Arsenal had some serious prospects back in the day

Where are they now? The 5 Arsenal kids who played in the 2007 League Cup final

Three teenagers featured for Liverpool during their Carabao Cup triumph against Chelsea which was the most amount of youngsters to appear in a League Cup final for a team since Arsenal in 2007.

The Gunners have a rich history when it comes to giving young prospects a chance and that was certainly the case during their League Cup run in 2006-07.

Ultimately, Arsenal’s young guns came up short against Chelsea in the 2007 final as Didier Drogba made the difference with a well-taken brace in a 2-1 triumph.

However, despite narrowly losing out in the final, Arsene Wenger received plenty of plaudits for giving so many young players a chance at the time.

“All credit to the club and the manager in instilling such tremendous belief in these young players by bringing them in early,” Martin Keown told BBC Sport in 2007.

“If you look at the development of the young players through the season, getting to a major final is the icing on the cake for them.”

We’ve gone back to the 2007 League Cup final and have assessed the five under-21 Arsenal players who started in the game.

Theo Walcott

The hype surrounding Walcott was immense back in the day. After showcasing his skills at Southampton as a 16-year-old, Arsenal promptly swooped in for him in 2006.

He managed to give Arsenal the lead in the 2007 League Cup final with a well-taken strike before Drogba then turned around the game for Chelsea.

“There is tremendous pressure on him and it’s hard to work out his best position, he seems bolted on that wing,” Keown said of Walcott in 2007.

“Once he becomes less inhibited and develops he won’t be far off being a Michael Owen type down the middle.”

In some ways, Walcott’s career did mirror that of Owen’s. The dynamic winger was like lightning in a bottle during his younger years, but injuries eventually took their toll on him.

In total, he managed 397 appearances for the club and scored 108 goals in that time. After some careful consideration, he decided to retire in 2023, aged 34.

Theo Walcott during the Premier League game between Arsenal and Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium, London, August 2006.

QUIZ: Can you name the Arsenal XI from Theo Walcott’s debut in 2006?


After arriving from Sao Paulo as a fresh-faced teenager in 2006, Denilson soon made a name for himself during Arsenal’s 2006-07 League Cup run.

“He has perhaps impressed me the most as he was the last one in, arriving in the summer from Brazil, and made an almost immediate impact,” Keown told BBC Sport in 2007.

“He clearly has a good technique, is not dissimilar to Fabregas, looks like a great competitor – a winner – and he shone in the semi-finals against Spurs.”

The Brazilian midfielder spent seven years on the books at Arsenal and made 153 appearances during that time. After leaving Arsenal in 2013, he spent most of his later years back in Brazil.

Armand Traore

The full-back was just 17 years old when he lined up against Chelsea in the 2007 League Cup final. In total, Traore went on to make 32 appearances for the club before he was let go in 2012.

To this day, Traore still speaks about Wenger in glowing terms, particularly when it came to the Frenchman’s approach to mental health at the time.

“Wenger always had his door open for things like this. He didn’t make it taboo – mental health was not taboo to Arsene Wenger,” Traore told talkSPORT.

“It’s very much taboo in the world of football. I can’t say I could have gone and spoke to different managers.”

In his post-Arsenal career, Traore had stints with QPR, Nottingham Forest, Caykur Rizespor and Cardiff City but struggled to establish himself as a regular at any of those clubs. He then decided to retire in 2020 at the age of 31.

Cesc Fabregas

Undoubtedly, one of the most naturally gifted players the Premier League has ever seen. Even during his early days with Arsenal, Fabregas could run a game by himself.

Of the players on this list, Fabregas certainly went on to have the most successful career. Winning a total of 16 trophies with club and country, the Spanish playmaker almost won everything on offer.

Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas celebrates

READ: Where are they now? The 10 youngest Arsenal players handed Champions League debuts by Arsene Wenger

Abou Diaby

“[He] is often put in the same bracket as Patrick Vieira and it is not hard to see why. He has the makings of a top-class player,” Keown said of Diaby in 2007.

It’s a real shame that we never got to see the best of Diaby because of injuries. Throughout his career, he spent 1747 days being injured which is the equivalent of 4.7 years. A crying shame.

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TRY A QUIZ: Can you name Arsenal’s 20 youngest Premier League debutants?