Arsenal should protect our youngsters and rely on experience right now

Time To Protect Our Youngsters? By Dan Smith

I don’t want to be contradictory. On one hand we encourage clubs to give youth a chance and I feel Arsenal are one of the best at doing it. Yet I fear we may be overdoing it and we could be in danger of damaging our youngsters.

Arsene Wenger would use the League Cup for the kids to get a chance, then loans would be planned as part of their development to see if they had the mentality to deal with what comes from being in the first team every week.

The likes of Reiss Nelson, Saka, Willock, etc all have high reputations for what they showed in the underage groups. All have shown they have the talent but that does not guarantee they have the mindset to be in a side where there is pressure to perform every week. Ideally you blood new faces in gradually, bring them into a winning team, where they can play with confident teammates, in front of a happy fanbase.

At times Willock has been picked ahead of Ozil and recently Saka seems to have jumped ahead of Pepe in the pecking order. That’s the equivalent of throwing them into the deep end. I would go as far as saying it’s the worst period in our recent history to be going down this route.

They have barely any leaders to look up to, the Emirates is toxic, meaning they play it safe out of fear of trying something and getting it wrong, and they have got no one to help them because even those more experienced are worried about their own form. We could be in danger of ruining these kids’ confidence at a time when we should be protecting them.

There are zero guarantees we will qualify for Europe next year; we are looking for a new manager, and currently we are under pressure to earn a first League win since 6th October, two months ago.

Of course, this could be having an impact on the self-belief of teenagers. Naturally gooners are going to be more supportive of those who grew up at the club, everyone wants one of their own to succeed. Yet if someone is being picked ahead of your 72 million record signing and then produces zero end product, there’s going to be a spotlight on that individual.

Freddie of course knows a lot of these graduates personally from their time together in the Under 23’s, so he will know where they are at in their head? He also knows though the pressure of wearing the shirt.

I think the time is for the majority of these youngsters to take some time out of the fire, I include Guendouzi in that. This is a crucial period for us. At the moment we need results to try and save our season.

We are no longer good enough to take anything for granted home or away. We are not in a position where we can pat ourselves on the back for giving out opportunities. I think the time has come to field as much experience as possible and go back to basics.

No matter your opinion we still boast senior players who for years have played at the highest level, In World Cups, in major finals, etc. It should be left to them to get us out of this pickle not those who should be gradually being introduced.

I’m looking at these young men and feel really sorry for them, they are being badly let down at the moment.
It’s time to protect them…

Dan Smith


  1. John Ibrahim says:

    youngster or not if you are good enough you play……

    regular football improves a player….

    players like Fab, RVP, Messi, Ronaldo and co play at a very young age….

    if a player is good and ready he should play

    1. gotanidea says:

      Agree. If the youngster is special like Mbappe and Martinelli, he doesn’t need any protection

      If he can’t take the heat and can’t seize his chances, Arsenal have to loan or sell him

      Nelson, Willock, Saka and Smith-Rowe still have time till the end of next season to show their abilities. On the other hand, Maitland-Niles might only have time till the end of this season, before Arsenal move him out

    2. dan Smith says:

      Well based on recent form they are not good enough ?
      can’t compare them to how a Fabregas or Vanpersie settled straight away

      1. Diogenes says:

        My personal opinion:
        – AMN – bad attitude too many times – move him on
        – Nelson – neither very fast nor exceptional in dribbling or passing, shots are weak, confidence issues. I would say 10 percent chance he succeeds on this level – move him on
        – Saka and Willock – a little more potential, but also evident flaws for now – either loan them out to a physically-imposing league or play them in the cups for now
        – Smith-Rowe – like the 2 above perhaps, but haven’t seen enough of him yet
        – Mavropanos – a loan to the Championship – plenty of game time to find out about his true potential
        – Martinelli – first team material already
        I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone.

  2. Ackshay says:

    Yes it may ruin some confidence but it also allows us to separate the one with the best mentality who will likely succeed at arsenal. Look at willock he had a bad game but he never hid from the ball like weak minded player do. Unfortunately it also means that players like Nelson may fail because of their frail confidence despite having better talents.

    Football has evolved from the best talent always succeed regardless of mentality to the player with the strongest will with good skills.

    1. gotanidea says:

      Nelson still doesn’t have the chance to play regularly as an RW

      I believe he would do better there, instead of playing on the left

  3. Truth says:

    There are enough examples of youngsters energizing teams. Chelsea has used them well, Ajax has, Spurs had some good contributions the last few seasons. I see no reason not to select our best team rather than our oldest or most experienced. I like the balance of experience and youth.

    What has experience done for Sokratis or Luiz or Mustafi?

  4. Cliff says:

    I fully concur with the writer.Non of our youngsters has exceptional talent to be given frequent runs in the team apart from Martinelli.
    They should be introduced sparingly not the way we play like 3 or 4young players in the team.It does not only kill our perfomace but also ruins this kids confidence.

  5. Grandad says:

    If they are good enough they are old enough.The fact is guys we are currently in a mess because of the poor quality of our “experienced” players.They are the ones who are fai!ing our Club.Tierney and Martinelli are shining lights who should be first team picks and in Willock and ESR we have talents who will make the grade in my opinion.Getting rid of our experienced non performers is the biggest challenge facing our executive hierarchy, because until they are removed we will continue to regress.If we continue with the likes of Mustafi, Sokratis and Luis,there is a very real chance of our being dragged into a relegation fight.This may seem wildly pessimistic to some fans but based on the calibre of our defenders this to me seems to be realistic.I only hope FL sees the light quickly.

  6. Henrino says:

    I really don’t know why emery and freddie has refused to hand mavropanos a chance this season because he would not have performed worse than our Current CB’s…. He would have been given a chance in this new regime Maybe because he is not an english player…… I repeat he would not have been worse than mutafi luis and sokratis……..

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