Ok it may only be a Youth Cup, but it is a trophy still the same and provides further evidence, if we ever needed it, that our youth policy is continuing to flourish.
It was perhaps fitting that the young lads stepped out at Anfield 20 years on from that famous night in the same stadium, when Michael Thomas’ late winner brought the Championship to Highbury.
After a season of disappointment it is also a good idea to concentrate on the positives, and the performance of Steve Bould’s young Gunners is certainly one of them. They came into the game on the back of a convincing 4-1 success in the first leg and never really looked like surrendering that advantage, sealing a 6-2 aggregate win. The victory also meant that the side is the first to win the league and cup double (http://betting.betfair.com/football/fa-cup/televised-match-previews/fa-cup-betting-arsenal-v-cardiff-150209.html) since the academy system was reformed – a fitting tribute to the class of ’89.
So who is best set to make the step up next season? Well Jack Wilshire seems the obvious one. He has skill to burn and his performance over the two legs reminds of Joe Cole’s stand out performance for the West Ham youth team a few years back, when he was head and shoulders above the other 21 players. Not that Wilshire is anything like Cole of course – he is far more skilful than him!
Striker Jay Emmanuel-Thomas finished the season top of the scoring charts but I foresee a loan move before a first team appearance, he is well down the pecking order with the likes of Carlos Vela and Jay Simpson on the fringes of the first-team – though a Carling Cup appearance could be in the offing next season.
Experience is the key for Wenger this summer as he seeks to give some of his young talent the support and strength require to upset the Premier League odds (http://betting.betfair.com/football/premiership/) and compete in the big games. But to see your youth team performing so well always bodes well – remember Man United’s treble winning side had a core of young players who all moved through the United youth ranks together. If Wenger can get the right type of leader to guide and nurture these young players, the future could be very bright indeed.