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Arteta: Young Gunners have big role in restart

PUBLISHED: 15:00 18 June 2020

Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah scores his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture: John Walton/PA

Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah scores his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture: John Walton/PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta expects his young players to have a key role as the club faces up to the prospect of playing as many as 13 games in 45 days.

Arsenal's Bukayo Saka during the Carabao Cup, Fourth Round match at Anfield, Liverpool.Arsenal's Bukayo Saka during the Carabao Cup, Fourth Round match at Anfield, Liverpool.

The Gunners head to Brighton on Saturday, having restarted their delayed Premier League campaign with a trip to defending champions Manchester City on Wednesday.

And they have eight more league matches to play before the end of July, as well as possibly three more FA Cup ties, starting with a quarter-final at Sheffield United on Sunday week (June 28).

Arteta’s squad face a particularly busy spell after the three-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic and the Spaniard told arsenal.com: “In our case we have five games in 15 days, a game every three days.

“We don’t know how the players are going to respond physically because we have had a really short preparation time. We have to use them, we have some really talented young boys that are asking for chances.

Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli scores his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. Picture: Bradley Collyer/PAArsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli scores his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. Picture: Bradley Collyer/PA

“I’m sure at other clubs the situation will be the same and I think at some stage we will be forced to use some of them with the amount of games that we are going to be playing in that space of time.”

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Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson have all impressed under Arteta, who had not tasted defeat in domestic action in 2020 heading into the clash with former club City.

And the coach is hoping striker Nketiah, in particular, can pick up from where he left off before play was suspended in mid-March.

Arsenal's Joe Willock (left) and Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain battle for the ball during the Carabao Cup, Fourth Round match at Anfield, Liverpool.Arsenal's Joe Willock (left) and Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain battle for the ball during the Carabao Cup, Fourth Round match at Anfield, Liverpool.

He added: “We treat Eddie as an important part of our squad, we had to make a very important decision not to let him go out on loan again after the spell he had at Leeds.

“I watched him train and I am convinced he is the right player for us, to move us to the next level and that he can contribute in a big way to the way we want to play. He has been fantastic so far.”

Saka has also caught the eye despite having to play as a wing-back due to injuries to Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney and Arteta revealed the club are trying to sort out his contract situation, along with that of captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

He said: “We’re trying to finalise deals that are more urgent and a priority for us. They are both really important, not just for now but for the future of the club as well.”

Arsenal's manager Mikel Arteta (left) with Reiss Nelson (right) after the final whistle during the Premier League match at the Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth. Picture: Mark Kerton/PAArsenal's manager Mikel Arteta (left) with Reiss Nelson (right) after the final whistle during the Premier League match at the Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth. Picture: Mark Kerton/PA


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