Feature

The Season So Far

As the season reaches its halfway point, we asked local journalists how some of Arsenal's loan players are faring during their time away from north London.

 

Carl Jenkinson, West Ham United, Premier League

Carl Jenkinson in action for West Ham United

 

 

Season stats

Name Carl Jenkinson
Age 22
Loan Club West Ham United
League Premier League
Appearances 12+3
Goals 0
League Position 5th

By Dave Evans, West Ham United correspondent at the Newham Recorder"It is safe to say that Carl Jenkinson has been one of the big success stories at Upton Park this season.

"Having suffered a hamstring injury in pre-season, when he finally secured his place in the starting line-up it enabled Sam Allardyce to launch his new formation to great effect.

"With Jenkinson on one flank and fellow full back Aaron Cresswell on the other, Jenkinson has become an integral part of the team.

"Both he and Cresswell provide the width and most of the crosses in West Ham’s diamond formation and that has resulted in a clutch of headed goals this season.

"He has suffered one or two hamstring niggles during the campaign, but both in defence and in attack, he has been something of a revelation and one of the first names on the teamsheet."

 

Jon Toral, Brentford, Championship

Jon Toral in action for Brentford

 

 

Season stats

Name Jon Toral
Age 19
Loan Club Brentford
League Championship
Appearances 7+9
Goals 2
League Position 6th

By Chris Wickham, head of media and communications at Brentford FC

"When a player arrives having come through the youth ranks at both Barcelona and Arsenal, their ability will be without question.

"Brentford play a style that should suit players with that sort of technical ability, a focus on retaining possession, pressing high up the field and playing positive football.

"However, the Championship is an unforgiving league where mistakes are amplified, games come thick and fast and some teams look to meet technical ability with physical firepower.

"In his first Brentford appearance Jon’s quality was on show and that he was able to flourish in a West London derby against Fulham in the Capital One Cup was cause for optimism.

"Two days later he produced a sublime piece of skill to set up a match-winning goal against Rotherham United and all Brentford fans could see what a player he was.

"Jon was probably unlucky that he had to wait another two months for a first league start, his substitute appearances were becoming increasingly impressive and he grabbed his first goal off the bench in defeat at Bolton Wanderers.

"He made his first three starts for Brentford in the space of a week and The Bees picked up three wins against Derby County, Nottingham Forest – where Jon scored the first goal, a stunning strike - and Millwall.

"There was clearly a steel to go with the technique and he did not look worried by a cold November night on the River Trent or a London derby in The Lions’ Den.

"He followed that up with another excellent performance against Fulham and then set up the crucial first goal against Wolverhampton Wanderers as Brentford made it five wins in a row and moved into the promotion shake-up.

"He has found a role in the team as an attacking central midfield player who has the ability to unlock a defence coupled with a willingness to do the defensive side of the game.

"Jon will play a very important role in the rest of Brentford’s 2014/15 season."

 

Benik Afobe

Benik Afobe in action for MK Dons

 

 

Season stats

Name Benik Afobe
Age 21
Loan Club Milton Keynes Dons
League League One
Appearances 17+12
Goals 19
League Position 4th

By Toby Lock, sports editor at the Milton Keynes Citizen

"It can take some players a while to write themselves into folklore at a club - Benik Afobe did it at stadium:mk in his first start.

"As if scoring against AFC Wimbledon wasn't enough to ensure the striker's name would be held in high esteem in these parts forever more, he bagged a brace against Manchester United two weeks later in what quickly became the biggest night in MK Dons' history. Job done. He didn't need to do anything else. But he has.

"From then, few have been able to contain him. He's powerful, persistent, and pretty deadly when it comes to a one-on-one. His eye for goal has seen him net 19 times in all competitions so far this season, including a hat-trick in the 6-0 win over Colchester."What makes his season all the more impressive is that he shares the number nine shirt with Will Grigg. Fully accepting of Karl Robinson's rotation policy, Afobe knows when he'll get his chance games in advance, and seems to enjoy watching his fellow striker get on the score sheet.

"Fans instantly warmed to the likeable 21-year-old and he has struck up a great friendship and on-field understanding with midfield lynchpin Dele Alli. The pair are often spotted thinking up their next celebration dance, breaking it out in front of the Cowshed.

