Mikel Arteta has made it clear that in his mind his team will be picked on merit rather than reputation, and that he’ll have no compunction using Academy players if they deserve a place in the side.
This season has seen home-grown talent like Joe Willock, Bukayo Saka, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah involved; the 18 year old Gabriel Martinelli hit the ground running after his move from Brazil; and further playing time for Hale End graduate Ainsley Maitland-Niles who is still only 22.
Having bolstered the squad with a couple of loan signings this week, the Arsenal boss wants genuine competition for places across all positions, and has challenged his players to give him selection headaches/
“Players are going to start games if they deserve to play and they perform at the level of this football club, whether they are academy players or not,” he said.
“This club needs competition of two or three players in each position to fight.
“If they are able to fight and compete and they are better than the other ones, they will play. If not, someone else will play.
“We have some necessities in certain areas, playing some players in positions that are not really their positions.
“With more time I would like to have specialists for every position to do exactly what we want to do.”
The Gunners face Burnley at Turf Moor on Sunday, looking for a win to take into the two week break.
The players will have some time off, but will also travel to Dubai for a training camp which Arteta will use to galvanise morale, and work on the tactical side of the game away from the hectic fixture schedule