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Mikel Arteta promoted six young academy players to first-team training ahead of Saturday’s game with Leicester city

The Gunners have returned to form with six wins in eight games and Arteta is keen to see what his youth players can offer – especially after the emergence of Emil Smith Rowe and Buakyo Saka

The Spaniard also spoke about the youthful look to his side and how senior players like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are now acting as role models.

Arteta has now taken things a step further by providing some members of the Under-23s side with a chance to test themselves against the first team.

Included in the group making the step up is January signing Omar Rekik, who joined from Hertha Berln for £600,000

Arthur Okonkwo (goalkeeper, 19)

The goalkeeper signed a long-term contractin the summer after impressing at youth level.

Mikel Arteta played him in a few pre-season matches too so he is clearly highly rated by the Spaniard.

After Alex Runarsson left to join OH Leuven on loan Okonkwo was promoted to third-choice.

And he could get even closer to first-team action if Bernd Leno decides to leave after losing hisNno 1 spot to Aaron Ramsdale.

Mika Biereth (striker, 18)

Biereth joined The Gunners in the summerafter impressing for Fulham U18s last term, where he scored 21 goals in 21 games.

The striker also produced 13 assists – a goal contribution record unmatched by any player in Premier League 2.

He described joining Arsenal as a once in a lifetime opportunity and it seems he is beginning to take that after participating in first-team training.

Tim Akinola (defensive midfield, 20)

The oldest of the bunch at 20, Akinola has already been around for quite a bit with loan spells at Mansfield, Lincoln City and Huddersfield.

Akinola is a midfielder who is brilliant in tight spaces with the ball at his feet and he can also pick a pass.

With Granit Xhaka out injured and Arsenal progressing to the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup he will hope that impressing in training could lead to first-team appearances.

Omar Rekik (centre-back, 19)

Upon signing Arsenal described Rekik as a ball playing centre-back so he fits with Arteta’s philosophy of playing out from the back.

Like Akinola, the defender has also had a journeyed career at youth level, featuring for Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven in his native Netherlands as well as Manchester City and Marseille.

Anass Salah-Eddine (central midfield, 19)

Salah-Eddine was named on the bench for Arsenal’s win over Leeds in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.

The central midfielder could offer the Gunners a different dimension with his agility and creativity, which are two of his key attributes.

That places him in a similar category to Smith Rowe, who is fast becoming one of Arsenal’s most important players.

Joel Lopez (left-back, 19)

The Spaniard has enjoyed a rapid rise at Arsenal and is tipped to become the next Hector Bellerin after joining from Barcelona.

That is not the left-back’s only similarity to the right-back, as Lopez is blessed with lightning pace and the ability to recover quickly.
Arsenal fought off competition from Liverpool to bring him to North London, and Barcelona also offered him a deal in an attempt to persuade him to stay – but he chose The Gunners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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