Boss on youngsters who are ‘close’ to first team action

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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.

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52 Comments on "Boss on youngsters who are ‘close’ to first team action"

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Rectum_Spectrum

great news. bit of a false dawn with The Jeff and Zelalem in recent seasons. Would love to see a young gunner break through like Cesc did – really grab an opportunity with both hands and surprise us. Obv we have Bellarin and Iwobi who have come through well and are involved regularly.

Neder

Only voting down because Raine-Adelaide has just had two seasons. Let’s not forget where someone like Iwobi came from!

Mr. G

The Jeff made a few appearances last season and I was rather impressed. Far to early to write him off. Zelalem’s another matter but just because The Jeff didn’t storm onto the scene with 10 goals and 20 assists to save the utter clusterfuck that was late January to mid-April last season doesn’t mean his chance has gone.

Finsbury Park Gooner

Is anybody seriously writing off the Jeff already? Are people out of their fucking melons or what?!

Santori

I mean, the Jeff is still young.

he’s quite natural. Would like to see him play wide first. Still massive potential.

robm

I think you underestimate just how difficult it is for a player to break through from youth to first team in any of the top EPL teams. It is a truly exceptional talent who comes in at youth and moves to the first team in anything less than a few seasons.

It takes an exceptional amount of athletic ability and talent just to be the worst player on the pitch in an average EPL match, let alone for a team like ours that hopes to challenge for the league and several cups.

goongot

nelson and willock are good indeed..but if sczy and ospina leaving i wont mind having martinez as club 2nd choice.He looks to have a great presence in the box and also for all the times he has played so far he has always looked at the place.We gave chances to fablianski and vito mannone at arsenal surely we can bank on martinez as our 2nd choice with a league class gk in cech as senior!

love and hate

i know it was years ago but that game against reading (yeah you know the one) always springs to mind..shit,was that mannone or Martinez? Fuck it!too many beers! C’mon you gunners

Alex

It was Martinez. We won the game

goongot

yeah it was martinez back then but we had a defense line of jenkinson kos miquel,and that game was mad..well cant judge him on that..it would be lik judging cech on 10-2 scoreline against bayern over 2 legs with him being the best player 😶

Tiny

Which would be harsh given that Ospina was in goal

gooner1981

I think Martinez was one of the few loanees in recent times to have performed well whilst on loan. Did well when called upon, and the experience of playing in lower leagues, especially for a goalkeeper, helped him quite a bit.

Clock-End Mike

Another was Szczesny…

Clins

I don’t mind giving chances to youngsters , but the players should prove themselves to be worthy of the chance. Martinez unfortunately has never proved himself to be good enough. He is 24 years old and hasn’t had a single season long loan spell where he has impressed . In comparison szcezny at this age was voted as the player of the club while he was on loan and was rightly given his chance. Even the other keepers in our team like matt macey has had impressive loan spells . If he was really that talented he would’ve broken through by now.

Faisal Narrage

Chez was even younger when he got that loan. 18 I think.

TomServo_1985

Yesterday’s 2-0 win? This has felt like a long day at work but was that match really yesterday?

Tim

I’ve been here too many times before to get too excited. Akpom, Afobe, Wilshere, Crowley, Zelalem, Lupoli, Aliadiere et al..

Still, Reiss has something about him. Also, while not a youngster anymore, Martinez is looking good. I remember when he was called up for Argentina as a 17 year old. Looking forward to seeing that talent blossom. Gutted for Szcz but he blew his chance – time for Emi to take his.

David

That’s very harsh to put Wilshere in that list because he was fucking class as youngster and should be still world class hadn’t every fucker tried to break his ankle.

Faisal Narrage

Bit harsh on Gabriel.

Matt P

He always had potential but he’s been pretty mediocre overall.
More English over hyped mediocrity.

Tim

All of them were class youngsters. I put JW10 on the list because everyone was sure he’d be the future of the club. Yet fast forward 6 years and he’s not even close to first XI.

We can blame other players for harsh tackles, but ultimately Jack plays into that. His style of carrying the ball too long means he was always going to be tackled a lot.

On top of that his disciplinary record is not fantastic. He saw the world in the palm of his hands and lost the focus needed to make it.

Midgunner

Agree with your sentiment, I recall not so long back getting excited about Zalalem’s pre-season.

Martinez looks quality to me. Really seems to have a calm maturity about him.

Don’t agree on Wilshere though. I know a lot of people are writing him off and I’d tend to agree for his injury record. But for some to suggest he’s become a poor player because of an indifferent season at Bournemouth is short-sighted to me.

