Mikel Arteta put four stars from Arsenal’s youth team in training with the first Europa League game on Thursday night against FC Zurich.
Arsenal has finished their last practice before their first game in the group stage of the Europa League. They are in Switzerland to play FC Zurich, the country’s current champion, and hope to have a great start to their European season.
Arsenal won’t play in Zurich, though, because the club’s stadium will be used for other events. Instead, Mikel Arteta plans to give some of his less-experienced players important game time.
Matt Smith, Amario Cozier-Duberry, Catalin Cirjan, and Lino Sousa were all involved in the game before it started. Smith has already been on the bench this season, but if he plays against Zurich, he and the other three players would be making their first appearances as seniors.
Smith, Cozier-Duberry, and Cirjan are all midfielders, and with Mohamed Elneny and Thomas Partey out with injuries, it may not be too surprising that the U21 players are on the team. Last night, the under-21 team drew 1-1 with Feyenoord (Tuesday).
Emile Smith-Rowe and Cedric Soares also didn’t show up for practice. This Wednesday afternoon, there might be more of a reason for Cozier-Duberry and Sousa’s chances. Sousa came to the team from West Brom and football in January. london understands Mikel Arteta has been a fan for a long time, even before he joined Arsenal.
Mehmet Ali has had to deal with losing a lot of his regular starters, like Smith, who moved up to the senior team, and others who had to go on loan. Brooke Norton-Cuffy, Omar Rekik, Mazeed Ogungbo, Charlie Patino, Miguel Azeez, Tim Akinola, Salah-Eddine Oulad M’Hand, Mika Biereth, and Marcelo Flores were all regulars on Kevin Betsy’s good team in 2021/22, but they are all on loan from the club this season.
But these experiences and the fact that the young players could play in Europe tomorrow night are what have made the club so good at developing young players. This is how Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe, and Eddie Nketiah became regulars on the first team.