Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Wenger: First team stars under threat from youngsters

Arsene Wenger says the Europa League has proved to be a good opportunity for Arsenal’s next generation of Academy graduates to put pressure on the club’s more established players.

The Frenchman has repeatedly included the likes of Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock, Matt Macey and Ainsley Maitland-Niles in his European matchday squads while the likes of Josh Dasilva, Ben Sheaf and the now departed Marcus McGuane have also featured in the competition.

While Wenger is expected to make more use of first-team stars in the business end of the competition, he admits the chance to blood youngsters has boosted competition for places

“It’s a good opportunity for the players to show they have the quality to compete at this level,” the Frenchman told press ahead of Arsenal’s second-leg match with Ostersund.

“As well, that they fight for places, there’s a fight for places in every position at the moment. Everybody who plays tomorrow has a good chance to show their quality.

“It [the Europa League] has been very useful. They have shown me that they have the quality to compete.

“This competition has allowed them to gain confidence and to show the other players in the squad that they have the needed quality and can put them under threat.

“Internal competition has been raised. The threat [of not playing] is there for everybody. The young players have always done well.”

Related articles


newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Good to hear, let’s hope several will make it to first team regulars.

I always prefer players with Arsenal in their blood rather than bought in players, given the choice.

Mein Bergkampf

Apart from playing the odd youngster out of position, have we really used the Europa League to blood our academy players? I’ve been surprised how often he gives chances to our average over 25’s than take a chance on genuine raw talent.


I agree we did see that..but at least 3 of those over 25.s have since been sold


Ta ra theo


Don’t know why you’re getting downvoted. Imagine we didn’t waste all that time on Walcott this season. Nelson would probably be way ahead in his development if played in that right position.
Also, Nketiah should start today (even though Welbz will).


To be fair though, Henry, Vieira, Bergkamp, Wright, etc. all came from other clubs and did quite well.


Let’s not risk the tie by starting too many youngsters tonight though. Play a couple and bring more on early in the 2nd half if we have it wrapped up.

Good to see some talent coming through though.

John C

They’ve all looked average to me


So you didn’t see Eddie vs Norwich?
Or maceys commanding performance in goal?
Or Nelson performing to a half decent standard as a defender when he is a striker?

John C

Did you watch them in the cup against a Nottingham Forest team that was actually younger than them?

I’d love for them to be great players but realistically they’re not even the best amongst their age group in academy football

Lord Bendnter

May the ghost of Eddie haunt you forever

granit(e) hard!

and that of Nelson, Joe, AMN and not forgetting the Jeff!

Easy tiger

You cant be honest around here mate!! Nelson and Niles has obvious talent, and maybe nkhetia has som potential. But they havent shown alot. But ill still give them time. But neither has shown anything like cesc and Wilshere who you just knew would be great players.


Some patience please…remember the mouth breather did next to nothing in 6 loan spells and look at him now

Kwame Ampadu Down

The mouth breather ? Sorry if this is obvious to everyone else but I haven’t a clue who you are talking about ?


Harry Kane. Dude always has his mouth open on field. (And probably off field too).
It’s a pretty regular observation on Mr.Blog’s posts.

John C

As you say not one of them has shown anything like Cesc or RVP talent and i would even go so far as saying even players like Vela and Denilson looked better.

The current crop look like Wengerball clones, lacking in both cutting edge and defensive organisation and i’m sure thats why he likes them because in training they perform the sterile, tippy tappy football he’s grown to love. Maybe these guys will look better for a different manager but under Wenger in this team they’d cement our place as a mid table side.


All of the previous youth cited were thrown in and given much longer runs in the squad to bring their game up – because there was no choice. Cesc and RVP were youth bought at an expected higher level. The club now has more purchased talent closer to prime ages to draw from for starters, which limits the younger players’ time, and is buying more ready-made players instead of putting more into buying higher end youth punts (that were still much cheaper than established players). In the days of Denilson, Djorou, young Jack and Aaron, Cesc, Bendtner (!), Gibbs, Vela,… Read more »

John C

Wrong, all those players you mentioned started in the League Cup and all initially looked good but gradually got worse with the exception of one or two. The current youth don’t look very good from the off and that’s despite playing alongside experienced players that the likes of Djourou, Denilson and Bendtner didn’t have the benefit of.

The only reason this current crop might be putting pressure on the first team is because the quality of the first team has dropped not because they’re particularly good, because from what i’ve seen they aren’t.


