Zelalem’s return timely for Arsenal U23s

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Gedion Zelalem made his first Arsenal appearance since January 2017 this week, with the midfielder featuring as a substitute against Cheltenham Town in the Checkatrade Trophy.

The game may not have gone to plan, with Arsenal, who went down to ten men early on, losing 6-2, but for Zelalem, who has endured much misfortune with injury, it was a significant occasion.

Zelalem, as was to be expected, looked a little rusty, but there were still some hints of the quality that saw him stand out as such a talented prospect in the first place as he played some slick passes.

Arsenal will undoubtedly tread carefully with Zelalem’s comeback for fear of him suffering yet another setback.

When he does start to become increasingly involved, however, Zelalem could well have a significant part to play for an Arsenal U23 side that has struggled in a creative sense in recent games.

Emile Smith Rowe is playing and thriving for the first-team in cup matches but that has meant he hasn’t been available for Freddie Ljungberg’s side for most of their matches of late.

Robbie Burton has had some encouraging performances but was sent off against Cheltenham and there is certainly a void that Zelalem could fill once he is back up to speed.

It remains to be seen just how much Zelalem’s injuries have affected his game, but his penchant for unlocking defences with precise through balls remains very much intact.

By the end of the season Arsenal will have to make a decision on Zelalem’s future, with his contract expiring in the summer.

For now, though, it is simply a case of him continuing to build up his fitness and getting playing time when possible.

Should he be fully sharp by then, there is a possibility that Zelalem could head out on loan in Janaury, but prior to that he could have an important part to play for the U23s.

Jeorge Bird is the author of www.arsenalyouth.wordpress.com Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird

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santori
santori

Hopefully he can resuscitate his former potential. There is room in midfield for an Elneny upgrade.

Plenty of young players now coming through to first team forming a new wave of Academy graduates and/or British core :

Bellerin at 23yrs was the first of this new crop followed by Iwobi who is still only 22.

We also have AMN and now potentially Pleggy both 21yrs.

Also in running Nketiah, Nelson and Smith-Rowe all U19. Smith Rowe IMO is the reason why we are not terribly concern with Ramsey (plus we have Both Ozil and Mhkiatryan already in similar role..if anything we are overloaded in that area)

dim1
dim1

my favourite player

Lucas Sam
Lucas Sam

Really liked the guy and expected him to succed. Has a really good eye for a killer pass. Now that he’s behind some youngsters in the picking order and the hype, he should focus and recover first in the u23. I still believe he can make it at Arsenal and be a late bloomer. Just look at where Giroud was at that age.

Kiptonui
Kiptonui

There are players you just can’t help but wish they succeeded. Zelalem is one for me, whether with us or elsewhere. God speed son.

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia
Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

Far from same quality as Ozil but both are nonchalant by nature.

Mesut O'Neill
Mesut O'Neill

He’ll be 22 in 2 months. Surely his chance is gone. Weak & injury prone, them days are past us.

Pedant
Pedant

You are probably right given how few youngsters do come through, despite the hype (he is like Cesc…) that happens.

However, life is rarely a straight line (see comedian Micky Flanagan’s life/career for that) so let’s hope he can do it.