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What happened to Arsenal's British Core?

Towards the end of the 2012 Arsenal managed to secure the long-term futures of five British players: Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. These five young players, along with Theo Walcott, were dubbed the "British core" and the future of Arsenal. In the last 4 years Arsenal have supplemented this core of British players with the addition of three other Englishmen: Danny Welbeck, Calum Chambers and Rob Holding. 

Despite possessing a large number of undoubtedly talented British players since 2012 the British core has had mixed fortunes with the players not living up to the high expectations set for them. High-quality foreign talent has limited the match time of the British players causing Carl Jenkinson, Calum Chambers and Jack Wilshere to leave the club on loan in search of minutes. So where are the British core now and how do they feature in our future?

Aaron Ramsey

Aaron Ramsey has been the biggest success out of the six players from the original core with a standout season in 2013/14. However, since then he has failed to maintain the same level of consistency largely due to injury and the need for a more balanced midfield. Ramsey is the closest to a guaranteed starter out of the bunch and the one most likely to feature heavily in Arsenal's future successes.

Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott celebrated 10 years at Arsenal this year and is one of the most experienced Arsenal players in the squad. Theo has had an up and down Arsenal career which has also been hampered by injury but the Englishman's failure to identify his best position possibly held him back more than anything else. Undoubtedly capable of playing through the middle, as proven last season before an injury to Alexis forced him wide left and into his worst form in his career, but since deciding to fully commit to the right wing his form has sky-rocketed. Walcott has had a good start to the 2016/17 season and is winning over the fans with his newfound passion for defending. Walcott's big game contributions at Arsenal will not be forgotten with the winger scoring crucial goals for the club. Walcott's opener in the 2015 FA Cup Final in the 4-0 win over Aston Villa was crucial to the Gunners retaining the crown. If he continues on his current trajectory he might be a genuine star and starter for Arsenal.

Carl Jenkinson & Jack Wilshere

After a loan spell at West Ham was cut short with injury lifelong Gooner Carl Jenkinson made his first Arsenal appearance in 898 days against Reading in the EFL Cup. What the future holds for him is uncertain as Hector Bellerin has cemented his position in the team as one of the best full-backs in the league. Jenkinson could forge a place as a reliable deputy but first make peace with limited playing time. Jack Wilshere's shock loan move to AFC Bournemouth in 2016 not only emphases Arsenal's squad depth but also that Arsenal's British core hasn't been as successful as predicted. Once considered our brightest young star it seems that Wilshere's inability to outshine his Bournemouth teammates will signal the end of his Arsenal career. Many hope for his return but unless he steps a level it looks increasingly less likely and so far he has stepped down to The Cherries' level rather than inspire them to his. 

Kieran Gibbs

Kieran Gibbs was Arsenal's first choice left-back in 2012 but has found himself playing second fiddle to the ever consistent Nacho Monreal. For his part, Kieran has accepted his new role with great professionalism as he plays understudy to one of the best left-backs in the Premier League. Despite limited playing time Gibbs has always been ready to step up when needed and with Nacho ageing he could find himself back in the team on a regular basis.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Arguably the most talented in the group Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has struggled to nail the basics since his £15m move from Southamption in 2011. The explosive winger arrived at Arsenal with bags of potential with the world at his feet but his inconsistency and injuries have hampered his development. Very much a confidence player the Ox has struggled to find his form and have a steady run in the Arsenal side. Saying that, Oxlade-Chamberlain has currently equaled his record goals in a year (5) already this season with goals coming against Reading, Nottingham Forest, and Ludogorets. If he can learn to hone his instincts and improve his final ball he could still make it.

The Future is Bright

Arsenal's British core may have just been a promtional tool for the Gunners but the history and tradition of having British players was an important one to continue. The influx of foreign players into the Premier League may have hampered the growth of the British core but the future still looks bright for Arsenal. The cream, as they say, will rise to the top and we have seen flashes of what the current British core is capable of. Our recruitment policy seems to have a more national feel to it and even if these British players do not live up to their full potential they are paving the way for the next generation at the heart of Arsenal's future plans.

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