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Oh My God! They Killed Kenny!

Some time during the game last night it occurred to me that this is the first time I have ever watched an Arsenal side where every single player was younger than myself. I had an even more terrifyingly phogeyish moment after Jack Wilshere`s goal. The first time I visited Highbury, Wilshere was two months old, in fact I have a nephew who is ten days Jack`s junior. Surely I am too young to be experiencing this kind of crossroads yet. The two gentlemen I attended with, Lord Lowe as ever, and Tony, both past retirement age in footballing parlance (and I`m not talking Wenger`s version of retirement age, we`re talking Stanley Matthews retirement age) told me to get used to it, because it doesn`t get any easier.

The Carling Cup is of course Dr. Wenger`s laboratory to test out his newest young Frankensteins and boy did this crop prove to be a pleasing mutant gene pool. With brow beaten world weary seniors such as Theo Walcott, Denilson and Cesc Fabregas given the evening off with their feet up, their pipes and slippers whilst they sat moaning about "the youth of today" and how in their day they could leave their front doors open without fear of burglary, Arsene`s hoody clad band of young miscreants were given centre stage to run riot well past their bedtimes. I don`t know, kids eh? The Young Guns took a little while to settle into their stride, Ramsey in particular looked a little over eager in possession. Though Sheffield United appeared to offer little threat as Arsenal found their feet. On the twenty minute mark Merida cut in from the left and played a smart ball into Bendtner, he laid the ball off to Johan Djourou foraying forwards; he turned smartly in the box and curled a shot towards the corner which Paddy Kenny just clawed away. It was the catalyst for the youngsters, who visibly calmed and the Blades could not live with Arsenal from then on. The first goal arrived on the half hour mark, Merida again cutting in from the left and playing the ball into Vela, he spun Halford easily before laying the ball off to Bendtner, relishing his role as senior ambassador he picked his spot with a beautifully precise low shot from the edge of the area. The Gunners midfield took a hold on the game from there on, Randall going about the sort of unspectacular but incredibly effective midfield patrolling allowing Ramsey to play the creative cog. It was Rambo who set up the second goal, a delightful jig past the Sheffield United rearguard left him with his back to goal in the area, but Ramsey circumnavigated any difficulty with a deft backheel to Bendtner on the six yard line, with Naysmith playing the Dane onside, he was afforded time to dispatch a cool finish.

With Bendtner putting Arsenal into the ascendancy, his strike partner was keen for a share of the limelight. Right on half time, Bendtner slid a delightful through ball to Vela in the left channel. Often in this situation, you will see a young player panic as he approaches goal. No such folly from Vela who knew exactly what he was going to do and how we was to achieve it. One quicksilver touch to get the ball into his lightning stride followed by a beautifully curled finish into the far corner. It was a goal reminiscent of an Henry-Eduardo hybrid. High praise indeed. The second half saw the young Gunners in buoyant mood, and Vela in particular looked to be leading the party. Kieran Gibbs lofted a ball forward which Vela stunningly controlled on his shoulder, looping the ball over Kilgallon`s head in the process; he spun and collected the ball in his stride, bearing down on Paddy Kenny`s goal before lifting the ball over the flabbergasted Irish stopper with an impudent lob. Seasoned pros such as Beattie and Speed looked on bewildered. (It was disappointing that Speed was roundly booed when he was substituted, he did little wrong in the game and has been an excellent pro down the years, he deserved better and Arsenal fans are better than that too). By now champagne football was the order of the day, well at least it would have been had our players been old enough to imbibe said beverage. The Gunners won a corner on the left, Ramsey`s eye was keen and his wits sharp as he pulled the ball back to the edge of the area, Wilshere collected and swept a delightful low shot inside Paddy Kenny`s near post. Before last night I hadn`t seen an awful lot of Wilshere, obviously I was aware of the hype, but having only played a handful of reserve games and a few pre season friendlies, the truth is nobody had really seen much of him outside the confines of London Colney. But what really struck me was his ease on the ball and his low centre of gravity. Much like a Hleb or a Wright Phillips, he looks as though a stiff breeze would blow him over, but try as you might, burgling him of possession appears to be a nigh on impossible task with his velvety movement and freakish composure. Arsenal had a five minute spell wobble when Coquelin, Simpson and Lansbury entered the fray, their cohesion briefly deserting them before clicking back into gear again. This was exemplified by the final goal with three minutes left, Wilshere angled another ball into the left channel, Vela raced onto it and smashed a low finish past Kenny for his hat trick. A variety of clinical finishes marking an impressive first start for the club.

