Arsenal 6-0 Sheffield United.
Quite a scoreline even for a normal match. Yet this wasn’t a normal match. This was a Carling Cup match. And a Carling Cup match with Arsenal involved usually equates to youngsters, and lots of them. Against a strong Sheffield United side.
Whilst other Premiership sides stuggled against lower league oppostion [Watford 1-0 West Ham, Liverpool 2-1 Crewe, Burnley 1-0 Fulham], Arsenal showed the class and the potential of their youngsters. Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has said this latest crop are his “best ever”. Is this true or an overreaction?
It seems as though the Arsenal youth players could soon be fulfilling the potential many of us have often seen while playing Football Manager. Carlos Vela, the Mexican teenager, burst onto the scene with a hat-trick, while the senior-for-the-night-at-20 Nicklas Bendtner grabbed a brace.
The bonus was that there was several British players on show for the Young gunners as well. 17-year-olds Aaron Ramsey and Henri Lansbury were impressive, while 16-year-old Jack Wilshere scored the fifth goal, leading Blades boss Kevin Blackwell to point out the bright future for the kids:
He [Wenger] has gone around the world to pick out the best – but there are also four or five top-class English kids in there so that can only bode well for the future of the national team.
Arsenal produce young players and integrate them into their squad, some say at the cost of silverware. When we look at the current first team, there are former “youth” players in their early/mid-20s playing regularly. Theo Walcott is still just 19. Denilson and Nicklas Bendtner are 20. Johan Djourou, Alexandre Song and the excellent Cesc Fabregas are still only 21. Abou Diaby, 22.
Wenger has fine-tuned the art of production-line youngsters, but is this current crop the best he has ever had? They reached the 2007 Carling Cup final, are Arsenal’s new Wenger Boys going to go one better and bring silverware to the Emirates for the first time since 2005?