Arsenal U23 “Best in England”

It is very easy to get too excited about youngsters coming through.

For every Cesc Fabregas that is a superstar at 18, there is 10 Denilson’s, Aneke’s, Lansbury’s and Emmanuel-Thomas’ who do not move from being top youth player to global superstar.

However, there is plenty of justification to be excited about the future of Arsenal and the young players coming through.

Our recent turn of form under Unai Emery has been built around top quality senior pros, the likes of Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil. But the supporting cast of young players, those under 23, will get you excited for the future.

Whilst the senior team are on a 9 game unbeaten run in all competitions, sitting 4th in the league, the U23 team in the Premier League 2 are currently second, and unbeaten in the last 6 games.

What is incredible about this is Arsenal pretty much have a starting XI of players within the senior set up who would still eligible for Freddie Ljungberg’s U23 team. Some of them you often forget how young they are.

First up is Hector Bellerin. He has not been looked at as a young player for some years, yet he is just 23-years old. He is still amongst one of the best young right backs in Europe. And whilst this is a key season for him, there are not too many players out there who have played 200+ games before their 24th birthday.

Alongside him in the defence could be Rob Holding. Like Bellerin, he is just 23, and surely not too far away from being called up for England?

We then come to Konstantinos Mavropanos.

I am wary of hyping up the 20-year old Greek international based on just 3 Premier League games – one of which he was sent off in – but he looks a powerhouse. Injury has restricted him this season, so we have not yet seen him in the Europa League or League Cup. I would not actually be too upset for him to take a step back into the Premier League 2 side for 6 months just to get some consistent game time. He is a talent.

At left back is Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Not a natural full back and 3 months ago I would have had him in the central of midfield. But as you will see, this side does not lack for midfielders, but does lack for left backs. At 21-years old, Maitland-Niles is a talent. And at worst will have a career at Arsenal as a utility man.

Mattéo Guendouzi is just 19-years old. It is very easy to forget given his performances this season.

Whilst the British media continue to hype up the likes of Mason Mount, Guendouzi is the teenager doing it in the Premier League. The Frenchman is younger and better than Mount. There was talk of him getting a France call up, which would have represented a huge jump from Ligue 2 player to French international. The World Cup winners have a lot of talented midfielders, so it is not a bad thing that Guendouzi is still in their youth set up.

Alongside him in midfield is Lucas Torreira. The 5 foot high from Uruguay is just 22-years old and already looks a world beater. He is younger than the likes of Harry Winks and Nathaniel Chalobah, who were both recently called up into the England squad.

Wide right is Alex Iwobi. Another who is just 22-years old. On the left is Reiss Nelson. The 18-year old currently impressing on loan at Hoffenheim. And between the two is another 18-year old. Emile Smith Rowe.

Leading the line is Eddie Nketiah. The 19-year old is yet to see much game time this season, what with the form of Lacazette, Aubameyang and Danny Welbeck. A second half of the season loan deal could be suitable for him.

We have not had such a large group of quality youngsters come through since 2006. When the likes of Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Gael Clichy, van Persie, Abou Diaby, Mathieu Flamini, Alex Song, Nicklas Bendtner and Emmanuel Adebayor took Arsenal close to the league title in the 2007/08 season having grown up together.

Whilst the current crop might not yet be as good as those names, they have better players ahead and alongside them.

A year of playing together, another year of development, who knows what they could achieve?


2 thoughts on “Arsenal U23 “Best in England”

  1. a

    wenger always said he wanted to leave the team in a good position. yes we finished 6the and didn’t qualify for the champions league but what he left was a great array of talents. it’s not just the players mentioned in the article, there are more youngsters who have been schooled in wengers teachings throughout all footballing levels at arsenal

    it’s up to emery now to help bring these players through and not let them go to waste or go elsewhere. allowing ramsey to leave is the best option ( would have been better if money is involved ) as it gives maitland niles a chance in midfield and also Rowe.

    this is why I always thought arteta was a loss at not being appointed manager. if gazidis had left this summer I’m sure it would have been

    arteta’s one to one development of sane, sterling etc has been praised by guardiola and his tactics against arsenal on the opening day of the season shows why guardiola rates him so highly

    emery if he can make a good defensive signing and finally get rid of mustafi , maybe maitland niles could be cover for torriera who like lacazette is indispensable to the team. then we can be more optimistic. we’ve been riding on a lot of luck in games and it needs to be addressed before the Liverpool game



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