As Arsenal's clash with West Ham trundled to a finish on Sunday, Mikel Arteta got the chance to do something he doesn't do very often — play a youngster.
The Spaniard has been criticised for his refusal to give academy players a chance in the first team, particularly after failing to give out a single debut when Arsenal took on PSV in the final game of a Champions League group they had already won. Several of the Gunners academy players left the club on permanent deals towards the end of the January transfer window, and in a recent press conference Arteta implied that the current crop were not up to the standards required for his first team.
«Everything has to come together and we are working on a few prospects which are not far [away] but the reality is that we want more,» the Spaniard said earlier this month. «Today, to give opportunities and to play in the first team at the level we require, we are a bit short.»
There are a few prospects though, where that doesn't seem to be the case. Ethan Nwaneri — the highly rated academy star that Arteta made the youngest player in Premier League history — is certainly one of those. With two or so minutes remaining it was the 16-year-old Arteta opted to give minutes to and it seems he's not the only one at Arsenal who rates Nwaneri highly.
«There is something you have to earn in your team and that’s the trust of your teammates,» Arteta said when asked about the young midfielder. «I had two things. One the players on the bench whispering ‘bring Ethan in’ which is a great thing to hear. The second thing is for your teammates to give you the ball all the time. If they do that, it’s because they really trust you and you only have to see how many times he was involved to see that. It’s aRead on football.london