Tuesday, September 26, 2023

First-team promotions provide Arsenal’s other prospects with motivation

There had been much speculation that Arsenal could adopt an approach that would see some of the club’s talented youngsters receive first-team opportunities in the forthcoming campaign, and this week there were the first signs to suggest that such an eventuality could materialise.

Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock, Emile Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson have all been promoted to the first-team squad and will hope to receive plenty of opportunities to impress.

In truth, being promoted to the senior squad doesn’t always mean too much. In 2012, for instance, defender Kyle Bartley was promoted only to join Swansea City in a permanent deal just a few days later.

However, the fact that four of the club’s best prospects have been promoted at the same time is certainly not a coincidence and indicates that Unai Emery will give each of the quartet opportunities at some stage during the campaign.

All four players will face a battle for game time, but with plenty of fixtures to play they should get chances to express themselves, especially in the Europa League and the Carabao Cup.

It will be intriguing to see just how often they are called upon in the Premier League and in particular in the more high-profile fixtures, but for now this is a major step in the right direction.

Nketiah, admittedly, was frequently called up to the senior squad last season, even if he didn’t play as much as he would have liked, while Nelson and Willock have been on the fringes for some time, and Smith Rowe’s qualities have been well known to a wide audience for almost a year now, so they aren’t entering this season as complete novices.

The other benefit of the youngsters being promoted is that it will give some of the other prospects in the academy an extra incentive to succeed.

The likes of Tyreece John-Jules, Bukayo Saka and Xavier Amaechi are all close to the first-team squad and will now believe that it is possible for them to also be promoted eventually, whereas previously in many cases it had seemed as if there wasn’t much of a pathway into the senior side.

There is still a very long way to go for all of the youngsters that have been promoted – even Kieran Gibbs, for example, made over 200 first-team appearances for the club but eventually had to leave after failing to hold down a regular starting berth.

However, this week’s news is a major positive in terms of giving youngsters chances to succeed and encouraging the next crop of starlets.

Jeorge Bird is the author of www.arsenalyouth.wordpress.com Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird


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North London is Redder

I can’t help but feel that this is quite exciting. I know everyone enjoys a new shiny signing and so do I but these kids, if they make it, are worth 10 bought stars to us. Loyalty, tradition and what’s more they’ll set a precedent at the club that Arsenal make careers, so we’ll attract the Jadon Sanchos of the future.

I would love to see Tierny and a Central midfielder but otherwise why not give them a chance. I just want to enjoy the emotion of watching the arse again.


Couldn’t agree more with this. Those lads have worked hard and deserve a chance to prove their worth and showcase our excellent academy. This will definitely be a huge motivator to the other lads in the academy.

Ordnance Dave

A motivator to the fans as well. Nothing better than seeing a great player at the club, than a great player made from the club.


I’m quite excited to see what Emile Rowe-Smith, Reiss Nelson and Chris Willock can contribute to the first team this season. Unai definitely has a wild card in each one of them as teams don’t know how these fellas are going to play. I’d like to see a “Ramsey” replacement and back up right back.


I’m still hoping and praying we give Bielik a chance.

Eternal Titi Berg Pat Nostalgia

All the newly promoted players are forwards. Promoting Bielik is a must. The young players should be given Carabao and FA Cups with very limited involvement of senior players (goalkeeper, one CB no mas).


I look forward to seeing these guys play. Got so fed up watching our pile of deadwood that’s never gonna improve so it feels kinda refreshing and positive.


What about Saka?

Naked Cygan

This is the best thing to happen at Arsenal since our last FA Cup victory. Hopefully this will be a big wake up call for some of the senior players. We need everyone to give 120%.


I’m hoping for the same — that their youthful desire to succeed infects the older players and they become better role models in turn.


Good luck to them but I can’t help but wonder how many kids have gone through club academies and who have not made it. How many will never play again even as an amateur where Saturday/Sunday morning football is dwindling in numbers. When I look at the Irish greyhound story of 6000 dogs a year being killed as they were not up to the grade how expendable are the kids and their dreams. Liverpool are building a new training ground for their u23s in Kirkby where Saturday and Sunday league teams used to play. Is this the future of the… Read more »


Great article Jeorge ??


Man I honestly hope these 4 actually get PL matches and not some inconsiquential Europa league group stage ties where the opposition (and our senior figures) can’t even bother to try.


I believe promoting Kristian Bielk would be the best signing thidms summer, he’s been impressive ,he isa really matured Central defender and a defensive midfielder that could add something significant in our squad!
i hope Unai considers an idea of recalling him

it would make sense selling Jenkinson than not giving chance to Bielk

The only sp*rs i like is san antonio

It’s not like we have other choice considering how tight our budget now. But i am still excited and happy to seem them given the chance to prove their worth in the first team

Professor Gooner

Fingers crossed, I feel the disappointed bitter taste at the tail end of last season could be the eventual catalyst needed for the quartet to fully grasp this opportunity and proper for years to come. Emile Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson’s brilliant first half season but second half of warming the bench on loan might be the mental humble realisation hype alone won’t guarantee first team football. Our failute to qualify for the Champions League enabled Eddie Nketiah to finally get his name on the score sheet against Burnley and Joe Willock a run out in the Europa League final.… Read more »


Would love to see one of them, if not all make a name for themselves. COYG!


Tok bad for beilek who cant go thru the first team promotion.
He is strong, young and hunger the games..also on form currently!
Whats wrong with arsenal??!!


I ready liked Gibbs. I still think we let him go without improving on him. If he had stayed, he would have saved us a lot in wages and performed reasonably well as a rotation option.


Willock and Emile Smith Rowe will be very useful if we don’t sign any midfielders we need a lot of energy in that area.

Mick Malthouse

You cant win anything with kids.

North London is Redder

Our current aim isn’t to win anything but to regain some ground on the teams ahead of us – which you can do with the kids. Then the thing about kids is they grow up and then you might win things with them. Also if they grow up with you to be big and strong they might be more inclined to stick around.

Christpher Wrehkamp

I’m pretty sure that Micks comments were a tongue-in-cheek nostalgic regerence to Alan Hansen’s famous last words on MOTD years ago when Fergie brought through Beckham, Neville, Scholes etc from their academy.
You know the rest of the story…
Not saying that will happen again in our current circumstance as back then, UTD alreadyhad a strong and succesful senior squad at the time to guide that crop of youngsters to the top of their game as they were all seasoned winners.
It’s worth a try though, what else do we have to lose?

Mick Malthouse

Yep! Didn’t think it needed explaining!

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