Santori

Zelalem seems to have fizzled out.

The one player we should have kept recently of course was Gnabry.

The Jeff and Nelson look good.

iwobi still massive potential but needs to lock a position (Me personally, feel he should be in midfield)

PFo

Agree. As recently as two years ago he was England’s best player in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign (cue jokes about how that’s a low bar). He’s class, and he was hardly terrible at Bournemouth as some suggest, though I fear he put the last nail in the coffin of his Arsenal career when he insisted on the loan rather than staying and fighting for his place.

Neder

I’ll raise you an Adams, a Keown, Cole and Romford Pelé… and for good luck Woj

Martin

Why has Szczesny blown his chance ?. His 2 years at Roma proves that he is a world class keeper. It will be madness to sell him.

Daz

Smoking in toilets.

chakravo

Probably better than toileting in a smoker.

Where’s that damn coat?!

Clive St Helmet

I thought Willock, Nelson and Bramall all did well. They looked lively, more so than some of the first teamers. I thought Ozil looked up for it too, which was encouraging.

Kolasinac didn’t put a foot wrong IIRC and you can see his attacking intentions. He played some good penetrative balls into Welbeck and Walcott in the first half.

Derek South

I Think the pressure blend is a that Wenger won’t give them a chance early enough in the league. Look at Mbappe he is only 18 and already he’s been given a chance. If he was Arsenal youth he’d be out on loan until he was 21, he’d be fed up and go to a lower division to rot away. I don’t think Wenger should buy anymore when you have such good youth. We let so many go without giving them a good chance!!

Arsensei

Apologies mate but it seems like you’re suggesting Wenger should have passed up Mesut Özil, Alexis Sanchez, Granit Xhaka, Mustafi and Kolasinac in order to give more chances to the likes of Wilshere, Afobe, Kamara, etc.
If That is indeed the suggestion I would suggest you’ve been living under a rock for the past four seasons. So I will give you an update: It’s 2017 right now. Arsenal have handed Arsène Wenger another two year contract. Last season we finished fifth and every twat and his grandma were out abusing our manager and the team. Same thing at the start of the season because we were bitter at finishing second behind Leicester and because we signed only Petr Cech the previous summer. I believe there’s Arsenal fans in the slums of every country apparently dying because Wenger doesn’t sign players for big money. Rob Holding last season was called another typical Wenger buy when he came in for just 2.5 million from Bolton. No recognition given to the fact that he was one of their best players and then curiously, he became a typical Wenger buy- youthful. Brave. Precocious. Talented.
So basically what I’m trying to say is if you wanna see 5 youngsters in the team then maybe skip over to Boreham Wood for the youth games and the training sessions.
This season we have handed Ainsley Maitland-Niles a senior squad number. Iwobi got upgraded two seasons ago. Bellerin 3-4 seasons ago. We have had a youth star shine in almost every single campaign in the last five or so years. But petulant to be saying we need more don’t you think?
And to suggest Wenger isn’t giving youth a chance is laughable. Especially when everybody slates him for trying to win the league with a youth side in the banter era. Now we’ve got Kos, Mustafi, Mertesacker, Holding, Chambers, Bellerin, Kolasinac, Monreal, Ox, Xhaka, Ramsey, Elneny, Coquelin, Wilshere, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sanchez, Özil, Iwobi, the Jeff when he’s back from injury, Walcott, Giroud, Lacazette, Welbeck and probably a few I’ve forgotten.
In short, dont agree with your view that Arsène Wenger should be giving our youth more chances instead of signing players. My reasons for disagreeing are: Arsène has destroyed his legacy ensuring the club have enough money to keep the stadium payments going in on schedule, he can earn the rewards of an increased budget since he’s the one who created it. For two summers anyway. Also, Arsène Wenger in his career has probably seen more kids playing in the field than I have read books. Or you either. And he’s pretty good at that sort of thing. Promoting youth was sort of how he kept us in the periphery of the PL conversation. Would think he’s got that covered you know?
Cheers anyway.

Clive St Helmet

@Derek South: I’d like to point out that Wenger handed Jack Wilshere and Cesc Fabregas their debuts at 16, Ashley Cole and Serge Gnabry aged 18, Alex Iwobi aged 19. There are dozens more that he’s handed debuts to, but these stand out as players who were very young but deemed good enough for regular first team football and most of them have gone on to enjoy very successful careers.

He’s certainly not afraid to let the very best cut their teeth in the first team.

