Much is often made of Arsene Wenger’s youth policy at Arsenal.
Over a decade, the man known as ‘The Professor’ has built a consistent, albeit trophy-less, young team at the Emirates stadium, and it finally looks as if his method is being emulated elsewhere.
Paul Lambert is into just his second season at Aston Villa and has been similarly reliant on youngsters.
That method looked as though it was about to backfire spectacularly as Villa stared down the barrel of a bitter relegation battle for much of last season.
A year on, however, and Lambert’s lambs are making a case for themselves as the unsung heroes of the early season.
The Villains sit comfortably in tenth – just three points behind fifth place, and their ten point tally includes victories against current league leaders Arsenal and last year’s runners up Manchester City.
Perhaps most crucially, of the eleven that started the 0-0 draw against Hull, just three were aged over 25.
Andreas Weimann , Antonio Luna and star striker Christian Benteke are all just 22 and, whist this squad may have lacked the maturity to close down games last time round, with another year under their belt they look a very different prospect.
Mesut Ozil aside, Wenger has led the way in showing that with careful scouting and excellent coaching, a fresh-faced side can be relied upon at the very highest level.
Stars like Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs have come through the ranks for the Gunners and are now shining in the first team.
Lambert has spent little, but constructed a vibrant side that could potentially return to the lofty heights where Martin O’Neill left off – that is, challenging for Europe, at least in a season or two.
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