Why Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta should keep faith in youth against Sunderland
Young guns to be unleashed against the Black Cats?
Arsenal is set to make a deep run in the Carabao Cup tonight as one of eight sides remaining in the competition, but potentially can count their lucky stars as the only non-Premier League outfit remaining travels south from the northeast of England to the Emirates.
Sunderland make another trip to the English capital in recent years, but either than it being for a chance at promotion or a shot at silverware in a cup final, the Black Cats will be made to test their metal against an in-form Arsenal outfit that has scope to view the clash as the perfect proving ground for the club’s Hale End production line.
As reported by Football.London’s chief Arsenal reporter Chris Wheatley, a cadre of youngsters were pictured in first-team training at London Colney ahead of the quarterfinal clash with Lee Johnson’s high-flying League One outfit.
Charlie Patino, Folarin Balogun, Salah Oulad and Omar Rekik among the youngsters training ahead of Arsenal’s Carabao Cup match against Sunderland. #AFC pic.twitter.com/qcSgsjGHmH
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) December 20, 2021
With the continued fixture congestion of the festive period in the Premier League, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta should not rule out a heavy youth influence in tonight’s XI at the Emirates,
Folarin Balogun, Charlie Patino, Omar Rekik, and Salah Oulad were all seen participating with the first-team alongside Mohamed Elneny, Cédric, and trainee Jack Wilshere earlier this morning, which should signal that the quarter is in line to at least be included in the matchday squad.
But while Arteta will want to push for any piece of silverware he possibly can this season as he looks to build a culture of winning at the club, a balance must be struck regarding the utilization of first-team assets during a stretched period in the fixture programme.
Without any disrespect being shown to Sunderland, who are a massive club in their own right, the reality is that there is no better chance to give first-team minutes to the best and brightest of the current U23 crop at Arsenal. Additionally, relieving some measure of strain on the first team could prove vital if Arteta’s outfit is to emerge from the festive period in good order.
Truly, giving full run-outs to Balogun, Patino, Rekik, alongside expected starters Eddie Nketiah and Nuno Tavares would be ideal for both the current picture as well as the long-term future of the first-team.
Hale End proving vital for Arsenal this season
The notion that the kids cannot be trusted at Arsenal has long since been disproven by both Mikel Arteta and former boss Unai Emery given the trajectory of development seen from flagship Hale End graduates Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe.
At current, the England international duo has been in sensational form for the Gunners while being key ingredients in their recent charge up the Premier League table that sees the north London giants in fourth after leapfrogging West Ham.
Smith Rowe is level for fifth in the league in goals (7) while Saka has been a brilliant spark plug on the right side of Arteta’s front four and the club leader in assists this term with four to his name.
Their continued success despite their age is the story that so many fans among the Arsenal fanbase have been longing to see after Jack Wilshere took the Premier League world by storm as a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed teen years ago. And, to their credit, they want more of it in the English capital.