For all the glowing tributes and adulation of Arsenal’s fantastic youth academy, there is a common misconception that their policy is to recruit and relocate talent from abroad. This notion is partly borne from the number of foreign players who appear to make the grade as opposed to their English counterparts.
Instances of home grown success stories have been in short supply, Theo Walcott was plucked from Southampton, and whilst the club can take credit for Ashley Cole, the likes of David Bentley and Jermaine Pennant have needed to spread their fledgling wings before prospering. This void of English talent emerging from the Shenley training centre will soon be coming to an end.
Last season the young Gunners completed an Academy Premier League and FA Youth Cup double, with a squad largely consisting of players from our shores. The starting XI for the Youth Cup Final first-leg with Liverpool boasted nine Englishmen. Jack Wilshere may be the most instantly recognisable name to many, but within the Emirates there is just as much expectations being placed on another London lad, Henri Lansbury.
With the Gallic spelling of his Christian name, it seems almost inevitable that Lansbury should emerge from the Premier League’s most Francophile club. The dynamic midfielder fits the archetypal mould for an Arsenal player, combining excellent technique with the intelligence and appreciation of how football should be played. Such traits are a pre-requisite for any player hoping to emerge from such an illustrious institution, but Lansbury is different, and combines a drive and tenacity not always associated with the dainty skills of an Arsene Wenger prot