A topic that keeps cropping up every year, can Arsenal keep relying on youth? If so, which of our youth players are going to be playing a promising part in the Arsenal first team? With the current first-team boosting the likes of Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson, Bukayo Saka, Joe Willock, Gabriel Martinelli, and Matteo Guendouzi. Should these players be playing within the Arsenal first team as much as they have been or are we going to risk them burn out?
This week Arsenal’s manager Mikel Arteta has recently spoken about adding experience into the team and touch upon the number of games the current crop of players has had. Mikel had this to say “I have a lot of faith in the young talent that we have at the football club, we need the right stability and the right foundations around [the young players] to make sure that they develop in the right way, at the right moment and with the right amount of pressure behind them”
“In order to do that it is a process and if you want to speed up that process you risk burning them and burning that process and we cannot do that. We have some great young players who have been playing probably more than they should have been doing but they are showing great maturity and the personalities to play in difficult moments which is great for their experience.
“But as well, we need the other players to support them in the right way and that’s why we’re trying to achieve this balance to be very competitive but also excited about the future ahead of us.”
I find these comments very interesting from Mikel Arteta as whilst he doesn’t want to close the door on the opportunities for the youth players its clear he wants to have a more experienced playing squad so the possible additions of Thomas Partey, Marc Roca, Dayot Upmecano and possible striker additions with names linked, Odsonne Edouard and Victor Osimhen would all bring different experience and vastly upgrading on our current crop of players.
Arsenal Academy Prospects
Also with the likes of Emile Smith Rowe, Jordi Osei-tutu, James Olayinka, Tyreece John Jules, Ben Sheaf, William Saliba and Konstantinos Mavropanos to come back and come into the first-team fold and the likes of Dan Ballard, Harry Clarke, Sam Greenwood, Miguel Azeez, and Folarin Balogun along with the players mentioned will all be competing for a spot in the first-team picture. It’s a good problem to have Mikel and with potential transfers coming in Arsenal and Mikel has some very difficult decisions to make as the older youth players the players that are 21 or turning 21/22 would need to take a squad registration place and as we know Arsenal would only be able to register a maximum of 25.
We currently have 21 players who are 21 and over in the team. Obviously, we are expecting to see a significant amount of players depart at the end of the season so this could give Arteta piece of mind.
I personally would like to see a minimum of 2 quality players in each position and where we cannot find that the youth players would be the squad fillers a bit like the Manchester class of 92 where they had a core of experienced players and the youth filling out the squad enabling a solid rotation as the season progressed but also, more importantly, the youth would have to compete at a fierce level in training to earn their place within the first 11 or the matchday squad. With that, it also breeds a winners mentality and improves the youth fight and desire as it would snowball into each other, first win a place in playing squad, then first 11, then staying in the first 11, gaining champions league and then titles. With that type of fight and determination mixed in with flair, technical quality, and pure talent, We could have a very good mixture of youth and with hale end constantly pumping out the talent its down to Mikel and Steve Bould but also Per Mertesacker as the academy lead to prepare the players with this mentality to do and strive for better, which in the longer term will be a benefit for Arsenal so that we can get back to challenging for major honors.
Can Arsenal keep relying on youth as it did for some time now or should Arsenal look for ready made players that would instantly stepped in?