Thursday, July 18, 2024

Looking back on the class of 2006

It has been documented in this column before just how difficult it is for young players to break into the first-team picture at Arsenal, and it is even harder for them to stay there for a considerable period. With this in mind, assessing the respective career paths of particular intakes of youngsters makes for interesting reading, with the group of first-year scholars from 2006/07, the first season at Emirates Stadium, now having all reached their 22nd birthdays, meaning that it is a sufficient time to assess how their careers have progressed in the ensuing period.

The biggest success of this intake so far is surely Wojciech Szczesny, with the Polish goalkeeper, in the six years he has spent at the club, now having firmly established himself as Arsenal’s first-choice custodian. Signed from Legia Warsaw following an impressive trial, he struggled a little during his first season in England but, by the time the 2007/08 campaign came around, he was shining in matches at under-18 level before making the step up to the Reserves. After making his first-team debut in the Carling Cup, his loan spell with Brentford proved especially beneficial and the form that he displayed there, in addition to the problems suffered by Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski, eventually led to Szczesny becoming Arsenal’s number one (or number 53 as he was at the time). Having now amassed 73 appearances for the club, whilst also turning out regularly between the posts for his country, Szczesny has certainly had a promising start to his career. He is far from the finished article, as his distribution and some performances towards the end of last season showed, but he can certainly be regarded as a success for Arsenal’s scouting network.

Hot on Szczesny’s heels is Kieran Gibbs, who, whilst originally a left winger when coming through the Arsenal ranks, has since established himself in the first-team squad as a left-back, where he is expected to compete with Andre Santos for a starting berth next term. Having showed promise during Arsenal’s FA Youth Cup run in 2006/07, Gibbs impressed for the first-team in the inaugural Emirates Cup before spending time on loan at Norwich City. A Premier League debut for the Gunners at White Hart Lane followed, and last season he scored his first senior goals for the club, finding the net against Shrewsbury Town and Aston Villa. Injuries continue to plague him, but, if he remains fit, Gibbs will be hopeful of adding to his two England caps in the near future.

Armand Traore, signed from Monaco as a schoolboy, was thrust into the first-team reckoning at Arsenal early on in his fledgling career and, as he still does, seemed more effective going forward than defensively, but he still racked up 30 senior appearances for the club prior to his departure to Queen’s Park Rangers last summer. He is another with international recognition, having been capped four times by Senegal, after having previously represented France at youth level.

When Fran Merida left Arsenal for Atletico Madrid in 2010, there were some concerns that the technical young Spaniard could prove to be one that got away from the Gunners. He has done little since then, either at Altetico or on loan at Braga, to verify those claims, but remains a promising player having flirted with a place in the first-team squad during his time at the club, featuring in the Premier League and scoring twice in all competitions.

Nacer Barazite was another who showed promise whilst with the Gunners, but, having struggled to command a first-team place having not featured under Arsene Wenger outside of the Carling Cup, he elected to join Austria Vienna in January 2011, where he was amongst the top scorers in the Europa League. He joined Monaco earlier this year and has featured regularly for the Netherlands at youth level.

Moving onto those still based in England, Gavin Hoyte was released by the club this summer with a solitary Premier League appearance to his name and will be hopeful of finding an employer in the lower leagues, whilst tenacious midfielder James Dunne, who frequently saw his name in the referee’s notebook whilst in Arsenal colours, recently completed a move to Stevenage having been a regular during his three years with Exeter.

Mark Randall never fully established himself at Arsenal and now finds himself with Chesterfield, who have been relegated to League Two. Abu Ogogo continues to operate in that division with Dagenham & Redbridge.

All of the above have had relatively successful careers to date, but there are others for whom things have not run so smoothly. Peggy Lokando, who once caught the eye for the Reserves in a game against Chelsea, now plies his trade with Waltham Forest in the Isthmian League Division One North, Rene Steer is in the Southern League with St Neots Town and fellow defender Paul Rodgers is currently without a club after being released by Newport County.

In all, though, this intake has proven to be rather successful, producing two members of the current first-team squad capable of being considered regular starters, whilst also developing another Premier League footballer and an assortment of others scattered around Europe and the lower leagues. The aim now will be to ensure that the process continues with the hope being that, as the quality of players produced by the Academy improves, a greater number will go on to enjoy successful, prolonged careers.



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the only sam is nelson

it’s easy to forget that whilst we hate the £250K a week wankers like Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez, they all started out earning fuck all, with a slim-to-no-chance of making the big time and bugger all chance of succeeding at anything apart from kicking a ball around. Still, Spud face Nik-Nak are still cunts. So I’m not sure what my point is, any more. Hopefully RvP will come back from Eastern Europe horrified by the appalling nature of the hate-filled Holland dressing room and realise that the decent people he plies his trade with at the Arsenal are worth… Read more »

Master Bates

Let him go , We’ll get Grant Holt and a playmaker like Delap

the only sam is nelson

Grant Holt is on his way, don’t you worry. What d’you think Ivan was fluffing our new Chinese friends with if not the prospect of England’s leading 30-something striker arriving at the Grove?

