As we prepare for the new season, let’s take a look at which of Arsenal’s academy players are likely to make the leap to the first-team this campaign.
As an important note to start off with, we’re not going to include players that already appear to have earned first-team promotions over the summer. That includes Eddie Nketiah (who is on loan anyway), Emile Smith Rowe, Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson.
Those four are clearly in contention for senior matches, but let’s have a look at who else might be able to make the step up this campaign.
The only surprise here is that Saka hasn’t already been officially promoted to the first-team squad. That’s likely purely as a result of his age (17), and the fact he could technically still be playing u18 football this season.
Instead, the teenager is likely to make the first-team squad or start for the u23s every week. He was impressive in pre-season, and Alex Iwobi’s departure has opened up an opportunity for someone to take his place.
Playing on the left wing, Saka uses his pace and quick change of direction to beat opposing defenders and get dangerous crosses in. He’s also a confident finisher when he regularly gets in behind the defence.
With Danny Welbeck’s departure and Eddie Nketiah going on loan to Leeds United, there’s a spot in the squad for a third-choice striker.
John-Jules recently signed a new long-term contract with Arsenal, and he impressed in cameo appearances on tour with the first team.
The young centre-forward is also more than capable of playing as a second-striker, given he’s so strong in the build-up. His all-around forward play is ahead of most other players his age, and his goalscoring has been just as impressive in recent months.
Balogun’s main objective this season will be to carry his incredible u18 goalscoring form into the u23s, but with Nketiah going on loan he’ll also have his sights set on a first-team debut.
The striker was unstoppable for the u18s in 2018/19, and he’s been just as clinical for the u23s in pre-season, scoring six goals in his last three games.
Fast, strong, clinical with either foot and with intelligent movement, Balogun has all the ingredients of a top striker. He just needs the experience and to keep up the same form against more mature opponents.
Burton surprised a few people with some impressive performances in pre-season, and he’ll be looking to build on those to get some first-team chances this season.
The young Welsh midfielder seemed to step his game up a level playing in a deeper role with Emery’s side than he did in the u23s last season. His passing was positive and accurate, he showed good desire to win the ball back and held onto it well when necessary.
The problem is that Burton’s path is blocked by a number of midfielders in the senior side. Mohamed Elneny could be on the way out, but that still leaves Matteo Guendouzi, Joe Willock, Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira and Dani Ceballos at the club.
Perhaps a loan would be best, but Burton looks like he would benefit from more first-team matches as soon as possible.
Coyle was another player to sign a new contract over the summer, and it will be interesting to see how he deals with his first full campaign of u23 football.
The winger, who can also play as an attacking midfielder, stepped up to the u23s for periods of both of the previous two seasons, but still spent the majority of his time with the u18s in both campaigns.
Coyle was one of the driving forces behind the u18 Premier League south division title win last season, scoring seven and assisting five in his last 10 games. If he can do the same in the u23s this year, a first-team chance or two could be on the horizon.
The 18-year-old is strong on either foot, he has a few tricks and skills up his sleeve and he loves to take players on.