Mikel Arteta believes the best is yet to come from Arsenal’s youthful squad and said the reason his academy graduates have been able to step up this season is down to the coaching they received coming through the ranks.
The Gunners have consistently fielded the youngest lineups in the top division this season and on Wednesday night reaffirmed their Champions League ambitions with a win at Chelsea.
That the goals were scored by a trio of players – Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith – who were raised at Hale End gave supporters all the more reason to savour the victory.
Asked how the academy contingent has dealt with the pressure, Arteta said: “That’s because of all of the work that a lot of coaches and a lot of people that made decisions to recruit our academy players did in the past.
“That’s the fruit of a lot of work they have done so all the compliments I think should be for them and for the players that they have stepped in during a big match.
“I have said if you want to play in the Champions League you have to go to these stadiums and be able to win and it’s rare but our three academy players scored and made a difference in the game.”
On the potential of his side, he continued: “I think the potential of individuals and the collective is much bigger. I hope!
“In terms of the quality, the consistency, the delivery the experience that they have. The amount of times they have played at a professional level. The amount of times they have been coached in the way that I want the team to play. To go through struggles, to go through pressure, to get to understand each other.
“They haven’t been playing together for a long time, and there are a lot of things that can be done much much better.”
Looking back on Wednesday’s win at Stamford Bridge, Arteta was particularly pleased that the match was rounded off by a penalty by Bukayo Saka; his first spot-kick since missing in the final of the European Championships.
“What it tells me is the moment that he had and the experience that he had is over,” said Arteta.
“He learned from that and he is willing to take more responsibility and he’s willing to take big decisions that can define big moments and that’s what I want.
“As he says, he’s confident to take that step forward and what’s important is that he is ready for the team to make that contribution.”
Hope they’ve learnt from the three poor matches before the great Chelsea result. If they can avoid those results in future seasons they will do very well. And it’s not like they’ve been poor this season.
I believe the poor showings at those three games had more to do with the coach than the boys. Apart from the Crystal game, The lineup was poor to say the least, and Arteta was lacking in confidence himself. All that got into the players’ heads and they turned out a poor result.
Watching Saka grab that ball for the spot kick gave me so much happiness. Star boy!
3 academy graduates scoring in a league game, has that ever happened before?
You’d probably have to go back to the days of 1988/89 – Adams, Rocastle, Thomas, Merson, Quinn and Hayes.
Plus Davis and O’Leary in the same 1988/89 squad.
How on earth could I have forgotten those two? 🙄
Rice, Nelson, O’Leary, Brady, Stapleton, Rix, Price would be possible too.
Think merson made his debut in 88/89 as well .
Niall Quinn, was reading your post as I replied.
I can’t think of any off the top of my head, and I’m sure it must be very rare if it has ever happened before.
Chel$ki’s front three in that match cost £180M. Ours cost £0. If our academy can keep churning out players like this, we could be repeating your comment a lot going forward.
Saka has cojones.
9 September 1989, Arsenal 5 Sheff Wed 0.
Merson, Adams, Thomas (plus Marwood & Smith)
29 August 1987, Arsenal 6 Portsmouth 0.
Rocastle, Adams , Davis (plus Smith x3)
Blah blah blah. Here we go again: talk and over-analysis. Hype!
We play well when there’s no pressure of expectation. Now let’s kick on when we’re on the front foot.