Arsène Wenger may be busy preparing for our Premier League clash with Manchester United this weekend, but he’ll no doubt be keeping a close eye on the FA Youth Cup final too.
Our under-18s face Chelsea over two legs, hoping to become our first side to lift the trophy since Jack Wilshere and Francis Coquelin’s class of 2009 did nine years ago.
Both midfielders went on make a century of first-team appearances for us, and Wenger believes says Friday and Monday’s finals serve as a perfect platform for our youngsters to prove they can deliver on the big stage.
“I always think it’s first of all part of our culture at the club,” he told Arsenal Player. “I also believe it’s very important for our football club to show the young players some faith and trust.
“As long as you don’t give them a chance - even if you say that you believe they’re a good player - as long as you don’t have the courage to put them on the pitch, they don’t really believe you. For me, the fact that there’s not really a lot at stake in the Premier League is a good opportunity to see how ready they are and for them as well to realise that it’s much harder than they imagined when they’re playing in youth-team games.
“Today there’s a big gap in between the Premier League and the youth league. If you look well across England, for me that’s one of my main worries. If you look through the Premier League, there’s no young players. Everywhere you have academies, everywhere you have good players but nobody plays. Why? Because of the gap between the youth league and the Premier League.
“It’s also because of the pressure every manager is under to perform. Every game lost is an absolute disaster, so they go for more of a conservative attitude, and more for security.
“But I believe we do a great job here and it’s a good opportunity for me to thank all these people who work so hard every day to make these players improve. Overall, I must say that we are very proud of that youth development here. We invested a lot of money as well, and that’s part of how we want to be seen. We want to be seen as a club that takes care of young people.”
Remember, you can watch the second leg LIVE on Arsenal.com from 7.35pm on Monday, April 30
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