Quick links



Three ex-Arsenal kids succeeding in the Football League like Luke Ayling

Leeds United's Mustapha Carayol in action with Bristol City's Luke Ayling

Arsenal have produced a number of fine players over the years. However, some have failed to make the cut at the Emirates, instead moving lower down the leagues.

Luke Ayling of Bristol City (R) in action with Paul Gallagher of Preston North EndLuke Ayling of Bristol City (R) in action with Paul Gallagher of Preston North End

On Thursday, Leeds United signed defender Luke Ayling from Championship rivals Bristol City.

After full-back Gaetano Berardi suffered a hamstring injury in the 3-0 defeat to QPR on the opening day of the season, manager Garry Monk had been desperate for defensive cover.

Ayling, 24, is comfortable playing at right full-back or in the centre of defence. The London-lad came through the ranks at Arsenal in a hugely successful youth team, where he partnered Leeds defender Kyle Bartley at the back. 

Arsenal youngsters Kyle Bartley and Luke Ayling against Manchester CityArsenal youngsters Kyle Bartley and Luke Ayling against Manchester City

After failing to make a single appearance under Arsene Wenger he signed for Yeovil Town in 2010. He appeared 185 times in four seasons at Huish Park, earning a shock promotion to the Championship in 2013.

After the Glovers relegation the following season, he moved to Bristol City and was an integral part of the team as they sailed to a League One title in 2015. He then enjoyed his second season in the second-tier in 2015/16 as he made 36 appearances. 

While he is enjoying a successful career away from the Emirates, Ayling is not the only ex-Arsenal player to have established himself as a first-team regular in the Championship.

Luke Freeman 

Luke Freeman made history in November 2007, when he bacame the youngest player to appear in the FA Cup, aged 15 years and 233 days. 

In similar fashion to Ayling, it was Yeovil Where he kick-started his professional career, joining on a six-month loan just weeks after his friend has signed permanently. 

His loan was cut short due to an injury but he regained fitness back at Arsenal and was rewarded with a new contract after impressing for the reserves.

He then joined Stevenage on loan in November 2011 before making the deal permanent in the January transfer window, 

And despite signing a contract extension after in the summer of 2014, he linked up the Ayling for the third time when he signed for Bristol city for an undisclosed fee in June 2014. 

He has gone on to make 88 appearances for City, and was a regular in the League One title winning side. 

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas

Queens Park Rangers' Jay Emmanuel Thomas (L) in action with Sheffield Wednesday's Glenn LoovensQueens Park Rangers' Jay Emmanuel Thomas (L) in action with Sheffield Wednesday's Glenn Loovens

Jay Emmanuel Thomas' versatility had Arsene Wenger drooling when the player was a youngster, as he played at left-back, centre midfield and as a winger before finding his niche up front.

After joining the club aged nine, he was made captain of the U18's when he was just 16.

In 2008/09 he led them to a league and cup double, captaining a side featuring both Ayling and Freeman, as well as Jack Wilshere and Francis Coquelin. He was particularly instrumental in the cup as he scored in every round.

He then enjoyed loan spells in the Championship at Blackpool, Doncaster and Cardiff before signing for Ipswich for £1 million in 2011.

After two seasons at Portman Road, he joined Bristol City in a swap deal including Paul Anderson.

In his second season at Ashton Gate he was joined by old friends Ayling and Freeman and after QPR's relegation to the Championship in 2014/15 he returned to London.

Disappointed at Loftus Road last season, spending the final part of the season on loan at MK Dons. And this season he is at Gillingham on loan, where has scored three goals in his first two games.

Henri Lansbury

Nottingham Forest's Henri Lansbury celebratesNottingham Forest's Henri Lansbury celebrates

Of the four players, Lansbury has racked up the most appearances in the Championship.  

Despite making his first team debut in the League Cup in 2007, just three weeks after his 17th birthday, Lansbury made his first and only start for Wenger in this memorable north London derby three years later.

The previous season, in 2009/10 he featured 37 times on loan at Watford, scoring five goals, as well as making his Premier League debut for the Gunners.

Returning to the club he left a nine-year-old, Lansbury joined Norwich City on loan in November 2010. He scored four goals in 23 Championship appearances as they earned a second successive promotion under Paul Lambert.

Lansbury himself enjoyed a second successive promotion the following season on loan at West Ham. And in 2012 he joined Nottingham Forest for £1 million.

He has become part of the future at club appearing in the Championship 129 times in the last four years, scoring 26 goals.

His performances led to him being given the captain's armband, and despite twice declaring his intent to leave the club amid interest from Burnley in previous windows, he remains at the club.

With just one year left on his deal, a move away from Forest could be on the cards if they fail to achieve promotion this season.

Nottingham Forest's Henri Lansbury clashes with BrightonNottingham Forest's Henri Lansbury clashes with Brighton

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch