‘There’s a lot of work behind young players’

It’s little surprise that ‘Hale End’ was once again trending on Wednesday night, after all four of our goals against Chelsea were scored by academy products.

Eddie Nketiah, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe were all on target – the latter pair taking their individual tallies in the Premier League this season into double figures.

But all season long Arsenal have consistently fielded the youngest team in the Premier League, with Mikel Arteta happy to place his faith in youth.

Despite the burden of pressure placed on young shoulders, the academy products have flourished, and Arteta believes that’s down to a huge amount of effort behind the scenes too.

“It’s because of all of the work from a lot of coaches, and a lot of people have made decisions to recruit our academy players in the past,” he said in his pre-match press conference ahead of taking on Manchester United.

“That's a testament to a lot of work they have done, so the compliments I think should be for them and for the players that they have stuck in a big match.

“I said if you want to play in the Champions League you have to go to these stadiums [Stamford Bridge] and be able to win and it's rare but our three academy players scored and made a difference in the game.”

The boss added that there is still plenty to come from his young charges in the coming years.

“I think the potential of individuals and the collective is much bigger. I hope!

“In terms of the quality, the consistency, the delivery the experience that they have. The amount of times they have played at a professional level. The amount of times they have been coached in the way that I want the team to play.

“To go through struggles, to go through pressure, to get to understand each other. They haven’t been playing together for a long time, and there are a lot of things that can be done much, much better.” 

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