Where Are They Now: Jay Emmanuel-Thomas

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Thomas joined the Arsenal youth academy in 1998 and eventually went on to make his first-team debut for the side in early 2010. Now, at the age of 23, he currently plays for high-flying League One side Bristol City.

After impressive displays for the Arsenal under-18 youth team Thomas was made captain of the side at just 16 years old. He was also a vital cog in the team that won the FA Youth League and Cup in 2009, scoring in very single round of the competition. Continuing to excite in the Arsenal youth team, and then the reserves, Thomas made his first-team debut in January 2010 as Arsenal lost a 3rd round FA Cup tie versus Stoke.

Chances with the Gunners were few and far between though, just before his debut he was loaned to Blackpool and then in February he was loaned out to Doncaster. Both teams gave him the chance to gain experience and in 25 combined league appearances for the respective clubs he netted 6 times.

At the start of the 10/11 campaign Thomas notched up 4 first-team appearances, but opportunities slowly started to dwindle and in the January transfer window the forward moved to Cardiff on a short-term loan deal. At the end of the season it was decided that Thomas wouldn’t be continuing with Arsenal, and to develop his career he moved to Ipswich for an undisclosed fee.

His career in East Anglia started very well, as he netted twice in his first 3 games. Gradually though, his form started to subside and he struggled to replicate the quality of play he showed in the Arsenal reserves. He spent one more season with the Tractor Boys and during his time in the Championship he played 70 league games scoring eight times.

In 2013, Thomas decided to drop a league and joined Bristol City. Here he has really found his feet and has shown very consistent form over the last two campaigns. To date he has played 62 times for the Robins, scoring 22 times, a fine record for someone who isn’t an out-and-out striker.

At 23 Jay-Emmanuel Thomas still has a lot of developing to do, but he does have a very bright future ahead. Bristol City seem almost certain to go up this season, and Thomas’ game will definitely keep improving under the guidance of manager Steve Cotteril. The former Arsenal frontman’s career hasn’t gone quite to plan thus far but with the potential he has, a visit back to the Premiership one day certainly isn’t off the cards.

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