How good are the Arsenal youngsters?
It is obvious that Arsenal’s spotlight is currently shining brightest on the young players that are making their names known in the club. A few stars have made it easy for Arsenal, clearly painting the picture of who the club’s future should be constructed around; certain individuals that have shown their talent is at a higher caliber than the rest, while are still so early into their careers.
Outside of a few clear-cut names, Arsenal have a handful of other young players who are striving to prove themselves. Hale End has done its job, but now it is up to Mikel Arteta and his staff to give those who are worthy a chance in the top-flight.
The first two names on this list are remarkably obvious choices. There is no question that Bukayo Saka is a player that Arsenal are keen on keeping for a long, long time – the No. 7 is already one of the club’s best players at just 19 years old. His form in the last few months has been audacious, and thanks to him Arsenal’s overall form has followed suit.
Saka is not only one of the best young players in the Premier League, but among the best youngsters in the world.
A few of the young players’ breakthroughs to the first team are one of the scarce upsides that came during Unai Emery’s time as Arsenal’s manager. Say what you want about him, he gave youth a chance.
One of these breakthroughs came for Gabriel Martinelli, a name that went from unknown to treasured by all in a few short months.
The 19-year-old Brazilian has shown a habitual knack for scoring. It’s second nature to him. First in the Europa League, then in the Premier League, the goals have flowed. If it weren’t for a severe knee injury that sidelined him for almost a year, he may have been producing on the same level as Saka.
There is so much more to come from Martinelli. We can’t wait.
Emile Smith Rowe
Emile Smith Rowe is not a name that many supporters would have had at the top of their list prior to the recent stretch of games. Although he’s been widely touted as a massive talent, injuries and squad depth has kept him out of the first team for the past 12 months since making his first Premier League start.
Still, he is only 20 years old, and has recently broken into the senior fold and made a significant impact. Smith Rowe’s name has often been brought up as a solution to Arsenal’s creativity problems, a remarkable turnaround after less than 270 minutes of top-flight football this season.
"“He works really hard for the team and he had a really bad injury this year and hasn’t really trained with us at all,” Arteta told Sky Sports. “For the last two weeks he has been much more involved and you can see what he can bring to the team.”"
"“He is a player that I really liked since the first day I watched him,” Arteta added. “Just the way he moves, how intelligent he is with the positions he takes and his work rate – don’t underestimate that.”"
His first Premier League start of the season came during Arsenal’s 3-1 victory over Chelsea, and he has started every game since. Smith Rowe’s creativity in the final third of the pitch has been revolutionary for the team, even earning himself a tweet from Mesut Ozil after Arsenal’s win over West Brom.
Having spent a significant chunk of his teenage years on loan – first to RB Leipzig, and most recently to Huddersfield Town – he has even been classified as a part of England’s newest exciting generation.
If Arsenal sign another creative midfielder during the January window, Smith Rowe will be there, posing a challenge for minutes. Such a bright future ahead of him, he just needs nurturing accordingly.
Reiss Nelson has been a fan favorite for years now, yet his journey has been frustrating for both himself and supporters. The 21-year-old has been a standout since his time in Hale End, and was impressive during a season-long loan to Hoffenheim at just 18 years old.
For Arsenal, he started the first two Premier League games of the 2019/20 season, but missed the next two months of the season due to a knee injury. His career has been filled with minor aches and niggling issues, keeping him out for numerous short periods at a time. It’s such a troublesome aspect of his playing days to date.
It seems like Nelson’s young career has continued to follow a rise-and-fall pattern of playing well as a reserve or substitute, breaking into the first team, then getting hit with an injury.
There were rumours that Arteta was keeping him out of the squad recently for a potential transfer or loan, but the manager put those to bed.
"“No (it’s not to do with a January transfer),” the boss told the official Arsenal website. “Only it’s my mistake then, not clarifying the situation [and] what is happening. But yeah, he’s not been 100% fit. That’s the reason why he’s been out and he’s not been featuring with the squad.”"
There is, however, space for offers to come for Nelson this January. Specifically, he could be used in the potential Emi Buendia transfer. He needs a run of games, and a solution has to be found on the perennial minor setbacks he’s had.