Arsenal are often criticised for having too many foreign players, Wenger has been accused in the past of ignoring the talents of young British players. The likes of Matthew Upson and David Bentley were both forced to move on as result of a lack of first-team opportunities. However, from their youth set-up there is a promising group of young English players emerging. The likes of Jack Wilshere, Mark Randall and Luke Freeman are all exciting prospects. Another player that has been showing a great deal of potential is Henri Lansbury, who is currently on loan at Watford.
A central midfielder who can also play on the right of midfield and defence, Lansbury has been considered an exciting prospect for some time now. His career in the Arsenal first-team has been limited to four appearances in the League Cup, but he has enjoyed successful loan spells with Scunthorpe United and now at Watford. At Scunthorpe last season, Lansbury did very well with four goals in sixteen appearances before his season was cut short by injury. A creative player with good vision and an eye for goal, Lansbury showed real signs of promise. He moved on loan to Watford where he has excelled after struggling at first; in fourteen appearances he already has two goals and has played key roles in a number of other goals.
Lansbury’s attitude has been questioned in the past; he has been accused of lacking professionalism and of being something of a party-boy. He revealed that the reasons for moving to Watford on loan were more to do with wanting to be close to his friends rather than any sound footballing motives. At 19, he is still young and needs a support system around him, but he must ensure that he has the right sort of people around him; he is at the stage of his development where a loss of focus could be disastrous.
Lansbury’s current deal with Arsenal expires at the end of the season and the club has yet to make a decision on whether or not a new contract will be offered. The signs are good, Wenger is always happy to give youngsters a chance, and Lansbury’s performances with Watford will be doing his cause no harm. Eventually Lansbury will probably have to move on from Arsenal to establish himself in the Premier League as the competition for places is stiff, but he has all the qualities to make a success of himself. Having recently made his first appearance for the England under-21 side, Lansbury’s career is just beginning to take off; if he continues to focus on his game, he could grow into a star.