Continuing the assessment of Arsenal’s current youth system, today I look at the promising midfielders coming through the ranks at the club.
With several young midfielders already populating the first-team squad, it would appear, particularly in the central positions, that it is not going to be easy for those on the periphery to make a breakthrough. However, there are several talents under the radar who will still be seeking to do just that in the coming years.
Nico Yennaris made a name for himself during 2011/12 when he was called upon at right-back during the club’s full-back injury crisis. Having previously impressed against Bolton in the Carling Cup, Yennaris also gave a good account of himself against Leeds in the FA Cup before making his Premier League debut against, of all teams, Manchester United. Despite his promising showings, however, it is in a holding midfield role where Yennaris is most at home and the 19 year old will be looking to get more loan experience under his belt after illness cut short his stint with Notts County in April.
Chuks Aneke, who can operate as a playmaker and also as a deeper lying midfielder, also made his first-team debut last season with a cameo appearance against Shrewsbury in the Carling Cup. Despite his promise and his impressive showings for the Reserves, he struggled to replicate that form whilst on loan at Stevenage and, later, Preston, although his experience garnered during both spells will surely only benefit him in the future.
Conor Henderson was close to a first-team breakthrough before an injury sustained against Cologne in pre-season meant that he spent much of the campaign on the sidelines. An elegant passer of the ball, Henderson will be hoping for a more fruitful pre-season this time around and could be set for a loan spell once Arsenal’s participation in the Carling Cup comes to a conclusion.
Craig Eastmond enjoyed an impressive season which culminated in a fruitful loan spell at Wycombe Wanderers, where he impressed despite his temporary side suffering relegation. However, the 21 year old, who has previously featured for Arsenal in the Premier League, is expected to be allowed to leave should the club receive a suitable offer for his services.
Henri Lansbury, meanwhile, will hold discussions with Arsene Wenger regarding his long-term future after failing to gain a regular starting place on loan at West Ham. Lansbury has been on the cusp of the Arsenal squad for several years without making a breakthrough, and the expectation is that this will be the summer when his future is finally decided.
Oguzhan Ozyakup excelled for the Reserves last season and also made two substitute appearances for the first-team, with the impressive youngster set to experience a loan spell next season for the first time, whilst Dutchman Kyle Ebecilio ended the season in good form following a difficult start to life at the club following his move from Feyenoord.
Thomas Eisfeld showed glimpses of promise following his move from Borussia Dortmund, but next season is likely to see him fully bedded in to the Arsenal set-up, with a Carling Cup outing a strong possibility. Josh Rees impressed enough to earn a professional contract and the hard-working youngster should be a regular in the Reserves next season, where he is likely to be joined by Jon Toral, who caught the eye following his move from Barcelona.
Samuel Galindo, on loan at Gimnastic Tarragona, is unlikely to have done enough to have earned a work permit, whilst Alban Bunjaku’s future at the club remains up in the air. The 18 year old looked set to leave following a disagreement with coaching staff before Christmas, but has yet to find a new club and Arsenal have not withdrawn their offer of a professional contract.
Holding midfielder Jordan Wynter impressed with his consistency last season and will turn professional shortly, whilst Serge Gnabry and Kristoffer Olsson both shone during their first seasons in England. Promising left-winger Anthony Jeffrey will seek to make his Reserve debut next season.
There are more promising midfielders amongst the club’s schoolboys, the most prominent of which is central midfielder Jack Jebb, an England youth international who possesses superb passing ability and will turn full time in the summer.
If I was a championship side or lower half of the premier league, I think Eastmond would be a great buy.
He’s impressed me, just too much talent in the way.
I really feel sorry for the lad. He was doing great. He was ahead of Frimpong and even Le Coq. And just then nasty injury came along. And the others took full advantage of the opportunity. The last outing I remember him was a CL outing. Against Shakhtar if I am not wrong. And after OG there, his career in Arsenal shirt has gone down. I really feel sorry for him. But Eastmond would do much better job for a PL side then a Championship side.
Am I the only one that was caught completely unawares by Henderson? I’d never heard of him, then one day (about a year ago?) he was suddenly substituted on in a first team game. I consider myself to be fairly up to date with the squad, but that was the first time I ever saw him. I never heard mention of him progressing through the youth levels in the same way I have about Afobe, Ozyakup and all of the above. Can anybody shed any light on where he’s from, and when/ how he ended up at Arsenal? Cheers!
He’s Irish and a product of our academy. Can operate in the middle or out wide on the left. A good assured passer of the ball with solid technical ability and Wenger seems to really rate him highly.
