While pre-season is generally about getting everyone fit and ready for a new season, it’s also a chance to give some young players a chance to show what they can do.
In yesterday’s 2-0 win over Sydney FC, Arsene Wenger handed starts to Joe Willock – brother of the recently departed Chris – and Reiss Nelson, a very highly rated attacking midfield talent.
The duo impressed, and the manager was quick to praise them, saying they’re not far away from his thoughts when it comes to some first team action this season.
Nelson in particular caught Wenger’s eye, who spoke of the 17 year old’s confidence afterwards, saying, “Since I’ve been in the game I’ve understood that you either have that at 17 years of age or you don’t.
“Some of the players I’ve had in my career have turned 18 years old and it seems natural for them to be on the pitch. They just think, ‘Let’s play’ and Reiss behaves like that.
“They all did well today, Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock as well had a very strong performance. They are young, just 17 or 18 years old, so that is very promising.
“Pre-season is there for that, for me to understand how close they are. It’s the first game, it’s a bit early.
“What they’ve shown tonight means they have the chance of being very, very close.”
Chances are they’re still some way from being ready for the Premier League, but with League Cup and potentially Europa League appearances, they could well be given opportunities to impress in the upcoming campaign.