Gnabry unfazed by big occasion as he seizes his opportunity

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Source: Clive Rose/Getty Images Europe
Source: Clive Rose/Getty Images Europe

It had been a rather frustrating few weeks for Serge Gnabry, with the winger having loitered in that all too familiar territory that exists between the first-team and the U21 side.

He had been on the bench for several recent first-team fixtures, but, prior to last night, had not started a game at any level since delivering a virtuoso performance for the second-string against Aston Villa on November 12th.

There had been murmurings beforehand that Arsene Wenger was considering handing Gnabry a start against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup, but, despite the injury situation currently engulfing the club, it was still something of a surprise to see the young German included in the starting line-up, particularly with his vastly more experienced compatriot Lukas Podolski remaining on the bench.

The decision to start Gnabry, however, proved to be an inspired one. The 18 year old was full of direct running, was not afraid to use his array of skills to his advantage, and played a delightful pass into the path of Santi Cazorla who opened the scoring.

Last night’s performance saw Gnabry draw much acclaim from many supporters and journalists, and it seems likely that his impressive showing will go some way towards scotching rumours that he could head out on loan before the end of the month.

Wenger will certainly not want to let Gnabry leave, albeit temporarily, in a hurry, although it is questionable just how much first-team game time he will receive at Arsenal with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, a player rather similar in style to Gnabry but possessing far more experience of Premier League and Champions League football, due to return to full training tomorrow.

Gnabry has now made a dozen appearances for the Arsenal first-team, eight of which have come this season. He was impressive away to Swansea City, where he opened the scoring with a fine strike, and also at Crystal Palace, where his directness enabled him to win a penalty before he later succumbed to injury.

Gnabry also featured as a late substitute in games against Manchester United, Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund, suggesting that Wenger is unafraid to throw him into battle against supremely talented opponents. There were some occasions last season, particularly in the Capital One Cup tie against Reading, when Gnabry failed to make the most of his opportunities to impress, but the same can certainly not be said about his display last night.

It has been clear for some time that this is a player who, at the age of 18, is well above all levels of youth team football, yet he is still some way from establishing himself as a regular for the Arsenal first-team.

A loan spell may well follow in the future, but, in all likelihood, that possibility will now not occur until next season. For the time being, Gnabry has demonstrated that he could provide a useful option as Arsenal’s Premier League title challenge reaches its climax.

This performance will also re-ignite the debate as to who is the Premier League’s most impressive young winger, with United’s Adnan Januzaj and Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling also contenders in that regard.

It is important to not get carried away and it must be realised that, given that he is still in such an early stage of his development, Gnabry will not be able to replicate last night’s performance each time he is called upon for the first-team. What it did demonstrate, though, is that the Germany U19 international is unfazed by the big occasion, and, in the second half of the season, that could prove to be a very useful attribute indeed.

 

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15 thoughts on “Gnabry unfazed by big occasion as he seizes his opportunity

    Savage said:
    January 5, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Wenger seemed a bit hesitant to praise him in the press conference. Why the reluctance? Are there issues, or is he not planning to use him too often?

      A86 said:
      January 5, 2014 at 12:57 pm

      He acknowledged his talent that’s enough at this stage. Hyping usually has negative effects. All three mentioned are still teens just let them progress until they’ve ‘made it’. You just have to look at ravel Morrison/ josh mceachran or even Randal to realise how crucial and diifcult the next step is.

    warm said:
    January 5, 2014 at 11:15 am

    dont know why but he make me think of Ribery the way he play….is it just me or is he similar to him i dont care but my feeeling is this is the next legend in the making

    @lenadlm said:
    January 5, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Good to have the Ox back. Ryo must step up big time to get himself a chance.

    Valentin said:
    January 5, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Gnabry had an injury, so that explain why he disappear from the first team. Also he physically still cannot last the full 90 minutes at senior level. Against Spurs, he asked to be substituted because he had cramps. Because all the substitutions have already been done, he was stuck on the pitch. To minimize the risk to be overrun on the wing, he then switched position with Walcott. Rosicky and Flamini acknowledged that when they went to encourage him toward the end.

