Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Wenger: Our next generation is ‘exceptionally strong’

Arsene Wenger says he’s determined to give Arsenal’s Academy graduates a chance to shine this season claiming the current crop of 18-year-olds are exceptionally strong compared to previous years.

Already this season the boss has used the Carabao Cup and Europa League to hand first-team debuts to Reiss Nelson, Jo Willock, Josh Dasilva, Eddie Nketiah, Marcus McGuane and Ben Sheaf. He’s planning on doing the same against Norwich City this evening with young keeper Matt Macey due to start in goal in place of the injured David Ospina.

On the responsibility he feels he has to give youth a chance, the boss told “We didn’t have that strength for a while and now we have a generation of 18-year-old players who are exceptionally strong.

“I still believe that one of the problems in the Premier League at the moment is that these boys do not get enough chances. That’s why I’m keen to do it and I want to do it. If you look around you, the fact that the Premier League is so demanding means the young boys are very quickly under pressure, and that’s why you maybe see less of them appear.

“If you look at the results of the English national youth teams, they look like one of the best nations in the world, but the responsibility falls on club managers like us to give them a chance.”

One player who is building on the chances handed to him last season is Ainsley Maitland-Niles. The versatile 20-year-old became a World Cup winner with England’s under-20s in the summer and has already featured for the first team five times this term.

So strong is Wenger’s belief in the youngster that he’s warned his established midfielders to watch their back.

“The huge advantage of Maitland-Niles, and the disadvantage as well, is that he can play everywhere,” said Wenger.

“Sometimes when you’re a manager, you use the comfort of being able to get him to play wherever you need him to. He can play on the flanks without any problem because he has pace, he’s an intelligent boy and I think he needs to add that little bit of extra force for 90 minutes. But he’s so comfortable on the ball, so quick, so good and can steal the ball too.

“He can also play central midfield, but I must say that he’s close now to being a regular in the first team as well. I would be on my toes if I was a regular player in the Arsenal first team. His preferred position is central midfield and that’s where I believe he will end up.”

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Let’s hope they live up to expectations

Kung Fu Grip

Let’s hope for their sake that your expectations are fair and managed like an adult. Too many fruit tile loving, boo-boy morons running around the stands these days.


Please who would put a thumbs down other than a troll?


Fruit tile haters

Clock End 20

I’m probably committing status suicide here, but what’s a fruit tile…?

Crash Fistfight

I wanted to ask that.

Gunner in Canada

Probably someone who can not spell futile ?

Dennis Elbow

A tile made from fruit? Mayhap?


lets hope their talents aren’t wasted.


Hope they stay patient, and keep on learning. It is frustrating for a player to play out of their preferred position, but it also improves their understanding of another position, and helps their game develop overall. So someone like Nelson is playing wingback, but when he starts playing in an attacking role permanently, he will not forget his defensive duties that he learnt playing RWB. Really hope to see a majority homegrown team in the next 2-3 years, with a sprinkling of world class talent.

David C

speaking of expectations, what the heck happened to The Jeff?


Injured on and off for pretty much the last year and half.


Inevitably some will fall by the wayside (injuries, form, not being quite good enough) but if there are a few coming through let’s hope most do it.

It feels so much better than just buying in talent that had no connection with the club and are there for the money.

Harish P

VERY excited for AMN. He doesn’t get much talk as He plays a simple role with little flash, but his impact will become very notable as the games go on. Curious to see his standout traits when he’s locked down his role. Seems to handle almost everything well at this stage.


He looks so comfortable with the ball at his feet. I particularly like how he seems to have his head up when he plays.


I’d love to see him given a proper run in midfield. Willock looks the part too, both very mature for their years.


Count me in the AMN over ramsey discussion. He would provide better stability and fluidity. This is especially true when our front three are ozil, alexis, and lacazette. Let ramsey come in as a super sub if we need extra attack

Heavenly Chapecoense

I see a message from Wenger to Xhaka to keep on his toes.


if we have exceptional young players then why don’t we win anything at that level now???? plus it doesn’t help that Arsene gives them chance but plays them out of position most of the time, that is not helpful and might even hinder their progress.. I sometimes think that with his successful record of changing the preferred position of many players, Arsene takes it over the board now….

Andy Mack

I’m impressed that you know which positions the lads can and can’t play in. In AM-Ns case, he was a winger before he moved back to FB and then DM, so although I prefer not to see him as LFB/LWB, he’s flexible enough to do it to a decent standard. On top of that, he’s played in front of decent crowd sizes whilst on loan at Ipswich. Much more important that these lads get the chance to experience playing in front of 60k which is a big difference from the ‘up to’ 1k that they’ve played in front of previously.… Read more »


C’mon mate, I know Wenger can be a bit strange at times but only an idiot would claim to know more about his players than he does. I agree that playing them out of position is frustrating as a fan but at the same time these kids could do with getting some all round experience to help them defend/attack better. I’m excited for the next generation, I know they won’t all make it but I’m rooting for every single one of them. C’mon the boys


Wenger likes to play younger players in different positions so they learn different parts of the game. Back in the day, it was the left wing where players would be shifted out to learn their trade and do the leg work while the more senior players take their usual positions. At the moment they take the wing back positions and do the running there and learn the defensive side of the game. if we had a wealth of experience in every position or were fortunately enough to have gaps in their prefered positions then that is fine but there isnt… Read more »


If you saw the line up for yesterday’s u23 game against spurs you can see we fielded a weakened team so these guys can play tonight, youth football is just a stepping stone, a place to show you have the ability to step up


Chelsea easiest example .. they dont play after u23s


“His preferred position is central midfield and that’s where I believe he will end up.”

