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Posted: 29/09/2013
By Darren Bowser
Category: Editorial

One to watch (Part 3/4): 'Cementing a place'

In our four part series we ask our panel of writers and guests to discuss which players they foresee having a greater impact / role next season.  Our panel will be considering player potential, rate of development as well as squad issues including: partnerships, competition for places, and team balance – summarising with a round up of expected appearances, impact etc.

The panel:

We welcome David Faber (@TheGoonerholic) from Goonerholic.com, and newly appointed History Editor, AL writer Neil Payne (@NeilPayne) as well as featuring the best reply from our forum.

In part 3 –Cementing a place we discuss which of the squad players can now cement a long-term place in a team.

Neil Payne (@NeilPayne)

With the customary early season injury crisis already in full flow, Carl Jenkinson, one would guess, in much the same way as last season, has a good opportunity to stake a claim for more regular action this term. I thought he showed real signs of improvement at the start of last season but gradually that promise eroded, coinciding with some average performances generally from the team. A natural athlete with limitless energy, Jenkinson has a great attitude, born out of his love for the club as a supporter living out the dream playing for HIS club. In much the same way as Szczesny, it’s his decision-making he needs to develop, at the highest level there simply is no hiding place for rudimentary blunders. He is very willing to drive forward at every opportunity and whilst his crossing can be inconsistent there is much to be admired in his attempts to whip balls in with real pace. The key for Jenkinson to nail down a regular spot may well hinge on Wenger’s use of Bacary Sagna at centre-half on a consistent basis. If that does occur expect no more enthusiastic player then Jenkinson to rise to the challenge.

David Faber (@TheGoonerholic)

I have the benefit of having seen the opening fixtures of the new season and the gift of hindsight points me in the direction of Aaron Ramsey in this category. I would have classified Aaron as a squad player going into his sixth season as a Gunner as many of his 94 starts have been as a wide player rather than in his preferred central midfield role.

It is probably fair to say that Aaron took time to get back to the level of performance that he had shown before his awful injury in 2010. In the second half of last season he started to look like the Aaron of old despite being shunted around from right wing to right back. His performances in two Premiership fixtures and two Champions League qualifiers thus far have earned rave reviews and more than one man-of-the-match award. Already his three goals are just one behind his best return for a season, the infamous 2009/2010.

Replacing the injured Mikel Arteta in the central anchor role, Aaron isn’t afraid to join in with the attack when the situation allows and shows good vision around the edge of the box. At the same time he has clearly worked on the defensive side of his game. His sumptuous side-foot finish against Fenerbahce was the touch of a very confident young player.

Forum member dannyg

A few candidates for this, but I'll go for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.  We all know about his ability, but we're yet to see it on a consistent basis. Easily the most talented of the players outside the starting 11 and probably within the top 5 at the whole club, but now is the time he has to start showing it. The path is relatively clear for him and he could/should flourish this season, providing his current injury isn't too bad.

Editor’s summary

In the category of ‘cementing a place’ it’s no surprise to see 3 players under-23 years of age in the mix. It’s still early in the season but it’s fair to say Aaron Ramsey has already accomplished the task of nailing down a starting role and moreover is quickly moving towards key player status. He has achieved a meteoric rise on the back of a yearlong injury, constant fan/media scrutiny and all at a time the team we were struggling.

The turn around has been underpinned by Aaron’s significant character.  More senior players to Ramsey have seen their careers hugely undermined by similar injuries, think Abou Diaby and Eduardo whom have struggled to get near to the their pre-injury levels on a consistent basis – it’s testament to Ramsey’s courage and workrate that he’s not only comeback but dealt with criticism and rise to the player we hoped he might be at 25 when he joined. He’s there 3 years early, what a turn around.  

And you have to credit Arsene Wenger in this story too, initially playing Aaron wide right didn’t immediately pay dividends but it is Wenger’s faith and belief that has aided his turn around. It all came to fruition having gained a run in his favoured central midfield role towards the end of last season – he provided a better balance than Jack Wilshere and still does so but let's not make the same misjudgment of Jack who is 12 months behind Ramsey and exactly where Aaron was not so long ago.

In not signing a centre back Carl Jenkinson has seen more action than Nacho Monreal, with Bacary moving across. Thomas Vermaelen has returned from injury but with only three centre backs and some daunting run of fixtures ahead it’s fair to say Carl Jenkinson will get plenty playing time.

Alex Oxlade Chamberlain was the player I felt could make the biggest strides. Prior to injuries to both players, Alex started the season wide left ahead of German international teammate Lukas Podolski. He is at the age where I felt he could blow away the inconsistency, which comes with youth, and begin to add more end product to his powerful direct running game.  His challenge may be just where to put him. The arrival of Mesut Ozil certainly pushes him back in the pecking order but the game time enjoyed by Serge Gnabry highlights our injury problems in that department – so provided Alex himself returns without complication he will too get significant game time.  If he adds that end product I believe we have another first choice key player in the making.

Miss our previous article in this series?

Part 1 – Breaking through

Part 2 – Point to prove

Follow our contributors:

@arsenalland – Official AL twitter account
@thegoonerholic – David Faber
@NeilPayne – Neil Payne

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