Arteta’s ‘gut feeling’ sees 15-year-old Nwaneri become PL’s youngest ever player

Mikel Arteta said a “gut feeling” led him to make Ethan Nwaneri the Premier League’s youngest player after he brought the 15-year-old on as a late substitute in the 3-0 win at Brentford.

The midfielder, aged just 15 years and 181 days old, took the Premier League record from Liverpool midfielder Harvey Elliott, who made his English top-flight bow for Fulham aged 16 years and 30 days in May 2019.

Nwaneri came on with just three minutes to go as Arsenal cruised to victory at the Gtech Community Stadium to go top of the Premier League heading into the international break.

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Nwaneri has become the youngest player to play in the Premier League, beating the previous record set by Fulham’s Harvey Elliott

Nwaneri reportedly drew strong interest from a clutch of top Premier League clubs, including Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea.

But Arsenal boss Arteta believes the young talent now has a chance to prove his prowess with the Gunners.

“It was a pure gut feeling, I met the kid and I liked what I saw,” said Arteta.

“He has trained a couple of times with us and I had a feeling yesterday that if the opportunity came I would do it.

“But I think it sends a strong message about who we are as a club. I told him yesterday he would be with us and he had to be ready. He is ready. When he went on I said ‘congratulations and enjoy it.

“I don’t know what it is. When I met him, when I looked at him, I had that feeling.”

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of Brentford against Arsenal in the Premier League

Arteta insisted Arsenal will continue to give first-team chances to young talent, with the Gunners boss determined to put the club’s interest above all else.

The Spaniard said: “We want to give opportunities When there is talent and personality and when players love what they do, and when they have no fear, the doors are open for them to explore where they can go.

“All the decisions that we take, that I take, are for the club. It’s not for me, it’s not for the player.

“It’s because we believe he has a talent that has to be developed incredibly in the next few years and we’ll see how we manage that.

“Normally it’s not us, normally the players tell you and they mind you, how far you can go on that.”

Arteta pleased to avenge last season’s loss at Brentford

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta reacts his side’s 3-0 win over Brentford

Arteta was also happy to banish the nightmare of last season’s opening-day defeat at Brentford when his side were dismally beaten 2-0, which pre-empted their worst start to a campaign for 67 years.

But they are a different animal this term and proved it with a solid display as William Saliba, Gabriel Jesus and Fabio Vieira all scored.

“I’m really pleased with the performance and to win the match and go top of the league going into the international break.

“A lot of people described that day as embarrassing but I looked at it as a character-building day.

“You have to learn from those moments and then days like today happen. We are enjoying our football.

“It makes me feel much better, because I saw a team that plays the way we want to play, the way we train every single day.

“That shows a lot of character and quality to do what they’ve done on that pitch against a really good Brentford side that make teams suffer.”

Arteta ‘impressed’ by Vieira on full PL debut

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Fabio Vieira opens his Gunners account with a stunner!

Arteta was also delighted by Vieira’s performance as the Portuguese midfielder marked his first Premier League start with a stunning goal after the 22-year-old joined this summer for £34m from Porto.

“He’s having a good progression because he missed pre-season due to injury,” said Arteta.

“But we know his talent and why we signed him and what he can bring to the team. He showed his character and his quality.

“He is a creative player, he needs to play with his instinct and we need to create as many scenarios as possible for him. The goal here and the way he went about the ugly part of the game, I was really impressed with.”

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