Arsenal always seem to have at least one or two exciting academy prospects waiting on the wings. This season is no different, with plenty of youth graduates showing promise with the reserves. Who are the five Arsenal youngsters who could make the jump to the first team next season?
Arsenal Youngsters to Watch in 2019/20
The list starts with probably the most obvious entry. Reiss Nelson really impressed in preseason with the first team, making five appearances and bagging two goals and three assists between friendly matches and the International Champions Cup.
Reiss Nelson has gone on to score six times for Julien Naglesmann’s side, although the last goal came in a 2-1 win over Augsburg back in November. He has also seen his opportunities limited, starting just once since the start of December.
Across all competitions, Nelson has 21 appearances this season, although just five of those are starts. He also made his England U21 debut in October against Andorra, coming on for the second half and scoring a stoppage-time goal.
While fans shouldn’t get carried away with a teenager, especially one who is beginning to show some inconsistency, Reiss Nelson has done enough to suggest he could break into the Arsenal first team at some point in the coming years.
The question is whether to loan the winger out again next season or to give him a chance in the cup competitions.
Arsenal’s other Greek defender has been at the club since January 2018, having joined from PAS Giannina. To date, he has just four senior appearances for the Gunners, although has impressed behind the scenes.
Last January, the club appeared ready to let the centre-back go on loan for the remainder of the season. However, at the eleventh hour Arsenal made the decision to keep him in north London.
This season looked to be his chance to break into the first team squad, however, a groin injury in October sidelined the player until February. This season, his only appearance for the first team came as a substitute in a 3-1 loss away to Manchester City.
Strangely, the club decided not to include Mavropanos on their Europa League knockout roster, so he will likely see his opportunities limited for the remainder of the season. However, if the centre-back stays fit next season, expect to see him in the cup competitions at least.
Emile Smith Rowe
Smith Rowe plays primarily as an attacking midfielder, although can go out on the wings. Just like Reiss Nelson, Emile Smith Rowe made a real impression in preseason over the summer. However, Arsenal chose not to loan the playmaker until January.
The Gunners’ faith in the player was repaid by some great performances in the cup competitions. The 18-year-old midfielder made five starts and one substitute appearance between the Carabao Cup and Europa League.
From those matches, Smith Rowe scored three goals, including a crucial strike against Blackpool in the League Cup which helped his side to a 2-1 victory.
The player won’t turn 19 until the summer, so he may have to wait to get more opportunities. However, the early signs are encouraging. Likely fans will see Emile Smith Rowe get more minutes in the cups next season.
Willock didn’t make as big of a splash in preseason as Nelson or Smith Rowe but still did enough to get some minutes under Unai Emery. For the first team this season, Joe Willock has made three appearances, all starts, between the Europa League and the FA Cup.
His first senior goal for Arsenal came in a 3-0 away win over Vorskla Poltava in the Europa League. Willock really turned heads in his two-goal FA Cup performance against Blackpool in January, where he even had a chance to make it a hat trick.
The 19-year-old plays as a central midfielder. This is a position where the Gunners are relatively thin at the moment, meaning that he could see a few more opportunities come his way next season.
While he isn’t as likely to break into the first team as a regular as the three other Arsenal youngsters listed so far, Joe Willock is certainly one to watch.
The final Arsenal youngster on this list is also the most inexperienced. Zech Medley has made just three senior appearances for the club, all of which came from the bench.
Medley plays as a central defender, a position of weakness for the Gunners. He is also known as a leader in the youth ranks, which is in itself a valuable trait.
Zech earned the U18 captaincy after just six months at the club. From there, he quickly moved up to the U23 ranks. The London native is 18 years old, making him a bit of a surprise regular in Freddie Ljungberg’s U23 side.
With a number of centre-backs at the club above the pecking order, it would be a surprise to see such an inexperienced player break into the first team right away. However, the fact Emery has included the player at all should be taken as a good sign.
Embed from Getty Images