Now that we’ve reached 2018, let’s take a look back at the top-three standout Arsenal youth prospects of the year just gone.
2017 was generally a good year for the Arsenal academy.
Graduates like Alex Iwobi, Jack Wilshere and Hector Bellerin are all now first-team regulars. In fact, Arsenal gave more minutes to academy players than anyone in the top two divisions. As well as that, many more youngsters took advantage of the Europa League matches and the League Cup run to make their debuts.
Here are our top-three:
Nketiah hasn’t spent as much time in the first team as others, but he’s still had a breakthrough year all the same.
Throughout the year he scored freely for the academy, scoring 12 goals in 23 appearances (16 starts).
However, he really made his mark with the first-team.
He was a bit of a surprise call-up for the pre-season tour. Most fans expected the likes of Lucas Perez to go on the trip instead but Nketiah impressed in his limited game time, hitting the post twice before he’d even played 45 minutes of football.
He then got his chance in a competitive fixture.
Arsenal were 1-0 down to Norwich City, and heading out of the League Cup with five minutes to go. Wenger threw on Nketiah in a last-gasp effort to save the game, and within 15 seconds he was rewarded with an equaliser.
It was the 18-year-old’s first touch in senior football at the Emirates Stadium, and sent the game to extra time.
In the additional period, the Englishman did it again, rising highest at a corner to head home a winner.
The Gunners still have Alexandre Lacazette, Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott in front of Nketiah so after that game, chances were hard to come by. Hopefully he’s done enough to earn an interesting loan in the January window, at least.
For now, he’s been given a new long-term contract with the club, so overall it’s been a good year.