This week our statistician Josh James looks at Arsenal's all-time youngest players.
When he came off the bench on Wednesday evening, Serge Gnabry became the 40th player under the age of 18 to play for the Arsenal first team.
Aged 17 years and 74 days, the German forward is actually the 12th youngest player ever to represent the Club, and the 809th player overall to play for the Gunners.
Of the forty 16 and 17 year olds to be given a first-team debut, 21 (52.5 per cent) did so under Arsène Wenger.
The League Cup, especially recently, is the most popular time for young players to be blooded. Of the 21 players on the list to be give given their first-team bow by Wenger, all but three made their debut in the League Cup.
Prior to Wenger's arrival only one 16/17 year-old (John Woodward) had their first taste of playing for Arsenal in the League Cup, the others all made their bow in league football.
Whereas the choice of competition for blooding youngsters may have changed over the years, it seems as though venue is unimportant when a manager decides to give a 16/17 year old his first run out. Twenty-five (62.5 per cent) of the players on the list made their debut in an away match, while the other 15 did so at home.
|Player||Age||Competition||Opposition||Venue||Date||AFC Career games||AFC Career goals|
|Cesc Fabregas||16 years 177 days||League Cup||Rotherham United||H||October 28, 2003||303||57|
|Jack Wilshere||16 years 256 days||Premier League||Blackburn Rovers||A||September 13, 2008||64||3|
|Jermaine Pennant||16 years 319 days||League Cup||Middlesbrough||A||November 30, 1999||26||3|
|Gerry Ward||16 years 321 days||League||Huddersfield Town||H||August 22, 1953||84||10|
|Ryan Smith||16 years 352 days||League Cup||Rotherham United||H||October 28, 2003||6||0|
|Armand Traore||17 years 16 days||League Cup||West Bromwich Albion||A||October 24, 2006||32||0|
|Henri Lansbury||17 years 19 days||League Cup||Sheffield United||A||October 31, 2007||8||1|
|Tony Adams||17 years 26 days||League||Sunderland||H||November 5, 1983||669||48|
|Mark Randall||17 years 26 days||League Cup||West Bromwich Albion||A||October 24, 2006||13||0|
|John Radford||17 years 28 days||League||West Ham United||A||March 21, 1964||482||149|
|Stewart Robson||17 years 29 days||League||West Ham United||A||December 5, 1981||186||21|
|Serge Gnabry||17 years 74 days||League Cup||Coventry City||H||September 26, 2012||1||0|
|Anthony Stokes||17 years 92 days||League Cup||Sunderland||A||October 25, 2005||1||0|
|David O'Leary||17 years 106 days||League||Burnley||A||August 16, 1975||722||14|
|Gavin McGowan||17 years 110 days||Premier League||Sheffield Wednesday||A||May 6, 1993||7||0|
|Arturo Lupoli||17 years 125 days||League Cup||Manchester City||A||October 27, 2004||9||3|
|Francis Coquelin||17 years 133 days||League Cup||Sheffield United||H||September 23, 2008||25||0|
|Theo Walcott||17 years 156 days||Premier League||Aston Villa||H||August 19, 2006||226||45|
|Nacer Barazite||17 years 157 days||League Cup||Sheffield United||A||October 31, 2007||3||0|
|Richie Powling||17 years 159 days||League||Queens Park Rangers||A||October 27, 1973||59||3|
|Quincy Owusu-Abeyie||17 years 196 days||League Cup||Rotherham United||H||October 28, 2003||23||2|
|George Armstrong||17 years 199 days||League||Blackpool||A||February 24, 1962||621||68|
|Fabrice Muamba||17 years 202 days||League Cup||Sunderland||A||October 25, 2005||2||0|
|Cliff Bastin||17 years 205 days||League||Everton||A||October 5, 1929||396||178|
|Fran Merida||17 years 205 days||League Cup||Newcastle United||H||September 25, 2007||16||2|
|Paul Vaessen||17 years 210 days||League||Chelsea||A||May 14, 1979||41||9|
|Aaron Ramsey||17 years 231 days||Champions League||FC Twente||A||August 13, 2008||109||9|
|Liam Brady||17 years 235 days||League||Birmingham City||H||October 6, 1973||307||59|
|Tommy Meade||17 years 238 days||League||Leicester Fosse||A||January 7, 1895||14||7|
|John Woodward||17 years 268 days||League Cup||West Ham United||H||October 5, 1966||4||0|
|Jon Sammels||17 years 278 days||League||Blackpool||A||April 27, 1963||270||52|
|Nicklas Bendtner||17 years 282 days||League Cup||Sunderland||A||October 25, 2005||157||45|
|Johan Djourou||17 years 283 days||League Cup||Manchester City||A||October 27, 2004||144||1|
|Moritz Volz||17 years 285 days||League Cup||Ipswich Town||H||November 1, 2000||2||0|
|Reg Lewis||17 years 300 days||League||Everton||H||January 1, 1938||176||118|
|David Price||17 years 320 days||League||Leeds United||A||May 9, 1973||177||19|
|Brian McDermott||17 years 336 days||League||Bristol City||H||March 10, 1979||72||13|
|Ray Parkin||17 years 339 days||League||Sunderland||A||January 1, 1929||26||11|
|John Snedden||17 years 347 days||League||Tottenham Hotspur||A||January 16, 1960||94||0|
|Paolo Vernazza||17 years 347 days||League Cup||Birmingham City||H||October 14, 1997||12||1|
So how well do these wonderkids tend to do in their Arsenal careers after making an early start? A quick look at the names on the list should tell you that, generally, the answer is very well.
