MIKEL ARTETA has upgraded SIX Academy’s prospects to first-team coaching ahead of Saturday’s game with Leicester City.
Arsenal are back in action with six wins in eight matches, and Arteta is eager to see what their young players can offer – especially after the appearances of Emile Smith Rowe and Boakio Saka.
The Spaniard also talked about the young look at his side and how top players like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are now acting as role models.
Arteta has now taken it a step further by giving some members of the Under-23 squad a chance to test themselves against the first team.
Among the group to make the move is January signing Omar Rijk, who joined from Hertha Pearl for £600,000.
Arthur Okonkwo (goalkeeper, 19)
The goalkeeper signed a long-term contract in the summer after impressing at youth level.
Mikel Arteta has played him in some pre-season matches as well, so it’s clear that he’s highly rated by the Spaniard.
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After Alex Runarsson left to join OH Leuven on loan, Okonkwo was promoted to the third option.
And he could get even closer to first-team action if Bernd Leno decides to leave after losing his #1 spot to Aaron Ramsdale.
Micah Perth (Striker, 18)
Perez joined The Gunners in the summer after impressing with Fulham Under-18s last season, scoring 21 goals in 21 appearances.
The striker also provided 13 assists – a record for a goal contribution unparalleled by any player in the Premier League 2.
He described joining Arsenal as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and seemed to be seizing it after taking part in first-team coaching.
Tim Aquinola (Defensive Midfield, 20)
The oldest group in his 20s, Akinola has already been around for a long time with loan spells at Mansfield, Lincoln City and Huddersfield.
Akinola is a midfielder who is adept in tight spaces with the ball at his feet and can also pick a pass.
With injured Granit Xhaka out and Arsenal advancing to the Carabao Cup quarter-finals, he is hoping that brilliance in training will lead to a first-team appearance.
Omar Rick (CDF, 19)
when lit Arsenal describe Rikic as a ball that plays as a central defender So it fits with Arteta’s philosophy of playing from behind.
Like Akinola, the defender has also had a career at youth level, partnering with Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven in his native Holland as well as Manchester City and Marseille.
Anas Salah al-Din (midfield, 19)
Salah El Din was picked up the bench in Arsenal’s victory over Leeds in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.
The midfielder can offer Arsenal a different dimension through agility and creativity, two of his main traits.
This puts him in a similar category to Smith Roe, 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 expected to become the next Hector Bellerin after joining from Barcelona.
This is not the only similarity between the left-back and the right-back, Lopez is blessed with lightning speed and the ability to recover quickly.
Arsenal fought competition from Liverpool to bring him to North London, and Barcelona also offered him a deal to try to persuade him to stay – but he chose The Gunners.