"His goalscoring exploits have eclipsed the previous incumbent of the centre forward's shirt, Patrick Bamford, and has sparked debate as to who was the better front man. With Bamford scoring for fun in the Championship now, Afobe's surely got a bright future ahead of him."

 

Wellington (centre), Almeria, Primera Division

Wellington

 

 

Season stats

Name Wellington
Age 21
Loan Club UD Almeria
League La Liga
Appearances 7+4
Goals 0
League Position 16th

By Lee Roden, freelance Spanish and European football journalist

"Wellington has become very popular among supporters in a short period of time and is already considered by many of them to be the best option Almeria have on the wing – particularly for his skill.

"Fans like his inventiveness and dribbling, and considering Almeria have limited quality for obvious reasons, it's not a surprise that they want to see more of him really.

"Conducting himself in a humble manner has only strengthened that popularity, as he done a lot of coming off the bench and even drifting in and out of squads early on - but has taken it in his stride and worked hard.

"It's not uncommon to hear fans saying things like 'up front, play Wellington and two others – it doesn't matter who else' or 'he's the only player we have that will take someone on'.

"Coaches speak highly of him too and it certainly seems he has the right attitude to continue improving - and scoring for Brazil Under-21s a couple of weeks back was a nice reward for him.

"I think the aspect of his game that it's generally agreed he needs to work on most is the defensive side. Almeria can't afford passengers when out of possession so that could perhaps explain why it took a while for him to tie down a regular place and he was used more often in the second half when opponents tired.

"Despite being owned by a huge club, he seems to have fully bought into the idea of working hard both collectively and individually to keep Almeria up though, so he's sending all the right signals when it comes to self-improvement, grafting etc. There's no predicting the future in football but that bodes well."

 

14/15: Boreham Wood 0-2 Arsenal - Kris Olsson

Aaron Ramsey in action against Boreham Wood

 

 

 

Season stats

Name Kris Olsson
Age 19
Loan Club FC Midtjylland
League Danish Superliga
Appearances 4+3
Goals 0
League Position 1st

By Nicolai Lisberg, Danish football journalist

"Kris didn't play so much in the beginning of the season, as he would have expected. He only came on a couple of times from the bench and didn't play an entire match until he played 90 minutes in the cup in the end of October.

"However, lately he's been getting regular time on the pitch due to injuries and he has performed very well. He was man of the match in a 2-0 victory against last year’s champions Aalborg, where his passes were second to none, and he really got to show some of the qualities he possesses.

"His drive with the ball and accurate cross passes that can open up any defence have been a great asset to FC Midtjylland in recent months. His teammates are full of praise for him and his technical abilities.

"FC Midtjylland are leading the Danish Superliga by a margin of eight points, and Kris has talked about his desire to stay at the club since they are most likely to play in Europe next season.

"Claus Steinlein, who is the sport director at FC Midtjylland, has said that the club are willing to make the loan deal permanent. He is impressed by his mature way of playing and he believes he can be a key player for the club in the future.

"If he stays and he keeps on developing like this, I am positive he could become a profile not only for FC Midtjylland, but for the league in general already in the second part of the season."

 

Josh Vickers, Concord Rangers, Conference South

Josh Vickers in action for Arsenal Under-21s

Season stats

Name Josh Vickers
Age 19
Loan Club Concord Rangers
League Conference South
Appearances 10
Clean Sheets 2
League Position 17th

By Luke Lambert, sports reporter at the Canvey Island Echo

"Josh has quickly won favour with the Concord faithful after a number of terrific performances this season.

"After losing a handful of goalkeepers to injuries, Josh has come in and steadied the ship. In fact, Concord have only lost one match in nine since he joined, although that was one of his best performances – against League Two Mansfield Town in the FA Cup.

"He produced a number of one-on-one saves, with his hands and legs in that game and in recent matches. He is highly regarded for his impressive distribution and he is decisive in his decision-making.

"He is a big figure between the posts and his habit of staying on his feet as long as possible before going down makes him an imposing figure in goal.

"He also saved from the penalty spot in Concord’s recent Essex Senior Cup win over Grays Athletic.

"Concord manager Danny Cowley has been very pleased with his performances and said he had no doubt that Josh would go on to have a 'successful career at the highest level of the game'."

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