Arsenal youngsters propel Birmingham

Arsenal has been good to Birmingham in the past. Matthew Upson, Jermaine Pennant, and Julian Gray. Upson and Pennant are part of the impressive talent pool that Arsenal seems to constantly have at its disposal. Upson is now linked to a move to Chelsea and Pennant has settled down at Liverpool after a string of disciplinary problems that saw Wenger and Steve Bruce lose their patience. This season, a trio of young Gunners on loan are leading Birmingham back to the Premiership.
Nicklas Bendtner with his 8 goals has combined impressively with striker, Gary McSheffrey for 20 goals. Sebastian Larsson and Fabrice Muamba have contributed plenty of good minutes in midfield. The recent FA Cup match between Newcastle and Birmingham saw Larsson curling in a corner leading to Birmingham’s first goal and then scored a late game equalizer, earning the Blues a third round replay. Larsson is 21 years, Bendtner and Muamba are both 18, and they mix it up with some extremely experienced players like Bruno N’Gotty and Radhi Jaidi in the Birmingham squad.
Steve Bruce is now keen on signing on the trio permanently and is working out a deal that will keep them at St Andrews next season when they move onto the Premiership. Personally, I think it is great that a coach like Wenger does not restrict his players movement to other clubs when their chances of playing in the first team is limited. Youngsters like Bendtner, Larsson, and Muamba have gained tremendously playing on a regular basis for a team like Birmingham. Anthony Stokes is another player with limited first team opportunities and Wenger saw no reason to hold him back when he joined Sunderland for £ 2m. Arturo Lupoli, Kerrea Gilbert, Jose Reyes, and Vito Mannone are all beneficiaries of Wengers philosophy.
Of course, this opens up the question as to whether giving away all this talent hurts Arsenal’s cause. Gunner fans will probably point to David Bentley, one of the few players who splits defenses playing wide which did not seem to fit too well with the Wenger approach of playing through the middle. Blackburn bought Bentley to their squad where he has impressed with his performance. Bentley’s lack of first team opportunity also furthered the perception against Wenger that he does not encourage English talent in his squad which is a load of rubbish.

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