Opinion: Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith-Rowe set to shine
ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 16: Eddie Nketiah of Arsenal during a training session at London Colney on October 16, 2020 in St Albans, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

The likes of Bukayo Saka and Ainsley Maitland-Niles are the prominent youngsters to feature in the first-team from the youth acadmey.

With Arsenal set to kick-off their Europa League campaign against Rapid Wien on Thursday, youngsters Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith-Rowe will be eyeing up their chance of starting for The Gunners.

Europa League football could be the chance for the latter two to impress. They are due to get much more minutes in this competition, due to the lower standard of opposition and high commitments of the league.

Will Nketiah start for Arsenal?

Mikel Arteta has placed his trust in the young forward this season, and Nketiah has not disappointed.

He has featured in all Premier League games this season, starting once against Sheffield United. The 21-year-old also scored the decisive goal in a 2-1 win against West Ham United.

Nketiah's potential is clear to see, with Arteta looking to rotate the squad he may see this as his chance to impress.

He has not made an appearance in the Europa League yet, but with a tough fixture against Leicester City on Sunday, Arteta may want to rest Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.

This opens up the space for Nketiah, who would grab the chance to show he has what it takes to lead Arsenal's frontline.

Can Smith-Rowe make an appearance?

Smith-Rowe faced an injury setback on his return to Arsenal, with a problem to his right shoulder that forced him to miss the opening game against Fulham.

However, he is back integrating with the first-team squad. He has not featured this season, but the Europa League could be his way into the first-team.

After successful loan spells at RB Leipzig and Huddersfield Town, Smith-Rowe was sought by other teams too.

Huddersfield have made an admission that they wanted to take the English-starlet on loan for a second season. It appears that he only has his eyes set on Arsenal, though.


It looks very likely that Nketiah will make an appearance versus Rapid Wien, whether this be in a two with Lacazette, who did not start in the loss to Manchester City, or on his own.

Smith-Rowe will be fortunate to be able to feature against Wien, as it looks like he is still recovering from his shoulder injury. However, with the following games he should be able to light up the Europa League and cement his place in the squad.

It is clear that Lacazette is favoured in the Premier League. This means that Nketiah will get his chance to portray his ability in the Europa League on a regular basis.

It is now up to the acadmey graduates to impress the boss to be included in his long-term plans.