There weren’t any academy debutants last season but this campaign there has already been one in Folarin Balogun, while Ben Cottrell and Miguel Azeez could well be next in line.
All three players have travelled with the first-team squad to Norway for tomorrow’s Europa League game against Molde, and, with teams permitted to make five substitutes, Cottrell and Azeez certainly have a chance of entering the fray at some stage.
If Arsenal win tomorrow then it is possible that further youngsters, such as Joel Lopez and maybe even Charlie Patino, could be called upon in the final two group stage games.
For now, though, the focus is on Cottrell and Azeez, who are certainly two of the most promising prospects in the academy.
Catalin Cirjan also falls into that bracket but the Romanian midfielder isn’t eligible to feature in the Europa League as to be on the Under-21 list players have to have been at the club for two years and he only joined last year.
Cottrell has consistently impressed for the U23s and frequently plays impressive passes. He set up Emile Smith Rowe’s goal against Everton last week and is excellent technically. Usually used either deep in midfield or as a number ten, he was deployed as a left wing-back by Mikel Arteta in the pre-season game against MK Dons and has also been utilised in that position during first-team training sessions.
Azeez, meanwhile, has been tipped to make the breakthrough for some time and also has an excellent passing range. The 18-year-old needs to work on the defensive side of his game as he can sometimes be bypassed too easily in midfield, but he is an excellent prospect.
If Cottrell and Azeez are called upon then they are capable of boosting Arsenal’s creative threat, and they will be eager to demonstrate that they deserve further chances in the near future.