The kids are alright; Arteta calls on academy graduates in matchday squad against Brentford
Arsenal has gone with youth to kick-off their 2021-22 Premier League campaign as boss Mikel Arteta has placed his face in the kids tonight, including multiple Hale End academy graduates.
Introducing our first starting XI of 2021/22…
🏴 @Ben6White makes debut
🇧🇪 Sambi starts in midfield
🏴 @Balogun leads the line
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 13, 2021
The Gunners look to hunt for honey at the Brentford Community Stadium, with Folarin Balogun leading the line in place of both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette unavailable through illness, while Eddie Nketiah is sidelined through injury.
Highly-touted Belgian U21 international Sambi Lokonga makes his expected full debut for Arsenal after a summer move from RSC Anderlecht after Thomas Partey picked up a nasty injury in their pre-season friendly against Chelsea, while both Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli are both also included in Arteta’s XI to face off against Thomas Frank’s Brentford outfit.
The available bench consists of quite a few academy graduates as well with Karl Jakob Hein being preferred to Arthur Okonkwo as the back-up keeper on the night, while Héctor Bellerín Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Reiss Nelson, and Bukayo Saka are all available to come off the bench whenever Arteta will see a need to make changes throughout hostilities. Nuno Tavares makes the matchday squad as well after his summer move from SL Benfica.
It may not be a superb bench for Arsenal regarding a balance of options, though if changes are needed throughout proceedings, the likes of Saka, Nelson, and Tavares certainly can provide a massive injection of pace should the Gunners need to shake things up after half-time.
For last-minute betting predictions for tonight’s match, go here