Young Gunners: The Rising Stars Shining In The Cups

A new crop of exciting youngsters are emerging from the Arsenal academy – and they’re recording some impressive results.

The Gunners have a long-standing tradition of giving rising stars their chance to impress on the senior stage.

And bookies such as William Hill appear to be backing the new class to continue succeeding in the cup competitions.

Good news for Arsenal fans – who have enjoyed ticking off yet another young graduate from Hale End over the years – is that current manager Unai Emery is in no rush to change the ethos created by previous incumbent Arsene Wenger.

The Gunners have handed first-team experience to a number of youngsters in both the Europa League and Carabao Cup so far this term, and they more than delivered.
So who are the Young Gunners catching the eye?

Joe Willock
Box-to-box midfielder Willock opened the scoring as Arsenal left Eintracht Frankfurt with a 3-0 victory in the Europa League group stages in September. The 20-year-old also found the net in the Carabao Cup later that month as Arsenal thrashed Championship promotion hopefuls Nottingham Forest 5-0. Highly-rated at the Emirates, he made 11 appearances for the first team last season and looks set to continue adding to that total.

Bukayo Saka
Like Willock, 18-year-old Saka was on the scoresheet in Frankfurt, the pacy midfielder smashing home his first senior goal for the club in his fifth first-team appearance and showed his explosive attacking talents from the bench in the win over Forest. He has graduated to the under 23s from the under 18s and made his first team debut aged 17. He has also been capped by England under 19s.

Emile Smith Rowe
Smith Rowe was the third academy graduate selected for the victory in Frankfurt and has also started in the Carabao Cup this term, proving that Emery has plenty of faith in the highly-rated youngster, who is comfortable with the ball at his feet. The 19-year-old was part of the England side which won the under 17 World Cup in 2017.

Reiss Nelson
The 19-year-old attack-minded player is known for his quick feet and eye for goal. He started alongside Mesut Ozil and Smith Rowe in a three-man midfield for the 5-0 thrashing of Forest. He was handed his first-team debut in the 2017 Community Shield win over Chelsea and scored nine times in 11 Premier League 2 appearances last season.

Folarin Balogun
New York-born Balogun has represented both England and the USA at under 18 level. And if you think that could cause problems, he’s also eligible to play for Nigeria. But in an Arsenal shirt the attacker knows where the goal is, scoring 25 times in the under 18s’ title-winning season. Another named on the bench for the Forest clash.

Tolaji Bola
Named on the bench for the Forest game, under 23 squad member Bola, 20, is an England youth international. The left back is known for his power and can also slot into the heart of defence.

Robbie Burton

Another 19-year-old with a bright future is Burton, who was named on the bench in the Carabao Cup. He has carved out a reputation as a classy playmaker and signed his first pro contract in summer 2018.