Arsenal were on the brink of going into a relegation battle until the club hosted Chelsea at the Emirate Stadium and defeated their London rival 3-1. Most football fans were stunned because Arsenal were experiencing their worst form at the point they played against Chelsea. They were sitting on the 15th spot on the league table then, 4 points away from the relegation zone.
Besides that, the Gunners went into the game without some of their most tested and trusted players like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, David Luiz, Thomas Partey, and Willian. Hence, the responsibility to redeem the then drowning club rested on the younger players.
Coach Mikel Arteta introduced younger players like 20-year-old Emile Smith Rowe and 19-year-old Gabriel Martinelli into his first eleven starting from Arsenal’s league game against Chelsea.
The combination of the two youngsters and other younger players like 19-year-old Bukayo Saka, 23-year-old Ainsley Maitland-Niles, and 21-year-old Joe Willock have brought life into Arsenal’s squad.
Since Mikel Arteta decided to make do with these youngsters more especially at a point most of his more established players have gone out with different degrees of injuries, Arsenal have enjoyed a three-winning streak in the Premier League which has taken them to the 11th spot with 23 points in 17 games.
In the last three games, Bukayo Saka has been more outstanding as he suddenly emerged a leader in the squad especially after his stunning goal against Chelsea on December 26. He has made 1 assist and scored three goals in his recent league games.
He and Emile Smith Rowe are expected to continue with their rise to more prominence at Arsenal today, January 9, at 18:30 when the club host Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium for the club’s FA Cup third-round game.
“I think they were really helpful because they re-energized the team and pushed the team in a different direction and different rhythm”, Mikel Arteta praised his younger players ahead of Arsenal vs Newcastle FA Cup match.
“Obviously young players need that solidity and experience and maturity the experienced players bring, so it is a good combination”, he added.
“Bukayo is doing what he is doing because last year in certain moments he was managed and he was changing different positions.
“People would say ‘why? He needs to stick to one position’ but no he needed to get richer in his understanding of the game. ‘He’s always a left-back, he needs to play left-back or on the left’ but no he can play as an attacking midfielder as well.
“Then we see the cohesion he finds within the team and the position where he can be a game-winner, which he can do.
“Where is that position? Where are we missing a player like him? Then we try to fit him in and then we give him the games and consistency in the position, but first, we have to find it.
“With Emile, it is a little bit simpler with his position, but with the game time again we have to manage that and the same with Gabi.”