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Today I will take a look at those who featured in the Carling Cup win and pick the 5 players whom I think have a chance to proceed to a first team place. Those 5 are Wojciech Szczescny, Francis Coquelin, Mark Randall, Sanchez Watt and Nacer Barazite. Two Englishmen, one Pole, one French and one Dutchman.

Wojciech Szczescny

Country : Poland

Position : Goalkeeper

Age : 19

Arsenal since : Aug 1st 2007

Young goalkeeper who is perhaps most famous for breaking both hands at the same time. It was only revealed by Arsene Wenger this week that the incident occurred during gym training when the weight he was carrying drop on both of his hands. Wenger showed faith in him by picking him for the pre-season tour of Austria and Germany. Like others at Arsenal, he is an excellent shot stopper. However also like others, he is weak when dealing with high balls and crosses. Already emulated his father’s feat by getting called up by Poland in the recent round of international matches but did not feature. With 2 young keepers ahead of him in Fabianski and Mannone, he will have to show all his qualities when the chance presents itself to thrust his credentials to the fore.

Francis Coquelin

Country : France

Position : Defensive Midfielder

Age : 18

Arsenal since : Jul 22nd 2008

Combative and tigerish midfielder who also possesses wonderful ball control. From the reserves and youth cup games that I’ve seen, he puts himself about and always try to release the ball quickly. He is not particularly tall but have scored a few headers. Probably the highest chance of the 5 to advance to the next stage considering this is the only position where Wenger do not have tonnes of option. After Song there is only Denilson but the Brazilian have always shown himself to be a more forward type of player. Coquelin will need to step up his stamina if he is to maintain his style of play in the Premiership where the pace of the game is quite taxing.

Mark Randall

Country : England

Position : Midfielder

Age : 20

Arsenal since : Jul 1st 2006

The Englishman has been one of the mainstay of the reserves side for a couple of years now. Made his Arsenal debut in the Carling Cup and has pretty much stayed there ever since. Certainly for Wenger, Randall’s status is a puzzling one. Not quite good enough for the first team and certainly better than the reserves. His major blocking point are those ahead of him. There isin’t another club in the league that has the talents that Arsenal have in midfield. Randall is not a speedy player and do not seem to suite playing on the flanks. Started out as an attacking player but has evolved into a Michael Carrick type of player. Box to box with a wide range of passing. Packs a punch when taking freekicks as well. Toughest task of the 5 and only a dramatic twist of events can propel him to a first team place. Shame really.

Sanchez Watt

Country : England

Position : Winger / Striker

Age : 18

Arsenal since : Jul 31st 2007

Sanchez Watt was the toast of the Youth team that captured the 08/09 championship. His goals in the final against Liverpool put him immediately in the thoughts of Arsene Wenger. Pacy and quick of the mark, Watt possesses a deadly and powerful left foot. Showed his tenacity in the Emirates Cup earlier in the season when he harried and won the ball of a player who tried to sherperd the ball out of play. He subsequently set up Arshavin for a goal. Looks to be the latest player that Wenger will keep a close eye on his progress. Still relatively young and has plenty of time to mature with his game and build his upper body strength against far stronger opponents in the Premiership.

Nacer Barazite

Country : Holland

Position : Winger / Striker

Age : 19

Arsenal since : Jul 31st 2006

The Dutchman has scored for Arsenal in consecutive opening pre-season games against Barnet. He is typical of so many of the players that Wenger has brought through. From Thierry Henry to Robin Van Persie, Barazite can operate as a wide player as well as centrally in a striking position. Nifty footwork allows him to skip past players easily. Has grown great upper body strength lately and looks to have matured since his year long loan at Derby County last season. Reminds me a lot of a young Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Again, like Randall, Barazite will struggle to get into the first team considering the players at Wenger’s disposal. An exciting player who can be the difference in those tightly matched game. Magical moments are not unusual for this young fella. Has consistenly appeared for Holland in the age-group competitions as well. Certainly expected to do better than a certain ex Dutch youngster (Quincy Owusu Abeyie)

So that’s it. The 5 that I think would most likely make the breakthrough. There are others who played that night but in my opinion have already put themselves firmly in Wenger’s plan. We already know about Gibbs and Wilshere. How these players will go from here is up to their determination and for some, a certain bit of luck is needed.

Jul 22nd 2008

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