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After a two-year wait Arsenal's forgotten man Carl Jenkinson finally has something to smile about

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After a two-year wait Arsenal’s forgotten man Carl Jenkinson finally has something to smile about

  • Carl Jenkinson last played for the Gunners in a League Cup tie in November 2016
  • He joined Birmingham on loan last season but made only seven appearances
  • The defender earned a second start in just over a week against Sporting Lisbon  

James Sharpe For Mail Online

You wait 701 days for an Arsenal appearance — and then two come along almost at once. There must be a London joke in there somewhere.

It’s something, at least, for Gunners full-back Carl Jenkinson to smile about. 

Jenkinson, the forgotten man for the best part of two years, earned a second start in just over a week as Unai Emery’s side took another step closer to qualification for the Europa League knock-out stages against Sporting Lisbon at the Emirates Stadium.

Carl Jenkinson has had to wait a long time for the chance to impress at Arsenal

Carl Jenkinson has had to wait a long time for the chance to impress at Arsenal

When Jenkinson had been announced in the squad for the previous group match against Sporting last month, where he was an unused substitute, fans had been so surprised to see his name that many admitted they had not realised he was still at the club.

Emery had even named Jenkinson as one of three players who could leave the club this summer alongside David Ospina and Joel Campbell. The other two did depart. Jenkinson, who has a contract until 2020, stayed on.

The 26-year-old returned last week in the Carabao Cup win against League One side Blackpool, his first appearance for Arsenal since another cup outing in November 2016.

The 26-year-old defender earned a second start in just over a week against Sporting Lisbon

The 26-year-old defender earned a second start in just over a week against Sporting Lisbon

The 26-year-old defender earned a second start in just over a week against Sporting Lisbon

This, though, was a step up. A European fixture, albeit with Arsenal’s passage through the group all but assured. His last one of those had also come two years ago this month in the Champions League against Paris-Saint Germain.

There’s not been much football in between either. Just nine games on loan at Birmingham last season, the former England international’s spell blighted by unfortunate injury and uninspiring form.

It was no surprise, then, to see Jenkinson ease himself into this one on the left side of the defence.

Jenkinson has not played much football recently but he was solid enough on Thursday

Jenkinson has not played much football recently but he was solid enough on Thursday

Jenkinson has not played much football recently but he was solid enough on Thursday

He had not much to do early on, but completed any necessary task with quiet efficiency. No messing around. Thump it into touch instead of trying an intricate turn. A solid tackle on Abdoulay Diaby earned an appreciative round of applause from the home fans. Safety first.

Ventures into the final third were few. Better to keep it simple. It’s been a while, after all. When he did get into crossing positions, there was so must rust on his delivery that they barely landed inside the penalty area.

But he was solid enough.

Jenkinson emerged in the second half ready to elaborate. When he saw a cleared corner arching towards him on the edge of the penalty area he was ready.

Jenkinson shakes hands with manager Unai Emery after being substituted in second half

Jenkinson shakes hands with manager Unai Emery after being substituted in second half

Jenkinson shakes hands with manager Unai Emery after being substituted in second half

Jenkinson took aim, swung so hard both feet left the ground, almost missed the ball completely but still managed to shin it straight to Matteo Guendouzi stood 15 yards behind him.

To his credit, he followed it up moment later with a strong block to deny Diaby again. Back to those basics.

He came off on the hour. Another ripple of applause. A smile. A high-five with Emery.

The Arsenal boss has, in the absence of injured first-choice Nacho Monreal, played three different players at left-back in his last three Premier League games. One of them was central midfielder Granit Xhaka. 

Did Jenkinson do enough to make it four this weekend when Arsenal play Wolves? Perhaps not, although the potential hamstring injury to Stephan Lichtsteiner will boost his chances. 

Regardless, you would think Jenkinson won’t have to wait another 701 days for his next game. 

 



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Manchester United need to repeat Sir Alex Ferguson trick by stealing Arsenal superstar

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Manchester United are still far adrift of battling for a Premier League title with Liverpool currently flying high at the top of the table ahead of their meeting at Anfield today (4.30pm), but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should follow in the footsteps of his former boss to get the club back to the top. Sir Alex Ferguson was often lauded for his exploits in the transfer market for bringing in the right player at the right time.

Since his retirement though, United have lost that sharpness in the transfer market to find what they need.

Marouane Fellaini, Angel Di Maria, Morgan Schneiderlin, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez are just some of the names United have spent big on in previous years with little to no success in return.

Jose Mourinho did lead United to the best-of-the-rest to second spot in the 2017/18 campaign, but last season saw them finish outside the top four for the fourth time in the last six seasons.

There has been some promise in the transfer window under Solskjaer with the acquisitions of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire and Daniel James strengthening in areas that were necessary.

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But this is a United team who won eight Premier League titles since the turn of the century, their last being arguably Ferguson’s most famous.

The Red Devils were still reeling from seeing Manchester City snatch the 2011/12 Premier League title after Sergio Aguero’s dramatic late winner on the final day of the season.

However, Ferguson responded in the transfer market with a killer blow to their Premier League rivals by signing the league’s most prolific striker from Arsenal – Robin van Persie.

The Dutchman had spent eight years with Arsenal but was entering the final year of his contract and United jumped in to steal the striker away from Arsene Wenger in one of the most surprising deals in Premier League history.

United could face the same situation this summer. While missing out on the title on the last day of the season is all-but out of the question, they may have to face the prospect of seeing arch-rivals Liverpool lift the title for the first time in 30 years.

And the Merseyside outfit are being backed for a period of dominance at the top of the English league should they go on to claim that elusive Premier League title.

Only United fans will be able to say which would be a worse prospect, but the club under Ferguson back in 2012 responded by signing Van Persie and going on to storm to the title the following season as Ferguson called time on his illustrious career.

The Old Trafford outfit though should try to repeat that same feat this summer in the transfer window to steal another Arsenal superstar who has shown reluctance to sign new terms at the Emirates – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The Gabon international is out of contract in 2021 with the current Arsenal captain supposedly wanting Champions League football.

United could end up beating Arsenal to the final spot in the top four come the end of the season and going after Aubameyang would be a huge signal of intent about the club going after players capable of taking them to the next level.

At 30 years of age, United would still be getting some of Aubameyang’s best years while young players such as Rashford, Martial and Greenwood could learn a lot from the Arsenal forward.

Whether or not Arsenal would be willing to risk similar business which saw them lose Van Persie remains to be seen, but United could leave them with no choice.

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