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An update on Arsenal’s “British Core”

They were destined for greatness in 2012, where are they now?

Five Arsenal Players Sign New Contracts Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Many Arsenal fans will remember this photo taken in December 2012. It’s hard to believe it was that long ago.

This was a big day in Arsenal history as then manager Arsene Wenger secured the long-term signatures of five up and coming players who were referred to as the Gunner’s British core. The group signing contract extensions included Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Carl Jenkinson.

In making the announcement Wenger said, “We are delighted that these five young players have all signed new long-term contracts. The plan is to build a team around a strong basis of young players in order to get them to develop their talent at the club.”

The press conference was in part a reaction to having previously lost players whose contracts were allowed to run down. Arsenal had recently seen Robin van Persie join Manchester United and Cesc Fábregas leave for Barcelona.

Here’s an update on what has become of the five players meant to be the future of Arsenal.

Jack Wilshere: Wilshere came up through the ranks at Arsenal and played for the first team at just 16. He made his senior England debut at 18. Expectations were high for Wilshere and the home-grown talent appeared destined for greatness.

Unfortunately, he has been plagued by numerous ankle and knee injuries throughout his career and was regularly in and out of the Gunners’ lineup.

In an effort to prove his fitness and get regular playing time Wilshere joined Bournemouth on loan for the 2016-2017 season.

When he returned to North London, Wenger had moved on and Wilshere found that he was not a part of new manager Unai Emery’s plans. He was allowed to leave for West Ham in 2018.

Things didn’t improve for Wilshere with the Hammers. He made just 19 appearances in two years and was injured for most of his time with the club. His contract was mutually terminated last month with one year remaining,

Still just 28, Wilshere is currently looking for a new club with the latest reports linking him with an MLS move.

Wilshere played 197 matches for Arsenal in all competitions and scored 14 goals

Best Arsenal Moment

Wilshere was the winner of the BBC’s Goal of the season versus Norwich during the 2013-2014 campaign and against West Brom for the 2014-2015 season.

Aaron Ramsey: Ramsey was a hugely popular player with fans. He spent 11 seasons in North London and played in 369 matches in all competitions while scoring a total of 64 goals.

Ramsey came to Arsenal at 18 from his boyhood club Cardiff city in 2008. His career was just taking off when he suffered a horrific injury, breaking his tibia and fibula courtesy of Ryan Shawcross and Stoke City in February 2010. Ramsey was out nine months but came back to become an Arsenal regular.

Sadly and a bit ironically, Ramsey’s contract was allowed to run down. When he was finally offered a new deal, he had already made up his mind to join Juventus following the 2018-2019 campaign.

Ramsey’s best season in red and white was 2013-2014 when he scored 16 goals in all competitions.

Best Arsenal Moments

Ramsey will always be remember for his winning goal in the 2014 FA Cup Final against Hull which broke a nine year club trophy drought.

He repeated the feat in the 2017 FA Cup scoring the winning goal in the 79th minute to give the Gunners a 2-1 victory over Chelsea.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: The Ox was signed from Southampton in August 2011. Over his six seasons with Arsenal he featured in 198 matches and scored 20 goals.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was often asked to play as a wing-back instead of his preferred midfield position and was unable to secure a regular starting spot.

He signed for Liverpool in August 2017 in a £40million deal with the promise of being used as a midfielder. Unfortunately for Oxlade-Chamberlain he has suffered several injuries and has been used primarily as a squad player. He’s still just 27, however, and has three years remaining on his current contract.

He was a part of the Reds’ 2019 Champions League victory and last season’s Premier League Championship side.

Best Arsenal Moment

This one is personal because I was at this match in February 2014 when Oxlade-Chamberlain scored both goals in Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace.

Kieran Gibbs: Gibbs joined Arsenal’s academy in 2004.

Following the departure of Gaël Clichy to Manchester City in 2011 Gibbs stepped up to become Arsenal’s first-choice left back

A combination of injuries and the signing of Nacho Monreal in January 2013 led to less playing time for Gibbs. Monreal soon jumped over him in the pecking order and his opportunities with the Gunners’ dried up.

In the end, he signed for West Brom in 2017. Gibbs made 230 appearances for Arsenal and scored 6 goals.

Moment Gibbs is Best Remembered For

Gibbs was the recipient of a ridiculous red card from referee Andre Mariner in March 2014 after an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlains handball. Mariner later apologized for confusing the two players, but Gibbs was probably happy to leave the pitch that day as Arsenal were hammered by Chelsea 6-0.

Carl Jenkinson: Right back Jenkinson joined Arsenal in 2011 from Charlton’s youth system.

During his first three years with the Gunners he received little playing time. He was then loaned out to West Ham for two seasons, followed by one with Birmingham City.

Back with Arsenal, Jenkinson featured just eight times and found himself with limited opportunities. In 2019 he signed a three-year deal with Championship side Nottingham Forest. Before departing he thanked Arsenal fans for the chance to play for the club he had supported since childhood.

Best Arsenal Moment

Jenkinson’s one and only Arsenal goal occurred in May 2014 versus Norwich City. It was pretty cool to see him score for the club he loved as a boy.