The failure of the British core at Arsenal

The failure of the British core at Arsenal

A look into the untimely disbanding of what was supposed to be Arsenal's future.

TJWedderburn
TJ Wedderburn

In December 2012, Jack Wilshere, Carl Jenkinson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs all signed new long term deals at Arsenal. Soon after, Theo Walcott would also put pen to paper.

At the time, it was believed these players would be the core of the Arsenal team, the "British Core", the backbone and foundation of the club for years to come. These select few were supposed to spearhead Arsenal to domestic and European success, combining their talent with their nationality-based camaraderie. 

Fast forward five years, and this project, this vision, implemented by Arsene Wenger, has come apart at the seams.

Re-occurring injuries, a lack of development, and unforeseen departures has rendered the British Core an anti-climactic failure. Here's a look at the journey of the players who were earmarked to become homegrown legends at Arsenal;

Jack Wilshere

Arguably the most talented of the bunch. After a dominating display against a peak Barcelona in 2011, Wilshere had the world at his feet. 

Touted as a future captain for club and country, Wilshere was described by Wenger as "a player with Spanish technique, and English grit." It was hard to disagree with the Frenchman, Wilshere's range of passing, close control, and ability to find pockets of space was all comparable to the best Spanish playmakers around. This was a player with frightening potential.

However, the Stevenage-born midfielder has had a torrid time with injuries. Never quite managing to put together a sustained run of injury-free games.  At 25 years of age, Wilshere found himself on loan to Bournemouth last season, where he played 27 league games before once again succumbing to injury. 

He now has a year left on his contract and his future at Arsenal is anyone's guess. 

Carl Jenkinson

Signed from Charlton in 2011, Jenkinson was seen as nothing more than a low-risk punt who may or (more likely) may not become a key player at Arsenal. 

But after an impressive run of form, and earning a full England cap, it seemed as though Jenkinson could conceivably become a key player at The Emirates...

Not so.

After suffering a lower back stress fracture, Jenkinson found it difficult to return to the level he showed before his spell on the sidelines. He was loaned to West Ham in 2014, and again in 2015, but a mix of injuries and inconsistency meant he was unable to nail down a first team place.  

Jenkinson is now on loan at Championship side Birmingham City, where he is currently nursing a shoulder injury. 

Kieran Gibbs

A product of Arsenal's youth academy, Kieran Gibbs made his first team debut in 2007.

Originally a left winger, Gibbs eventually settled into a left full back role and was a key player for The Gunners in the 2011/12 season following the sale of Gael Clichy.

Several encouraging performances saw Gibbs emerge as a potential starter for club and country, to date he possesses ten England caps. But eventually the promising displays would take a sharp downturn, as injury setbacks hampered his development. He would remain a squad player until the summer of 2017 where he was sold to West Brom for a fee of around £7M. 

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Oxlade-Chamberlain was snapped up by Arsenal at the tender age of 17. After graduating from Southampton's famed youth setup, "The Ox" arrived in north London with a big reputation.

Despite all his ability - pace, power, dribbling, ambidexterity - Oxlade-Chamberlain failed to achieve any kind of consistency. The 24-year-old would often follow up man-of-the-match performances with mediocrity, leaving pundits and supporters alike all scratching their heads.

The debate also ranges on about where he is best utilised. He has played on the right wing for Arsenal, as well as in central midfield, and most recently right wing back. According to reports, his lack of a defined position was a contributing factor in his decision to leave Arsenal after six years. 

He is expected to complete a move to Liverpool in a deal worth up to £40M. 

Aaron Ramsey

Perhaps the one unequivocal success story of the British Core, Ramsey is a key player at The Emirates, having been at the club since 2008.

He is responsible for winning goals in two FA Cup finals, one in 2014 and another in 2017. The Welshman is also indispensable for his national team, and was named in the team of the tournament for Euro 2016.

After a devastating leg break away to Stoke in 2010, it was hard to see Ramsey fulfilling his vast potential. But by the 2013/14 season, Ramsey proved himself to be one of the top midfielders in the Premier League, after scoring 16 goals in all competitions.

There is a debate to be had whether he has managed to replicate that season's form since in an Arsenal shirt, but his contributions in red and white mean he has to be acknowledged as a shrewd signing at the very least.

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