There have been a number of success stories from the Arsenal youth system notably Cesc Fabregas, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Gael Clichy, and Ashley Cole. I refuse to put Wojciech Szczesny on this list because I am yet to be convinced of his talent and besides, there was really no competition ahead of him if you consider Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski were the only ones ahead of him.
However, majority of those who play for the Arsenal youth set up seem to fall through the cracks. Wenger only goes for the exceptional but what constitutes exceptional talent when Flamini is also promoted to first team football? The players I was sure would make it included Sebastian Larsson, Tomas Eisfeld, and Kristoffer Olsson. I was surprised about Larsson because he seemed to have the talent to succeed but the departure that shocked me the most was Tomas Eisfeld.
Everything was shocking about Eisfeld from his arrival to his departure. He arrived from Borussia Dortmund’s team B with such a bad injury record that he had only played a handful of games and came to Arsenal nursing an injury. What was even more interesting was that Arsenal had been associated with one Mario Gotze. It was such a sure deal that rumours had moved to other players as there was no point of talking about Gotze anymore.
Anyway, suffice to say, it was Eisfeld who arrived at Arsenal, got over his injury records and began to do a decent job at Arsenal scoring a lot of goals in the process albeit in pre-season. He made a big impression in Arsenal’s win over Reading in the Capital One cup over Sheffield United in 2012. It was only a matter of time before he became a permanent fixture in the first team before he suddenly departed for Fulham.
Benik Afobe is the latest player to leave Arsenal for pastures new namely Wolverhampton Wanderers. At 21 years old he was the right age to break in to the Arsenal first team proving that he had what it takes to succeed with a prolific scoring record with Arsenal’s under 18’s as well as during a loan spell with League one side MK Dons.
Obviously scoring goals is not an absolute pre-requisite for Arsene Wenger as evidenced by Afobe, Eisfeld and even first teamer Lukas Podolski so what does one need to have to succeed in Arsenal?