Delap, eh? Intriguing… My own preference would be for Lee Cattermole but Rory can put it into the mixer alright, and that throw… Younger fans would probably agitate for both, but that’s just being spoiled. Of course Joey B would be the ultimate but can we afford him?


Pft. I have it on good authority that El Hadji Diouf is joining. Also, I think Ivan is considering Lee Bowyer to, you know, help make inroads in Asia and all that.

Ok. I need to go shower now. This mini-thread is making me feel dirty.


We just agreed to terms with Joey Barton!!!!


That’s not exactly an amazing record, especially if Gibbs is taken out (I don’t believe he is an Arsenal quality left back, just look at his positioning and marking next time he plays). If we take Denilson, Diaby, Justin Hoyte, Djourou, Vela, Bendtner, etc. into consideration it is an even bigger failure. In the end what becomes obvious is that you are either a clearly huge talent, like Wilshere, Cesc, Ox, Szczesny, or we waste our time giving you chances and wages before we finally let you go. Our first team is filled with players that are bought at around… Read more »

Master Bates

did you expect 10 youngsters to make it ? It’s a pyramind scheme . Having Wilshere,Szczesny,Song is totally worth it

..and Gibbs is good enough for us, actually he’s been VERY Good for us ,remember that 25Million worth tackles in the last match ,the only thing bad about him is his groin


Heh again, Kudos on the name.


Way to miss the point of the entire piece

Old man grape

Thumb down.

A. Wenger



Such a post just shows how great our club really is!

An interesting feat would be to “evaluate” the players mentioned above on a cost/benefit analysis according to the costs of the Arsenal Academy. Would be interesting (or frightening who knows?) to see what a self made player really costs. In addition we’d finally see the value of Arsenal DNA 😉


I know we’ve said this like what athousand times? but anyway here’s one.

Up the gunners!!!!


Nice article. Would also be interesting to tally the transfer fee’s (or a close guess) and see how much the academy has made for the club from those of the players who weren’t good enough to make it with us.


Brilliant reading! Would definitely like to see more of articles like this in the future. Would be cool to know what ‘s going on with the likes of Sebastian Svärd, Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, Arturo Lupoli, Ryan Garry etc. I’m too lazy to look them up with such insight.


i once signed quincy owusu abeyie in FIFA.the lad has terrific pace.i put him in the wings and kept knocking the ball


Barazite and Nordveit were talented and it’s good to see them performing well in other leagues. You get the feeling that they would not have become as good at Arsenal as they currently are.


It´s a fact that any decent Academy will only ever produce one of two top class players per season at most. But of course having a strong youth base provides the basis for producing such players.

Without a doubt Arsenal produce a few world class players, some very good players, a lot of decent players and some average part-timers.

One example who comes to mid is Juan, he never made it at Arsenal but has done very well for himself back in Brazil and is currently playing with Santos alongside Neymar and is one of their top players.


Hard, cruel world of professional football.


I do think the Academy is producing better players since the class of 06′. The youth potential since then suggest more than 2 players can make the grade at the Arsenal or has already made it(Wilshere) or those that have moved on to the lower league(JET). I do think the current crop of U18s has the potential to produce 4-5 players if not for Arsenal, for a decent European club.

Looking forward to the newer batch of U18s as well. Some really good reviews for those coming in to the U18s.


Young players (and old, for that matter) will always benefit from having other talented players around them. While youngsters do learn a lot from coaches, a buttload of knowledge and skills are gained by watching and playing with/against other talented players. So while Barazite, Merida, etc. didn’t make it at the club, surely their presence benefited Gibbs and the others who do make it. Not every prospect is going to be sprinkled with magic powder and grow into a Fabregas, but those that have that potential need to be surrounded by the right manure so as to flourish. Plant golden… Read more »


I played against Peggy Lokando, as a school a boy around the age of about 13/14, he was terrific and scored a hat trick in the first 30mins, then got sent off for telling the ref to “f off” who was actually a teacher from his own school… Which was great for me as I was the poor bastard supposedly marking him!!!

[…] 来源:[Arseblog News] by JEORGEBIRD […]


Lovely piece.
I quite like the fact that I now can follow Fran Merida without having to dread him having a bad game. Only problem is, that he doesn’t get a lot of games…
He’s good i patches (and we all know how a fantastic term that is 🙂 ).

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