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Frimpong the new Essien?

Emmanuel FrimpongWritten by Jonny Payne.

Emmanuel Frimpong has long been touted as a potential Arsenal star, and now the young Ghanaian has a chance to impress during the club’s preseason tour of Austria. He shares nationality and many attributes with a certain Chelsea player, but can Frimpong be Arsenal’s answer to Michael Essien?

Frimpong and fellow midfield destroyer Francis Coquelin provided a solid midfield base for the double-winning Arsenal youth team in 2009. Last season, while Coquelin continued his progress, Frimpong was dogged by injuries. This allowed Craig Eastmond to jump ahead of him in the pecking order – and somewhat surprisingly, straight into the first team squad.

With Coquelin moving on loan to Lorient for the duration of this season, a fully fit Frimpong was given a chance to impress during Arsenal’s first friendly at Barnet, and he was widely recognised as one of the best performers.

Frimpong was quick in the tackle, effective with the ball and altogether a determined bundle of energy against the League Two hosts.

The greatly improved Alex Song is now one of the first players on the teamsheet and rightly so, but Arsenal still do not have a ‘nasty’ Jack Russell-type midfielder who can snap at the oppositions heels, breaking up possession and committing fouls when needed. Chelsea have two such players in Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel, one of the reasons why they have been so successful in recent years.

But Arsenal may now have found that player in Frimpong.

Like Essien, Frimpong was born in Ghana, but he moved to England at the age of nine. The Accra-born player decided to play for England under-16s, but he has since switched his allegiance to Ghana.

Although primarily a defensive minded player, Essien enjoys a foray forwards to great effect, scoring stunning goals in the process – as sadly many Arsenal fans will remember. Although Frimpong lacks Essien’s shooting accuracy, as many Arsenal youth follows can testify, his all action style is very similar.

For Essien and Mikel read Song and Frimpong – it even has a nice ring to it.

Arsene Wenger will have the opportunity to assess Frimpong at first-hand during the ongoing Austrian training camp. The midfielder made his second start of preseason in the 3-0 win over Sturm Graz on Wednesday, putting in another composed and confident performance.

This time last year another young player, Jack Wilshere, was impressing on the tour, but this time around it looks to be Frimpong’s turn.

Given the new Premier League rules on homegrown talent, Frimpong may soon be given a first-team shirt competing with Denilson and Eastmond for the backup to Song.  I certainly know who I would prefer to stand-in.

Does Emmanuel Frimpong have what it takes to make it in the first team? Have your say below.

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