Arsenal’s academy have been praised by many for the quality of players they have produced over the years. And last night against Dundalk, Arsenal’s academy was at its full glory with as many as four graduates of Hale End made to the first team. Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles all started for the Gunners in the Europa League fixture.
Joe Willock ended up with the Man of the Match award, while Eddie Nketiah scored a goal, Ainsley Maitland-Niles was his consistent best while Reiss Nelson made a case for himself to be started in future matches with an impressive performance. And this was without Bukayo Saka, who’s widely termed as the best of the lot which has graduated from the Hale End.
Bukaya Saka is coming off a season where he successfully established himself as an integral part of the first-team setup at the club. Infact, Saka has registered the 4th highest number of goal involvement in the Arsenal squad since the start of the last season with only Alexandre Lacazette (19), Nicolas Pepe (21) and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang (36) ahead of him.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles, on the other hand, while not being an integral part of the first team just yet, has cemented his place in the first-team squad and has been convinced by Mikel Arteta to stay put at the Emirates after he was heavily linked with a move away to Wolves in the summer.
Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah have all been hovering around the first-team squad, however, they’ve yet to convince Mikel Arteta about their readiness to be able to have a considerable impact. Though they’re not only ones expected to make it to the first team with Folarin Balogun, Ben Cottrell, Charlie Patino, Miguel Azeez, Trae Coyle, Tyreece John-Jules, Matt Smith, Zak Swanson and Zech Medley, all have been tipped to make it to the first-team squad in the future.