Arsenal’s first team squad gathered for an official photo this week and it confirmed that three youngsters have been promoted to the club’s top tier. Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah are now rubbing shoulders with the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette. They have impressed in pre-season friendlies and in the youth teams and are now training with the big boys and knocking on the door of the starting 11. They can expect to gain vital experience in the cup competitions and possibly in Europe. So who are these three youngsters and can they follow in the footsteps of Alex Iwobi, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs and Ashley Cole and make it out of the academy and establish themselves as regular starters?
Nelson surely has the greatest potential out of the trio and most of the excitement is reserved for this young Englishman. The promising midfielder caused everyone to sit up and take notice with a thrilling display against Man City in the summer, where he bamboozled defenders with his trickery and tight ball control. He has gone on to dazzle in the under-23 set up, smashing in five goals in three games. They were not simple tap ins either and many would be contenders for goal of the month. He has a wonderful array of technical skills and can really finish, so he could be a great asset to the Gunners this season. Wenger has shown time and time again that he will give youth a chance, as players like Iwobi and Hector Bellerin can confirm in recent season. The sale of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Liverpool could benefit the versatile Nelson, as it removes one more rival for a place in the side. He may not start Premier League games any time soon, but the EFL Cup is a very realistic goal. He has also been named in the Europa League squad and Arsenal have a great chance in that competition. A review of betting sites will show you the ones offering competitive odds, and you can get 8/1 on them as they are second favourites for the tournament. If Nelson delivers on his promise and Arsene Wenger fields strong players alongside him, then they have every chance of following in Man Utd’s footsteps and winning it, which would give them a route back into the Champions League if they fail to crack back into the top four. Nelson has also starred for the England under-19s and scored a great goal against Germany recently.
His brother surprised everyone by signing a five-year deal with Portuguese club Benfica in the summer. He is playing for Benfica B after moving to Lisbon, but he was rated highly at The Emirates and some were sorry to see him go. Another brother, Matt, is on Man Utd’s books, while Joe remains at Arsenal and the versatile midfielder has the potential to eclipse the lot. He is a very talented prospect, with a great passing range, and Wenger is known to be impressed by his strength, powerful running style, his ability to beat defenders and his natural talent. He is another versatile player and this could benefit the side over the course of a long season as Willock can play on either flank or in the number 10 role.
Nketiah is a pacey forward with a great eye for goal and while comparisons to Thierry Henry are ridiculously premature, he has bags of potential. He can cut in from either flank or play down the middle and has plenty of tricks up his sleeve. He may appear a little over-eager at present, but that will ease with maturity and he looks set to develop into a really classy player. He has proven himself as an exceptional finisher in the youth teams and Arsenal do not have too many of them, so chances may well be forthcoming for him to impress in the starting 11 in the not too distant future.