Our crop of youngsters has impressed recently.
Going from finishing as runners up in the Under-23’s last season, now these kids are knocking on the door of Unai Emery demanding a chance, and some have been answered.
The fact that the likes of Jo Willock, Zech Medley, Emile Smith-Rowe and Reiss Nelson have been handed gametime and spots in the squad is the biggest boost and incentive for the current group of kids pushing through. They can see that if they devote themselves to their craft, they too will get the chance to realise their dream of playing for The Arsenal in the first team.
There is a big jump of course, but with former U23 boss Freddie Ljungberg now taking his place alongside Unai Emery in the coaching setup and the club strategy placing a bigger emphasis on homegrown talent, now is the time for our kids to show us what they have got.
They have been doing just that, and in Tyreece John-Jules and Bukayo Saka, we have two youths who seem destined to create their legacy at Arsenal.
Both got their breakthrough’s in our last pre-season set of friendly games. Both made their mark too.
Before that, John-Jules had grabbed everyone’s attention with his record for the U18’s, ten goals in 18 games, and was thrust into Premier League 2 action at the tender age of 17. He has since made himself at home on this stage, and has been rewarded for his efforts with a new contract, as the club strives to hold onto what they recognise as their future. John-Jules grabbed his chances this summer too, and his recent goal for the Under-23’s – check it out on YouTube, it is an incredible backheel volley – shows he is nearing the stage when he must be included in our first team reckoning.
Saka has already done just that.
The winger celebrates his 18th birthday on the 1st September, and has already made his debut in the Premier League and Europa League. He even earned a first start for the club in our match versus Qarabag.
The reason for this meteoric rise for young Saka? Combine pace, trickery, a slight of foot that is hard to follow and a composure that really doesn’t belong to a teenager, Saka is our long term wide option that can play as a conventional wideman or as a wide forward, cutting in and doing damage.
Either way, both Saka and John-Jules are making waves at Arsenal, and do not be surprised if both are part of our plans next season or, injuries permitting, this season. We need to give youth a chance to represent instead of making signings, and both kids seem to have the talent to leave us wanting to see more.
Watch this space.