Wenger: Our next generation is ‘exceptionally strong’

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Arsene Wenger says he’s determined to give Arsenal’s Academy graduates a chance to shine this season claiming the current crop of 18-year-olds are exceptionally strong compared to previous years.

Already this season the boss has used the Carabao Cup and Europa League to hand first-team debuts to Reiss Nelson, Jo Willock, Josh Dasilva, Eddie Nketiah, Marcus McGuane and Ben Sheaf. He’s planning on doing the same against Norwich City this evening with young keeper Matt Macey due to start in goal in place of the injured David Ospina.

On the responsibility he feels he has to give youth a chance, the boss told Arsenal.com: “We didn’t have that strength for a while and now we have a generation of 18-year-old players who are exceptionally strong.

“I still believe that one of the problems in the Premier League at the moment is that these boys do not get enough chances. That’s why I’m keen to do it and I want to do it. If you look around you, the fact that the Premier League is so demanding means the young boys are very quickly under pressure, and that’s why you maybe see less of them appear.

“If you look at the results of the English national youth teams, they look like one of the best nations in the world, but the responsibility falls on club managers like us to give them a chance.”

One player who is building on the chances handed to him last season is Ainsley Maitland-Niles. The versatile 20-year-old became a World Cup winner with England’s under-20s in the summer and has already featured for the first team five times this term.

So strong is Wenger’s belief in the youngster that he’s warned his established midfielders to watch their back.

“The huge advantage of Maitland-Niles, and the disadvantage as well, is that he can play everywhere,” said Wenger.

“Sometimes when you’re a manager, you use the comfort of being able to get him to play wherever you need him to. He can play on the flanks without any problem because he has pace, he’s an intelligent boy and I think he needs to add that little bit of extra force for 90 minutes. But he’s so comfortable on the ball, so quick, so good and can steal the ball too.

“He can also play central midfield, but I must say that he’s close now to being a regular in the first team as well. I would be on my toes if I was a regular player in the Arsenal first team. His preferred position is central midfield and that’s where I believe he will end up.”

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45 Comments on "Wenger: Our next generation is ‘exceptionally strong’"

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Pauloo

Let’s hope they live up to expectations

Kung Fu Grip

Let’s hope for their sake that your expectations are fair and managed like an adult. Too many fruit tile loving, boo-boy morons running around the stands these days.

Martin

Please who would put a thumbs down other than a troll?

kveb

Fruit tile haters

Clock End 20

I’m probably committing status suicide here, but what’s a fruit tile…?

Crash Fistfight

I wanted to ask that.

Gunner in Canada

Probably someone who can not spell futile ?

Dennis Elbow

A tile made from fruit? Mayhap?

Rectum_Spectrum

lets hope their talents aren’t wasted.

gooner1981

Hope they stay patient, and keep on learning. It is frustrating for a player to play out of their preferred position, but it also improves their understanding of another position, and helps their game develop overall. So someone like Nelson is playing wingback, but when he starts playing in an attacking role permanently, he will not forget his defensive duties that he learnt playing RWB. Really hope to see a majority homegrown team in the next 2-3 years, with a sprinkling of world class talent.

David C

speaking of expectations, what the heck happened to The Jeff?

arsepedant

Injured on and off for pretty much the last year and half.

Pedant

Inevitably some will fall by the wayside (injuries, form, not being quite good enough) but if there are a few coming through let’s hope most do it.

It feels so much better than just buying in talent that had no connection with the club and are there for the money.

Harish P

VERY excited for AMN. He doesn’t get much talk as He plays a simple role with little flash, but his impact will become very notable as the games go on. Curious to see his standout traits when he’s locked down his role. Seems to handle almost everything well at this stage.

Savage

He looks so comfortable with the ball at his feet. I particularly like how he seems to have his head up when he plays.

PGunner

I’d love to see him given a proper run in midfield. Willock looks the part too, both very mature for their years.

