Since the beginning of ‘the Emirates era’, and indeed before, Arsenal have had a gold-mine of youngsters, many in demand for loan moves to the lower tiers of English football. Benik Afobe excelled at Huddersfield, Chuks Aneke is finding form at Crewe Alexandra, and now Charlton Athletic have secured the services of central-midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong.
Frimpong may be most well-known for his colourful personality off of the pitch – his tweets have often been controversial, and his friendship with Lethal Bizzle (DENCH!) has led to a flurry of branded products – but, as with most Arsenal academy graduates, is very talented. One exception being Mark Randall.
For a lot of his Arsenal career, Frimpong has been either playing alongside or in direct competition with Francis Coquelin. However, a combination of injuries and perhaps a questionable attitude have seen Frimpong fall behind his French team-mate in the battle to be Mikel Arteta’s understudy, although neither are quite ready.
The midfielder, who was born in Ghana but is also eligible for England, spent some time at Wolves, and impressed those who saw him ply his trade at Molineux, until his spell was cut short by an unfortunate cruciate injury – the same injury as the one that had side-lined him for several months, only on the other leg. His industrious midfield performances won him many admirers.
His form in Arsenal colours wasn’t bad either. His most memorable game was undoubtedly against Liverpool at home, in which the Gunners succumbed to a 2-0 defeat to the Reds after Frimpong had been given his marching orders. Although he was perhaps too enthusiastic, as evidenced by his red card for two yellows, he was rambunctious in his play and his drive was infectious.
One particular moment stands out – the youngster picked up the ball inside Liverpool’s half, drove forward and tested Pepe Reina with a fizzing effort low to the goalkeeper’s right. After Reina had tipped the ball wide for a corner, Frimpong turned to the crowd and gestured wildly in an attempt to get the crowd to up the ante as he had on the pitch. The fans duly responded, rising to their feet to applaud Frimpong’s efforts.
In a game in which Arsenal were struggling to create, Frimpong’s commitment was welcomed, and while it eventually saw him red carded, most fans were in agreement that he’d impressed. Coquelin may be known for his tidy passing and tenacious running, but Frimpong’s industry and power is equally as valuable.
He should fit in well alongside skipper Johnnie Jackson or the mercurial Dale Stephens in a 4-4-2 for Charlton, although has played in a three-man midfield for the majority of his time at Arsenal. What he brings above all is energy, power and aggression – but he’s not just a player to do the dirty work. As is typical of an Arsenal academy graduate, he can pick a pass, and while he’s not renowned for it, he’s tidy in possession; he’s a perfect complement to the other Charlton midfielders.
Overall, if he can focus on his football and not selling his merchandise, he should be a great addition for Charlton. His fitness might be a concern as he has appeared prone to injury, but he’s had experience with Arsenal at the top level, which should stand him in good stead.