Emile Smith Rowe, Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock have all seemingly been promoted to the first-team squad, receiving first-team numbers for the new season.
For those who aren’t aware of how Arsenal’s numbering system works, 1-35 are first-team squad numbers, assigned according to the preference of the players in most cases.
After that, 36 onwards goes to the u23s in alphabetical order. Hence Amaechi is currently 36, Ballard was 37 before he left on loan, Balogun is 38, and so on. Second-year scholars use the same system starting from 68, and first-year scholars starting from 79.
As a result, it’s pretty easy to tell when players are promoted to the first-team squad. Emile Smith Rowe, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson have clearly made the jump this summer, based on training pictures and their social media posts.
Willock and Nketiah were in first-team training wearing their new numbers on Monday, with Willock sporting the 28 kit and Nketiah wearing 30.
Nelson isn’t back in training after his holiday yet, but he posted a picture of some Arsenal sliders with the number 24 on his Instagram story, strongly hinting that he’ll be wearing the number this season.
Meanwhile, Emile Smith Rowe’s number confirmation comes via Preciana Brown. Preciana tweeted that Smith Rowe had told her about the number change on his way into training, and posted a picture to prove it:
Emile’s Autograph confirming his new number pic.twitter.com/oREVX2msab
— Preciana Brown (@PrecianaBrown) July 9, 2019
All four are deserving of a proper opportunity with the senior squad this season. Nelson had a good loan despite limited game time, and he’s returning to play a position Arsenal desperately need reinforcements in.
Willock and Nketiah proved all year that they’re too good for youth football, scoring goal after goal at u23 level. They also impressed in brief senior appearances, but they should’ve spent far more time on the pitch than they did.
Smith Rowe was impressive in the first half of the season with Arsenal, scoring three goals for the first team in six appearances. An injury ended up spoiling the remainder of his campaign, but he’s back fit and ready to go again now.
First things first, let’s see how they all do in pre-season. The squad will head out to the USA this week, before playing their first friendly against Colorado Rapids on July 16th.