tell.

So that’s my summary of our six bright, British boys. Wenger seems intent on making this the core and backbone of a new Arsenal era and, with the correct nurturing, this could be a group of players that will deliver trophies to The Emirates in the near-future.

  1. TouchDown says:

    Nice write up mate. You are spot on every single one of them. Couldn’t agree more on your analysis of Ramsey. The talent is there but fans need to be patient with him. I’ve also noticed that he’s coming into his own a bit now and its true time out on the wings improve the technique of a central player; something Abou Diaby also benefited from back in the day.

  2. Woof67 says:

    Great article here! Totally understandable with the patience needed. And considering they are all great talent already. 3, 4 years time, trophies will be coming home with those great talents we have made, and maybe more too.

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