Awesome Ayling stakes claim for Austria

Yesterday’s pre-season friendly with Barnet will not live long in the memory, but there were some positives to take from the encounter. Firstly, Tomas Rosicky’s long-awaited return, as well as Nacer Barazite’s sumptuous finish.

But it was one of Arsenal’s FA Youth Cup-winning heroes who stood out in Luke Ayling. On as a second-half substitute, Luke showed exactly why he was offered professional terms by the club earlier this summer with a fine display.

Partnering new signing Thomas Vermaelen at centre-back, it could be argued that some of the Belgian’s experience rubbed off on the youngster and Ayling certainly looked at home alongside the former Ajax captain.

To think that just 12 months ago his future at the club was in doubt shows how much he has improved. He was far and away the best player for Steve Bould’s under-18s in the first half of the season and stepped up to the Reserves as the campaign drew to a close, whilst also juggling those Youth Cup commitments.

With Kyle Bartley absent yesterday, Ayling had a chance to prove his worth and he took it with both hands, something which will no doubt have impressed Arsene Wenger, although the Frenchman is already well aware of his ability.

The first-team and the reserves now go their separate ways, with Wenger welcoming back 14 members of his squad for the pre-season tour of Austria, which begins with a game against SC Columbia on Tuesday. Accompanying the first-team squad on this trip are usually a sprinkling of youngsters, and Wenger has a tough decision to make over who will make up the numbers.

Emmanuel Frimpong, Sanchez Watt and Mark Randall all started the game yesterday, but emerged from it with varying degrees of success. Watt was the best performer out of the trio, bursting down the left flank and crossing for Arshavin for the opener, but Frimpong is nowhere near full fitness yet although he did fly into some trademark crunching challenges.

Which leaves Randall. A veteran of these pre-season tours, Mark has been on the periphery of the squad for three years without ever really coming close to breaking into it. A loan spell may be needed this season in order for him to get regular football, but his performance yesterday epitomised why many fans have lost patience with him. His passes were loose, his work rate was poor and his criminally late challenge gave away the free-kick from which Ismail Yakubu headed home Barnet’s equaliser. It’s clear that Randall has some talent, but he needs to show it on a more consistent basis.

Barazite’s goal was spectacular and he was lively as usual, so too was Sunu although he didn’t have the same success in front of goal. Jay Simpson, meanwhile, has come to a crossroads in his career where he has to decide what is best for him. Either he goes full pelt and attempts to break into the first-team squad, which could happen following the departure of Emmanuel Adebayor, or he pursues his career elsewhere.

Conor Henderson came in for some criticism yesterday, but, considering he missed the majority of last season through injury, his lack of awareness and occasional lapses in concentration were understandable. He also played some superb passes which Cesc Fabregas would be proud of, although he is still some way off the first-team picture.

Wenger now has a decision to make. Who will join the first-team squad on the plane to Austria? Surely Ayling and Barazite will be there, but we will have to wait and see.

Arsene, it’s over to you.

25 comments

    1. Håvard Nordtveit is at loan at Lillestrøm,where he is playing regualary at cb or right back.Lillestrøms coach is Henning Berg who played at Man U in his carrer,Berg rated him wery high and hope to extend the loan spell for the rest of the Norwegian seson..about oktober.Nordtveit is also getting good feedback in the norwegian neews paper and scoring high on player ratings after matches!

  1. Nordtveit speaks with the coaching staff at Arsenal every day, and they have someone watching each and every game of his. His loan spell initially goes out the first of august, and its up to Arsenal to decide if they want him to get more experience, or if they want him back to play for Arsenal in the season.

  2. on an other note, its nice to see Watt havin a breakthrough as I wished he would. After I saw him for the first time, I knew this was a player I would like to see at the Arsenal. He has really broke into arsene’s plans I think, and he will certainly be a canditate for the Carling Cup next season!

  3. I dunno if there’ll be space for both of them to be in the squad as we’ll already be taking Gallas, Vermaelen, Toure, Senderos, JD, and Song?? That would be 8 centre backs in a 20 odd man squad

  4. Nigel Clough has said that he wants to take Randall for Derby’s pre-season games to see if he would ft in at Pride Park. Not good enough for the arse – Championship football (at best) is his level!

  5. Nice to hear that fruits of our academy are begining to be harvested and
    that these are English.I am proud of Barazaiteand hope we retain him as
    sub but Ayling kid is a joy to hear about. Maybethen our detractors will realise
    what we always knew- namely that our acamy is working hard to bring our good
    English kids.

  6. Great post. However, with regards to Simpson’s 2 options (i.e. push on for a First Team place or move along), i think you’ll find that’s not a crossroads, that’s a T-Junction! Boom Boom. I’m here all night ladies and gentlemen.

  7. Wenger should sell Senderos. He isn’t good enough for us and we don’t need him. In the meantime Ayling is even better than Senderos.

  8. Luke Ayling for me is going to be a future arsenal captain. Hes 17 as well i can see him growing as well. Hes going to play carling cup this season hes very mature for his age

  9. I have always stated ever seen i saw improvement in Ayling’s concentration and game understanding from 1st part of 2008/09 that he is best out of our teenage CBs but many bloggers continue to live their own hypebole about his teenage CB rivals. He has a superb technique & excellent short passing thru the lines plus he is the only genuine “Left CB” out of himself, Bartley, Nordtveit & Hoyte.

  10. Sorry but how could he stake a claim when he played against the Imps and the plane had already gone. Hype me thinks. Calm down and give the lad time.

  11. But he was never gonna b on the plane unless he was doin some sight seeing. Just seems like your over hyping the player when there are others further along who arent getting a sniff of 1st team football. eg Bartley Nordveit Sendoreos.

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