Guest post by Jeff (@jeff_ozule)
Wenger was once advised to go and watch an impressive young Right back who had played a handful of games for Charlton. He was said to have pace and the heart of a warrior,a tall lad who never stops trying.
Best of all, he was a life time Gooner. Not just any gooner. Take a look at his room. He was Arsenal through and through.
Ladies and Gentlemen, that player scouted then was our very own Corporal Jenkinson.
Born in 1992, Jenkinson has earned a meteoric rise to prominence in just 2 years. Of course Arsene was immediately impressed in this young half finished English lad. For a fee of just £1m, Wenger ,with his eye for a bargain, must have rubbed his hands together, delighted in knowing he has just found another gem, one who in the long run would prove him right in thinking so as he grew to be the Sagna successor that he was envisioned to be.
Immediately thrown into the deep for his league debut against Liverpool at Anfield in Sagna’s absence, that was followed with a key performance against Udinese where you saw glimpses of what he could be capable of. This was followed by that infamous game against Man Utd in our 3rd league game of the season with only one point from the previous 2 games. Its safe to say Jenkinson had a torrid time when starting off his Arsenal career. Despite providing an assist for Van Persie, he didn’t finish the match at Old Trafford as he was later sent off. One of the lasting images for many from that game was one of him arguing with Walcott and I think that moment and the performance in that game did establish an initial mental block in many fans that was held against any evidence of his ability. Let’s not forget though that the whole team played badly as we lost that day (I could go on and defend why we lost by so much or even lost at all but I probably shouldn’t dig up too many memories of that day)
However, there was something I noticed about Jenkinson that day: he always tried. He never gave up, always tried and tried even if it came to an unsuccessful end. This is the stand out ability of many that Jenkinson possesses, you are always sure he will try and never give up, When a player works so hard for the team, even when mistakes are made, such a player is always appreciated (however not always in the case of Ramsey, I have no idea why fans don’t appreciate him). If only this attitude was always shown by more players , we could have had a different animal of a team.
I have always maintained that player by player our team is almost as good as city or Chelsea and better that Manchester United,bar their striking department. We need more players to play with the determination and heart that young Jenkinson displays, with the same attitude of never giving up, never stopping to try and never shying away from a difficult moment and grabbing it by the scruff of the neck.
Since that day however, Jenkinson,with Arsene’s guidance, has traveled from conference footballer to capped England international in just 2 years. He’s gotten to the point where many legitimately consider it an even fight between him and Sagna for playing as starting right back for us. His tireless, lung busting performances have left many positive lasting memories this season, whether it is chasing down Agbonlahor, tackling the ball and running back just as fast on offense or it is speeding in from nowhere trying to block an effort against Bayern Munich or that look on his face as he scored the equalizer in the last minute of stoppage time to force extra time in that crazy 7-5 against Reading.
And he isn’t done yet. As part of the club’s English core, he has pledged his future to us and is improving at a rate that will soon put him among the best at his role for many years to come.
All hail Corporal Jenkinson, I have no doubt that he is going to be an Arsenal Legend one day.