Have Arsenal’s homegrown youngsters stopped progressing?

Have Our Youngsters Lost Their Mojo? By Dan Smith

Unai Emery came out fighting this week asking Arsenal fans and media not to have short memories and see the bigger picture. He pointed to Guendouzi being one of our best players this season. The Spaniard seemed to be suggesting that if you’re willing to struggle short term it can pay off in the longer term.

He pointed to his young midfielder being brought from the French 2nd division and instead of learning from the bench or the developmental squads Guendouzi was thrown in at the deep end, and even when he didn’t understand certain aspects his boss stuck with him. The reward? The Frenchman has become the player he is, who in the worst case we could now make a huge profit on if sold.

It’s worth remembering when recruiting for Arsene Wenger’s replacement, part of the job criteria was to carry on developing youth. No one can accuse our manager of not doing that, but he may have slightly contradicted himself.
On one hand he is pointing to how Guendouzi has become better for playing through the difficult periods instead of being pulled out of the firing line. Yet twice this week he has taken off Willock at half time. From a man management point of view, it seems he could be ruining the confidence the youngster has built up by twice making an example out of him when while he may have not been good, others were just as bad and got longer than 45 minutes.

The irony of course is that twice he’s changed the midfield at the break for its lack of creativity while he still leaves Ozil at home playing on his PlayStation. When your taking two midfielders off so early in a match that’s an admission you got things wrong originally. Even if you had given Willock an extra 15 minutes to improve that could be the difference between his self-esteem being low or high.

We could be relying on him at Anfield in midweek and if he freezes it could be that his coach hasn’t followed his own advice over Guendouzi. Out of all our academy prospects though I’m most worried about Maitland-Niles. Out of our celebrated underage team he was the quickest to get a run in the first team, yet now seems a bit lost. He made it clear in an interview he wasn’t happy at right back which may have shown a character his boss doesn’t like. While it wasn’t ideal, it would have been first team football every week at least until Xmas with Bellerin being nursed back slowly. If he worked 100 percent to do the best out of a bad position, the more inclined others would be to give you a chance elsewhere because they would now believe in your personality.

Look at the Ox, he hated being a full back but his best form for us was our route to winning our last FA Cup. If you have publicly complained about your position what you need to make sure you do is take your moment when it’s given to you. On Thursday he was played further forward and did nothing to suggest he should be ahead of a packed midfield.

Normally when a youngster loses a ball which leads to a goal you can shrug your shoulders and say he will learn but suddenly his comments are coming back to haunt him. In terms of how many games played he will be expected to be one of our main leaders when we go to Liverpool on Wednesday, that’s if he gets picked.

Emery is under lots of pressure at the moment regarding his team selection, just keep an eye on how he looks after these two.


  1. Dan Dan my friend, this article is about Arsenal youngsters but as usual you still find a way to put Ozil name lol. AMN has always been overrated the boy is too lazy he can’t mark he can’t run he can’t really dribble, he always plays like he’s won everything in football, our youngsters are not as good as we think, out of the 3 or 4 promoted only Saka is quality am not sure about Rowe yet because he’s been unlucky with injuries.

    1. Actually Maitland-Niles is quick and can dribble. Although he can only do it as a fullback/ wingback, not as a winger, due to his lack of trickeries

      Never doubted his attacking abilities, but he is not consistent as a defender and I highly doubt his commitment when he plays as a fullback

      Arsenal should have traded this boy for Adama Traore. At least Traore is a scary conventional RW that can pin the opponents down in their own half and he can play as an RWB too

      1. @gotanidea
        Thank you. AMN has the best recovery time of any player save Hector. When playing RB he’s always left patrolling the flank by himself, and constantly left in the lurch by who ever played RW. Find his position, and let him play there and watch him flourish. Stop confusing him by using him as a utility player. Everyone’s not capable of doing so…

    2. Can anyone remember about 8 or so years ago when AMN’s mother would storm the club and training ground demanding answers to why her son AMN was not being played?


  2. If Maitland-Niles wants a chance in central midfield, I’m afraid he has to find a way to convince the coach or find another club. Because there are too many midfielders ahead of him at Arsenal

    Some footballers have juvenile posture and the childish attitude trend is worsening in the last ten years. Thanks to the celebrity endorsements, the crazy rise of the players’ price tags/ salaries and the amplified power of social media, which eventually empower the footballers to feel more entitled to special treatments

    Like the Ox, Maitland-Niles has rights to better his career, either at Arsenal or elsewhere. I just hope he keeps working hard for that and would make the right decision

  3. Guendouzi was already excellent when he arrived, just like Martinelli. The progress Guendouzi made is solely through playing all the time which increased his experience and confidence.

    On the other hand, our academy players and a few other youngsters that needed to improve (Mavropanos) have not progressed except when they played for Freddie’s U23s.

    Compare that to Lampard’s influence and you’ll see we have a 2nd rate coach.

  4. Our academy players have been developing well if there is any thing clicking for us at the moment its the development of the young guns,
    I think the problem is the few overhyped youths i never rated both Nelson and Niles as highly as people do but its understandable they are English, especially Niles who I have seen so much of to suggest that he will need a complete change in attitude and his career to get near a world class tag. Meanwhile am hoping this comment section won’t be boring with Emery criticism like other

  5. we have a clueless coach,even if we have messi and Rinaldo..they will look mediocre.. give this kids to a better coach and see them blossom

    1. Like Aubamayang and Laca looks mediocre, let your criticism be fair and not biased, lol Ronaldo and Messi will look mediocre there’s nothing I will not here on justarsenal.

  6. Tbh yes they’ve stopped and it has to do with Emery’s tactics and way of football.
    Niles wasn’t this bad even under Wenger, yes he could make a few mistakes but he wasn’t terrible this much. In fact I remember Niles even played Left back a few times and he owned the position.

    Now a lot of our youth products are stagnating, it has to do with our coach. Even our senior players don’t know what they’re doing except a selected few. Nelson ain’t no Sancho, but Nelson actually looks to be getting worse under Emery.
    Smith Rowe is becoming injury proned.
    I just hope Saka doesn’t become stagnated

  7. Willock was substituted because he was playing poorly, AMN wants to play in midfield, was given chances and didn’t perform. It is a hard world out there. Players have to forget the hype, work hard and take opportunities when they arise. Martinelli should be used as a role model, having grown up in a tough school in Brazilian football. Ability only takes you so far.
    The trouble with many Arsenal footballers today, is that they have to TTFU.

    1. Thank you for for the nice analysis, I am not sure even the admin on here knows this or let me say he just don’t wanna see this.

  8. Martinelli, Saka, Gouendouzi, Willock, Nketiah, Smith Rowe and Nelson doing great last season and also this. Its the opposite to me, i think its great that our young players come in and do so well, often better than their elders.

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