All Guns Blazing: Why Arsenal’s young players shouldn’t carry the can for Capital One Cup humiliation
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The League Cup, in its various guises, has traditionally been a breeding ground for Arsenal’s young talents.
The trend continued last week as Arsene Wenger gave senior debuts to four youngsters at Sheffield Wednesday, with Alex Iwobi and Glen Kamara featuring from the outset, whilst Ismael Bennacer and Krystian Bielik were involved as substitutes.
The game certainly didn’t go to plan, with the youngsters struggling to impose themselves and the Gunners falling to a deeply disappointing 3-0 defeat.
The result and performance prompted much reaction in the media relating to how Arsenal’s academy has supposedly lost its edge, but, despite the frustrating nature of the defeat at Hillsborough, there is still much to be excited about with regards to the club’s youth set-up.
Several of Arsenal’s best youngsters are currently out on loan, with the likes of Serge Gnabry, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Gedion Zelalem all spending time with other clubs this year.
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Dan Crowley, another hugely talented prospect, missed the Wednesday game as he was still on loan at Barnsley. The midfielder’s loan spell with the Tykes has now been brought to a conclusion and, with several first-team players currently out injured, he may well train frequently with Wenger’s squad over the next few weeks.
French winger Jeff Reine-Adelaide made a stellar impression in the Emirates Cup but is yet to make his competitive debut for the club because of injury problems and international commitments.
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Beyond that, there are other hugely promising prospects emerging. Like Reine-Adelaide, attack-minded youngsters Chris Willock and Kaylen Hinds are just back from the Under-17 World Cup in Chile, while Hale End product Reiss Nelson, an exciting winger, has trained with the first team on several occasions this season despite still being a schoolboy.
At a club such as Arsenal, only extremely talented players stand a chance of making the grade and, even if they manage to do that, it is an even tougher challenge for them to establish themselves as regulars over a prolonged period of time.
Last week’s result was an aberration – but it shouldn’t be taken as an indicator for the standard of the academy as a whole, with many talented youngsters, for various reasons, not being involved in the match.
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