Given that Arsene Wenger revealed that he was the sole reason the Arsenal manager didn’t go out and buy a ready-made replacement for Manchester City bound Emmanuel Adebayor in the summer, that the Arsenal manager sees many similiarities between him and former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler and that the 20 year old Mexican has been hailed as one of the brightest young footballers in the world for several years now, many Arsenal fans must be wondering when Carlos Vela is going to be given a chance to stake a claim for a regular place in the first team.
However, if you are a fan of football betting, I’d not be making any predictions that this is going to happen any time soon.
Many assumed that the injuries to Van Persie and Bendtner, combined with the less than impressive form of Eduardo, would give Vela his chance. The Mexican made five appearances for Arsenal through December, all as a substitute and indeed all his league appearances this season for the Gunners have come as a substitute. However Wenger seems reluctant to play the 20 year old striker from the start, particularly in league games, and it is therefore confusing to read effusive eulogies from Wenger when he seems unwilling to give Vela a starting place in the team. Speaking recently Wenger stated;
“Vela is a fantastic talent and he is 20 years old. We have invested a lot of time for him because we put him in Spain for two years, got him back and now we work with him every day.
“I believe he is a Robbie Fowler-type. He needs very little time to make a decision in the box. He is relaxed, when he finishes he has very short backline. He is, as well, left footed and he is a similar size.”
I think it is then a fair question to ask, given the Arsenal striking situation and the fact that Andrei Arshavin has been forced to forge a lone striking role for a good portion of the season, why hasn’t Vela been given a chance?
It isn’t like Wenger is afraid to unleash talented youngsters into his first team. Fabregas, Walcott, Ramsey, Gibbs and Mannone are just some of the talented players whom Wenger has given a chance at a young age by giving them considerable playing time. It seems somewhat strange then that given Arsenal’s shortage of strikers in recent months, Wenger has chosen to overlook Vela, despite regarding him so highly.
There are plenty of possible reasons why this is of course. Vela was injured at the start of the season and only really returned to full fitness around November time. However this was when Arsenal’s striking injury jinx began to take hold. He appeared as a substitute several times in December but hasn’t made the first team, Wenger instead preferring to play Arshavin in a lone striking role. Is it that Vela is still learning his trade against the more unsubtle powerhouse defenders of the English Premier League? I’m not too sure, Vela spent two years on loan in Spanish football with Salamanca and Osasuna, playing many games against some of the toughest Spanish defenders at Primera Liga and Segunda Liga level. Spanish defenders know how to put it about with the best of them. Ask Maradona.
Maybe Vela’s adaptation to English football is taking a little longer than planned? Again this is worth considering, but when Vela has played from the start, notably in the Carling Cup, he has looked a class act. Few Arsenal fans will forget his stunning hat trick against Sheffield United in the competition a couple of seasons ago. Surely if he can cope with Sheffield United’s powerful defence, he’d be fine in the Premier League? If he is as good as Wenger says he is, I’d put my money where my mouth is and stick a few of my own quid (well ok, perhaps a couple of free bets!) on him thriving once he is given an extended chance.
It’s something of a mystery why Vela hasn’t been given at least one chance so far, but I’m not going to second guess Arsene Wenger. He’s handed the Mexican a brand new contract in December 2009 and Vela looks set to be an Arsenal player for many years to come.
Let’s just hope that for the majority of time, he is thrilling Gunners fans with his performances on the pitch!