Is Eastmond Wenger's next jewel?

By Avenell Dave

The one thing that worries me about the current Arsenal squad is what happens when we get injuries to key players.

Robert Pires was out for almost a season a few years back when he was over-played - a situation you would imagine Arsene Wenger was most capable of avoiding given his strict analysis of individual fitness and stringent regimes.

The centre-backs and central midfielders are so unchallenged and so much better than their understudies that to rest players is almost impossible.

And we saw, certainly against West Ham, a level of fatigue and lack of determination that comes when a delicate balance of players are not rotated to ensure they remain fresh and hungry.

Alex Song is one of those players. He will be off in January for the African Cup of Nations and while Denilson may well be fit by then, we need more strength in that position.

Blaise Matuidi has been mentioned as a possible signing, but in Craig Eastmond and Francis Coquelin, we have two players who could certainly do the destroyer role in years to come.

It says much for Eastmond that he kept the more celebrated Coquelin out of the starting eleven and how he showed why!

Wenger loves his full backs to bound forward with pace and the fact that he has revealed that Eastmond lacks a little speed but has been reverted to midfield suggests Le Boss sees something in the player.

He may be raw, but with a physical presence that belied his years, he was one of the stars of the Arsenal team last night and underlined the hard work that Liam Brady and his team have done to nurture young talent in readiness for the first team.

Even without star youngsters Carlos Vela and Jack Wilshere, we looked far more comfortable as a side and even though defensively the old demons of failing to clear were there for all to see, getting into the next round is a great fillip for the club.

My fellow Addict author Graham McNorthbank has been going on about Fran Merida for years and perhaps now, following his stunning strike last night, he too will start pushing for the first team.

He certainly has the talent but something has been missing and having resisted the chance to farm him out on loan, Wenger now needs to utilise him and sign him up to a new contract before we get another Flamini-esque situation.

Somehow, I suspect we'll be drawn against T*tt*nh*m or M*n*ure away in the next round, or even the Ch*vs but having got this far, thye experience the players have and will get in the next game is worth three months at a Championship level club.

I'm already excited about Saturday - let's teach Mr Robbie Keane and Co some manners.