With the possibility of Denilson departing from the Emirates this January, could this potentially open up more first-team opportunities to young Craig Eastmond?
The 20-year-old defensive midfielder joined the Gunners from Championship side Millwall at the age of 11 as a trainee in 2002, and has since honed his skills in the Arsenal youth academy.
After nearly 7 years at youth level, where he managed to help his team lift the F.A youth Cup in 2009, Eastmond, along with three other members of his side, signed professional terms with the club on June 30th 2009.
Eastmond was primarily a defender (right-back) when he first started out at the club, but his fine passing abilities caught Arsene Wenger eye, and as such, decided to convert the Englishman into a holding midfielder. Speaking to Arsenal.com in May of this year, Wenger complimented Eastmonds abilities and told why he opted to change the player’s position:
‘We always felt that he is very intelligent in his reading of the game but he lacked a little bit of pace so we put him in midfield.’
This season, Craig Eastmond has so far managed to appear 3 times for Arsenal, once in Europe and twice in the League Cup. Since his switch to senior level 2 years ago, the midfielder to this date has accumulated a total of 9 appearances for the Gunners (7 starts, 3 coming off from the bench).
Although Denilson could be heading out the Emirates doors this January, I still feel the young midfielder should be used as a substitute. He doesn’t seem to have the stamina to last the full 90 minutes at the moment which he will need to work on in the future.
If Denilson was to leave, then I would say Eastmond’s first-team chances would grow immensely. However, in my opinion, he will just be handed more cameo style appearances by Wenger. If the 20-year-old really wants to play regular first-team football week in week out, then Wenger should look to loan him out this winter.
With Alex Song and Jack Wilshere proving to be an effective midfield unit at present, as well as Abou Diaby nearing full fitness, Eastmond may still have to wait for more cracks at the first-team regardless of what transpires with Denilson this winter.
Click on the image below to get your free trial of Picklive – The most innovative football game since fantasy football
Follow me on Twitter – http://twitter.com/echethealec
Visit and Join our Facebook page, click HERE to do so