Feel I heard that before somewhere…

To be fair what we’ve seen of these kids so far is really promising. Could be some legends in the making.


If i was wenger i would refrain predicting youth player’s future place in the squad..The ox took it rather too seriously and he god to satan knows he does not possess the required technicality to be a mid-fielder.


Great to imagine all this talent coming through but we might be the ones losing out in the end. Our policy of “giving them a chance in the first team” is always pleasing but we always do it at a cost. Being young, inexperienced and just nearly ready they always lack consistency. At times we have two or more in the same team and compared to a team like city or Chelsea who have to have the players for the now more than the future, we always suffer in competing equally. Then comes the case of the youngsters not making… Read more »

Faisal Narrage

In some ways, I agree, but in others I strongly disagree. The issue with project youth wasn’t youth per se, but the staggered approach to team development. You basically had guys in their peak being told to wait around for the youth to peak. Then they got dismayed, left, and when the youth finally peaked, they were then told to hang around for the next gen to peak. Repeat. Much as I hate to say it, Spurs are doing it the right way; play them all now along with bought players in relative closeness to age. Personally, I’d much prefer… Read more »


Revisionist history. Gnarby until the Olympics was constantly hurt for 2 years prior I believe to even be given a chance. Finally showed what he could do when healthy but had 1 year left. Either keep him or sell him.

Missed out on Nelson? He is just starting. Chill out.


Did we need to send Cesc out on loan? He was playing in our 1st team at 16 yrs of age and never once looked out of place. If you are good enough, you play. Exceptions must be made when the talent is so big. Have you seen how quick Nelson’s feet are? He breezes past people with his pace and trickery. So send him to a lower level where he will be disinterested. That makes no case. Each individual is different. As in Cesc’s case and many others who didn’t need loans to develop. Some are good enough to… Read more »

Faisal Narrage

” His preferred position is central midfield and that’s where I believe he will end up.””

If I had a pound for everytime Wenger has said this about a young prospect. If we took it literally, we would be fielding a formation of 0-10-0.


With an owner looking to make money rather than invest it the development of players may be our best hope – until we cave in and sell them to Man City or PSG..


With the PL awash with money, clubs prefer to pay inflated kprices for average players from overseas rather than giving young players a chance


“I would be on my toes if I was a regular player in the Arsenal first team. His preferred position is central midfield and that’s where I believe he will end up.”

Which practically means that AMN would not get a game in central midfield!


In central midfield AMN is a better player than Ox


Really interesting to hear him talk about Maitland Niles and how close he is to the first team. I wouldnt say he has stood out the most of the youth players in the Europa League (Willock has been the best of them in my opinion, though the others have not been played in their preferred positions in their defence and have played well!) Central midfield seems to be the area of most concern, or at least the area I think we could improve most in so far this season so it will be interesting to see if he features. I… Read more »

Andy Mack

Unless you have a really great game, it’s difficult to look especially good in the WB position. The best thing to say is that AM-N has rarely looked out of his depth in the senior games (and often looked much better), which is the same thing Mcarthy said about him when he was at Ipswich.


Playing in the Europa League this year could be a real blessing in disguise for the development of some of these young players. Far more challenging and pressure packed situation than the early rounds of the domestic cup competitions. Of course we’d all rather be in the CL, but I do find it enjoyable getting to watch the young players play in more meaningful matches alongside side some of our more veteran players.


This is fucking awesome. They have looked sharp. Can’t wait for KO


We have bright prospects in defence too. Tolaji Bola for instance is a gem of a player, albeit very underrated.


Arsene just play the kids .Our so called stars do not want to stay anyway. Throw the kids in , surrounded by the old guards like per, the kos, monreal and the hungry mob of kolasinac , laca , el neny , ramsey et al and we can go all the way in the Europa league and properly challenge for a top 3 spot. If they are exceptionally good, why hesitate? Contrary to project youth , the team has some serious seniors players to help those kids.


Lol are you drunk?

Bruce Lee

Let’s win something this year, and finish in the top 4.

Then we can add a little to this new crop, especially as we looking at losing some top quality, too.

COY, next generation, G.


Love to hear the boss talking about young players like this. Would love to see some of them make the cut and break through to become first team regulars


Mertesacker Holding Monreal
Nelson Maitland-Niles Elneny Kola
Iwobi Wilshere

for 2nite?

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