He has gone quietly about his business during his time at the club but as stated in the article, injury has halted his rise. Should be a good player if he can continue his development and may lead to a very good option on the field to allow more movement in the front 3 and midfield
I should have said he’s English-born Irish
Really want henderson to breakthrough, not because i prefer him or think he’s better then the rest,
He’s just the only one whose name i can pronounce let alone spell….
When I saw Oguzhan Ozyakup in the team lineup I originally thought somebody had just splatted the keyboard and forgot to correct it 🙂
Heh. There should be a lot of additional dots and accents on that name too… it’s Turkish. I’m hoping he does well so you’ll need to know how to say his name.
Here’s how you pronounce his first name:
Oh ooze hun = Oguzhan
The only thing you really need to know about pronouncing his last name is that the “O” is pronounced like a German “oe” (“o” with umlaut).
These updates are pure gold! One thing I love about Arsenal is the academy approach…!
And we just need Lansbury to score a few ones like the one for The Young Lions 🙂
Conor Henderson has been around for a while at Arsenal so I guess he came through the academy?
And if I remember, he played in the FA Cup against Leyton Orient???
He did and he looked really good in that game, too.
longer the trophy drought goes on the harder it will be for youngsters to breakthrough into the arsenal team.
I’ve been thinking the same exact thing for a while. Also was thinking that if players at 23/24 leave when they are expected to start delivering on a more regular basis (like Cesc & Nasri) it will make it harder for youth to break into the team cause we’ll have to start finding stability all over again. Jack was fortunate that he broke into the team at the right moment (before those 2 left) otherwise I’d doubt he’d have started games this season (if he wasn’t injured)
ARSENAL IS AWESOME! !..the independent structure of the club is something others envy!
spot on.! that’s y I love arsenal @gooner2013.
Some backround on Henderson.
Henderson was signed from Italia Conte FC (football team of the famous stage school.
Previous to this he and his family lived in the States where they all starred in the famous tv series ‘Bigfoot and the Henderson’
Conor played the small boy.
I think he was signed so that the marketing dept had some leverage to sign ‘Bigfoot’ as our new mascot.
Yet another reason to forget 2doubles and 3 premier leagues and sack Wenger and the board.
Please, Gunnersauras would easily beat Bigfoot.
Big foot gunnersaurus.
Great now we have two BFG’s.
Italia Conte has a football te– oh… oh, I see what you did there.
oops. ment gunner2013
The Bunjaku situation makes less sense every time I read about it.
Btw what will happen to Pedro Botelho?
Botelho started the season at Rayo Vallecano in La Liga, did quite well playing left midfield (and I think at left back on occasions), chipped in with the odd goal, got into trouble with the law (drink driving) and was dropped. Levante (also in La Liga) picked him up for the second half of the season, the manager there went on record as saying that he really liked him as a player, and he was in and out of the side for the rest of the season (including storming out of training on the eve of a match after being… Read more »
Oh I agree , Gunnersauras would easily beat Bigfoot but it’s all about the Dollars
Guys…let’s not go there. We all know about Gunnersaurus’s shady past. Once he got off the schwack he really cleaned up his act. Bringing Bigfoot back will only bring back his old ways, we don’t need another cover-up of a brutal killing…it is hard to get blood out of that green skin.
I enjoy these youth columns. I’m guessing Gnabry and Olsson will be covered in the attacking players piece?
Not the perfect time to be introducing youngsters onto the senior squad. Ask rvp i’m sure he’l back me up on this one.
Yeah its great to have a youthful group coming in for the future but at the same time we need to trim those who will evidently never cut it for us.(rhys, boateng,). Just to save them from the farfetched idea they have of ever play for us.
True. Good for the future but at the moment they aint enough to assure hazard and the likes to sign for us. I gat great hopes for them though.
Mate, look at Borrusia Dortmund, look at Barca. Its home grown players who get you over the line.
Ozyakup is pure pure quality. he’s going to be a star
Gnarby is supposed to be a real talent, apparently the only one we can really expect great things from, although Ozzy has looked impressive this year as well.
From the looks of it, the coaching team earmarks Gnabry as the superstar in the making among all of them. His rise in his first season at Arsenal is quite rapid. U18s-> Reserves in under a season and seems to be getting glowing reports from both the U18s and reserves as well. Most likely preseason with the first team and slow budding with the first team and maybe the odd carling cup matches.
The few times I’ve seen Henri Lansbury play, he’s really impressed me. I havent seen enough of him to pass judgement, but he seems to have a Flamini-esk combative nature..*sigh* i miss Flamini..
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