Famed for an impetus on flamboyant football, some of its alumni include Tony Adams, David Bentley, Ashley Cole, Ray Parlour, Paul Merson, Keiran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, Cesc Fabregas and erm… Paul Dickov.
Arsene Wenger is a manager who eternally focuses on the next generation too, and that combination has seen endless talented youngsters represent the Gunners throughout the years.
So with that in mind, and in a bid to beat the punditry curve, here’s FIVE young Guns within the Emirates ranks you should be looking out for this season.
Joel Campbell emerged as one of the brightest prospects in the Arsenal ranks during the 2014 World Cup, grabbing one assist and one goal in five outings for Costa Rica – including this set-up against Uruguay.
That followed an impressive loan spell at Olympiacos last season, where the flamboyant winger-forward netted an absolute stunner against Manchester United in the Champions League:
After the Gunners rejected several advances from foreign clubs, specifically those in Serie A, during the summer transfer window:
— Express Football (@ExpressFootball) September 11, 2014
…the 22 year-old has been given a taste of first team action at Arsenal this season, with five appearances in all competitions, including a start in the Capital One Cup.
Campbell’s a decent prospect but allegedly disillusioned with his limited playing time, thus far only receiving 37 minutes in the Premier League, there’s already rumours he could exit the Emirates in January:
— FootballFanCast.com (@FootballFanCast) November 6, 2014
Clearly a talented kid however, a loan stint in the Premier League certainly isn’t out of the question and would probably be a sensible move for all parties. Here’s another look at the forward in action:
Like Joel Campbell, right-back Hector Bellerin has been lucky enough to receive some first team exposure this season – predominately due to Mathieu Debuchy’s lengthy injury lay-off.
The Spaniard was thrown in at the deep end, with his full Gunners debut coming against Borussia Dortmund, at Westfalen, in the Champions League. But he’s gone on to produce some decent form in his three senior appearances this term, the stats of which are viewable below:
Picked from Barcelona’s renowned La Masia set-up, where he was labelled as ‘the next Dani Alves’ for his trickery and contribution going forward, the 19 year-old is highly-rated around the Emirates.
He’s also famed for breaking Theo Walcott’s 40m speed record in training, making him the fastest player in Arsenal’s squad, and boasts 20 caps for Spain across the junior levels.
Here’s Bellerin in action for Arsenal’s development squad:
With Arsenal’s defensive depth already stretched to its maximum, the Spanish full-back, who enjoyed a brief eight-game loan spell with Watford last year, will likely receive further game-time this season, so keep an eye on his development.
Gedion Zelalem is probably the most hyped and anticipated youngster currently in Arsenal’s academy set-up.
The young playmaker’s development has been tracked by Gunners fans for some time and he’s impressed on the north London outfit’s pre-season tours over the last few years, particularly Asia 2013, in addition to a brief substitute outing during the summer’s Community Shield.
Indeed, Arsene Wenger’s already billed the 17 year-old as a ‘great player‘ for the future, whilst the Guardian’s David Hynter labelled him as ‘the next Cesc Fabregas‘ back in January. Here’s a clip of the midfielder in action:
Like the former Gunners captain, he comes with incredible vision and a seemingly unbreakable calmness, but Premier League football still seems a little way off – Zelalem is rather slight, and measures in at just 5 foot 11.
Don’t doubt his potential however; Berlin-born, Ethiopian in heritage and having undergone much of his development in the United States, where Wenger stumbled across him, the midfielder already has Germany and Team USA feuding over his future services.
Currently however, Zelalem, whose only first team outing for Arsenal thus far came in the FA Cup last season, has represented Die Mannschaft on eleven occasions across the youth levels.
Arsenal have already invested £200k in young midfielder Dan Crowley, utilising the privileges of the Elite Player Performance Plan to cherry-pick him from Aston Villa’s academy.
He certainly shares the England international’s blend of feistiness and eloquence, particularly famed for his ability to glide past opponents in central areas. And like Wilshere, Crowley’s impressed the pundits with his performances at No.10 for the Arsenal U21 squad.
Incredibly, he’s still just 16 years of age. Here’s a clip of the teenager in action:
Dubbed a future star for both Arsenal and England – currently, he’s the shining star of the Junior Lions’ U17 squad – Crowley’s already grabbed Roy Hodgson’s attention. The England boss saw fit to officially greet the midfielder at St. George’s Park last November.
He’s still some way off Premier League action, but could make an appearance in the FA Cup later this season.
Isaac Hayden’s already earned his first call-up to senior affairs at the Emirates this season, with a surprise inclusion in the Arsenal side that lost 2-1 to Southampton in the Capital One Cup.
That marked his second appearance for the Gunners but there could be more to follow, with the north London outfit struggling for bodies at the back.
The 19 year-old boasts impressive versatility, featuring most commonly as a centre-half or defensive midfielder, but also capable of being utilised as a right-back. Here’s a look at Hayden in action on Arsenal’s pre-season tour:
With a powerful 6 foot 2 frame, he already meets the physical requisites of the Premier League but technically, is a little behind the rest of the players on this list.
That hasn’t stunted the teenager’s career thus far however; he’s one of the Arsenal youth squad’s flagship performers, even captaining on occasion, and has represented England at every level from the U16s to U20s, picking up 21 junior caps in total.
Already included in match-day squads to face Manchester United and Liverpool last season, the current campaign could witness the Englishman’s awaited breakthrough.