Ahead of Arsenal’s Carabao Cup quarter-final against West Ham tonight, Arsene Wenger has reiterated his belief that the club has to give academy players a chance when possible.
The League Cup has traditionally been the way we’ve done that, but the Europa League this season has seen the likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock appear frequently, while young striker Eddie Nketiah caught the eye with a two goal salvo in the last round against Norwich.
The club have made moves to keep this batch of youngsters together, with Nketiah, goalkeeper Matt Macey and midfielder Ben Sheaf all signing new deals.
They’re all likely to be part of tonight’s squad to face the Hammers, and the manager is enthused by their potential.
“It’s a very exciting bunch of young players,” he said.
“They went recently to Manchester City and won in a convincing way and I made that decision a few months ago to try and keep them at the club because I believe they all have futures at the club.
“It is very important for Arsenal to continue giving chances to young players we educate here.”
The fact that Maitland-Niles has done enough in his cup games to convince Arsene Wenger he’s ready for Premier League playing time should convince others that these games are a real chance to stake their claim at Arsenal.