Football is not a matter of life or death, it is more important than that

Arsenal Young Guns

Someone sort of famous once said, "you'll never win anything with kids" and like all such bold statements he was really shown to be wrong. Age is just a number and talent will always prevail. Arsenal football club it appears is now a breeding ground for the next generation of football finest. Cesc, Theo, Nasri, Bendtner, Song, Denilson to just six are regular first team players and not one is over 21 years of age. Not sure as they are all full internationals if they still count as kids, but somehow I guess they will be if we win nothing again this year.
 
However like every Arsenal fan the world over, this week has not been about those old timers, it has been about the next generation, the platinum generation, the best collection of wonder kids ever collected by our club. The Arsenal academy has been around for quite a few years now, it has in some ways already produced, or maybe refined, quite a number of Arsenal and Premiership players, but maybe with this current lot we are finally seeing the first real collection of players from this source. Others maybe have been just one offs, and would have made it anywhere, but these kids are Arsenal created. Maybe the first full production of "Brady Babes" or Wengers Wonders". Some found from the four corners of the world, some from just round the corner but nearly all with Arsenal inside them, instilled over a number of years.
 
But just who will make it, Thomas, Simpson, Ramsey, Randall, Lansbury, Perez, Wilshire, Vela and Hoyte are just 9 of them, but who, if any, will actually make it, who will make it big time, and is there one who could end up being a god, a truly world class player. Of those mentioned, Vela and Wilshire would be the bookies favorites, but I remember only a year ago reading that Henri Lansbury was the one, and of course Jay Simpson won the Championship player of the year award only last may while on loan at Millwall. My point is this, no one really knows who, if any, of these young men will develop into the player they all have the potential to be. Statistics clearly show that most of them will never make the top level, or if they do, it will not last, history is packed with fallen potential.
 
What is also so interesting about the Arsenal kids, is that they have not even won an FA Youth Cup, that honor currently belongs to Manchester City, so are they really that good. Equally a number of other clubs are saying they have the next big thing at their club, Baxter & Rodwell at Everton, Antwi, Hobbs & Lindfield at Liverpool and Moses and Scannell at Crystal Palace are just three examples. Which of course could mean a really bright future for the game in this country, or it could mean that we are all so desperate for the next big thing that any glimmer of a star is rushed to the top only to be shot back down, in the true English manner.
 
So as I write this on the 26th of September 2008 I make the following predictions:
Of the list of new kids named above 5 will play for the first team this season excluding the Carling Cup
At least one of them will play at the World Cup in South Africa
Jack Wilshire will score for the first team this season, outside of the Carling Cup
Jack Wilshire will play at least once for England in the same team as Theo
Finally Jose Baxter will not be at Everton in 5 years time.  

© 2008 Paul Kavanagh. All rights reserved.