By Rob Kelly
Over the past 12 months, many of the Club’s rising young stars have made the breakthrough to the Arsenal first team.
Their progress represents a glowing endorsement of the good work put in by all the staff at youth and reserve team level and points to an exciting future for Arsenal.
Here we look back at those who appeared for the Gunners first team in 2011:
WOJCIECH SZCZESNY (AGED 21)
Strictly speaking the commanding, charismatic Pole made his first-team debut in December 2010, at Old Trafford no less, but 2011 has been his real breakthrough year. His stratospheric rise has seen him recognised by many as a future great, and he has firmly established himself between the sticks for Arsenal. Arsène Wenger recently praised the 21-year-old’s progress, saying he had the potential to become “one of the best [in the world]”.
EMMANUEL FRIMPONG (19)
The Ghanaian-born midfielder has already acquired cult status among Gunners fans for his all-action style and boisterous personality after making his first-team debut against Newcastle in August. Wenger has outlined his determination to harness his raw potential, saying: “He's a real fighter. You would love to go to war [alongside] Frimpong. He has a good mixture of confidence, humility and energy. He learns as well.”
IGNASI MIQUEL (19)
Highly regarded in Reserves, the Spanish centre back has impressed as part of Wenger’s first-team squad after making his debut against Leyton Orient in February. Despite often being asked to play out of position at left-back, Miquel has made his mark and the manager has already indicated the teenager has the quality to play regularly at the very highest level.
CHUKS ANEKE (18)
When a manager such as Wenger compares you to one of the best midfielders in the world, you know you have a bright future. The 18-year-old – who came on as a substitute against Shrewsbury Town in the Carling Cup in September - has clearly made quite an impression. “Chuks is a bit like Yaya Toure – he has body power and good technique,” Wenger said.
OGUZHAN OZYAKUP (19)
The Dutch youth international has long shone at reserve-team level and made the step up into Wenger’s plans this term after coming off the bench against Shrewsbury. The technically-astute midfielder was also named in the squad for the Champions League trip to Olympiacos.
CONOR HENDERSON (20)
The young midfielder made a good impression on his debut against Leyton Orient, prompting Wenger to say: “He did well and showed that technically he is of the level we request here. He has a nice, smooth left foot and has a good physical build.” However, Henderson damaged his cruciate ligaments in July and is not expected to return until the New Year.
NICO YENNARIS (18)
The versatile midfielder was thrown into first-team action against Bolton in the Carling Cup in October, making an encouraging debut with a combative, enthusiastic display. The England Under-19 international can play in midfield, at right back or in central defence and has shown he has a bright future.
DANIEL BOATENG (19)
A powerful central defender, Boateng was handed his first-team bow as a substitute against Bolton in the Carling Cup and recently signed a new contract with the Club. The challenge for the 19-year-old now is to push on and establish a place in Wenger’s plans on a long-term basis.