Nelson, Smith Rowe, Maitland Niles, Eddie: slowly the world is awkening

By Tony Attwood

“Golden Generation” is one of those phrases that is generally either used far too early, or way to late (as in the all too common phrase “whatever happened to…” after the players en masse have failed to live up to the hype

I am sure I can be proven wrong, but I rather fancy that I have never used the phrase in relation to the players coming through at Arsenal.  But really what else can we say about Maitland-Niles, Nelson, Smith Rowe and Nketiah all emerging at once?

Is it just chance that we have these four wonderful players on our books all at the same time?  Or is it a sign that the Arsenal training programme with all its facilities, so eloquently described by Walter recently, is really bearing fruit?

Is it indeed quite simply that our reputation as a club is so good, the facilities so fantastic and the taint of scandal and double dealing so far removed from our doors, that the very best youngsters want to come to Arsenal?

These last points most certainly can’t be ignored.  The scandal Liverpool had recently, to take one example, with its tapping up allegations, the reports of falsifying documents, running a regular ordinary family into massive debt because of unpaid school fees, and the club being fined and banned from signing schoolboys, was a desperate tragedy for the families caught up in it.  But it can only have helped us.

Manchester City likewise got a transfer ban on signing schoolboy players following nefarious activities, and the reputation of Chelsea as a meat exporter has, I would suspected, dented the willingness of some families to allow their talented children to go to that club.

Arsenal has remained perfectly free from such tales, has a long term reputation for bringing through youngsters across the years, and has (as noted) wonderful training facilities.  So maybe we shouldn’t be surprised.

And so we have Reiss Nelson scoring from 30 yards in an international against Scotland.  Out of which has emerged another factor – that the club is encouraging mentoring of youngsters by senior players.  Nelson is seems is a close mate of Hector Bellerin.

The story is told that after training the pair would stay behind and work together on dead ball skills and one v ones.  

Reiss Nelson, currently with Hoffenheim, where his friend Jadon Sancho plays, now has two England under 21 caps, and two goals – having scored against Andorra as well.   He was PL2 player of the year last season, and oh yes and he once had a trial with Tottenham, before seeing the right path to follow – which makes it all the sweeter.

And the influence of Bellerin looks just right for this young man, for Bellerin is the perfect example of the footballer who has taken an interest in matters way beyond playing computer games.

The big question for all the players is how many of them will be able to get into the team?  In this regard the existence of four competitions, and where needed the high profile loan spell, as Nelson is on now, are each obviously a benefit.

Each player of course has his own distinctive attributes.   Smith Rowe can seemingly play in a multiplicity of positions and while he didn’t have the misfortune of an early period with Tottenham, he was persued by Tottenham in his formative years.  Chelsea also tried to pull him in as did Barcelona.

Smith Rowe joined the under 23s aged 16, he is known for his sense of humour and getting on with everyone – which are two things never taught to footballers in the academies which is a great shame.  For a century English football has assumed that the player is how he is, and the club’s job is not to mould his personality – a curious English approach to education. Fortunately, Emile SR didn’t need the help.   And he was in the under 17 World Cup winning team last season.

And here’s another thing: he spent the summer at an athletics centre, training to be even faster in his sprinting.   Now that is the sort of summer story surely we all want to hear.

As Mr Emery has said, “He is an example for other young players and the academy because we need to continue giving them chances but only when they deserve to have these chances.”

As for Maitland-Niles – he’s already a fixture in the first team squad – which just leaves Eddie.  I spent much of the summer raving over his performances for England in the tournament in France, but this season he seems to have been kept more in the background.  Maybe the next league cup match is going to be his breakthrough moment.

We have four stunning younsters in the squad – and of course more knocking on the door.  A real golden generation if ever I saw one.  And this one, I really do believe, will flourish.

8 Replies to “Nelson, Smith Rowe, Maitland Niles, Eddie: slowly the world is awkening”

  1. agree with everything, tony
    just think you might add amaechi (the lad’s injured, but had a very impressive start of the season) to the list; i think the forward line below
    amaechi – smithrowe – nelson
    with mniles behind (maybe willock too) has the brightest of futures ahead of them
    watching the highlights of these lads’ games on arsenalplayer is already a gourmet’s pleasure

  2. Who is this Amaechi that is currently injured? I think if he’s to make it to the first team squad, he should avoid picking up injury that will sideline him for a long spell.

    Ainsley Maitland-Niles should learn how to play out of trouble in one on one tight marking situation without conceding possession to the opponent and at the same time not to be on the receiving end to get injured, and avoid a serious one for that matter that will keep him on the sidelines for months.

    Emilie Smith-Rowe is coming up steadily for Arsenal and progressing very well for the club at both the Carabao cup and the Europa League Cup games level. And if he continues to progress remarkably in the Cup games, the onus is on him to first be given an appearance in the Pl and subsequently graduated to getting a start in the PL for Arsenal.

    Eddie Nkethia is a talented player who has the natural gift in goals scoring ability in youth football for Arsenal. Nevertheless, he should be given the chance to play in the PL for Arsenal to prove if he has the pedigree to become a top PL player for the club.

    Reiss Nelson has at his instance been loaned out to the Bundesliga club, Hoffenheim to acquire first team football experience there by playing regularly for the club. The acquisition of first team football experience by playing regularly, which he couldn’t get at Arsenal due to the limited opportunities he was getting there to play at the senior team level, he’s now looking to be getting it at Hoffenheim to take his football to a higher Level after which he’ll come back to Arsenal next season to resume playing for them.

    Has Joe Willock made a serious effort to go beyond playing for the Arsenal U23 team, but break through into the senior team squad? Or is Unai Emery yet to give him the chance to play for Arsenal first in the Cup games to show the mettle he’s made of?

  3. Funny. Obviously I would love these boys to graduate to the first team and lead us in the years ahead. However, I take some satisfaction even when they don’t make our squad but carve out decent professional careers at a lower level. In the last 20 years, very few have had anything but positive things to say about how they were treated at our academy.

  4. The Clubs stated policy is to have half of the first team squad coming from its own academy. No timings were set when this was stated three years or so ago but moving two of them up to replace Ramsey and Welbeck would be a major step towards it.

  5. Being a Nigerian I want the progression of Xavier Amaechi and other players of Nigeria descent.

  6. Being Of Scottish descent, I think we should stop watching football and concentrate on Curling.

  7. While I have to accept that our young will be loaned out in order to gain experience and play more football, I have always had misgivings over the bad habits they pick up in the clubs to which they become attached.
    On their return to Arsenal, lessons will no doubt have to be unlearnt.
    It’s a great pity, imo, that likely youngsters cannot remain at Arsenal and remain to learn the Arsenal Way.
    The absence of regular competitive football is a problem that surely could be overcome. 😉

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