”Time has come today”, as the Chamber Brothers once sang many decades ago.
And while the subject matter is radically different, that statement does has some significance for Arsenal at this time in the Mikel Arteta revolution. The poor form that had devastated the club for weeks, even months, has been remedied by a Gunners squad that is leaning more heavily on its long touted youth development.
Players like Bukayo Saka, Joe Willock, Emile Smith Rowe, Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah and others have all demonstrated themselves to be not simply ancillary pieces for the squad, but essential parts to it.
Indeed, as one commentator mentioned during the game against West Bromwich Albion, the energy of these players seems to be pushing the older, more experienced players as well. They play the way Arteta wants, and so he is being left with no choice but to use them more, for which he is reaping benefits for doing.
Youth, No Longer Wild, Must Be Trusted For Progress at Arsenal
While these youth players have long been used for domestic cup matches, Europa League and Premier League matches against underwhelming opposition, they have been pushing themselves into more serious playtime. With proper production from more senior members of the first team, breaking in with any consistency felt difficult to imagine in the immediate future, for nearly all the players save Saka.
Yet with poor output from Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Willian, there are and have been opportunities for fresh energy in the form of our own youngters. But in the last three matches, we have seen passion, energy, excitement from not only the youth – of which can be expected – but the veterans as well. And so, as I wrote weeks ago, the only way forward is greater integration of the young with the old; the inexperienced with the experienced.
Through this integration, we can hope to see positive, fluid offensive play, with persistent tracking backwards, which leads to responsible defensive play. While we wish to hold and possess the ball, we have the athletic and technical ability, as has been seen previously, to play counter-attacking football.
Across all the major footballing leagues, the best teams can play whatever style becomes necessary to exposing the flaws of the opposition. Lucky for Arsenal, they have the proper tools in the shed already, with only the need to organize them remaining.