What better way to prepare for the upcoming Premier League season than talking about players who won’t be playing in it?
As the preseason comes to an end, we’re taking a quick look at Arsenal’s standout youth players. We’ll consider their individual performances, rating them on a 1-10 scale based on what we think their chances are of breaking into the first team this year.
Eddie Nketiah, Number 62, Age 18
The main reason I watched the preseason this year? Eddie Nketiah. After scoring 24 goals in 28 games in the U18 team two years ago, fans have been keeping a close eye on the Arsenal youngster.
He seems a born star and has already drawn comparisons to king Thierry Henry—as he can play center forward or on the wing. He’s resourceful and adaptable attacking player—a fast, high-energy runner, a confident ball-handler who can hold the ball up front, and make darting runs behind the back line off the ball. He’s got tons of tricks up his sleeve and a knack for getting into threatening positions.
On the summer tour, he looked energetic and eager to get involved—at times, maybe even a little too eager with his dribbling, over-zealously running at defenders. But otherwise, he was involved and unafraid— that’s what you like to see from a youth player. He also worked hard to get the ball back in the offensive third and made a tackle that resulted in a Lacazette goal. Mostly importantly, he averaged two shots a game, and nearly scored in every time he played.
Can’t wait to see him in the first team in a year or two.
The young phenom showed glimpses of why he has been unleashing havoc on other academies. With speed, the power, the finishing ability, it is safe to say that Eddie Nketiah may become a great Premier League player after a few more games with the first team. He has a great ability to put it past any keeper he comes across and his 1-2 combinations got better each minute during the preseason. He even struck a well hit shot just on the inside of the post that rolled across the mouth of the goal before being cleared. There was a lot to be happy about from the youngster. His technical ability, pace, and resiliency in different parts of the game guarantee a bright future if he stays healthy.
Nketiah is still young and needs time to progress his game before he is battling with the first team members. He and Malen both needed more minutes than they got this preseason, but they can still use what they learned and push forward with it. Nketiah needs to use the players around him to create space and be less naïve when dribbling past defenders. Even against Sydney FC he was being dispossessed quite a bit.