Clins

I don’t know if wenger prefers kolasinac as centre back or as wingback. But I liked how bramall played the wingback role. Quick and skillful , he looked to make an impact from the start onwards. With better finishing he could’ve had a couple of assists. I really would lik to see how well he does if given chance in the premier league. What a steal it would be if he could become a starter for us. Bramall and holding 2 starters for less than 2 million.

Btw bielk , willock and iwobi played well too. And nelson …just woww..

bfollinprm

I really liked his positioning. I’d love to have an eye on the training pitch to see how he handles someone like Ox bringing the ball right at him.

bfollinprm

Bramall, that is.

Santori

Problem is if you play the young players, they can also dissapoint.

tricky balance to get.

Do you go for development at risk to our ambitions for the season? Or do you go for practical to league ambitions which may limit the younger players to League cup appearances. Is that enough?

We’ve already bedded in Bellerin and to some extent Iwobi in recent seasons from academy with decent suceess.

There aren’t that many slots given we want the real deal in the first team now to go for the big trophies that have eluded us.

manny

No one mentioned biliek. He is such a talent the way he moves from defence to attack and very strong on the ball. I still cant understand why he is not in the first team

Greaves

his distribution was a bit poor though

bfollinprm

He’s held back for the 1 or 2 moments of carelessness. You saw one on the pitch, I wager he has a couple lapses in concentration a game. That’ll be ironed out, he’s still learning the position.

Arsensei

When he brings the ball out from the defence charging upfield he reminds me a bit of Kos when he was a madman. Look at how that quality added to his game when refined.

Santori

Bramall has an opportunity bc MOnreal will step down sooner than later.

Dr Zebra

And this is why Arsenal is such a special club, Arsene such a special manager and why us fans love this club!! Give the kids a chance!

Santori

Reiss looks a handful.

Also like to see Iwobi develop this coming season. I feel he should be played in midfield bc he has the attributes to hold the ball with his technical skills but also sufficient strength and vision for the pass.

Dholio

My hope is that these kids get a run out in both the League Cup and Europa League. Let the majority of the senior squad stay focused on the Prem and FA Cup and let’s see how far the squad players and young gunners can go in the other 2 competitions.

afsdfsd

you cant blame Wenger, if you follow the pre season perfomance of Crowley, Zelalem they were pretty classy. Wilshere, Iwobi, Sczsney is prove why Wenger should still take the academy seriously.

Seriously, 2-4 years ago who would have thought Iwobi would be a star, he was on the shadow of Zelalem, Crowley, Adelaide, back then.

Most extreme example is probably Cesc Fabregas. I think as a fan, you see this youngsters as a trial and error situation, but for the staff and coach who goes to see them day by day, its almost a slow steady process

Segy Turner

Unrelated to the topic of discussion, but I’ve been thinking.. Is the idea of a Sanchez-Griezmann swap in January viable? Swap plus whatever top-ups necessary from either side, I don’t care..
Seems worth the attempt to me for a number of reasons..
1. Griezmann’s quality cant be questioned.
2. I dont see why Atletico wouldnt want to have Sanchez in their team. Fits their style I think.
3. We could capitalise on Griezmann’s ties with Laca.
4. Sanchez goes to a top side, as he would like to, without selling to a direct rival in epl.
5. We get to save those extra bucks on financing his wild wage aspirations..

Thoughts?

catbiscuits

why wouldn’t Atletico just sign a pre-contract agreement with Sanchez in January, and have both of them available come next summer?

you must have a crazy valuation of Sanchez if you think a few months of him is worth an entire Greizmann

Matt P

Nelson was really good. Wellbeck was garbage

Rob67

Changes the names and that could have written any time in the last twenty years.

Wenger inherited a youth set up that was poor and run down but what has he done to improve it ?
In terms of youth players who come through the ranks the last twenty years have been as poor as any time in the club’s history.

Who have we produced ? Ash Cole, Wilshere and Iwobi is the answer. We were unlucky with Cole in terms of attitude. Unlucky with Wilshere through injuries and the juries still out on Iwobi.

Other than that, nothing. It was another age but Bertie Mee’s record was stellar compared to that.

Wenger is really good at spotting talent and nicking them off others – as with Anelka, Cesc and Bellarin. But the youth set up remains abject not just compared to our past. But also to what other clubs have done in the same period.

I don’t just mean Man Utd who are obviously stellar. But West Ham and Spurs have a better record than us over the same period.

About twelve years ago, we did have a really promising player on our books. But he left for Watford, went on to Spurs and last year won the EPL Golden Boot. Which just shows that we are missing more than we’re hitting.

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