Arsenal’s youngsters need to prove they have the mentality tonight

Now Or Never For Arsenal’s Youngsters! by Dan Smith

Without being disrespectful to Dundalk, this game isn’t a chance for youngsters to prove their talent. The quality of those who have been promoted from our youth set up has never been questioned. You don’t get called up from our academy without showing you have talent.

What they need now is to show they have the mentality to belong at this level.

Do they have the personality to demand the ball?
Do they have the personality to believe they can make the difference?
Do they have the bravery to try something, not in fear of making a mistake?

That’s what separates those who play for a club our size compared to a mid-table side. At Arsenal you have to deal with scrutiny if you don’t win.

Saka has shown that mind set. I’m not sure the rest of our British core have shown it yet.

All supporters like the idea of ‘one of their own’ making it. These are players gooners can relate to. Why do you think they are included in all of Adidas’ marketing?

Yet we have to be ruthless if we ever want to return to challenging for the top honours. The likes of Willock and Reiss Nelson have had a few years now to prove themselves, but still perform in a manner where they seem just grateful to be having this opportunity, not that they belong.

This is one of our worst midfields in recent history. If Maitland-Niles can’t be more than a make-shift full back now, he needs to accept he’s never playing further forward like he wishes, not at the Emirates anyway.

All Eddie does coming off the bench is run into people and dive to try and win fouls. Often compared to Ian Wright, a Wright would savour this midweek fixture.
He would see it as a golden opportunity to get a hat trick.

This was always Arsene Wenger’s argument against implementing a criteria that you can make a squad based purely on where you are born. Surely sport should be based on talent.

Yet a Reiss Nelson can play in the Premiership, but Ozil can’t purely because he’s under the age of 21.

Even if Arsenal deep down only viewed Willock as a squad player, they are less likely to sell as once over 21, he can make up the quota of 7 players you have to select who were trained by an English club 3 years before their 21st Birthday.

Here’s a scenario that sounds wrong to me in 2020. The only reason Joe Willock gets an opportunity tomorrow night and Saliba doesn’t, is Saliba’s not British.

I know these regulations are put in to ensure countries don’t neglect their youngsters and develop talent for our national teams, but do you really only want to be playing ahead of someone else based on a technicality?

The one that intrigues me is Smith Rowe. Common sense says that Ozil hasn’t been frozen out for footballing reasons, but let’s pretend that’s true.

If there is one player Arteta might see as a long-term alternative, it would be Smith Rowe. I have always said that if we were seeing creativity every week, the debate over Ozil would go away. Smith Rowe plays in a manner where he could be our creative source. He’s shown in previous cup ties and on loan at Huddersfield he could be our number 10.

It’s believed it was the manager who cancelled plans for another loan move. We haven’t seen him yet this season as he’s been recovering from a shoulder injury but if fit, he could be the one to watch Thursday night.

Again playing well against the Champions Of Ireland won’t prove much.

What you want to see is which of our youngsters demand the ball, who acts like they are the best player on that pitch, who wants to be the main man?

Be Kind In The Comments

Dan Smith

Tags Nketiah Smith-Rowe Willock


  1. My line up for tonights match:
    Soares Mustafi Chambers Kola
    Willock ESR AMN
    Nelson Nketiah Willian
    Hope Arteta trusts our youngsters to do the job, high time he did. Give the first team players rest and recovery time for the big match on Sunday.

    1. I think only mustafi and Gabriel are our only fit CB so it will be them to start ,that’s what sky are reporting anyway

  2. I’d chance Kolasinac at centre half against Dundalk, with Maitland Niles at LB – give Gabriel, Saka, Tierney a rest – cant afford to lose them. Otherwise would agree with gunnarforlife (above) except would start Pepe instead of Willian – if he could score a couple that might give him more confidence for tougher games ahead.

  3. Well they will have a chance to prove it if they were trusted more. So far, the senior players are letting us down.

  4. There is no reason at all and there wasn’t last Thursday why we cant completely or nearly completely rotate. Its ludicrous that we aren’t, rotating for EL and FA cup has done us no harm in the previous seasons, in fact it has been a massive plus.

  5. Dundalk will do a Leicester.
    So will anyone visiting the Emirates.
    Unless we improve.
    It usually doesn’t mean doing the same thing with a different lineup, it means doing something differently with the same core group of players

  6. DAN I take a polar opposite view from you on ” common sense says that Ozil hasn’t been frozen out for footballing reasons” AND I WILL NOW EXPLAIN, IN SOME DETAIL, WHY I DIFFER.
    Let us look at what are indisputable facts, firstly. ONE, Ozil is left out of the Prem squad. TWO, Ozil has not played since his run of ten galmes pre Covid and was then dropped for this season and for the end of last season. THREE, thousands of Gooners , many of them once great Ozil fans (as I once was too)openly admit that he is lazy and ineffective, in posts on this site. FOUR, a lesser, but still substantial minority do not agree and want him re installed in the team. FIVE , that is not going to happen and will not be allowed by the football authorities, even were MA to wish it.

    All those are facts ! It seems quite clear to me that all those ARE footballing facts, and yet, AND YET, you claim that footballing resons are NOT why he was dropped.
    Now let us suppose that the club hierarchy and MA still thought him a key and effective player- which they clearly do not- he would still be paid his salary and he would still be in the team.

    But he is not in the team. To any normal mind that can only be that he is not considered a useful enough player.


    Coming from a highly intelligent man, that refusal is far more PERSONALLY damning to you, than is it to some of his none too bright fan club on here, who refuse to look and live in the present and think him still the player who helped win the WC SIX YEARS AGO. SIGH!!!!

    1. Jon the other day you said me questioning Arteta was wrong as I’m not a football manager
      When you call Ozil lazy , can you first show me your world cup medal ?

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