The sense of pride was tangible at the final whistle as the youngsters were deservedly given a standing ovation, I had a girl of about six next to me who would not stop repeating, "can I come again Dad?" as the players trudged off. What was pleasing about the performance was the synergy, Randall and Ramsey struck up an understanding that belied the little time they have known one another. Merida and Vela were constantly interchanging between the left flank and centre forward, Wilshere played on the left and the right and looked equally assured in both positions. How delightful that such a resounding victory from Wenger`s young charges would arrive the very day Michel Platini, incorrectly, laughably and lamentably referred to Wenger as a "businessman" whilst elevating himself as an ambassador for football. Fuck you Mr. Platini, from every single Gooner the world over, fuck you. Let`s see you build a team of teenagers on a shoestring that repeatedly destroys sides like Sheffield United with a brand of play that should be revered and respected at least by every football fan. This was no one off from the young players Wenger puts out in this tournament, Everton, West Brom, Tottenham, Blackburn, Newcastle, Sunderland and Liverpool have all felt the wrath of our shadow side in the last three years and that is to the manager`s eternal credit. He must be a very proud man this morning, I know I am. The pride I felt when the players left the arena last night bordered on paternal, which at my age is, frankly, sickening.LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday September 24 2008

Time: 10:41AM

Your Comments

Pride!! That's the word of the day. Astonishing result
Rocky7
Paternal! LD you getting broody mate?
LondonGooner
Absolutely not! Kids would mean I couldn't go to every game, that would never do! But seeing someone the same age as my nephew lace up and smash one home for the Arse just feels very, very strange!
Little Dutch
Proudly Proud!!! Sounds more appropriate. Perfect response to brat-inis' wanging tounge
akintayor
What made me laugh was the fact that: in the year young Jack was born, Gary Speed was playing in the Leeds title winning side! It was great for the lads last night. I bet they can't wait till the next round!
navydave
Great Great write up like always, arsene shut platini mouth in the best possible way. The fourth goal is pure class, vela worth the waiting.
Gooner SA
As the transfer deadline passed many were lamenting the lack of our depth when AW failed to add any notable signings. With this victory it seems that AW might well be vindicated after all. But its still early season to arrive at any conclusion. But nothing will waver my confidence in AW and I feel we're fortunate to have him in the helm. For the moment, let's savour this wonderful gift presented by our BOYS.
Temasek
Lone spells aren't a waste of tyme afterall. Its lyke we have got a crop of the deadliest and most clinical finishers in our bunch already (vela is a blend of henry-eduardo-pires)
akintayor
What great play from the young lads! I am really proud of them and as always a proud gooner! Lets hope the kids do it all the way!!!
afghenry
Well atleast we proved one London club can spot a quality mexican youngster. I hope IF, big IF they go al the way Wenger actually lets the kids play the final aswell. Im not trying to put the kybosh on it, but after the last time, when IMO he wrongly held some of them back to win it instead of sticking to his principals of letting them enjoy themselves and learn as much as possible!
LondonGooner
Yep, would be nice in the Semi n all, don't fancy standing in the away end at WHL with pretty much our 1st team out getting smashed off the park...
shewore
They were absolutely brilliant. You lot have a hell of a lot to look forward to in the coming few years
5 times
No team will want us in the CC this year. It's an embarrasment for the teams to get beat be our youth team, no matter how good they are! Our lads will relish any taking on all comers in this competition. Oh, and Shewore, if we get Spurs again I want them next round at home. I hate going to the Lane any more than once a season. ;-)
navydave
Unreal, they totally dominated a strong and well drilled championship side. The future is bright chaps, very, very bright. I can't wait to see how far they can go in this years competition - hopefully Arsene won't mess with the squad by chucking in senior players at the later stages
Gunnerman
Amazing how the only time we've been shamed in this competition in the last few years was the Spurs game when we threw the seniors in.
Little Dutch
Arsene sounds committed to playing this team for the whole competition however far we get. A lot of that is dependent on not sending too many out on loan as that is what forced him to play more first teamers at times last season. Just one correction to the match report it was Merida's short corner, which led to Wilshere's goal
