What happened to Arsène Wenger’s ‘best generation’ of Arsenal children, 13 years later, including Wilshere, Frimpong and Coquelin – The Sun

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ARSENE WENGER once hailed his Arsenal class of 2008 as his best youth group.

Wenger’s teenage Gunners were meant to be the next big thing after a 6-0 demolition of Sheffield United in the Carling Cup that year.

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What happened to Arsène Wenger’s best teenagers in 2008?Credit: PA: Press Association

But where are they now?

And did they go on to have successful careers?

Here SunSport takes a look at Arsenal’s talented teens in 2008.

KIERAN GIBBS

    Kieran Gibbs suffered relegation from the Premier League with West Brom last season

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Kieran Gibbs suffered relegation from the Premier League with West Brom last seasonCredit: Getty Images – Getty

The left-back joined Arsenal from Wimbledon in 2004 and has played 230 times for the Gunners, winning two FA Cups.

Gibbs, now 31, also won ten England caps, was eventually dispatched to West Brom in 2017 and remained a Baggies player until he was relegated in May.

He has now moved to America to join David Beckham’s Inter Miami.

MARC RANDALL

    Mark Randall plays in Northern Ireland

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Mark Randall plays in Northern IrelandCredit: Rex Features

BEGINNING his Arsenal career in 2001, the midfielder has only made a total of 13 senior appearances for the Gunners.

Randall, 31, left in 2011 after loans to Burnley, MK Dons and Rotherham, playing for Chesterfield, Ascoli, Barnet, Newport County, Crawley Town and Hemel Hempstead.

He now plays for Larne in Northern Ireland, and his only piece of silverware came to Chesterfield with the 2012 Football League trophy.

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    Henri Lansbury left Bristol City for Luton Town this summer

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Henri Lansbury left Bristol City for Luton Town this summerCredit: Getty

HENRI LANSBURY

THE midfielder was signed by the Gunners in 1999 and has enjoyed loan spells at Scunthorpe, Watford, Norwich and West Ham.

Despite being a regular at England’s Under-21s, Lansbury has only played eight times for the Gunners.

However, the 30-year-old made a strong impression in the league with Nottingham Forest and was in his fourth season with Premier League side Aston Villa until leaving for Bristol City with a free transfer in January.

He has now joined Luton Town ahead of the next campaign.

AARON RAMSEY

    Aaron Ramsey now plays for Serie A club Juventus

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Aaron Ramsey now plays for Serie A club JuventusCredit: Getty Images – Getty

The Welsh international started for Cardiff City before joining Arsenal at the start of the 08-09 season.

Ramsey has been a huge hit in the Emirates, playing 369 times and winning three FA Cups.

However, Arsenal cleared the 30-year-old to go on a free transfer in July 2019 and Ramsey now plays alongside Cristiano Ronaldo for Italian champions Juventus and played for Wales at Euro 2020.

FRAN MERIDA

    Fran Merida seemed like a big star for Arsenal, but it never really worked out
Fran Merida seemed like a big star for Arsenal but it never really worked outCredit: Bradley Ormesher – The Times

POCKET of the Barcelona academy in 2005, great things were expected from the playmaker after a successful loan to Real Sociedad.

But Merida, 31, made just 16 appearances for Arsenal and was sent to Atletico Madrid in 2010.

Merida went on to play for Braga, Hercules, Atletico Paranaense, Huesca and Osasuna, before joining Espanyol as a free agent last summer.

FRANCIS COQUELIN

    Francis Coquelin plays for Villarreal in Spain
Francis Coquelin plays for Villarreal in SpainCredit: EPA

JOINED Arsenal Academy in 2008 before taking out loans at Lorient, Friborg and Charlton Athletic.

The defensive midfielder, 29, was a popular player at Arsenal, making 160 appearances and winning two FA Cups.

But he was sent to Spanish giants Valencia in 2017 before moving to Villarreal a year ago and he tasted the joy of the Europa League in May when they beat Manchester United on penalties to win the trophy. .

JACK WILSHERE

The ENGLISH teamed up with Arsenal in 2001 and made 197 appearances while winning two FA Cups.

Wilshere, 29, won the PFA Young Player of the Year and Arsenal Player of the Year in 2011.

But his progress was severely hampered by injury, resulting in a loan spell at Bournemouth before moving to West Ham for free in 2018.

Wilshere canceled his contract by mutual consent in October 2020 and returned to Cherries in January, but was released after missing promotion to the Championship through the play-offs.

CARLOS VELA

    Carlos Vela plays in MLS with Los Angeles FC

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Carlos Vela plays in MLS with Los Angeles FCCredit: Getty – Contributor

LEFT Mexico for Arsenal in 2005 and ended up making 62 appearances while taking loans at Salamanca, Osasuna, West Brom and Real Sociedad.

The 32-year-old joined the Spaniards for good in 2012 and scored 73 goals in 250 appearances.

Vela now plays for Los Angeles FC MLS and is the club’s captain.

JAY EMMANUEL-THOMAS

    Jay Emmanuel-Thomas now plays for Scottish elite Livingston
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas now plays for Scottish elite LivingstonCredit: Michael Schofield – The Sun Glasgow

STARTED at Arsenal in 2008, but only made five senior appearances.

He ended up representing Blackpool, Doncaster Rovers, Cardiff, Ipswich, Bristol City, QPR, MK Dons and Gillingham before slipping off the radar in 2017.

Emmanuel-Thomas, 30, then reappeared last year with Thailand’s PTT team Rayong before moving to Livingston and then signing a two-year contract in Aberdeen this summer.

ABU OGOGO

    Abu Ogogo is now a regular at Bristol Rovers

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Abu Ogogo is now a regular at Bristol RoversCredit: Getty – Contributor

MIDFIELDER left Wimbledon for Arsenal in 2004, but never made a senior appearance despite being on the bench twice in the League Cup.

He ended up playing for Dagenham & Redbridge, making 253 appearances before playing for Shrewsbury Town and Coventry City.

Ogogo, 31, then went to Bristol Rovers and enjoyed a loan return at Dagenham before recently signing a 12-month contract with National League Southend.

EMMANUEL FRIMPONG

    Emmanuel Frimpong retired in 2019 due to persistent knee injuries

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Emmanuel Frimpong retired in 2019 due to persistent knee injuriesCredit: Getty Images – Getty

STARTED at Arsenal in 2001 and played a total of 16 times while enjoying loans to Wolves, Charlton and Fulham.

He had a brief stint at Barnsley before spending time in Russia with Ufa and Arsenal Tula.

Frimpong also played for Sweden’s AFC Eskilstuna team, and his last club was Cypriot side Ermis Aradippou in 2017 before retiring in March 2019 at just 27.

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