Emile Smith Rowe’s breakthrough into the Arsenal first-team has been well publicised and has certainly drawn attention to the hard work being done at the club’s academy.
In fact, Smith Rowe’s goal against Qarabag was a significant moment for Hale End, with Alex Iwobi, another recent graduate of the system, finding the 18-year-old, who finished confidently.
The system never stops, though, and the quest is on for the next player to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Iwobi and Smith Rowe and feature for the first-team.
Even making an impact at U23 level can be rather challenging, but Smith Rowe’s involvement with the senior squad has provided another youngster, Robbie Burton, with an opportunity to showcase his credentials for the second-string.
Burton, who featured in Arsenal’s run to the FA Youth Cup final last season, has certainly seized his opportunity.
A Welsh youth international who is often deployed in the number ten position, Burton relishes threading passes through to his team-mates.
He did just that in the U23s’ victory over Blackburn Rovers this week as he teed up a goal for Tobi Omole and he later found the net himself from the penalty spot to cap off an excellent display.
Burton initially took some time to adapt to the demands of U23 football, which is a significant step up from the U18s, with players are often afforded much more time and space at the younger age level.
With Smith Rowe likely to continue being involved with the first-team in cup competitions, Burton could well benefit hugely by establishing himself as an important player for Freddie Ljungberg’s side.
Burton is actually in the same year group as Smith Rowe and is older than his team-mate but has had to be patient for opportunities to impress.
Now he is finally getting his chance and is seizing it, with the ultimate aim for him to eventually join Smith Rowe in the first-team.