Arsène Wenger has an adage – ‘if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.’
Sadly, that seems to have been misinterpreted at Emirates as ‘if you’re young enough, you’ll get a game’.
Watching the Reserves last night, I noted that with the exception of Francis Coquelin and of course, Eduardo, most of the team formed the spine of our Carling Cup side this season.
It’s hard to know how much you can learn from Reserve games, especially when virtually the same side was beaten by Burnley two weeks ago.
I went on Arsenal’s Austrian tour a few years ago and a couple of young lads stood out, both on trial.
One was a tall gangling midfielder who reminded me of Kanu with bite. In the end, Wenger didn’t sign Yaya Toure and I was disappointed.
The other was a slight left back who seemed to have problems with concentration – our very own Gael Clichy, whose focus is still at times in question.
Last night most of the focus was on Eduardo and he did reasonably well considering it was his first game back. It is such a relief to see the Crozilian in action and I can already see him making a big impact on those around him. He has intelligence and flair and we are missing that at present.
But I was yet again inspired by a couple of the younger players; Jack Wilshere and Coquelin.
Wilshere is top class and isn’t going to need two or three seasons to get himself up to the pace or intensity of the Premiership. Wilshere reminds me of a combination of Joe Cole and Shrek R**ney and that is an exciting prospect.
Of course, the problem for us is that Wenger seems reluctant to blood him even when he has nothing but leaden-footed central midfielders to play out wide – and Manu Eboue.
I don’t doubt the wisdom of taking it slow with Wilshere, but when games are tight and a fresh pair of legs is required, such as at Boro last weekend, Wilshere could be just the man, I mean boy, to open up tiring defences.
At the moment, we don’t have any other options. Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky are injured, RvP and Eboue have both shown that they don’t prosper out wide and Samir Nasri is, but Wenger’s own admission, suffering too many injuries.
Coquelin impressed me from the first moment I saw him in the opening pre-season game against Barnet. It’s a shame he didn’t get more exposure in the Carling cup because he seems to have a great future ahead of him.
Arsenal.com describe him as ‘in the (Claude) Makelele mould’ and that seems about right, although he showed again last night that he can create as well as simply win the ball.
Of course, before any of you Addicts start lambasting me about the need to buy experience and not rely on kids, I’m with you on that. I’m dreaming of a busy January for new CEO Ivan Gazidis.
But it seems to me that some of the kids currently in the first team aren’t yet good enough, which is even more galling when we have youngsters coming through who possibly deserve more of a chance.