Even before Wednesday's cup-tie, Gnabry's scored on West Brom.

That’s how good he is (or can be).

Of course, I’m referring to the U21 match about two weeks back, when the young German unleashed a thunderous volley to put the Arsenal squad past West Brom 1-0. It’s one thing to score against a squad of teenagers, but Gnabry has shown in his short time with the first team that he has what it takes to play with the big

boys, having tucked in nicely against Stoke on Saturday after a nervous start (understandable given the short notice, Gnabry having found that he would start only after Walcott tore muscles in his abdomen during warm-ups). Think of that jolt: getting the call-up is one thing, but he probably assumed that he would be watching comfortably at least until the 70th minute or so, at which point he might get the call if the game was safely iced way). To then find out that he would get the start, and to have that start come on the day of Mesut Özil’s Emirates debut, must have electrified Gnabry. For him to have turned in such a calm, assured performance anyway signals that the 18-year old could be ready, not just to simply join the first team, but to make actual contributions.

Of course, with injuries to Walcott and the Ox, we naturally turn to Gnabry to play on the wing. Instead of discussing who might rotate in among those three, Gnabry is the last man standing. Happily, he acquitted himself quite well on Saturday, moving intelligently, making the most of his chances (save for a shot that he sent sailing into the seats), absorbing some cynical fouls (such as Huth’s cold-cock shoulder-block that should have drawn a booking), dropping deep to help in the build-up, and making himself an all-around good guy to have on the pitch.

This isn’t the first time that Gnabry has been totted up as a competitor with Walcott; he’s even been mentioned as an out-and-out replacement. Should Walcott continue to struggle to find his form after undergoing abdominal surgery, and should Gnabry seize the moment presented him in Walcott’s absence, those murmurings could grow. Rather than build up that molehill, however, let’s enjoy the idea that we could see some competition on the right flank between the two, the kind that can extract some exquisite performances from each. You won’t get Gnabry to engage in any such discussion, as he’s widely touted as having a great attitude and ethic, the kind of player who puts his shoulder to the wheel and keeps going until the whistle blows. I’m not implying any contrasts. I’m just mentioning certain attributes.

Despite his youth, he’s made first-team appearances already, having made three appearances in the 2012-13 campaign—the 6-1 victory over Coventry City (almost a year ago to the day, 26 September) the infamous 1-0 loss at Norwich , and the 2-0 loss to Schalke in the 2-0 Champions League group stage. Those experiences should serve him well, even if this is “only” the league cup. Given our recent history in this competition—crashing out to Bradford and Birmingham in successive years—some have fretted that facing recently-relegated West Brom is an ominous sign. Far better, they’d say, to face a lower-tier opponent in these early rounds. However, the spirit in this squad is such that I don’t care who we face. We’ve won ten road-matches in a row. Heck, we haven’t lost to West Brom in more than three years. Sure, they’ll be throwing on a few new faces, Nicholas Anelka, Stéphane Sessègnon and Victor Anichebe among them, but this is a squad we really should have no trouble despatching. After all, if we can’t get past West Brom, we have no business progressing in the cup, now, do we?

Therefore, I’m looking to Gnabry to turn in another impressive performance, this time adding a goal to his resumé as we look to advance. He’s netted once against the Baggies, so here’s hoping he’ll repeat the performance on Wednesday.

Before we close, I’ll offer a quick reminder that this site has been nominated as a Best New Blog in the Football Blogging Awards. You can vote via twitter by clicking this link or via email by clicking this link to receive the email ballot. Thanks, as always, for your visit!

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12 thoughts on “Even before Wednesday's cup-tie, Gnabry's scored on West Brom.

  1. Anonymous

    I thought he played well on Saturday. He should be one of the relatively more senior players tonight, so he might stamp his authority on the game a bit more.

  2. Anonymous

    Jon Shay lives in Illinois. Explains a lot – probably thinks the lower leagues is comprised of 11 teams, all called Englishter United.

  3. Anonymous

    Comments that include profanity or personal insults are deleted as described in the “Comments” page above. I certainly don't mind being corrected or criticized when I'm wrong.

  4. Anonymous

    The only thing that rankles is the lack of respect for opponents and the pseudo-superior arrogance you display in your view of them. Supporting a top-five club doesn't entitle you to act like the Duke of Edinburgh, you haven't climbed the evolutionary ladder and being an Arsenal fan hasn't imbued you with a better personality. There's pride and then there's disappearing up your own fundament. The latter of which you've done perfectly.You're better than that, aren't you?

  5. Anonymous

    I apologize for sounding arrogant as it wasn't my goal. I certainly don't feel superior to anyone by rooting for Arsenal. I do maintain that Arsenal should be able to beat West Brom, and if they can't, they shouldn't claim to be contenders. I recognize the irony of rooting for a big club while criticizing the bigger ones. I loved seeing Wigan beat Man City last year, for example, both because I dislike Man City but also because I enjoy seeing glory go to a club that worked so hard to earn it. Before we go off on why I'd root for the little guy while still rooting for a big club like Arsenal, I discovered Arsenal at a young age and have grown too attached to change now. I'll root for West Brom every day that they're not facing Arsenal. I'll leave it at that and hope you'll continue to visit. You seem like you have a lot to say (although I'd prefer you keep the personal insults to yourself.). Thanks!

  6. Anonymous

    If anything that could be perceived as personal slight came out of it, it came out of annoyance/anger rather than malice – concentrated on the views, not the man, so I apologize if it looked personal (which wasn't the intention). Thank you for explaining why you supported Arsenal. When you're young, you get the hook into you and you can't let go. I started supporting WBA when some old school friends asked me to do cartoons for a then-existing fanzine. West Brom's plans to have me age ten years every Saturday since the start of the 1990's has been a success. A long journey of bleary-eyed trawling with sudden stretches of joy.And yes, you will win tonight – a possible 3-1. All the best to you.

  7. Anonymous

    Let this all be a lesson to me in not assuming that everyone who visits this site is an Arsenal fan. I'm not from the UK and am not as attuned as I should be to each club's personality, reputation, perception, etc., not even of Arsenal's. I do love the league cup for the idea that anyone, regardless of size, could topple another larger club. I think a lot of Gunners have gotten too used to the idea that we “deserve” to win because “we're Arsenal”, and I try to avoid falling into that routine. Thanks for bringing me around!Take care.

  8. Anonymous

    Admittedly Jon is an Arsenal fan, as am I, but since I do live down the street, I might also add he does not dress in red at all times, but then neither do I 🙂


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