Arsenal’s young guns are in contention for a run out against PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday with the club having sealed top spot in their Champions League group.
The Gunners have teenagers Ethan Nwaneri, Reuell Walters and Lino Sousa in their squad and Mikel Arteta singled out Nwaneri, 16, for high praise, comparing the attacking midfielder to Jack Wilshere.
Nwaneri became the Premier League’s youngest player in September 2022 when he came off the bench in a 3-0 victory over Brentford aged 15, but has not played for the first team since.
He scored five in a 7-1 win for the Under 18s against Crewe Alexandra on Saturday — and if he plays on Tuesday he will be Arsenal’s youngest ever player in the Champions League.
Arsenal’s impressive youth set-up has made headlines in recent weeks after Chido Obi-Martin, 16, netted 10 goals against Liverpool’s Under 16s.
Mikel Arteta has lumped praise on 16-year-old Ethan Nwaneri, lauding the Arsenal youngster for his tenacity and work rate
The Spanish manager likened him to former player Jack Wilshere, with Nwaneri possessing a similar ability to control the ball in tight areas
It comes as several young Arsenal stars could feature during their Champions League clash against PSV on Tuesday
On Nwaneri, Arteta said: ‘Something unique he’s got is his ability to take the ball in tight areas, to escape like Jack Wilshere used to do.
‘The personality he has, he trains with us like he trains with the Under 18s and I love that.
Ethan Nwaneri ranks 10th on the list of the youngest players to feature in a Champions League match
‘He’s got that thing between his teeth that he wants to show every single day how good he is. When you have someone like that, you have to give him hope as well.
‘I think it was a strong sign for him (making his Premier League debut) that this was his place to keep developing.’
Full backs Walters and Sousa, both 18, have yet to make their competitive debuts, although Walters has been on the bench for the last two league matches and is likely to start.
The defender has been at Arsenal since 2020 and is currently in contract talks, with clubs in the Premier League and Europe monitoring him.
Senior left back Oleksandr Zinchenko has received scrutiny over his defensive displays, including after a mistake against Wolves earlier this month.
Ahead of the PSV game, he admitted his concentration has been an issue.
Zinchenko said: ‘I know I am making mistakes every day. I am learning from it. The most important thing is understanding all of us are humans, we make mistakes.
‘In some moments I am losing concentration. You need to realise where and try to avoid them in the future.’
Nwaneri became the youngest player in Premier League history, aged 15, when he came off the bench during Arsenal’s 3-0 victory over Brentford in 2022