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The kids are….a fiscal necessity

Player 2019-20 Premier League minutes
Gabriel Martinelli 475
Joe Willock 696
Ainsley Maitland-Niles 1269
Reiss Nelson 614
Eddie Nketiah 636
Emile Smith Rowe 97
Bukayo Saka 1743
Total 4910

This season, Arsenal gave more than 4,000 minutes to academy graduates [and Gabriel Martinelli] aged 22 or under for the first time in over a decade. They also finished 8th in the Premier League table. This is not to assign blame to the academy players for Arsenal’s poor league season but the two facts are not entirely mutually exclusive.

It’s well established that there is a trade-off between points and development. As Arsene Wenger once said, “You pay for the education of young players with points. At some stage, I must say, as a manager you feel lonely to stand up and say, ‘No, I want this boy to play because he deserves it.’ You learn your job at 23-years of age. 23 to 24 you have a player. Until 23 he will be up and down.”

Now, Arsenal’s 8th placed finish can be laid at the doors of many more decorated and experienced individuals before it finds its way to the Hale End crop. (Excepting Martinelli, who came from Brazil). The vast majority of the minutes apportioned to Reiss Nelson…