It was only 3 years ago, in 2010, that Jay Emmanuel-Thomas was grabbing a lot of attention with his apparent skill and quality he had been exhibiting in countless reserve games for Arsenal. He was 19-years-old and Wenger could not speak more highly of him. “Jay is knocking very hard on my door – with two hands. He has outstanding quality,” Wenger said. He was very much in Wengers mind for the future, dubbed the next Thierry Henry, and the young man’s future seemed very bright indeed. He was allowed to go on loan to Blackpool and Doncaster to gain some valuable first team experience, but Wenger always kept him close to hand. “When his fitness is right, Jay will be not only a good player, but a great player,” Wenger continued.
So after all this praise, and expectation for the young man, it begs the question, what happened to Jay Emmanuel-Thomas? Another quote from Wenger, still a compliment but with a warning, could give us a clue as to his fall from stardom. “It is down to how far he wants to go because he has big potential.” Wenger said, insinuating his future was in his own hands, and only he could determine his future in the game. Maybe Emmanuel-Thomas didn’t give enough, maybe he didn’t work hard enough, but for me this isn’t a good enough answer to his sudden depature. In 09/10 season Jay started well for the reserves, and forced his way into the first team coming on as a late sub against Chelsea on October 3rd 2009. Fast forward to January 18th 2011, Jay has yet to make another appearance for Arsenal and it is announced he will join Cardiff on loan. A statement was released by Arsenal, but no comments were made by Wenger. Then, on the 26th of July 2011, Jay signs permanently for Ipswich, from Arsenal for an undisclosed fee.
In one year, this future star who recieves endless praise from Wenger about how bright his future will be, not just in general but at Arsenal, goes from being on the verge of the first team, to joining mid-table Championship side Ipswich. For me, this doesn’t add up. Jay then became the forgotten man from then on, he made 70 appearances for Ipswich scoring 8 times. However, it didn’t work out for him there either, and Jay now plays with Bristol City in League 1 after a player-swap deal was completed between City and Ipswich. He does seem to be finding some form at City, having scored 5 goals in 8 appearances for the Robins.
I personally think it is an amazing story, and a story I’d love to be told some answers about. You have to think that in that year between 2010/11 something must have gone on behind the scenes to make Jay Emmanuel-Thomas suddenly unwanted. I think, whatever happened that made him leave Arsenal, has had an effect on the young man. There must of been such huge pressure on him, and maybe that has halted his development. He is still only 22, and has a whole career ahead of him. Maybe one day everyone will be talking about him once again.