Ahead of Thursday’s opening UEFA Europa League group stage game against FC Koln, Arsene Wenger has confirmed that big names such as Mesut Özil, Laurent Koscielny, Alexandre Lacazette and Granit Xhaka will all be rested at the Emirates, as Arsenal will look to a mixture of fringe and youth players to see them through the first phase of the competition.
Though the likes of Jack Wilshere, Calum Chambers and Mohammed Elneny will have their chance to get some minutes under their belts, the same will apply to a cluster of Arsenal’s younger names.
Arsenal were allowed to name a rather large, 42-man squad for this year’s competition which enabled Wenger to name some of the Gunners’ future stars. So who of these young talents can we expect to shine each Thursday night?
The 18-year-old is widely deemed as Arsenal’s most promising youngster coming through. Edward Nketiah can play either as an out and out striker, or he can also be used just behind the striker.
His pace is by far his biggest attribute, as he arrived at the club as a 14-year-old from Chelsea and has made leaps and bounds ever since.
Nketiah is sure to figure throughout the group stages, all be it off the bench, but his record for the Arsenal U23’s and his impressive pre-season with the senior squad has got many involved with the club rather excited.
One name that will be a bit more familiar to Arsenal fans, as Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been in the background for a few years now. Though, Wenger has tended to use the England U20 World Cup winner more in the earlier rounds of both the FA Cup and the League Cup.
Maitland-Niles can play anywhere across the midfield area, and also can be used as a wing-back, with that being his most realistic position in weeks to come.
First-team minutes have been rather limited for Maitland-Niles in previous years, but this year most certainly represents his best chance of finally getting regular game time for the Gunners.
Just like Maitland-Niles, Jeff Rene-Adelaide is another talent who has been on the hinges of breaking through for the last couple of seasons.
The French youngster first made his bow in the 2015 Emirates Cup, where he stole the show in Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over Wolfsburg. Since then, the dynamic winger has been limited to the odd cup appearance and has played most of his football for the U23’s.
Rene-Adelaide is expected to feature heavily though in this year’s Europa League, and could be a regular starter for the side on a Thursday night as Wenger would ideally like to use him in a front three.
Seems to be the name that every Arsenal fan is excited to see in the coming weeks. If there is any youngster at the club who is expected to break in to the first-team this year, then Reiss Nelson is that man.
Nelson was fantastic in this year’s Emirates Cup, as his pace and flair won over the Arsenal faithful within minutes of watching him for the first time properly. Nelson has been predominantly used as a winger/wing-back whenever he has featured on the first-team stage.
The teenage sensation, who is only seventeen years old was also recently voted as August’s player of the month for the Premier League 2.