Young Guns Column: Is It Time To Give This Youngster His First Team Bow?


Arsenal are renowned for their youth system, which has seen numerous players rise through the ranks to become first team stars. Currently in the first team are Wojciech Szczesny, Kieran Gibbs and Jack Wilshere- all of which came through the famous youth system. Of course, with a system like Arsenal’s there are always players waiting to step-up and get their chance in the first-team picture.

However, it’s quite rare that a young player really makes headlines. Serge Gnabry had plenty of fans before is breakthrough, as did Gedion Zelalem, but the player making waves behind the scenes is a young midfielder called Daniel Crowley, who I expect you’ve all heard of.

He has plenty of rave reviews and even Jack Wilshere commented that he is the greatest young talent currently at the North London club. In fact, by my reckoning, the last time we saw a player hyped this much was Wilshere himself- and even he doesn’t come close in my books, as he would’ve probably stayed at Bolton if Aaron Ramsey had got injured.

Crowley is just 17 years of age but that is unlikely to stand in the way of his breakthrough, should he be ready. Gedion Zelalem featured last year at the tender age of 16 so a baby-faced star on the Arsenal set-up is nothing new. The question is though, should Crowley be given his opportunity to make a breakthrough in the first team.

Personally I’m quite split in the debate. I’ll start with the negative side of things first, simply because I’m a Gooner and we all seem to enjoy the negative side in everything (I kid). 17 years is very young for a footballer and while he won’t be the first, nor the last, player to feature at such a ripe age it does raise question marks. We’re not a club who just sits in mid-table, brings players through and then sells them. Quite the opposite.

At Arsenal, there is a lot of pressure and unfortunately our fan base states that if a player emerges and plays just one game poorly, it’s likely he will be slaughtered by a minority of the fans. Most of this occurs on social media, where Crowley is present. There’s no hiding a player from this section of the media and the abuse he could potentially receive is frightening.

On top of this, one injury could have dire effects for his development and finally, once he plays one game there will always be the expectation that he should get more- which at this age isn’t ideal, even if he turns out to be the next Diego Maradona. There’s a lot of negatives but, equally, there is a positive side.

What Arsenal seem to lack at the moment is some spark. The Gunners steered back on the road to redemption with a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa but in truth, this is still a side far from it’s best. Every side has their problems but for us, there’s nothing to steer away from the negative area in the squad.

Chelsea, for example, have Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa, players that can spark a game into life. Manchester United may not have a defence but they do have Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao. Likewise, Liverpool have players who can provide some spark- notably youngster Raheem Sterling.

Now I’m not suggesting Crowley will suddenly become a Premier League star and will win the Ballon D’Or but a positive performance from him could really give us something to be excited about. We’re a proud club who like to bring players through so to see a player like Crowley donning our colours after being educated at Arsenal, (we’ll ignore the majority of his youth at Aston Villa), will be fantastic.

Also, the suggestions from everywhere seem to be that Crowley is ready to make his appearance. Whether that is the case remains to be seen but an appearance, even if it is just a 15 minute cameo, is arguably the next stage in his development. Either way, I can’t wait to see Crowley in the first-team. This kid is certainly special. Going out of the League Cup will certainly have hindered his chances, and he may have to wait another season for such an opportunity.

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