Mikel Arteta reveals initial concerns over Arsenal youngsters playing key roles in first-team

Arteta delighted with how his young stars have handed the pressure (Picture: Getty)

Mikel Arteta admits he initially had concerns over handing his Arsenal youngsters such prominent roles in his side.

The Gunners lost their first three games of the season but head into 2022 in fourth place with their young starlets playing a hugely influential role in that improvement.

Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe have been among the club’s best players this season with Gabriel Martinelli back in the side and scoring amid Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s current exile.

With Martin Odegaard, Aaron Ramsdale, Takehiro Tomiyasu (all 23) and Ben White (24) all playing prominent roles in the side with 18-year-old Charlie Patino on the fringes, Arteta’s young side are now chasing down Champions League qualification for the first time in a number of years.

When asked if he felt it was a gamble to place so much faith in his youngsters, Arteta told a press conference: ‘You always question that but when you make the decision to go through that route, you want them to get some consistency.

Smith Rowe and Saka have been influential this season (Picture: Getty)

‘Because they have never done it at that level.

‘And we had a lot of them.

‘But they have proven that they can do it and they have been really demanding with themselves and at the same time they have handled difficult situations in a great way.’

Arsenal host Manchester City in their first game of 2022 on Saturday morning.

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