Arsenal’s under-21 team opened their Checkatrade Trophy campaign with a 3-0 win over Coventry on Wednesday night. The game was significant as the likes of Joe Willock, Emile Smith-Rowe and Eddie Nketiah scored the goals for the Gunners.
The trio have all been in and around the Gunners senior squad in the last 12 months. In fact, Nketiah burst onto the Arsenal first team last season. The youngster is once again part of the first team squad for this season.
Can play a part this season
The likes of Nketiah and Smith-Rowe seem to have lots to offer the Gunners squad, even at such a tender age. They may be regarded as stars of the future, but from what they have shown in pre-season, they look like they could make an impact in the first-team this season.
Smith-Rowe of course particularly impressed with a spectacular goal in pre-season. However, his all-around play and his character also seems good from what we have seen and heard from the youngster.
No doubt the Gunners squad is not world-class, so there will be opportunities for the young midfielder. I hope those opportunities do not just come in the cup competitions.
Nketiah good for a goal
While Arsenal have two top forwards in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, with Danny Welbeck as a backup, Nketiah could still prove to be a very useful player to have in reserve if the Gunners need a goal.
The 19-year-old has made just ten senior appearances for the Gunners in all competitions, scoring on two occasions. However, many of those appearances have been from the substitute’s bench.
The youngster has been prolific for the Arsenal junior teams and also England’s junior teams too. No doubt he will struggle to get into the starting line-up in the Premier League, but he still has something to offer Unai Emery’s team.
Long-term goal will be first-team football
Many bright young footballers have come and gone at Arsenal in recent years. However, both youngsters will see regular first-team football as their long-term aim with Arsenal.
It will be difficult for any youngster to break into a first-team at a club like Arsenal. However, when the team is not exactly pulling up trees, there are always opportunities for player to come in and impress.
It will be interesting to see how the likes of Nketiah and Smith-Rowe progress over the next year or so. Hopefully, by the end of the season, they will have gained some more valuable first-team experience.
Will Emile Smith-Rowe or Eddie Nketiah play much first-team football this season?