Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has been criticized by pundit Danny Murphy for opting to hand teenager Ethan Nwaneri his Premier League debut.
THE LOWDOWN: HISTORY REWRITTEN
Ethan Nwaneri made history by becoming the youngest player to feature in a Premier League game when he made a substitute appearance against Brentford at the weekend. The midfielder received a lot of praise from the manager and a couple of fans after that feat.
Schoolboy Ethan also became the first ever 15-year-old to play in the Premier League, taking the record as the youngest player in the competition from Harvey Elliot, who was 16 years and 30 days old when he played for Fulham in May 2019.
In addition, Ethan became the youngest player ever to appear in a top-flight match in English football, beating the previous record held by Sunderland’s Derek Foster in August 1964. Foster was just three days older at 15 and 184 days.
It has been a remarkable 2022 for the youngster who, at the end of last season, made his debut for Arsenal’s under-18 side, then earlier this season featured for the under-21s in the 4-1 win over Blackburn at the start of September.
THE LATEST: CRITICISM OF THE MANAGER
Danny Murphy has criticized Mikel Arteta for ‘trying to keep a young superstar happy’ after the Arsenal manager handed Ethan Nwaneri a Premier League debut.
Aged 15 years and 181 days, Nwaneri’s appearance has left Murphy uncomfortable, and went on to argue that other youth prospects who are further ahead in their development should have been featured.
“I am not convinced it is the best move for a young player, I am really not,” Murphy said on talkSPORT.
“I have seen superstars come on the scene at a young age and thrive and go on and carry on, but there has also been a lot who have fallen by the wayside.
“He is obviously a super-talent, doing well in training and impressing everybody, but surely they have got other 18, 19 and 20-year-olds who are further ahead in their development who could have gone on the bench.”
THE VERDICT: WELL, THERE COULD BE SOME TRUTH
Danny Murphy might have a point as per the other players ahead of Ethan in the Arsenal youth squad. However, Arteta, who is in charge of the squad, disclosed that he did not just decide to pick the teenager but he was informed about his prospect by Academy coach Per Mertesacker and others long before the Brentford game.
Adding that injuries to a number of first team members made the opportunity available for him.
Regardless, there will be opportunities to see more of the young lads in the coming weeks when the cup competitions get underway. In the meantime, Ethan can continue to enjoy his record-breaking debut and it is now up to the lad to justify Arteta’s trust in him.