Arsene Wenger says the Europa League has proved to be a good opportunity for Arsenal’s next generation of Academy graduates to put pressure on the club’s more established players.
The Frenchman has repeatedly included the likes of Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock, Matt Macey and Ainsley Maitland-Niles in his European matchday squads while the likes of Josh Dasilva, Ben Sheaf and the now departed Marcus McGuane have also featured in the competition.
While Wenger is expected to make more use of first-team stars in the business end of the competition, he admits the chance to blood youngsters has boosted competition for places
“It’s a good opportunity for the players to show they have the quality to compete at this level,” the Frenchman told press ahead of Arsenal’s second-leg match with Ostersund.
“As well, that they fight for places, there’s a fight for places in every position at the moment. Everybody who plays tomorrow has a good chance to show their quality.
“It [the Europa League] has been very useful. They have shown me that they have the quality to compete.
“This competition has allowed them to gain confidence and to show the other players in the squad that they have the needed quality and can put them under threat.
“Internal competition has been raised. The threat [of not playing] is there for everybody. The young players have always done well.”