      Warm said:
      January 5, 2014 at 5:17 pm

      Good spot

    sharifu said:
    January 6, 2014 at 2:54 am

    Jeorge, do you know why bellerin is not allowed to play for Watford in FA cup

      Jeorge Bird responded:
      January 6, 2014 at 11:38 am

      not sure. he’s on loan until the end of the season, so i don’t see why he shouldn’t be allowed to play in the FA Cup.

        D'Jeezus Mackaroni said:
        January 6, 2014 at 11:58 am

        He resigned too late to be registered for the 3rd round I believe.

    Gooner said:
    January 6, 2014 at 7:16 am

    Lacks the subtlety Januzaj has, why we are obsessed with comparing them I don’t know. It reminds me of the utd fans that go on about cleverley and wilshere

    Redcore said:
    January 6, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Both Januzaj and Sterling are more established than our young Serge at this point but as an avid arsenal youth follower I know that things can change very soon at this level. I am just glad that AW has come up with yet another young gem. If Serge can hold the fort capably for a few games this season then that will solve a lot of problems for AW.

    LSOE said:
    January 6, 2014 at 10:35 am

    It’s the youth cup tonight.

    atid said:
    January 6, 2014 at 11:17 am

    I hope we keep serge and all the 95 born so that we can have a good go at the youth champions league and fa youth cup. most of these lads are also the bulk of the under 21 squad and can still play u18 as well so they plenty of football available to them this season as well as being the most likely to play first team football too. however, the likes of frimpong, ryo, sanogo, park, boateng, eisfeld, afobe, yennaris, ajayi, macey, Fagan and ansah really need to be looking at loan spells or in some cases even moving on. I cant see any of them playing anymore first team football this season plus all of them are too old to play in the u18s, ycl and fayc so what do they have to play for?

      Rich said:
      January 6, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      You’re right on both counts I think (keep younger ones, loans for older lads), but, that said, exceptional care needs to be taken to try ensure they get playing time if they go (track record is approaching awful in recent years in that regard). And for Ajayi, new to club, 20 yrs old, it would be no good at all for him to go unless virtually guaranteed football at a decent level.

      Must admit,though, I’d experience some disappointment if the older team was weakened too much- the performance dropped away massively the other month when Yennaris, Frimpong and another couple dropped from side.

      As for the younger lads, doubt we’ll get our wish. The tendency within the club seems to be total commitment to fast-tracking and always favoring the call to try find out about players in competitive environments sooner rather than later, and this is of course to the detriment of performances in youth competitions (they were flying in ycl with Bellerin and, especially, Gnabry; dropped off a bit without them). A good bit more could’ve been done to try halt the embarrassing form of u18s (think Akpom, for one, is eligible) but if anything they’ve gone the other way there and decided to keep using younger players’ and put them to the test. Any smaller clubs with a real interest in adding flair should be interested in Olsson and Toral, if they’ve done their homework. I think both would be good options for Swansea, for instance. Passing team, bit light in numbers.

      Far as Gnabry goes, that performance really was so good that it’s hard to see him leaving for anywhere, nor do I want him to, but if he does it has to be to a prem team. No point at all in him playing in championship and I’m sure there’ll be takers.

    smash said:
    January 7, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    I’m just glad we don’t expose Gnabry to the kind of pressure Januzaj has. Look at him, become a diver and all now. Its not fair to put that much pressure on an 18 year old. The fact Janusaj starts for United says more about the club than about him tbf. A fully operational United with title ambitions would never start an 18 year old like that. They would have seasoned internationals with proper pedigree like we have. The cazorlas and Ozils of the world. The Ramseys and Rosickys and Flaminis and Artetas. And let young talents develop and prosper without the pressure. Its obvious Janutsaj is a talent but that is also all he is, just like Gnabry. They should not be made to carry the expectations of a whole club at their shoulders. Gnabry is not, but Januzaj is.

    heck Janusaj is the STAR PLAYER of United together with Rooney and RvP. What does that say about the club??

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