Jack Wilshere, Alex, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, and I’m going to add Theo Walcott and Calum Chambers to this article. What does the future hold for Arsenal’s most well known British contingent?
For some it’s time to start showing they are at the Arsenal level, and others still have time on their side. Let me dissect it a little from a personal point of view. I don’t expect to be right about all of it, or indeed even a little bit. But from what is going at present with these lads, this is what I can see happening in future – or what needs to happen should they all stay at Arsenal.
While there are young British guys like Dan Crowley, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Stefan O’Connor and Chuba Akpom on the up, I’ll focus on those mentioned above today only.
So here I break it down, player by player.
For a time, he was seemingly the prince awaiting the Arsenal throne. But injuries have continually curtailed him reaching that potential. Some say he’s stagnated in his development, and others only seem to find time to criticise his every action on and off the field. But I ask you – has he had 6 full months where he hasn’t suffered an injury or setback in the last 3 years? He isn’t quite Diaby yet, and I think he deserves a chance to get fully fit even if that takes a while.
I wrote an article a few years back saying that I feared Jack Wilshere’s career could suffer from injuries; much like Michael Owen’s did. He still has time on his side to improve and become fully fit and crack on in my opinion. If there is any more about him in the tabloids for smoking or anything non football-related, then sadly, his days at Arsenal may be numbered. Which I’m sure most of us would hate to see. Three years ago he was utterly unsellable but now people are running thin on patience. It’s sad, but let’s hope he can turn it around.
The improved left-back with the cleanest of tackles, has seen Nacho Monreal take the front seat this season. At 25 you have to wonder if he has reached his level. Another Arsenal boy we all love but I’d be lying to you if I said I’d keep him and not buy a better player if he came along. He has to be hands down better – not just Monreal better. I love Kieran personally, and maybe he will stay on as a back-up, but if we were to buy someone like Ricardo Rodriguez from Wolfsburg, who’s 4 years Gibbs junior, I wouldn’t think twice about it.
Maybe at 25 his best football is ahead of him – but if we are an Arsenal side striding for bigger and better things, I’m not sure of his place in the side. That’s not to say Monreal is a guarantee either. But talking about the British lads, this is the opinion I’m going with. Realistically, defending man-on-man he’s good, and going forward, he’s decent too. But he needs to be better and more consistent than that. I’m not saying he needs to be Ashley Cole to stay at Arsenal, but maybe a full season as undisputed number 1 left-back would see the best of him.
The childhood Arsenal fan. The boy has passion, and can deliver a decent cross – but let’s be honest – that’s where the buck stops for the most part. This season out on loan may be the best thing for him. He can and has developed his game and learned the grind that Sam Allardyce sides have. Funnily enough, with Calum Chambers being prepped for a centre-back role in the future, and with Debuchy 30 next year, the only thing potentially keeping him from a chance at right-back is Hector Bellerin. Now, if Debuchy isn’t around in 18 months time for whatever reason, then young Carl has every chance to be a back up right-back to Bellerin.
Maybe he can have another season on loan next season. But maybe, in all honesty, we sell him off. There is a chance it could go the way I’ve written it here. If it weren’t for the way in which Bellerin has come along this season, I’d be pretty sure Jenkinson still would have a future at Arsenal (that’s if we didn’t go shopping for another right-sided defender in the summer). Whatever happens, I, like many, will always wish him the best of luck.
Arsené Wenger said he has been brought to be a future centre-back, and his performances at the position suggest that’s where he will play. I recall seeing many a Southampton fan on Twitter being “more unhappy about losing Chambers than Shaw.” Now, I’m not too sure if that was based off his performances for them at right-back last season or not, as I don’t think he played in the centre of defence for them, but if it was, I don’t know what they were on about. He’s completely out of his depth at right-back for me. And only in emergencies should he play there in future. Every time I think of Jefferson Montero I fear for Calum Chambers ankles, and our defence.
That’s not to say he can’t grow in to the roll. But from what I’ve seen, he’s decent at centre-back anyway. And at his age, he could be good in either position. Probably the one on the list (bar The Ox,) who will be at the club longest out of any other, depending on how he goes, and because of age. But if this season is anything to go by, Calum Chambers has a bright future at Arsenal football club.
Bar a badly timed setback, he has started to come in to his own this season. Recently his goal against Monaco, and his assist for Monreal, makes me think we are looking at the real deal here. His future lies in the centre of the park yet he’s so damaging on the wings still, we would be fools not to utilise to that ability. He gets the nod over Theo for most, he’s a more complete footballer and for many, he really has Arsenal passion – the only player at the club who showed up to the recent screening of The Invincibles documentary. Why no one else showed up bothers me, but that’s a whole other matter.
At 21 we have a long time ahead to see what Alex is capable of and if the snippets of this season are anything to go by, we have a proper player on our hands here. How good The Ox wants to be is up to him. He just needs to fully develop and find his fitness and consistency and I think he will be fine. A break out season may be near and a long Arsenal career ahead in my opinion.
Scoring the winning goal in a cup final sets his name in stone. He’s a part of Arsenal folklore now, and off the back of one of the best seasons individually of any Arsenal player in recent memory, you can be sure, if he’s fit. He’s a sure thing to still be here for years to come. Maybe he won’t reach the heights of last season any time soon but could you be mad at him for that? Considering he missed three months of the season right in the middle, to come back and do what he did was just incredible. This season has been a bit of a stutter step for Aaron – every time he looks like he may get back in to form, he props up with another injury.
Had you said two years ago his place at the club was more assured than Jack Wilshere, some would have spat their dinner out right in front of you. Fast forward 24 months and that’s the truth. If, IF, Aaron Ramsey can find the level of football of last season ever again, and be that talismanic player he was, then there is every reason to believe we have a world class midfielder in our side looking forward. It would take a drastic downtown in fortunes to see him leave Arsenal in the next few years, so for me, he’s here to stay for the long term.
Twelve months out can do a lot mentally to a player as much as physically. After a setback, Theo came back and was right amongst the goals – yet he cannot get a look in now. He lacks defensive cover in his game; and while he is a threat going forward, it’s a risk playing him in any situation where we aren’t in need of a goal. There is not much to his game bar get in behind the defence. That could spell trouble for his Arsenal career. Like I mentioned above, Oxlade-Chamberlain is a more complete footballer than Theo, and was getting the nod over him prior to getting injured the other night.
But now is Walcott’s chance. I don’t think he has much time to refine his game, he still has pace to burn and he needs to use that. He’s decent in front of goal, and is a massive threat on the counter, he just needs to prove that he’s worth keeping at the club. The season before getting injured, he was pretty much our most valuable player in terms of what he did on the pitch – scoring and assisting regularly. If Theo would only track back a little more, than his Arsenal future may be a little more safe. And with contract talks coming around again, you wonder if we are seeing the last of Walcott’s nine year stay with the club. I’d rather hope he is still around in years to come and be a vital part of this team. It would be weird to see him in another shirt – especially in the Premier League. Personally, I hope he stays – I want to see him celebrate a trophy on the pitch with the club and he still has something to offer I’m sure. But in my heart of hearts, I do fear his time may be up.
On the whole, Arsenal’s British contingent are a pretty decent bunch. You can’t be sure who’s here come the start of next season for a few names on this list. But what is sure is those holding down regular first team places are quality, young British lads with bags of potential and a lot of offer, and that’s something to be excited about if you ask me.
By ‘#ABW Regular Columnist’ Jake Arsenal (@JakeArsenal1)