Arsenal starlet Eddie Nketiah leads charge of the young Gunners… so just what impact has each prospect made on Unai Emery’s side?
- Unai Emery has made full use of his younger stars during the pre-season period
- Arsenal beat Fiorentina as Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock got on the scoresheet
- Sportsmail goes over some of the young guns who have been given a chance
Arsenal romped to a 3-0 win over Fiorentina on Saturday after Eddie Nketiah grabbed himself a brace before Joe Willock added a third late on.
Unai Emery has made full use of his youngsters on the Gunners’ pre-season tour of America.
Sportsmail runs the rule over some of the young guns who have been given a chance and shone in the win over Fiorentina.
Arsenal boss Unai Emery has made full use of his younger stars during the pre-season period
EDDIE NKETIAH striker, 20
When the star of Arsenal’s tour burst on to the scene, it emerged his nickname was Little Eddie.
Two years since Nketiah announced himself with a fairytale Emirates double against Norwich, that moniker is no longer an accurate description of the exciting striker.
He has grown in height and started to fill out since then. Bayern Munich’s hulk of a defender, Niklas Sule, can testify to that after being caught out and held off by Nketiah in Wednesday’s friendly.
The issue now is what is the next best step for the player after some sparkling displays in the States, where he has scored three times in two games against Bayern and Fiorentina.
Eddie Nketiah (left) has scored three times in two games against Bayern and Fiorentina
Nketiah, who has been inspired by club legends Ian Wright and Thierry Henry, said: ‘I’m trying to show in pre-season that I have developed and I’m ready to play regularly. I’ve worked hard on my physique in the off-season, trying to get stronger.’
With his finishing ability, Nketiah has been likened to Wright, a regular at Arsenal’s training ground and someone from whom Nketiah has sought advice.
Another Arsenal great, Henry, coached the young front man as he came through the ranks. ‘Him being one my idols, it was a dream come true,’ said Nketiah. ‘It’s always nice to speak to those guys.’
Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have also been sounding boards, but their presence ahead of him might make a loan move a better option.
Impact rating: 7/10
JOE WILLOCK midfielder, 19
Emery has been keen to involve Willock whenever possible. Combative, energetic and a good passer, he was handed six appearances last season as he took a big stride forward in his development.
The midfielder made a real impression in his final one, standing out as a late substitute in Arsenal’s Europa League final defeat by Chelsea.
He was the one real rookie to start the Bayern Munich friendly, another indication of how high up he is in Emery’s thoughts ahead of the season. Willock pressed his case further with a goal against Fiorentina.
Impact rating: 7/10
Joe Willock added to Nketiah’s brace in the 3-0 Fiorentina win in Charlotte, the United States
BUKAYO SAKA winger, 17
Exciting wide talent who has a real buzz around him after his displays at youth level.
Tricky, speedy, capable of playing on either flank and with finishing power, which he showed to open the scoring against Colorado Rapids.
He is still only 17 and made his debut last season in the Europa League against Qarabag in December.
Saka is determined to play first-team football this season. His hopes are raised by the fact that coach Freddie Ljungberg is such a big fan, though he may be vying for minutes with Reiss Nelson, 19, who spent last season on loan at Hoffenheim.
Impact rating: 7/10
Bukayo Saka is an exciting wide talent who has a real buzz around him after at youth level
GABRIEL MARTINELLI forward, 18
Arsenal’s sole summer signing is Martinelli, a £6million capture from Ituano.
The versatile forward’s call-up to Brazil’s pre-Copa America training squad is a sign of his potential.
So too are the glimpses of talent we have witnessed during his first Arsenal involvement in the States.
A goal on his debut against Colorado Rapids and one brilliant solo run against Fiorentina, albeit with a misplaced finish, have caught the eye. He is quick, with good close control and an eye for goal. When he plays wide, he is happy to hug the touchline.
Impact rating: 5/10
There have been glimpses of talent from Gabriel Martinelli during Arsenal’s pre-season tour
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