Arsenal secured a fine 4-1 win against Molde last night to secure top spot in our Group with 9 points out of 9, despite going behind to an early goal as usual.
To be honest we were expecting Arteta to pick more of our youngsters to start the game, but in the end he picked a very strong team and only Willock and Nketiah took to the field that could be classed as youngsters.
Willock gave an excellent performance, and after the game Arteta made it clear on Arsenal.com that he wouldn’t pick youngsters simply because of the weakness of the opposition, but maintained that they had to earn the right to play ahead of the more experienced members of the squad.
He started by talking about Willock of course. “Yeah, I think he was really strong in his performance. I think the way he’s approaching every opportunity, also how mature he is. I saw his press conference as well and I was impressed by the way he’s communicating as well. He is developing the right way, he is a player that I really like, he has some very special qualities. He deserves every minute he’s been playing and he’s showing it with performances, with goals and with his attitude.”
“Well the thing is that we have a big squad at the moment, but I said to Joe that I really trust him. This is a competition that we are not [just using] to give young players a chance, it is a competition that we are taking really seriously and we want to play players who are in the best possible shape to give us a performance that we need, and Joe is one of them.”
He was then asked if he should give more chances to youngsters that have not had much game time, and he replied: “If you look at the numbers of how much the young players have played since I joined, I don’t think it’s a question that we can raise to ourselves. Eddie was on loan, he wasn’t playing and now he’s playing. Bukayo wasn’t playing the minutes that he is playing under me, the same with Joe. Reiss didn’t play today because he was injured. If not he would have started the game tonight again.
“The good thing is that they’re not just young players so we have to give them the opportunity, they have to earn that right to play and they are doing that. That’s a really positive thing and how lucky we are to have this generation. We [have to] develop them in the right way and the right way sometimes is giving them the opportunities when they deserve it. If not they don’t play and it’s the best way for them to learn the standards that are required at this football club. If not then you are not good enough to play here. When they show it they have to start. We have a few examples of that and they start every week.”
So, that is setting them all a big challenge to prove on the training pitch that they deserve their chances, even in the minor cup games. It is obvious that Arteta wants to instil a competitive winning culture in the side, and I think he is doing that very well at the moment, don’t you?