They started in the league cup, but that doesn’t contradict what I said. Once they got a few shouts into the first team they were played regularly because the roster was thinner.

Jack and Aaron impressed early, but so did AMN and Reiss Nelson- now AMN has had some more minutes but out of position. Reiss Nelson gets a scant few here and there. It’s not the same introduction and integration.

Faisal Narrage

It’s true. Of the bunch even at Academy level, only Nelson and Niles have been encouraging (as great as Niles has been, Bielik was the far better DM prospect above all). Eddie has been encouraging also, but there’s always that caveat with goal-scoring strikers as history have shown (Afobe was even more promising and was chased by Barca, lest we forget), so I’ll wait on them. Macey has been good but not shown anywhere near the promise and ability that Chesney did when he came through. Josh Willock, really hope I’m wrong but really haven’t seen what’s the deal with… Read more »


I can see your point, but winning the Youth cup doesn’t guarantee that any of those players will make the grade?
Nelson has hung back on signing a new contract which is worrying.

Faisal Narrage

I didn’t mean winning the FA Youth Cup is an indicator of quality (though, it gives an indicator of quality, as a good bunch of them made it to the first team; such as Jack, Coq, Chesney, Gibbs, etc.), but that that crop was one of our most talented in year and still only a few made it. In regards to Nelson holding back, I think fans need to understand that many in the academy question arsenal and their coaching. It’s not like 10 years ago where they all thought Arsenal was the best place on earth. Many of the… Read more »

granit(e) hard!

I still believe in the Jeff pal, …you will see.

Faisal Narrage

I do too.
But my point is that people hop on then off bandwagons quickly.


Nelson has to be the most overhyped player in the academy. Hardly done anything to influence games. Just that one game in the pre season where he put a cross in for Giroud.

I think Willock, Nketiah, Niles are much better tactically and in overall game play.

On a side note The Jeff is running the show at Angers in France. Had a fantastic game against Monaco. He’s doing all the right things on the pitch. Really happy for Jeff. He’s playing a bit like Diaby.


Good to hear. Really rather miffed as to why wenger didn’t give Jeff the chances he gave to Iwobi. Hope he’s proved himself for when he gets back. Of the rest, at present, only AMN looks to me like they’ll make it for Arsenal if I’m honest and hopefully his trajectory isn’t ruined by flawed tactics, incompatible team selection and being played out of position. People say he’s not ready for the holding mid position as he lacks concentration sometimes but how is that any different from Xhaka? The only difference is AMN has recovery pace, can tackle and is… Read more »


When AMN played for Ipswich he was much more box to box..i don.t think DM is really his position

Faisal Narrage

Agreed, he isn’t. He’s a RB or B2B CM. He’s not a DM and fans thinking this of him are setting him up for failure.


@MeSoHornsey Jeff’s had a fair few injury problems, whereas Iwobi stays fit and took his first chances in the 1st team with some good performances.


Nelson hasn.t yet taken a game by the scruff of the neck but he does have real talent. Willock has been the one who has quitely impressed me the most though




? dickhead

granit(e) hard!

i agree with you on Willock, he has been impressing me too. he is not a flair player like Jeff, Nelson or AMN, rather the technically competent, solid unsung hero type that makes the right decisions most of the time and in time will grow into a solid consistent performer like nacho or Koscielny……btw, i also agree on Nelson, i think he is overhyped or is being affected by all the hype around him. Either way, he needs to knuckle down and start producing, else he risks ending up being another ‘coulda shoulda’ flash player hovering around the bottom/mid table… Read more »


He turned 18 in December. Give him time.

Faisal Narrage

“Running the show” that’s not strictly true. I don’t think he’s even started a game yet, but coming from the bench.

No need to overhype him like that, he’s not “running the show” at all. Dunno where you got that from.


Chambers – Holding – Mavropanos – Kolasinac
Willock – Maitland Niles
Nelson – Mkhitaryan – Iwobi
would be my starting 11 for tonight

Andy Mack

We do have some very talented youngsters (as we have in previous years) but the real test will be whether they can show it consistently, as most young players are very inconsistent.
That seems to have been the problem with so many young players (at every club).


What “stars” is he referring to?


If these youngsters are good enough for the 1st team then we’re totally fucked.


After the performance against Ostersunds at home?

Share article

Featured on NewsNow

Support Arseblog

Latest posts

Latest Arsecast

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x