Reiss Nelson says Arsenal’s youngsters did their best to show new coach Mikel Arteta what they were made of after Freddie Ljungberg fielded five Academy graduates for his final game in charge at Everton.
Emile Smith Rowe, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Bukayo Saka joined Nelson in the starting lineup at Goodison Park with Joe Willock coming on in the second half. Another teenager, Gabriel Martinelli, played the full 90 minutes of the 0-0 draw.
While the game struggled to spark into life (it was probably the most boring game we’ve played *checks notes* since last month’s 1-1 with Vitoria) you couldn’t fault the effort of the players.
“All the boys wanted to show him what we could do because it was his first time seeing us live,” said Nelson.
“He [Arteta] watched us and we need to take that into our next games. We need to be confident in ourselves.
“He was just there for support, to give us a pat on the back and some inspiration. I think that helped a lot.
He added: “We played with an urgency, with pace and a big confidence. That started this afternoon so now we’re ready to go.”
Nelson also bigged up the fact that the Gunners kept a clean sheet; the first time we’ve done that in 15 games.
“We wanted to do that,” said Nelson. “It was one of our main targets. We wanted to win or keep a clean sheet away from home and we were able to keep the clean sheet. The young boys were excellent and it was a good achievement for us.”