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Assessing the impact of Arsenal‘s best young talents this season

Arsenal may be enduring a difficult period as the club embark on a transitional phase, but there is reason to be optimistic in north London following the emergence of several highly rated youngsters at the Emirates this season.

Mikel Arteta’s squad possesses a host of youthful prospects who have all made significant impressions so far this season, and we’ve decided to profile the Gunners’ batch of breakthrough stars.

Here is the Football Faithful’s assessment of Arsenal’s best young talents this season:

Joe Willock

The box-to-box midfielder began the season in the first-team under former manager Unai Emery but has fallen out-of-favour of late, failing to start a Premier League fixture since the home defeat to Brighton in early December.

Willock’s athleticism and dribbling ability brings a different profile to Arsenal’s other midfield options, though the 20-year-old’s levels have dropped somewhat since a bright opening to the campaign and he could benefit from securing more regular first-team football as he continues his development.

The youngster has made 32 appearances in all competitions, with 17 from the start, and has scored four goals including a long-range stunner in the thrilling 5-5 Carabao Cup draw at Liverpool earlier in the campaign.

Just six of those starts have come in the league, however, and with Arsenal having now exited the Europa League he could find minutes more difficult to attain over the closing months of the season.

Reiss Nelson

Handed an opportunity within the first-team set-up this season following the summer departures of Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Nelson returned from a loan spell in Germany at Hoffenheim with ambitions of securing regular minutes.

Like the aforementioned Willock, the winger would begin the season in favour under Unai Emery, starting the first two Premier League fixtures of the campaign consecutively before struggling for starts.

Nelson has made 15 appearances in all competitions thus far with 10 starts, though his form in recent weeks indicates he is beginning to learn under the guidance of new head coach Mikel Arteta.

The 20-year-old has scored two goals and provided three assists in his past eight starts, including two assists during the club’s 2-0 FA Cup fifth round win at Portsmouth on Monday night.

Nelson has proven he can score goals at top-flight level with seven Bundesliga strikes for Hoffenheim last season, and will now hope for a regular opportunity to prove his worth in the Premier League.

Eddie Nketiah

Nketiah would make his first first-team bow during Arsene Wenger’s final season in charge at the Emirates, before fleeting appearances under Unai Emery last season.

Having seen a loan move to the Bundesliga fall through due to an injury to Danny Welbeck last season, the forward was allowed to leave on a temporary deal last summer, heading to Championship promotion hopefuls Leeds United.

The move would prove to be a disappointment as Nketiah struggled to displace Patrick Bamford in Marcelo Bielsa’s side, making just two league starts from 17 appearances in the second tier. Recalled in January, he has since shown promise under Arteta, scoring three goals in just four starts.

The England U21 international has a prolific goalscoring record for both club and country at youth level, and his recent showings suggest he could prove to be a valuable attacking option for the Gunners in the coming years as he continues to learn from the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.

Gabriel Martinelli

Arguably the find of the season, Arsenal’s capture of the Brazilian youngster flew under the radar amongst their expensive summer outlay, though Martinelli has wasted no time in showing his new fans exactly what he is capable of.

The 18-year-old has scored ten goals in all competitions and provided a further four assists, thriving in a variety of roles across the forward line and bringing a tenacity in his work-rate that has been lacking from Arsenal’s forward players in recent years.

The teenager has already shown his temperament to handle the big occasions by scoring against both Liverpool and Chelsea so far this season, and looks set to have a huge future at the Emirates.

His tally of ten goals has come from just 15 starts in all competitions, Martinelli’s immediate impact and potential a huge source of excitement for the Gunners’ faithful.

Bukayo Saka

Could Bukayo Saka be the most promising young talent amid Arsenal’s ranks?

The teenage starlet continues to grow in stature for Mikel Arteta’s side, thriving in an unfamiliar role at left-back to emerge as one of the breakthrough stars of the Premier League season.

The 18-year-old is a natural winger but has deputised in defence for the Gunners this season, though that has failed to diminish his natural attacking talents with three goals and ten assists in all competitions thus far.

Teammate Alexandre Lacazette has described Saka as the best young player in the Premier League and his performances have not gone unnoticed, Liverpool reportedly monitoring his contract situation at the Emirates, whilst there has been speculation that Gareth Southgate could take a closer look at the youngster ahead of this summer’s European Championships.

The 18-year-old is a natural winger but has deputised in defence for the Gunners this season, though that has failed to diminish his natural attacking talents with three goals and ten assists in all competitions thus far.

Teammate Alexandre Lacazette has described Saka as the best young player in the Premier League and his performances have not gone unnoticed, Liverpool reportedly monitoring his contract situation at the Emirates, whilst there has been speculation that Gareth Southgate could take a closer look at the youngster ahead of this summer’s European Championships.

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