Andy

Count me in the AMN over ramsey discussion. He would provide better stability and fluidity. This is especially true when our front three are ozil, alexis, and lacazette. Let ramsey come in as a super sub if we need extra attack

Heavenly Chapecoense

I see a message from Wenger to Xhaka to keep on his toes.

agooner

if we have exceptional young players then why don’t we win anything at that level now???? plus it doesn’t help that Arsene gives them chance but plays them out of position most of the time, that is not helpful and might even hinder their progress.. I sometimes think that with his successful record of changing the preferred position of many players, Arsene takes it over the board now….

Andy Mack

I’m impressed that you know which positions the lads can and can’t play in.
In AM-Ns case, he was a winger before he moved back to FB and then DM, so although I prefer not to see him as LFB/LWB, he’s flexible enough to do it to a decent standard. On top of that, he’s played in front of decent crowd sizes whilst on loan at Ipswich.
Much more important that these lads get the chance to experience playing in front of 60k which is a big difference from the ‘up to’ 1k that they’ve played in front of previously.
They’re at an age where they can take a poor game, drop back to the U23s (or whatever) and try again but with a better understanding of the leap that’s necessary to play at the top level.

uhtred

C’mon mate, I know Wenger can be a bit strange at times but only an idiot would claim to know more about his players than he does. I agree that playing them out of position is frustrating as a fan but at the same time these kids could do with getting some all round experience to help them defend/attack better. I’m excited for the next generation, I know they won’t all make it but I’m rooting for every single one of them. C’mon the boys

Ashley

Wenger likes to play younger players in different positions so they learn different parts of the game. Back in the day, it was the left wing where players would be shifted out to learn their trade and do the leg work while the more senior players take their usual positions. At the moment they take the wing back positions and do the running there and learn the defensive side of the game.

if we had a wealth of experience in every position or were fortunately enough to have gaps in their prefered positions then that is fine but there isnt and so they have to do the hard work.

Youth level competitions are not simple since their best players are sent out on loan or in this case they are playing and training with the first team, so they wont be playing at under 21/23 level while they are doing that. Chelsea win youth competitions pretty regularly and you cant say they get many of their youth players in the first team with any regularity.

Daniel

If you saw the line up for yesterday’s u23 game against spurs you can see we fielded a weakened team so these guys can play tonight, youth football is just a stepping stone, a place to show you have the ability to step up

Deeman

Chelsea easiest example .. they dont play after u23s

PeteyB

“His preferred position is central midfield and that’s where I believe he will end up.”

Feel I heard that before somewhere…

To be fair what we’ve seen of these kids so far is really promising. Could be some legends in the making.

goongot

If i was wenger i would refrain predicting youth player’s future place in the squad..The ox took it rather too seriously and he god to satan knows he does not possess the required technicality to be a mid-fielder.

gooner

Great to imagine all this talent coming through but we might be the ones losing out in the end.

Our policy of “giving them a chance in the first team” is always pleasing but we always do it at a cost. Being young, inexperienced and just nearly ready they always lack consistency. At times we have two or more in the same team and compared to a team like city or Chelsea who have to have the players for the now more than the future, we always suffer in competing equally.

Then comes the case of the youngsters not making it (sanogo eastmond denilson jenkinson ) and staying with us instead of going out on loan initially. They don’t get enough minutes and kinda plateau in their development.
Then those who really make it and come good reach a stage where they want to take the next step and win things but realise they might not be in a competitive enough team due to the new youngsters coming in. So we end up with the average guys ( Gibbs, Ox, Walcott, Ramsey, yes.) While we curse those that move on for bigger things.

Always nice to see some youngsters given a chance but I kinda preferred watching them do their education on a slightly lower level. Jack at Bolton, Campbell on his European tour, TGSTEL etc.
It was much better than sticking the Ox on a front 3 for years hoping he makes it, gets outscored almost double by a CB. All the while us being understrength on that wing for that long and his out of here anyway.

It’s a long rant but in short I’d enjoy it more if Nelson went to Newcastle or Watford and played week in week out in his position, in the league too like Lukaku did at Everton than him being an exciting out of position wingback for our second team for around four years before we decide if he is really ready. Up until mid last season we couldn’t risk Ramsey in CM so he was shunted to the wings. Now he’s playing CM a bit like a winger running in behind people to get on the end of things…..

