Carl Jenkinson, right back, Arsenal, is a generally terrific-seeming goober of a man. On a team that is basically the best collection of goobers in world football and possibly world-anything, Carl has the local Essex/London background of Jack Wilshere but radiates nothing but puppyish optimism and good times. Admittedly, part of this is a social media construction, but it is real enough for me:
As a goober/Gooner, Carl is almost un-toppable (the possible exception of Aaron Ramsey posing with a tiny penguin at the zoo looms large and strong), but as a Gunner, Jenkinson, right back, remains raw like a rope burn. He is by no means a BAD player, and almost anyone's game would suffer in comparison with the stalwart Bacary Sagna, but in Jenkinson's 15 appearances this year across the league (often as a sub in the "all the fullbacks" formation), cups, and Champions League (the one loss against Napoli) present a bit of a mixed bag.
Jenkinson is 22 years old, so many of the issues can boil down to inexperience. He is blessed with great pace, and although he still looks a little slight physically, one suspects he's going to fill out into a powerful presence as time goes on. We know he can cross a bit, but his passing otherwise remains a bit shoddy. Composure and positioning are the two largest issues when it comes to Jenkinson defending, but they also represent two areas that are more easily coached assuming Jenkinson has the natural "footballing brain" to put them into practice. Not many right backs are solid defenders at age 22, for all the attacking talent they might have, so hopefully Jenkinson will continue to improve if he gets more games.
None of this, though, will take away how great it was when he finally scored his first Arsenal goal in this season's final league match against Norwich and subsequently went bonkers celebrating. Time will tell if Carl remains a sentimental fan favorite for his love or if he becomes a club icon for his play, but for now: we accept him / one of us.
Grade: C or maybe A+