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?
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