Arsenal Man of the Match: Serge Gnabry

Scott Heavey

E pluribus unum. There were several possible choices, but the youngster gets the nod.

I've been talking about Serge Gnabry since it was first rumored that Arsenal were trying to bring him in from VfB Stuttgart. I'm not taking credit for anything, as it was mostly based on the fact that I saw Jamie Sanderson tweet about him being a "talent," or something like that. But for whatever reason, I've been following him and talking him up for so long that it seems like he should be about 25 years old by now.

He's 18.

While there were a lot of players who could have gotten recognition after Arsenal defeated Swansea City 2-1 on Saturday - Aaron Ramsey had a goal and an assist, Per Mertesacker played well again in defense, Kieran Gibbs essentially disappeared Nathan Dyer. But for consistency, Gnabry was the man.

And who would have expected it? When Theo Walcott was "ill" against Stoke, I was concerned. As we probably all were. Despite the complaining we all do, Walcott is one of Arsenal's better players, and he's important as he stretches defenses to create space for others to work. He's so important to Arsenal's counterattack, and with the subtle change in style Arsenal have made in the past year or so, losing him looked like it could be a big problem.

But Lt. Serge came straight into the team and looked like he belonged. He was good against Stoke if a little simple; it looked like he was playing extremely conservatively to avoid mistakes, but that meant he didn't have a strong impact on the game either. But after being part of the midweek Capital One Cup win against West Bromwich Albion, he looked more confident at Swansea. He hadn't looked out of place against Stoke, but here he looked like he belonged.

He has talent, and it was readily visible. Olivier Giroud's late-first-half chance came from a Gnabry through-ball. And, of course, his goal to put Arsenal ahead in the 58th minute. It's his first Premier League goal and his first for Arsenal's first team, and it looked like it could have been his hundredth. Aaron Ramsey's pass was controlled perfectly, and slotted home with the composure of a striker half again his age.

But his composure and intelligence was visible all over the game. He keeps possession well, with strength and guile. He has the presence of mind not to try moves that are likely to lose possession. Will Benn on Twitter mentioned one example that perfectly describes his intelligence. Gnabry was played in deep but was the only Arsenal player there. He used his strength to ditch a defender, but rather than running pell-mell towards goal, he took the ball into the corner to wait for reinforcements. With that and his ability and desire to track back defensively - he had several important blocks back when Swansea were threatening at 0-0 - he looks less like a kid in his second start and more like a veteran.

It's unlikely that once Walcott and eventually Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain become available, Gnabry will play a huge role in Arsenal's team. He's not quite ready yet. But he's very close to it, judging by his last few performances. He can do the job, or better. And I'm pretty excited to see how he develops.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join The Short Fuse

You must be a member of The Short Fuse to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Short Fuse. You should read them.

Join The Short Fuse

You must be a member of The Short Fuse to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Short Fuse. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9353_tracker