Young guns show promise in important win at Newcastle

Unai Emery’s faith in youth came good on Sunday

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Unai Emery was rewarded for his brave selection on Sunday with Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson impressing in a 1-0 win at St James' Park.

A second half Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang goal was the difference between the two sides, but it was the way Willock, Nelson, Matteo Guendouzi and Ainsley Maitland-Niles exerted themselves during a fraught early season match that will give Emery much to reflect on.

Internal solutions was a favourite phrase of Arsene Wenger's, essentially a euphemism for staying quiet in the transfer market, but in some of the young players making a mark, Arsenal have found a solution to some of the issues facing the squad.

With Alex Iwobi departing for Everton Arsenal looked slightly light on the left side but the technical competency of Nelson has already allayed some of those fears. Similarly, Willock looks to have the uncanny knack of arriving in the penalty area at the crucial moment, a skill that Arsenal thought they had lost when Aaron Ramsey left for Juventus.

With Kieran Tierney, Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Dani Ceballos and Nicolas Pepe all to come into the side, the squad profile is far younger than last season, but it is the Hale End graduates that will excite fans the most.

Willock offers something slightly different from Mesut Ozil in the most advanced midfield role and his athleticism, defensive work rate and size can contribute to more robust midfield performances away from home. Meanwhile, his eye for goal and dribbling ability can help breakdown resolute defences that sit in and look to grind out a 0-0 draw at the Emirates.

Nelson is another academy prospect to make it into the first team squad, but his trajectory has been different to that of Willock. Nelson has been considered one of the best academy talent for a few years now, while Willock came through more under the radar. As a result, the pressure on him has been significant since he broke into the squad in 2017 and fans watched closely as he impressed during a loan spell in Germany. Much will now be expected of him this season as he looks to replace Iwobi and prove to Unai Emery he has more to offer than Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but fans would be well advised to give him space to develop at his own pace. While Nelson clearly has plenty of ability, the Premier League is unrelenting in its intensity and he will need time to adjust.

Luckily, in Emery Arsenal appear to have a coach committed to giving youth a chance, for this season at least. With Gabriel Martinelli, Nelson, Willock, Guendouzi and Maitland-Niles all making an appearance on Sunday, he looks determined to take advantage of the number of exciting talents at the club. Furthermore, Emile Smith Rowe is still returning from injury and Zech Medley and Bukayo Saka are also pushing for first team opportunities, so Emery can assess each of his young players' readiness at a pace that suits them and he shouldn't be forced to overplay them and risk injuries. Getting this balancing act right can be a challenge, but this a group of players that deserves to be nurtured properly.

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  1. mbg

    Aug 15, 2019, 16:26 #114606

    Comfortable enough win when all's said and done, a long long way to go yet, hopefully we'll get better and stronger. I know we've heard it all before but this is a big year/season for the club and the manager also.

  2. markymark

    Aug 14, 2019, 19:00 #114604

    If anyone is interested the heroic Swiss Ramble has done a comprehensive breakdown of the Arsenal transfer budget and net spend. One thing he mentioned that I suppose is pretty obvious in a way though I never thought of it. Is that there are tons of stage payment transfers with UTD leading the way in their debt on this front. The selling club sells the credit onto a finance company who then pay the whole fee upfront minus commission. Keeps the wheels moving I guess. I think the term is factoring but might be wrong

  3. markymark

    Aug 13, 2019, 21:06 #114602

    Eddie stuck one in tonight . Good stuff from the lad. Meanwhile both Chelski and Celtic have let in 4 after selling us a defender each. Are we actually making the right decisions at last ? Time will tell.

  4. itsRonagain2

    Aug 13, 2019, 20:19 #114601

    Ha ha. One crisp packet. ! Funny mate. Probably right. Yes. Though I well recall the Leeds of Giles Clarke and Bremner et al I ll always concede that LU were arguably the best side I’ve ever seen. Yes, in that 4 or 5 yr period from about 1968 to 73 they were awesome. Knew all the black arts of course but great footballers. Don Howe was very much influenced by them helping to create our 71 team. I quite like Leeds now. It’s a really intimidating stadium. Always has been. Shd be at the top level as you say lads.


    Aug 13, 2019, 18:47 #114599

    I was at Leeds Uni when Don Revie played his last season & the team was in an awful state - didn't he do well afterwards as manager though!! I remember Billy Bremner was giving it large at that time to anyone that would listen in the local boozers. So I have a soft spot for the club, they belong in the top tier & I think Bielsa might be the guy to do it for them. I don't think Eddie N is ready for the PL but if he is made of the right stuff he will progress at Leeds although I have my doubts as I don't see much personality there. I do think that Dick showing faith in Martinelli rather than bunging on another defender to hang on to 1-0 shows a departure from last year AND my own hunch is that the young Brazilian is going to be a precocious talent, something we haven't enjoyed since Fabregas &, earlier, Anelka. If he gets too big for his boots we will, at long last, have the benefit of a whopping transfer profit - unlike the sure fire losses on the likes of Mustafi & other late Wenger signings.

  6. John F

    Aug 13, 2019, 17:05 #114598

    I was surprised too Ron he might take time to get used to Bielsa the Leeds manager who is a real character.He had all the Leeds players out picking litter for a couple of hours last season so they would know that fans have to work to pay for a ticket.Can you imagine Ozil having to do that,it would be one crisp packet an hour.One of my customers is a grandad to one of the Leeds players so I am hoping to get a lot of feedback on his progress.

  7. itsRonagain2

    Aug 13, 2019, 10:17 #114594

    i was surprised Eddie N has gone to Leeds but a great club and a big stage to see what he can do. Pressure games for him too. I like the look of him and thought he may have got more chances at Arsenal this year,