Passenal
The young lads I feel don't get as affected by the pressure that the first team do. As I mentioned earlier, Wenger "bottled" it when the last couple of season we get to the final or the semi final and he throws in the seniors. It is also not fair on the lads who have got us that far. Maybe Wenger IS feeling the pressure a little of not having won anything for a few seasons!
LondonGooner
what a write up! but the hardest part is keeping them together
gunnerchi
Great performance. What I'd also like to say is contrat's to club for continuing their policy of lowering the prices for CC games. Last night I saw more families and youngsters than I have ever seen at an Arsenal game. This policy allows more fans to come to the grove and see the Team, albeit a younger deadlier version, and this also allows families who may not be able to afford to take the Kids to Arsenal a chance to see the team live. This will probably lead to more fans in the future which is still good for the club. £10 to see football of the calibre is an absolute bargain. Maybe we'll release a DVD!
PENZ
Gunnerchi, how right. The hardest part is keeping them together. I can imagine some of them will be impatient to be part of a team...a lot of mental strength required seeing as there isnt much of an age difference between them and the first team...i stayed awake to watch the match last nite..i felt only one thing - Pride...thank goodness i am a gunner
number14
You ********s!
k_chelski
JD, seeing somebody who is a year younger than you score a goal for the Artsenal freaks me out!
Tom14
and you know what, im going to call us artsenal forever because that is what we are - art!
Tom14
navydave - I agree that WHL is a disgusting place and we should not have to go there more than once a year, but I'm a little alarmed that you assume that Bottomham will even make it to the next round, for you see as bad as Newcastle has been this year, they still have more points than the mighty spuds!
TPowell
Hope we draw you in the next round it is time to test our crop of home grown talent against yours. It's too long since you came to Elland Road. Not sure we could beat you but we would give you a better game than our south yorks neighbours.
WhiteYork
Brilliant Article, What a great night for the many children as well as adult that attended last night. Here's to the hopes that that will be one of the many.
hackneyval
Excellent write up LD. Pride sums up the feeling very well :). It was a masterful performance from a bunch of kids and we're not going over board with this level of praise. Randall showed a tough tackling side of his game that I havent seen before, and Wilshere continues to impress. He cannot be bullied off the ball and shows excellent composure. Ramsey showed some real quality, terrific passing range, and it was actually his assist for Vela's 3rd goal, not Wilshere.
prits
Nice piece LD. I don't have much else to add to what you guys have said above. The boss means it when he says he'll stick to his young guns no matter how far we go this time. We paid the price against you-know-who last year and he's learnt the lesson it seems. I'm so glad, cos I honestly think the First XI can give the PL/CL a good run, and the Kids XI likewise in CC/FAC. No messing about this time and we should be alright. I'm a bit ahead of ourselves, but can I call this Carlos Cup yet? :)
GoonerLou
Lou, I still think Julio Baptista owns this competition but Carlos or Bendtner could very well take the reigns this year.
gunnerkid107
Great write-up as ever. I'm thinking that maybe even our first team may not have been able to win that game 6-0! Vela is just a delight, I love his attitude, he looks genuinely happy to be playing for Arsenal. The thing about watching Arsenal at the moment is that we are making the game look very easy the way we pass and move but when you see that other teams can't seem to do the same it makes you realise. Proud indeed. :-)
Gooner_Vin
LD (or anyone else who saw the game) - I didn't see the game and was thinking that Wenger has always rated Merida very highly, what were your thoughts on his overall performance? Do you think he is going to be a first-teamer?
Gooner_Vin
Wonderful read. The way the lads played made me feel like a father watching his son's first steps, and having him sprint the 100M an hour later. IMO, Ramsey is ready for the show.
brewtowngunner
@Lou: That is a superb Potential headline....I'll keep my eye on the tabloids if, we need to nab it before anyone else does! I hereby rechristen the competition - The Carlos Cup
Gunnerman
Thought processes muddled, that comment barely made sense. Basically, yeah, Vela is the nuts.
Gunnerman
 

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