Following his breakthrough season of 2009/10, Craig began the campaign with aspirations of cementing a place in Arsène Wenger’s squad.

His good form for the Reserves was rewarded with three first-team appearances before Christmas, including a first outing in the Champions League when he was named in the starting line-up for a Group Stage match against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Craig headed into his own net to give the hosts an early lead but recovered well and put in an assured display in the ‘holding role’ alongside Jack Wilshere at the heart of the Arsenal engine room.

But opportunities proved to be limited and, after making ten appearances for the Reserves, Craig joined Millwall on loan in January.

The midfielder made his debut in a 2-0 win against Barnsley the following week but struggled to break into Kenny Jackett’s side as they pushed for a play-off place. He made four starts and two substitute appearances before his season was ended in April when he sustained a small fracture to his fibula in training.

Though places in the Arsenal midfield may be hard to come by, don’t be surprised to see Craig force his way into the reckoning at the start of next season.

“I hope I did what Arsène Wenger wanted me to do [against Shakhtar]. I tried to put the own goal to the back of my mind and play the way I play.”

Competition Appearances Goals
League 0 0
FA Cup 0 0
Carling Cup 2 0
Champions League
1 0
Reserve League South 10 0
Championship (while on loan at Millwall)
6 0
Totals 19 0

Craig’s performance on his Champions League debut in the hostile atmosphere of the Donbass Arena showed maturity beyond his tender years.

Craig Eastmond

Craig Eastmond in action against Shakhtar Donetsk

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15 Jun 2011