By Richard Clarke

You may see a different Carlos Vela at White Hart Lane on Wednesday evening.

According to Arsène Wenger, the 21-year-old striker is now mature enough to carry the responsibility of being a leading front man.

Statistics don’t always tell the truth about a player’s career but Vela’s numbers are illuminating. Since joining in 2008, the Mexican has started 16 games, come on as a substitute in another 36 and scored 11 goals, five of which have come in the Carling Cup.

It suggests that the striker has yet to make the leap from potential to first-team player.

Last season, injury restricted him to just three substitute appearances. Wenger now knows that Vela must grasp his opportunity – and Wednesday’s tie at Tottenham seems apposite.

“It’s about starting the game, carrying the responsibility to be the main striker and showing that you can deal with that,” said the manager.

“It’s a massive opportunity for him but he has worked very hard from the beginning of the season. He is a different player to what he was last year when he was a bit easy-going sometimes. He has a more mature attitude now.

“I believe that Carlos can do it but, then again, you have to turn up at the right moment.”

That moment may arrive tonight.

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
21 Sep 2010