Four Arsenal Under-23 Players Who Could Break Into the First Team Before the End of the Season

Steve Bould’s Arsenal Under-23 side returned to Premier League 2 action on Friday night as they thumped north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur Under-23 by three goals to one for the away side’s first victory since September.

Kick off was delayed by 15 minutes due to problems with the floodlights but it was an impressive display ​from the Arsenal youngsters after a difficult start to proceedings, with goalkeeper Karl Hein making a vital stop to thwart Tottenham’s Armando Shashoua. 

Arsenal eventually grew into the game, captain Robbie Burton opening the scoring on the 38th minute mark before Trae Coyle doubled the visitors lead before half time. The Gunners were pegged back by Harvey White in the 76th minute before Nathan Tormey restored Arsenal’s two goal cushion in the final minute of the game. 

Friday’s result leaves Arsenal Under-23 in third place behind Chelsea Under-23 and Derby Under-23s, and Steve Bould will no doubt be looking to secure Arsenal’s second title in three years, whilst also looking at players who may be able to push towards an inclusion in the senior team.

With that said, here are four candidates who have a real chance of breaking into Arsenal’s first team before the end of the season.

Folarin Balogun

Folarin Balogun

The New York-born youngster enjoyed a stellar year last season, scoring 25 goals (including two hat-tricks and a four goal haul) in only 19 starts for the Under-18 side, which amounts to a goal every 62 minutes. The 2019/20 season has started as the 2018/19 season ended, with the 18-year-old scoring seven and assisting four in only nine Premier League 2 games so far this season, amounting to a goal every 108 minutes.

While injuries have limited the forward’s playing time this season, there is a lot of excitement surrounding him, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang praising Balogun after one training session with the first team in March 2019. 

Arsenal have some extremely exciting attacking options coming through the ranks with the likes of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Reiss Nelson, Emile Smith-Rowe, Eddie Nketiah and Tyreece John-Jules all impressing despite their tender years. With Saka, Martinelli, Nelson and Smith-Rowe all getting the nod from Unai Emery, it is only a matter of time before Balogun gets his chance to impress the Basque manager.

Robbie Burton

Robbie Burton

Another potential candidate to break into Arsenal’s first team come the end of the season is Robbie Burton. The Welshman has captained the Arsenal Under-23 side this season and has taken to the job like a duck to water. 

The central midfielder has scored three times in ten appearances for Steve Bould’s side this term and, possessing a keen eye for a pass, the classy 19-year-old is capable of playing in a central midfield role or as a creative number ten, something which Arsenal’s senior side have so far lacked this season. 

Tyreece John-Jules

Tyreece John-Jules

​The London-born 18-year-old has been at a part of the Arsenal youth setup since he was eight years old and made the step up to the Under-23 side at the age of just 17, after consistently impressing with Kwame Ampadu’s Under-18 side. So far in the 2019/20 season the forward has contributed to three goals and two assists in eight appearances, including a brace in a 2-1 win over Leicester Under-23’s in September, taking him to 15 goals and seven assists in 37 games for the Arsenal Under-23 side. 

John-Jules is a clinical finisher in front of goal, has illustrated a high level of maturity despite his tender age, and was rewarded with a new contract in August. After scoring his first goal of the 19/20 season, Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang were quick to praise their junior on Instagram, with Lacazette commenting “My number 9”, while Aubameyang posted “Kyky…what a damn goal”. Kind words indeed.

Although Arsenal are blessed with attacking options, not many are gifted with the quick feet, height and speed that John-Jules possesses, making him a valuable option for Emery and co to consider. With Freddie Ljungberg providing a link between youth and the first team, don’t rule out John-Jules making the odd Europa League appearance before the end of the 2019/20 campaign.

Nathan Tormey

Nathan Tormey

Another Hale End prospect who may be ready to make the step up to the first team come the end of the season is 19-year-old Nathan Tormey. The skilful left winger is capable of playing as an attacking midfielder who sits behind the strikers, and possesses an eye for goal.

Tormey signed his first professional contract at the end of the 2016/17 season, illustrating the confidence that those in charge at Arsenal have in the youngster. Despite injury concerns, he overcame his woes and has so far proven pivotal for Steve Bould and the Under-23s; featuring in every Premier League 2 game this season. 

Whilst Tormey has not received the same hype as some of his counterparts, he no doubt has a bright future ahead of him. With several attacking options at Arsenal’s disposal, Tormey may have to be patient when it comes to breaking into the first team. However, with Europa League and FA Cup games still to come, there will be plenty of chances for the youngster to impress Emery.


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