Faisal Narrage

In some ways, I agree, but in others I strongly disagree.
The issue with project youth wasn’t youth per se, but the staggered approach to team development. You basically had guys in their peak being told to wait around for the youth to peak. Then they got dismayed, left, and when the youth finally peaked, they were then told to hang around for the next gen to peak. Repeat.

Much as I hate to say it, Spurs are doing it the right way; play them all now along with bought players in relative closeness to age.

Personally, I’d much prefer Wenger goes all out on youth, rather than being half hearted. That would mean shipping out the likes of Theo, so Nelson can play more regularly (can’t believe the same man who sold Vieira to make way for Cesc, is the same man holding on to Theo whilst youth players like Nelson, Gnabry and Silva missed out).

caligunner

Revisionist history. Gnarby until the Olympics was constantly hurt for 2 years prior I believe to even be given a chance. Finally showed what he could do when healthy but had 1 year left. Either keep him or sell him.

Missed out on Nelson? He is just starting. Chill out.

ChrisGoona

Did we need to send Cesc out on loan? He was playing in our 1st team at 16 yrs of age and never once looked out of place. If you are good enough, you play. Exceptions must be made when the talent is so big. Have you seen how quick Nelson’s feet are? He breezes past people with his pace and trickery. So send him to a lower level where he will be disinterested. That makes no case.

Each individual is different. As in Cesc’s case and many others who didn’t need loans to develop. Some are good enough to take center stage.

Faisal Narrage

” His preferred position is central midfield and that’s where I believe he will end up.””

If I had a pound for everytime Wenger has said this about a young prospect. If we took it literally, we would be fielding a formation of 0-10-0.

Me2

With an owner looking to make money rather than invest it the development of players may be our best hope – until we cave in and sell them to Man City or PSG..

Ogban

With the PL awash with money, clubs prefer to pay inflated kprices for average players from overseas rather than giving young players a chance

Arun

“I would be on my toes if I was a regular player in the Arsenal first team. His preferred position is central midfield and that’s where I believe he will end up.”

Which practically means that AMN would not get a game in central midfield!

Lix

In central midfield AMN is a better player than Ox

Ashley

Really interesting to hear him talk about Maitland Niles and how close he is to the first team. I wouldnt say he has stood out the most of the youth players in the Europa League (Willock has been the best of them in my opinion, though the others have not been played in their preferred positions in their defence and have played well!)

Central midfield seems to be the area of most concern, or at least the area I think we could improve most in so far this season so it will be interesting to see if he features. I know everyone is saying Jack should get in the team but he has been played in more advanced positions when he has played so I think Maitland Niles might be first in line for a CM position.

Andy Mack

Unless you have a really great game, it’s difficult to look especially good in the WB position. The best thing to say is that AM-N has rarely looked out of his depth in the senior games (and often looked much better), which is the same thing Mcarthy said about him when he was at Ipswich.

Mark

Playing in the Europa League this year could be a real blessing in disguise for the development of some of these young players. Far more challenging and pressure packed situation than the early rounds of the domestic cup competitions. Of course we’d all rather be in the CL, but I do find it enjoyable getting to watch the young players play in more meaningful matches alongside side some of our more veteran players.

OneBeatOff

This is fucking awesome. They have looked sharp. Can’t wait for KO

YaGunnersYa

We have bright prospects in defence too. Tolaji Bola for instance is a gem of a player, albeit very underrated.

mo974

Arsene just play the kids .Our so called stars do not want to stay anyway. Throw the kids in , surrounded by the old guards like per, the kos, monreal and the hungry mob of kolasinac , laca , el neny , ramsey et al and we can go all the way in the Europa league and properly challenge for a top 3 spot. If they are exceptionally good, why hesitate? Contrary to project youth , the team has some serious seniors players to help those kids.

caligunner

Lol are you drunk?

Bruce Lee

Let’s win something this year, and finish in the top 4.

Then we can add a little to this new crop, especially as we looking at losing some top quality, too.

COY, next generation, G.

clockenddan

Love to hear the boss talking about young players like this. Would love to see some of them make the cut and break through to become first team regulars

hej

Macey
Mertesacker Holding Monreal
Nelson Maitland-Niles Elneny Kola
Iwobi Wilshere
Giroud

for 2nite?

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