By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger might feel a tad relieved that Jay Simpson will not be lining up against Arsenal tonight. After all, the Frenchman rates the young striker very highly.
Under Premier League rules, a loaned player is not allowed to play against his parent club so Simpson will have to watch from the sidelines when West Brom and Arsenal lock horns at the Hawthorns. It's a pity for the player himself but good news for Arsenal, who know only too well how dangerous the 20-year-old could be.
Simpson marked his senior start for Arsenal with a well-taken brace in the Carling Cup win over Wigan back in November. He signed a new long-term deal with the Gunners at the turn of the year before joining West Brom on loan for the remainder of the campaign. Simpson has scored twice in 10 appearances for the Baggies and has a key role to play in their battle against relegation.
Wenger has seen Simpson grow up at Arsenal - the player arrived at the age of nine, not long after the Frenchman was appointed - and he predicts a bright future for the bustling striker.
"I rate him highly personally. I think he could be one of the surprises," the manager told Arsenal TV Online.
"It’s difficult to say [how good he could be] when he is 20 years-old but I believe he has personality, determination, talent and a great attitude.
"This loan spell can give him the needed confidence and experience. It will also show everybody that he has the needed quality to play in the Premier League.
"You toughen up [when you are on loan] and he plays every week in an environment where every point becomes vital which is massive for him."Copyright 2013 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 3 Mar 2009