By Richard Clarke
Emmanuel Eboue is fast becoming the find of the season.
Youngsters like Cesc Fabregas, Mathieu Flamini, Robin van Persie and Philippe Senderos have excelled this season. But in August that quartet had already amassed almost 150 first-team appearances between them. Eboue had just four.
Yet, since returning from the African Nations Cup, the Ivorian has deputised for the injured Lauren with aplomb. The 22-year-old is swift, strong, technically sound and ever-willing to get forward. His recent performances against Robinho of Real Madrid and Juve's Adrian Mutu are the best illustration of his ability.
"He has developed very well," said Wenger. "When he was with Beveren, he played at centre back then right back. When we saw him against our reserve team as a right back he was impressive.
"We invited him here in pre-season and he impressed me quite well again. When we decided to take him, it was to have him with Lauren then slowly build him in.
"But recently he has suddenly been put in and developed much quicker and better than we expected.
"He always looked an exciting prospect but maybe the fact he got representation in his national team helped.
"The African Nations Cup has brought him forwards because you saw that he could cope with defensive pressure."
Copyright 2015 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 31 Mar 2006