Arsenal

The two Hale End talents Mikel Arteta must unleash into the Arsenal first-team next season

Throughout Arsenal’s history the use of academy players has been a very consistent theme.

In recent years, however, fewer youngsters than usual have been called upon, with Mikel Arteta often preferring to work mostly with a core group of senior players.
Indeed, this season Arteta gave minutes to just two academy players in competitive games. Charles Sagoe Jr started against Brentford in the Carabao Cup, while Ethan Nwaneri featured as a substitute against West Ham United in the Premier League.

In the previous campaign, Nwaneri was the only youngster called upon as he featured against Brentford to become both Arsenal and the Premier League’s youngest-ever player.

From next season, though, Arsenal need to start providing their academy players with greater opportunities to make an impact.
Arsenal have already lost Reuell Walters, who trained regularly with the first-team squad, as the defender chose not to sign a new contract despite being an unused substitute for Arteta on 20 occasions.

Ethan Nwaneri and Myles Lewis-Skelly deserve more chances
There are two players in particular that Arteta should look to bring closer to the first-team squad next season – midfielders Nwaneri and Myles Lewis-Skelly.
Both players are established as key figures in the Arsenal U21 side despite technically being first years and they have both made superb progress this season.

Nwaneri, for instance, scored 11 goals in 15 league appearances for the U21s and now plays with greater authority than he did previously.

Lewis-Skelly is also progressing well and relishes being deployed as the deepest-lying midfielder, which enables him to push forward.
The 17-year-old has also been used at left-back on some occasions, which helps to develop his all-round game, although it may not be his best position in the long term.

Arsenal managed to persuade Nwaneri and Lewis-Skelly to remain at the club and sign professional contracts. However, now is the time for the club to prove to both players that they have a genuine chance of making it in the long term.

Hale End can provide Arteta with valuable squad depth

If Arsenal were to be drawn at home against lower league opponents in some cup games next season for instance then it would be the perfect opportunity to call upon Nwaneri and Lewis-Skelly.

Should the pair sufficiently impress then they could subsequently be in contention to make the bench in other competitions and get further minutes. This in turn would lead to Arsenal having greater squad depth.
Given their lack of senior experience, Nwaneri and Lewis-Skelly are inevitably still somewhat raw and could make mistakes at times. That said, Arteta needs to take a risk and consider the positive qualities that both can offer.

Arteta has often shown a reluctance to give academy players chances over first-team players in most circumstances. That needs to change, and if Nwaneri and Lewis-Skelly were called upon then it would give other prospects, such as prolific striker Chido Martin Obi, confidence that they too could make the breakthrough.

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