With eight games to play, Arsenal really don’t have much to aim for in the Premier League, so it’s a great opportunity to give young players opportunities and experience.
Arsenal are currently 13 points off the top four, with only 24 points left to play for. Given their progression to the Europa League quarter-final, it makes much more sense to save key players for the competition, since that’s clearly the only realistic way they can qualify for the Champions League next season.
At the same time, it gives Arsene Wenger a chance to experiment in those last eight domestic matches. He can try out new systems, partnerships and players to prepare for next season. If any work particularly well he can also use them in Europe.
So which Arsenal academy stars have earned a chance in the first team?
- Age: 18
- Position: Forward
- Senior game-time 2017/18: 606 minutes
Reiss Nelson has already had more first-team chances at Arsenal than anybody else currently in his age group. As well as nine substitute appearances, he also has five starts this campaign.
In fact, he’s one of few players to play in every single competition in 2017/18, including the Community Shield.
On the other hand, his chances have dried up lately as Arsenal reach the business end of the season. He’s only played seven minutes of senior football since his last start on January 7th.
Clearly that’s starting to get to him, as we saw from his reaction to Wenger choosing not to bring him on against Watford.
Perhaps Nelson needs to be a little more patient, but his academy performances have earned him the right to start asking questions of the manager. In the last couple of months he’s scored in each of his academy starts, so he couldn’t do much more.
Premier League 2 stats 2017/18
- Appearances: 10
- Goals: 8
- Assists: 2