Could young Gunners lead Arsenal to FA Cup glory?


Arsenal booked their place in the last 16 of the FA Cup on Monday night with a 2-1 win over Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.

It was the eye catching performances of young players which ensured Arsenal progressed to the fifth round for the eighth time in nine years.

Bukayo Saka, Matteo Guendouzi, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli all started the game and played a key role in the win.

Saka’s early thumping strike came from Willock’s burst from midfield and Martinelli’s assist. The second goal was even more impressive. All ten outfield players were involved in the move as the Gunners passed their way through Bournemouth’s defence in a 22 pass move.

Saka, who was yet again played at left back was at the heart of it as his accurate low cross found the recently recalled Nketiah, who put away his first goal for the Gunners since May. The result has prompted a question, can the young Gunners lead Arsenal to FA Cup glory?

Much of Arsenal’s success in the last 15 years has come in the FA cup, winning it on three occasions over the last six years. They also hold the record for the most FA Cup titles (13).

The rise of some of the youngsters this season has been nothing short of marvellous. When the club signed Martinelli from Brazil’s fourth division the plan was for him to play with the under 23’s and work his way up.

The Brazilian has since taken the world by storm scoring ten goals in all competitions. As a matter of fact, only Jadon Sancho (14 goals) tops him in goals scored by teenagers this season in Europe’s top five leagues.

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Bukayo Saka is another youngster that has exploded into the scene this season. The 18-year-old has 20 appereances this season and has been deployed at left wing and more recently at left back due to injuries to Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney.

Against Bournemouth he got himself on the goal sheet and grabbed an assist in the process. He and Martinelli made their presence known in the first half with many of Arsenal’s attacks coming from that side. His intelligence to know when to push forward, drop deep and when to choose the right passes has showed that he is playing beyond his years despite playing out of position.

Mikel Arteta praised his youngsters after the victory. he said, “I knew it was going to be a tough game and we played a really young squad. I wanted to see the reaction and i was very pleased because i saw a lot of things I really liked.

“We played with that accountability, making decisions and i really liked it. They were terrific with their work-rate, showed courage to make those big decisions and not to play safe.”

The Gunners have in the past played young players in the early rounds of the FA Cup and called upon the more experienced in the latter stages of the competitions. They travel to Portsmouth in the next round, for a place in the quarter finals and it remains to be seen whether Arteta will stick with the youngsters.


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Football correspondent from London covering the Premier League Football and EFL.

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