The departures of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi this summer mean Arsenal are now ready to put deserved faith in their talented crop of youth players.
In the North London derby over the weekend, Unai Emery showed the first signs that he’s willing to play Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe regularly as an attacking trio this season.
Going by that, the Gunners will need backup options in wide areas – yet they let the duo of Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan leave the club. With that in mind, Emery would have no other “established” wide options available and the responsibility now falls on the youth to fill up those slots.
In football though, the departure of players means emergence for another set of players and here are four Arsenal youngsters that could establish themselves in the first-team fray over the course of the season.
Reiss Nelson (19) is already a familiar figure to the Arsenal fans, having played 18 games for the first team. He scored seven goals on loan in Germany with Hoffenheim last season, and he’s been waiting for this kind of opportunity.
His exciting speed and direct dribbling approach to opposition defence could be an asset for Emery in unlocking some stubborn defences.
The 18-year-old, who joined from Brazil over the summer. Martinelli made his Premier League debut against Newcastle last month, and he was with the squad for the Spurs game even though he missed out on the final 18.
The youngster has shown glimpses of what he’s all about as he impressed in pre-season with three goals and a lot of the Gunners faithful are already hopeful he will be a revelation in months to come.
The youngster is highly rated and also looks set to impress over the coming months. The 17-year-old has also travelled regularly with the squad this season just to miss out on the bench. The winger scored 14 goals and assisted 10 for Arsenal’s academy last season, as well as winning three penalties.
Mkhitaryan’s departure opens up a spot for at least one of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli to step up. They’ll have competition from Emile Smith Rowe (19), however.
Though Smith Rowe often plays in the middle, he’s just as comfortable in wide areas, as he showed with a couple of goals from the wings for the first team last season. The teenager is finally fully fit after his injury problems this year.
These are arguably four of Arsenal’s most talented teenagers, and they’re all capable of playing in the exact positions Mkhitaryan and Iwobi have just vacated. It’s great news for them that they now have this opportunity to impress, it’s just about taking it.