Two seasons ago Serge Gnabry was making quite an impact in the Arsenal first-team as he capitalised on the unavailability of others to make several appearances across various competitions, underlining his vast potential in the process.
Since then, however, matters have taken a considerable turn for the worse for the young German, through no fault of his own. Last season he was restricted to a smattering of U21 appearances as he recovered from injury, whilst this campaign he has been on loan at West Bromwich Albion.
To describe him as a West Brom player, though, seems almost inaccurate. The winger has played just 12 minutes of Premier League football for Tony Pulis’ side, with his only other appearances coming in the Capital One Cup. It is true that Gnabry isn’t quite at his sharpest physically as a consequence of his aforementioned injury, but he was fit enough to play, and score, for Germany’s U21 side against the Faroe Islands U21s last week.
Gnabry’s situation at West Brom has become even more bewildering in recent weeks, with Tony Pulis leaving the former Stuttgart player out of the matchday squad for the last two Premier League games, including yesterday’s win over Sunderland.
Deploying a 4-4-2 formation, West Brom started with Stephane Sessegnon on the right flank and James McClean on the left, with Calum McManaman providing back-up on the bench. Gnabry was nowhere to be seen.
It may well be the case that Pulis is planning to unleash Gnabry in the second half of the campaign, once he is at peak fitness, but that seems like wishful thinking at present. This was seen as being a pivotal year in Gnabry’s development, with the hope being that he would play regularly before hopefully returning to challenge for a regular squad place at Arsenal. The irony is that, so far this season, Gnabry would probably have played more football had he remained at Arsenal than he has done for West Brom so far.
All is not lost, and Gnabry will still only be 21 at the start of next season, but so far his loan spell at West Brom has been little short of disastrous.
As far as Arsenal’s other loanees are concerned, Carl Jenkinson had an eventful afternoon as West Ham United beat Crystal Palace 3-1. The right-back put West Ham ahead with his second goal in as many games, but conceded a penalty shortly afterwards, from which Palace equalised.
Chuba Akpom was introduced as a substitute in the 50th minute as Hull City drew 1-1 with Sheffield Wednesday. The England U21 international set up a chance for Jake Livermore, but his most notable contribution was injuring referee Keith Stroud, who had to replaced late on. Isaac Hayden wasn’t involved.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles started and played 86 minutes of Ipswich Town’s goalless draw with Huddersfield Town. The winger set up an inviting chance for Jonathan Douglas with a free-kick, but the latter headed over.
Wellington started and played 83 minutes as Bolton Wanderers lost 2-0 to Burnley. The Brazilian missed several efforts.
Dan Crowley played the whole game and came close with one attempt as Barnsley lost 2-1 to Southend United.
Wojciech Szczesny played the entire game as Roma beat Empoli 3-1.
Jon Toral was an un-used substitute as Birmingham City beat Queens Park Rangers 2-1.
Yaya Sanogo wasn’t involved as Ajax beat Heracles 2-0.
Gedion Zelalem wasn’t part of Rangers’ 2-1 victory over Queen of the South.
Emiliano Martinez is expected to feature when Wolverhampton Wanderers travel to face Derby County today.