Arsenal’s latest wonderkid Gedion Zelalem could be set for his first competitive debut for the Gunners as he is in line to feature for the Gunners in the North London derby in the third round of the FA Cup. Zelalem is not seventeen until Jan 26 and has yet to sign his first professional contract with Arsenal, but could be part of Wenger’s squad for the third-round visit of Spurs.
The highly gifted midfielder has already been on the substitutes’ bench, against Spurs and Fulham in the Premier League early this season, but was then sidelined for two months through injury. He returned for Arsenal Under-21s in November and an impressive performance against Manchester United Under-21s on 20th December convinced Wenger to promote Zelalem to train with the first team again.
With injury ravaging Arsenal’s midfield as Ramsey and Ozil are out and Wilshere could be rested as the English midfielder played two matches in four days and might just be needing a breather. Decision to rest Wilshere could pave the way for Zelalem to get an opportunity to become the first ever player to play for the Arsenal who was born after Wenger became Arsenal’s manager in September 1996. The German youngster has been likened to former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas who also made similar impression at a tender age but he is keeping his feet firmly on the ground.
“I don’t listen to any hype or anything like that,” said Zelalem. “I just listen to my parents and the people around me who love me. They keep me grounded, so it’s fine.
“I have really high expectations for myself, so, hopefully, I might be able to make a few appearances this season. But I’m still very young, so I have a lot of work to do. I will keep working hard and stay positive all the time.”
Well said Zelalem. I have watched him a few times especially during the pre-season tour of Asia and i must confess his touches were far above his years. He showed great vision and skill on the ball. It was a shame that he missed the Capital One Cup through a long term injury as I would have loved to see him against Premier League foes like Chelsea and West Brom but it is all good now that he is back. I don’t think the North London derby is too big a stage for him. Well, he might not start but he could come in, in the closing stages of the game. I am sure it will be an unforgettable experience for him.