When Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs scored against Aston Villa a couple of weeks back it represented the first time two English players had scored for Arsenal in the same game since 1997 – a remarkable statistic, even when you take into account Arsene’s predilection for foreign talent.
Having had Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the scoresheet this season, Jack Wilshere proving he’s got an eye for goal last term and young Benik Afobe chomping at the bit to prove himself next year there’s a tasty core of homegrown players who could have a big future at the Emirates.
Looking at the current crop of young Lions, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain believes a technical quality, level-headedness and playing together regularly will inspire the group to keep progressing at both domestic and international level.
“I think for their age, they’re all really mature and quite fearless,” the former Southampton Academy product told Arsenal.com.
“I always forget how young Jack is; he’s such a confident lad. At the same time they’re all humble as well and really nice guys.
“Kieran, Theo…they’re humble guys, but when it comes to football they’re really focused and just get on with the job.
“Football is what they love doing. They’re really technically good and really talented players. I think they’ve all got the right mind-set to become world class players.
“As long as everyone keeps progressing as they are at the moment, it will be good for England’s future. We have a lot of English talent here at Arsenal and we will all be working hard to get into the national team.
“The longer you play with people, the better you get to know them. You bond and being around the same players means that you bounce off each other. It will be good for the future.”
It may have taken a decade but there’s no doubting that after much criticism from the media about ‘ignoring’ English talent, Arsene Wenger’s youth policy is starting to bear fruit with ‘local’ talent. While Walcott, Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain look set to challenge for a starting berth for years to come (contract talks dependent in Theo’s case), here’s hoping Gibbs and Afobe can also stamp their authority on N5.