Mikel Arteta can call up two Arsenal youngsters for West Ham trip amid latest team news


A recurring feature for Arsenal during the second half of the season has been the number of academy players involved with the first-team for Premier League fixtures.

When the January transfer window closed, the Gunners were left with 21 senior players – going off the club’s official website – following the departures of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sead Kolasinac, Calum Chambers, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Pablo Mari and Folarin Balogun in some capacity.

And after opting against bringing in any new faces, Mikel Arteta made the decision to work with a slightly smaller squad for the remainder of the season. But as injuries, suspensions and Covid-19 absences were always going to be possibility, the chances of the Spaniard having the dream scenario of being able to select every first-team player for the final 17 games of the campaign were slim to none.

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So it’s little surprise that Arteta has not been afforded that luxury since January. Although with Premier League rules permitting a 20-man matchday squad for each game, not having every Arsenal first-team player available for selection has resulted in many academy starlets earning call-ups to make the bench.

Young defender Zach Awe was first to benefit as he was named in a Gunners senior matchday squad for the very first time as he provided defensive cover alongside left-back Nuno Tavares in the 1-0 win over Wolves in February as Takehiro Tomiyasu missed out through injury.

Then with Gabriel Martinelli serving a one-match suspension against Brentford, Omari Hutchinson got a call-up and he remained in the squad for the reverse fixture against Wolves five days later where he was joined on the bench by versatile defender Zak Swanson, who replaced Tomiyasu.

At least one of the aforementioned pair has been a regular fixture in the Arsenal matchday squad over the past couple of months without making an appearance, whilst the likes of Marcelo Flores, Mazeed Ogungbo and Miguel Azeez have been called up since the international break to provide cover for first-team absences.

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However, with the Gunners’ injury issues starting to clear up and no suspension worries ahead of Sunday’s Premier League against West Ham United, this particular trend is slowly coming to end. With Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey the two first-team players ruled out of the London derby, it’s likely that Arteta will call-up a defensive and central midfield option as cover at the London Stadium.

Based on the Spaniard’s matchday squad selection against Manchester United last week and considering it’s the same situation, that may have hinted that Swanson and Azeez would be the Arsenal youngsters drafted in for the West Ham trip. But with the latter featuring for the U23’s on Friday night against Leeds United, it could mean that Hutchinson earns a recall instead.

Source by Football London

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