By Richard Clarke

A broad grin breaks out across Arsène Wenger’s face whenever he is asked about Carlos Vela.

The 19-year-old Mexican striker will get his first competitive start for Arsenal in the Carling Cup Third Round tie with Sheffield United at Emirates Stadium this evening. With two seasons in the Spanish League and seven international caps (four goals) under his belt, Vela is hardly a raw rookie.

In fact, although Arsenal have ample attacking options, the Cancun-born prodigy may be pushing for a first-team place before the end of the season. No wonder Wenger is so happy.

“I feel that this guy can not only play but he can score as well,” said the Frenchman. “And you know that we love strikers who can do both.

“He can give a final ball and he can finish very well. He’s so calm in front of goal and that always gives you a smile. He’s never in any stress.

“Carlos can play central and wide as well. He’s an Eduardo basically. He is left-footed with intelligent moves and a good finisher.

 “I worked very hard to get him and when he [comes] on he always does very well. He will have certainly a full game tonight.”

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23 Sep 2008