Gooners need to be realistic about Project Youth

By Buddy Berg

Anyone notice who got sent off last night for West Brom?

Yep, that’s right, Jerome Thomas, one of the great hopes of Arsenal FC a few years ago who has drifted since being sold to Charlton, onto QPR, Portsmouth and now WBA.

An England under-21 starlet, the fact that some of us Gooners had to double check it was him shows how easily a player can fall despite great early hopes.

Three years ago, Arsenal reached the Carling Cup final.

There was lots of hype before the game about Gilles Sunu and Sanchez Watt and we have to bear in mind that it was their debut.

But both of them looked to be all power and no craft and that, sadly, won’t be good enough for the Premiership.

The same has to be said of Armand Traore who seems to have bulked up a bit too much and disappointed on the left flank. His replacement, Nacer Barazite, certainly made a difference but could he cut it at the highest level? I doubt it.

Chesney looked mostly assured in goal, apart from a couple of crosses that he fumbled, and the centre backs did what we would expect of them against this level of opposition.

Kerrea Gilbert? Gone backwards since his run in the side four years ago and from looking like a real prospect, you can see why Southend and Leicester City were the level of clubs after him in recent years.

They say good players play better with good players, and in Aaron Ramsey’s case, that is true. He stepped up in the last 20 minutes but before that, it was not his finest performance. I agree with other Addicts though, who predict an exceptional future for the young Welshman.

The star was, of course, Jack Wilshere, whose control of the ball, aggression and determination set up way above almost everyone else of his age in the country.

Equally, Francis Coquelin had a steady game sitting in front of the back four, tidying up whenever necessary while Carlos Vela showed that when he is fit, he can make a difference and deserves to feature with the first team more regularly as he proves his fitness.

Of Wilshere, Ramsey, Coquelin and Vela all rack up 150 appearances for Arsenal, I think we can call that a good batch.

With money tight, there is so much pressure on these kids and another home tie against a lower league team would be of great benefit as they get used to a higher level of football.

But let’s get a dose of reality and not expect last night’s team to be world beaters.

If only two or three make it and the rest get decent Premiership or Championship careers, that’s fine by me – the Fabrice Muambas and Seb Larssons pays for the next batch.

After all, and when the standards are so high even D*vid C*ntley can’t get into the squad, yet is capped by England and has to move down the road and a lower standard of football, you appreciate what exacting standards we have.