Still unsure as to whether Alex Song will play against Porto on Wednesday so I thought about Craig Eastmond – the player many hope to see take his place.
We probably all know that Arsene Wenger will replace Song with Denilson sadly, but let’s take a look at just who Craig Eastmond is and where he came from.
Coming from a big family was crucial in Craig’s formative football years: he was the youngest boy with five brothers and one sister – Craig used to play football with all his brothers and their friends and he says that helped him to toughen up mentally and physically. They also used to coach him from a very young age which he believes gave him a head start. A couple of his brothers had early footballing careers with Millwall and Wimbledon, but both were cut short.
In an interview with the clubs magazine a couple of years ago, the youngster draws inspiration from a female member of his family, his mum Amanda: “My mum has been everywhere with me since I started playing club football when I was eight. I was with Millwall first, which was closer to our home in Battersea,” he recalls. “But I then joined Arsenal when I was eleven. She would make the journey on the train with me three nights a week to Hale End in Chingford and then wait for me and bring me home on the train again. A big part of me feels that I have to give myself every chance of becoming a professional because of what she did and still does for me.”
Born in London, his first club was Millwall. After two years there he moved to Arsenal in 2002, aged just eleven years old.
Craig is described as being able to play right back or in the defensive midfield position, a bit like Francis Coquelin. He is just nineteen years old and stands 6ft tall. Both Eastmond and Steve Bould have said that right back is not his best position, so it looks like the holding/defensive midfield role is where we will see him most used.
By his own admission he lacks a bit of pace but his major strength is having the ability to read the game, something which Arsene Wenger has also observed.
He works on his pace day to day – but I say, don’t worry, pace alone gets you nowhere, does it Theo 😉
He has obviously impressed the club over the years and in June 2009 Arsenal announced that he had signed his first professional contract at the club. This was not long after he had played a huge part in the team that won the Youth FA Cup earlier the same year.
Eastmond has made four starts and two sub appearances for the first team and in a recent interview with AFC Online, he says he doesn’t feel properly part of the first team set up but believes that if he continues the way has been playing, it won’t be long before he is – he is surprised though that he has been given the chance so early after signing his professional contract.
His proudest moment is his full debut in a 2-0 away win at Bolton – his most bitter to date is the defeat at Stoke in the FA Cup, however, what I find quite interesting is that he says he didn’t feel the buzz, the excitement of playing in the good old English FA Cup, not like players did years ago.
What he wants though is to be part of the first team squad permanently and make his breakthrough – he will go out on loan to gain experience if needed, not yet though..
Right now he likes to spend time in Alexander Song’s pocket, asking question after question about the role he has made his own. He wants that same position to one day become his..
When asked if he watches other players to learn more – he says, I can, but I like to watch our own and get feed back… Good man, but I say, go and watch Essien or Yaya Toure as well. 🙂
So that’s Craig Eastmond, do you think he has what it takes?
Time will tell, but he is a humble lad who has seen his brothers footballing lives crumble, just maybe that is what gives him the drive to become the next central midfielder to not only wear the red and white of Arsenal, but the colours of England too.
Have a good day all…