Among the players listed are the Club's top three all-time leading appearance makers (David O'Leary, Tony Adams and George Armstrong), the former club record scorer (Cliff Bastin) as well as two other members of the '100 Club' (John Radford and Reg Lewis).
Not including Gnabry, the other 39 players who made debuts aged 16 or 17 have gone on to play an average of 143.2 first-team games for Arsenal (including those still at the Club).
This is nearly twice as many, on average, as in a 'typical' Arsenal career. Eight hundred and nine players have now represented the Club, each making an average 74.4 career appearances.
As far as goals are concerned, the 39 on the list scored an average of 24.4 each, which again compares very favourably with the all-time average. In fact it is more than twice the average for a typical Arsenal career – 10.7 goals.
Of all the 16/17 year-olds to make their debut, only Anthony Stokes did not go on to play any more games for Arsenal.
Then aged 17 and 92 days, the Irish forward played just two minutes at the end of a Carling Cup game against Sunderland in 2005. He later joined Sunderland (in 2007) and, now aged 24, he plays for Scottish champions Celtic. He remains the 13th youngest player to turn out for the Gunners.
When Tommy Meade played against Leicester Fosse in 1895, he became the first 17-year-old to represent the Club. A striker who scored seven goals from 14 appearances, he went on to sign for Tottenham Hotspur, and remained the Gunners' youngest player until Cliff Bastin played against Everton in Division One on October 5, 1929.
Nicknamed 'The Boy Bastin' he had scored 100 goals for Arsenal by the age of 23 and finished with 178 goals in all - a club record which stood for more than 50 years. He was the first player to win the league title, FA Cup and an England cap as a teenager.
In the 1950s Gerry Ward broke new ground when he became the first ever 16-year-old to represent Arsenal.
The winger played against Huddersfield at the beginning of the 1953/54 season, and made 84 appearances, scoring 10 goals, before National Service in the Army interrupted his career. He later played for Leyton Orient and Cambridge City before becoming a banker.
His record lasted the best part of half a century, before Jermaine Pennant - following his high-profile move from Notts County - usurped him in November 1999. The winger, aged 16 years and 319 days, came on during the Worthington Cup fourth-round defeat to Middlesbrough. It was a further three and a half years before he made his first Premier League start – marking the occasion with a hat-trick - against Southampton in 2003. He left for Birmingham City in 2005, and is now at Stoke.
The current holder of the youngest player record though, is Cesc Fabregas. Having joined the Arsenal academy in the summer of 2003, he didn't have long to wait for his debut. On October 28, 2003 he was named in the starting line-up for the Carling Cup third-round game at home to Rotherham United. Fabregas was taken off after 85 minutes as the Gunners eventually went through on penalties.
In the next round Fabregas scored against Wolves to become Arsenal's youngest ever goalscorer (aged 16 and 212 days). After playing more than 300 times for Gunners, scoring 57 goals, he left for boyhood club Barcelona in 2011 and has won the European Championship twice and the World Cup once.
|Tommy Meade||17 years, 238 days||1894/95|
|Cliff Bastin||17 years, 205 days||1929/30|
|Gerry Ward||16 years, 321 days||1953/54|
|Jermaine Pennant||16 years, 319 days||1999/2000|
|Cesc Fabregas||16 years, 177 days||2003/04|
Stats correct as at September 27, 2012.
Josh James also provides the stats for the Arsenal Analysis pages of the matchday programme.