The 2019-20 season is finally drawing closer to its conclusion, with the final position in the top four among one of the final aspects that is set to be decided.
Mikel Arteta’s first half-season in charge at the Emirates has been indifferent, but a first away win for the Spaniard against Southampton was certainly an indication that there are brighter times ahead for the Gunners.
The most pleasing factor following that victory centred around the playing time that Arteta was giving the youngsters, with Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock scoring the goals in the 2-0 victory.
However, is this a sign that Arteta is going to continue to put his trust in youth? And, if so, which young players could be playing a huge part for the club next season as Arsenal look to get back into the Champions League?
Arteta has put an enormous amount of trust in Nketiah since he arrived at the club, and it almost seems as though the 21-year-old has moved above Alexandre Lacazette in the race to lead the line. Arteta recently claimed his performance against Manchester City was ‘extraordinary’, and it would seem as though it would be hard to leave out the Englishman at present as he is in fantastic form.
Nketiah’s numbers are also showcasing that he has a lot to give for the Gunners, as he has scored two goals in five Premier League starts, and four goals in seven starts in all competitions. There will be a lot of pressure on Nketiah’s shoulders if he is to replace Lacazette as the central striker, which means that he will be striving for consistency next season.
Bukayo Saka may actually be a darkhorse choice this season to win the club’s player of the season. The 18-year-old has enjoyed an excellent first campaign with the first team and has proved a popular selection for Arteta and Unai Emery throughout the season. His versatility means that he is able to play anywhere down the left-hand side, but he is certainly more progressive when playing as a left-sided midfielder.
There will be a feeling that he will have to score more goals if he is to make that midfield position his own. But, nobody can argue with the numbers that he is bringing to the table in terms of assists. This season he has contributed nine assists in all competitions, with five of these coming in his six Europa League appearances. Saka has scored three goals this season, but he is yet to score in the Premier League. The 18-year-old looks set to be one of the crucial players in the Arteta rebuild.
One of Arsenal’s goalscorers in the recent 2-0 victory over Southampton will also be a pivotal player as the Gunners continue their rebuild. Willock has made 35 appearances in all competitions this season, with his Europa League performances particularly catching the eye. He scored two goals in his seven starts in the Europa League and averaged a pass completion rate of 86.4%.
He has also played over 670 minutes in the Premier League this season and scored one goal in seven starts. Five goals in 35 games isn’t a bad return for a 20-year-old, but there could be extra pressure on the Englishman next season as he could be the standout contender to replace Mesut Ozil should the German depart the club over the summer months.
Willock will at least be given times by fans to fit into the team, but the Gunners could reap the benefits over the coming seasons. Not even LeBron James became a favourite of the NBA expert picks in the first season, and Willock might have his breakout next year.
There you have it. Arsenal’s youngsters to look out for. Who else are you looking forward to see? Reiss-Nelson? Maitland-Niles? Martinelli?