Why doesn’t Arteta give Arsenal’s youngsters more game time?

Arteta Needs to Trust the Better Kids More by AI

One of the few bits of sunshine through Emery’s dark reign was the joy of watching so many youngsters receive so many minutes in so many games. Some, like flowers, sprouted into beautiful bulbs that we now all love. Saka and Martinelli grew the most, with Willock and Smith-Rowe having their moments. Niles also became a fixture while Nketiah and Nelson did bits.

The seeds from the dark, loamy soil of Emery’s reign are now beautiful flowers for Arteta’s Arsenal. Saka has been the most creative outlet in the team since Arteta’s signing. Martinelli filled in for Aubameyang before his injury. Nketiah is now regarded as the second central forward option. Even Willock has been having minutes. Against Chelsea, Liverpool, Leiceister, Wolves, Manchester United, these kids have turned up good. They have proven that they have something to contribute, something to give and some of them have more to offer.

Emery used the Europa League to blood these youngsters and quickly skimmed the top for milk. Saka, Smith-Rowe and Martinelli were the finest. Both Saka and Martinelli were integrated into the team while Smith-Rowe was sent out on loan to Germany. Smith-Rowe has not been integrated into the team like the former pair: he’s been unfortunate with injuries but seemingly has as much to offer the team. Considering that he was regarded as the best talent of his class, attracted interest from Leipzig and Monaco (two teams renowned for their eye for young talent), and helped Huddersfield avoid relegation in the Championship, Smith-Rowe appears to be another talent Arsenal need to integrate into the team sooner rather than later.

Tactics can sometimes determine who gets integrated or not. So can squad needs. Nelson is a youngster that presumably fits both criteria. Arteta’s tactics seems to prefer touchline wingers rather than inside forwards. With Saka on the left, Arteta needs a right winger who is of equal or greater quality. Reiss Nelson has all the right attributes to succeed. He can beat his man, load a cross, cover space and press upfront. On the surface of it, he lacks nothing for that role. This makes him a very coachable prospect. Arteta’s hands should be all over him, making him into the player he’s meant to be. And down at the end of last season, he seemed to be doing just that. Nelson was getting into gear with good performances against Liverpool and Watford. And then, nothing.

At Leicester City, Wesley Fofana was trusted to handle any of Aubameyang, Saka and Tierney. Fofana is a less rated prospect compared to Saliba. Saliba is just as good as an athlete, is more intelligent and quite better on the ball. Granted that Saliba’s delayed debut may be down to circumstances beyond control, Arteta needs to not be afraid when it comes to integrating the French starlet. Sometimes, you need to just trust your player. Trust is decisive to any youngster just starting his career. Someone has got to trust them enough to start and play regularly. Even when they fail or do not seem to be contributing as much.

Admittedly, Arteta has not found it difficult to play the likes of Willock and Nketiah. What is odd is how the better prospects who potentially have more to offer the team (Saliba, Smith-Rowe, Nelson) are the ones being ignored. Smith-Rowe, for instance, would be a massive lift for the midfield if he were to grow into his talent. These hugely talented youngsters need to be integrated into Arteta’s Arsenal as quickly as possible. Arteta needs to trust the better kids more. The group stages of the Europa League are a great way of doing that.

Agboola Israel

Tags Smith-Rowe Willock


  1. Arteta’s tactics seems to prefer touchline wingers rather than inside forwards.

    Bro, this statement sort of shades light on why I’ve been banging on about people looking at lineups on apps and concluding.
    In what game did you ever see Arteta use any of the three forwards as wingers? If they do hold the touchline, then where are Bellerin and Tierney positioned ?

    I know I’m being petty by picking out this part of your article first, but come on man. Could you at least take a look at average position maps before you make such a claim? Because then you’ll realize, the 3 forwards all play literally in the middle.

    The fullbacks hold the width.

    1. Whether they hog the touch line or not depends on which part of the pitch the ball is and the personel on field, so many factors to consider. But I agree arteta prefer his forwards tucked inside.

    2. Exactly. It seems that most balls are going through Tierney on the left side. He is very good at crossing the ball into the box but we need more creative passes in the middle. Saka does not do that. The most creative passing in the middle of the pitch I have seen recently is from Elneny who is playing too deep to support the forwards. Ceballos is terrible. They need a new player or try someone else in a center mid position.

  2. Arteta gives the youngsters as much game time as he can. Why not more ? Because they are not better than the more experienced seniors. Nketiah, Nelson, M-N. ……….. ?

  3. An excellent article Agboola.For those of us who are elderly but played the game the reference to average position maps makes me smile and despair.Football is not a complicated game.It is being made so by an obsession for stats which at the end of the day are of very limited value.Joe raised the matter of where do Bellerin and Tierney go?.Well Joe Man City and Liverpool play with two wide wingers and attacking full backs and they have been successful.Forget heat maps etc.Good players run diagonally off the ball to create space for teammates and by dragging defenders out of their comfort zones, chances are created.At present our front three of Pepe, Laca and Auba are far too static and predictable which is why we are failing to create space and chances.Saka and Nelson are talented young players who can play “off the cuff” and commit defenders ,which causes them problems.While we do lack creativity in midfield, our front three need a firework up their backsides ,and if that means leaving them out of the side, so be it.

  4. Saka is terrible. I don’t know why Arteta let’s him play at all. He turns the ball over too much and doesn’t see or attempt the passes he should be making to Aubameyang. Auba is making a lot of good, creative runs and Saka makes a back pass. It’s awful. The young players that I have watched don’t quite seem ready. Gabriel looks good most of the time. He and Tierney are the best young players they have.

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