The early indications are extremely encouraging, although former Arsenal and also Germany defender Per Mertesacker is to the second year of his role as academy manager in the club.
Having a promising harvest of academy graduates climbing through the ranks at the Emirates Stadium the Gunners have put a focus on youth over experience this summer as they look to secure a route back into the Premier League’s best four and also a place in the Champions League.
Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson have already impressed this season, although Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka are competing for a spot in Unai Emery’s squad. James Olayinka and Tyreece John-Jules additionally impressed during pre-season for the Gunners and Eddie Nketiah has scored three goals in his first five matches for the Championship club.
The future is looking bright in the Emirates Stadium.
“We’re very enthusiastic about our new chapter,” Mertesacker told Sky Sports’ Patrick Davison.
“There has been lots of change at this club, including me becoming academy manager, but the doctrine has never changed.
“We think in young gamers, who will symbolize Arsenal in the first team and also for these men to symbolize that the Arsenal first group in such a capacity is a happy moment for us all.”
Reiss Nelson, who started at Arsenal’s wins from Burnley and Newcastle, appreciated a breakthrough campaign on loan at the Bundesliga last season, scoring seven objectives for Hoffenheim.
Despite his success from the team, the target of the 19-year-old was always to make his mark at Arsenal, and he’s thrilled to be getting this chance this season.
“Arsenal’s a club where they’re not afraid to give young players a chance to play,” the England U21 global told Sky Sports. “There’s a whole lot of young talent at the club ready to bite your hand off to the opportunity.
“it is a very enjoyable time for Arsenal and Arsenal fans. We wish to get to the top and we would like to be huge stars at Arsenal a while.”
Like Nelson, Joe Willock impressed in pre-season for the Gunners and was rewarded with starts from Arsenal’s first 3 games.
He has also been provided a brand new”long-term” contract in the club, but it’s been a very long journey to the first team for the England U20 global.
“I joined the bar when I was U9 but I’ve really been here because I had been four-and-a-half,” he explained. “I have two brothers who are players so they allow me to play with the old age group several occasions and I carried on from there.
“Four-and-a-half to the initial team – that is going to take some beating”
The performances of willock have captured the eye so far this year and he’s already gone viral.
The midfielder produced an exceptional recovery tackle after being bumped off the ball by Jonjo Shelvey seconds earlier, which got the touchline was all enthused on by Unai Emery – and their head coach was caught by Arsenal on camera.
“I have noticed [the footage], it is fine,” he added. “It shows what the supervisor stands for.
“Not just brilliance in assault but defence and working hard for your group also. It shows how much he cares about this sort of material.”
Emile Smith Rowe is yet to feature this year due to injury, however, he had been called upon last year by Emery at the Europa League.
The 19-year-old played three times throughout the Gunners’ conduct but had things turned out differently, he could have already been plying his trade from London.
“When I joined Arsenal, I was very surprised,” he explained.
“I had a trial in Chelsea initially, but I didn’t get . I went back to my own Sunday League team and Arsenal called after. I moved to get a few trials to Arsenal and I got in a couple of weeks after.
“But in the young age I was not really considering the very first team because it was such a shock for me to be here in the moment.”
And lastly, the youngest of the quartet at 17, Bukayo Saka, is highly rated at the Emirates Stadium.
He made his debut at Vorskla Poltava in the Europa League in Arsenal’s 3-0 triumph, being the youngest player to feature because Jack Wilshere.
And he’s determined to make his mark at Arsenal.
“There were a lot of different clubs but when Arsenal came calling however, that I thought it was the perfect decision to come here,” he explained.
“It was really a struggle for my parents to assist me get here but they always gave their all and got me in to instruction. That has been a lot of motivation. Every time that I came to the club, to the academy it aided me personally to work hard all of the time and also make sure I only give all.”
It is evident to see Arsenal have an extremely gifted crop of players in and around the first team.
The club also seem to understand it and it’s why Freddie Ljungberg, Arsenal side last season’s trainer, has been promoted to coach in the summer.
The Swede, who knows Mertesacker nicely from their time together working at the academy, is charged with leading what the club describe as a”transition team” meant to make a smooth pathway from the academy to the senior side.
Than there has been for quite a while at Arsenal, the early signs are encouraging but with more focus on childhood, Mertesacker understands there’s more work to do.
When asked if there is more focus on the academy in Arsenal now than there has been in prior seasons, he explained:”Probably since we have made major and excellent moves concerning bringing players in the academy into the primary staff and promoting players to other clubs.
“we would like to kick out of here and we’re not going to break. We would like to push these guys forward and make them on an every day basis.
“We need a brand new British core for another generation. That’s what we’re trying to build here so that there is a big identification with this group and a feeling. It is a huge job to do.”
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