Arsenal’s youth options are incredible, and for next season, we have another battle of the heavyweights to follow up Saka vs Martinelli.
All year long, one of the most entertaining subplots of the season was which of Arsenal‘s two dynamic youngsters would win out. Bukayo Saka vs Gabriel Martinelli, each competing for first-team minutes, each competing to graduate from their respective prospect stage.
They both won, in case you needed that said. Although it’s easy to say that with Martinelli injured and Saka running the show. Maybe if both were healthy we’d have a better indication of who actually won, but I suspect the answer would be the same—they both did.
Both graduated, both can start as long as they’re healthy, both produce goals and can improve and grow and become superstars. Good times.
So naturally, the best question we can ask ourselves is what comes next. Who will be the youngster heavyweight boxing match for next year?
That’s easy. It’s Joe Willock vs Emile Smith Rowe.
Willock has had all year to establish something to himself and he’s done a pretty damn good job. But it’s been without competition, essentially. Emile Smith Rowe has been on loan at Huddersfield where he’s been celebrated for his performances and when he comes back, he is going to be gunning for a first-team place. One that Willock has a head start on, but hasn’t necessarily locked down.
We also have to keep in mind that we may be getting a midfield solution like Nicolas Pepe was for our winger situation, making Saka and Martinelli’s job tougher.
Which means that Willock and Smith Rowe will have a bigger obstacle to overcome. But again, the similarities are uncanny. Two incredibly talented young men on the cusp of first-team regularity, each competing for a place in the team.
The big difference is that as of right now, there isn’t really a position for either Smith Rowe or Willock, as the 3-4-3 allows for no creative midfielder. Which is okay, because I don’t think Arteta is going to keep the 3-4-3 forever. It feels more out of necessity than anything else.
Either way, the big story here is that in this race between Willock and Smith Rowe for a hypothetical position that will hopefully exist, both can win. Just like both Martinelli and Saka won. And that’s the good news. If you’re waiting for the bad news, there really isn’t any. Although, I guess they could both lose too.