We have all seen Arsene Wenger’s stubbornness time and again when it comes to his irksome transfer policy and this season is no different. However unlike in the past few seasons when the squad list often looked threadbare and completely lacking in talent on the bench, there exists an air of anticipation for the next generation of Arsenal talents who have a foot in the door of first team appearances, the most promising of whom are listed below:
The brilliant German youth international joined Arsenal from VfB Stuttgart and quickly established himself in the reserve team, scoring two goals in six appearances including a couple of stunners for the Under-18s last season. More recently, his performances on Arsenal’s pre-season tour have been very impressive to say the least.
Raw pace, trickery, exceptional technical ability and an excellent eye for a defense-splitting pass are attributes the young sprinter-turned-footballer shares with exciting names like David Silva, Christiano Ronaldo as well as many other accomplished forwards. Where he could potentially trump his more talented seniors however is in his build, at an average height well above 5 ft 6’ he has a stocky build that belies his sprinting prowess. This translates to the even more important capacity to retain possession which is an essential trait in an Arsenal midfielder. Now that he’s eighteen and chaffing at the bit, Emirates Stadium indeed could be his oyster if his manager sticks with his usual policy of going with promising youngsters and giving him the much needed playing time.
Another German import who predominantly plays in the middle, Eisfeld is the archetypal Arsenal wonderkid. His intelligent reading of play and ability to influence proceedings from the middle, were evident on introduction into the fray in Arsenal’s 12-goal thriller against Reading last season, coming on at 4-1 down, his invaluable contribution to play and intricate passing helped Arsenal unlock Reading’s hitherto near-impregnable defense on their way to the historic win. His ability to get in among the goals upfront was shown in his performance for Arsenal on the pre-season tour of Asia and he also has an eye for the spectacular as seen in his goal for Arsenal’s Under-21 side against Liverpool.
Perhaps the most assured of a role with the gunners this season, the young Nigerian striker who has been described as “not being able to stop scoring for Arsenal at whatever level” has landed on both feet in his recent run in Arsenal’s first team. The 17-year-old who has a prolific record for Arsenal under-21s, has scored 3 goals in 2 matches on their Asian tour and looks set to be make the transition to the big stage. A pacey and physical striker Akpom also possesses technique that has earned him comparison to Arsenal great Thierry Henry and he has reportedly been watched several times by Barcelona scouts. If Gervinho’s move to Roma goes through and Wenger persists with his bullish stance on recruiting an established striker then this young man is certain to benefit from any potential gaps in the squad by the inevitable injury scourge in December.
Backed by a glowing endorsement from Manager Arsene Wenger and Midfielder Jack Wilshere to be the next big thing in Arsenal, Gedion Zelalem inches closer to a first team appearance for the gunners. His technique and vision is far beyond his years though he still has quite a bit of work to do on his physique, his through ball against Nagoya Grampus for Theo Walcott’s goal was a glaring pointer to his ingenuity on the ball. Wilshere’s gushing plaudits was expressed in the following words: “He drifts in and out of players, he can use his left and right and sees so many passes, he’s quite a strong lad and technically he’s right up there, he’s a good one for the future.” Attributes which an expert coach like Wenger can build on to deliver perhaps Arsenal’s most exciting midfielder for a long time to come.