The Premier League table may not show it but this is an exciting time to be an Arsenal fan.
Although they lie tenth in the league, their progression into the Fifth Round of the FA Cup last night showed the shoots of promise developing under new boss Mikel Arteta.
The young Gunners brought excitement and energy to Arterta’s system and the Spanish boss now has a whole host of youthful options looking to break into the first team.
The one leading the way this season is Gabriel Martinelli. The Brazilain youngster has now scored ten goals in 21 matches this season, including an individual solo run against Chelsea, drawing praise from some of the biggest names in the game.
It may be a bold claim to make so early on but Ronaldinho claimed he sees similarities between the Arsenal forward and his former teammate Ronaldo.
“We as Brazilians are very excited about him and his future. It is one thing to have the talent - but another at the age of 18 to have the confidence,” he told The Mirror.
“He reminds me of Ronaldo his first season in Europe, he scored 30 goals and people were thinking: ‘who is this 18-year-old Brazilian kid?’"
He may not have got on the scoresheet last night but he is now providing serious competition for the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
In fact, during the latter’s suspension, Arteta has trusted him with a starting role and he has flourished on the big stage, yet he is not the only youngster breaking through at the Emirates.
@RioFerdy5 believes the impact of Mikel Arteta is already apparent.
Eddie Nketiah was recalled from Leeds this month with his new manager citing a lack of starts at the Championship promotion hopefuls as the reason for the club’s decision. A talented forward, who scored four goals in his first six appearances for the Whites lost his place to Patrick Bamford and the Gunners decided he needed more game time to develop.
Having calmly found the net at the Vitality Stadium to send Arsenal through to face Portsmouth in the last 16, Arteta now has four top-class strikers he can rely on in front of goal. Martinelli and Nketiah have proved they can perform when needed, backing up the big-name duo of Aubameyang and Lacazette.
Perhaps the standout performance last night saw Bukayo Saka score and register the assist for Nketiah’s goal. Filling in at left-back once more, he provided an attacking outlet down the wing, finding space in the box to fire past Mark Travers in the Bournemouth goal.
He may have all the skills to play on the wing but his desire to impress at left-back given the absence of Kieran Tierney and Saed Kolasinac has allowed the natural winger to show his versatility. He is showing signs he can be everything Arsenal fans hoped Alex Iwobi would be.
Joe Willock is a midfielder who is not a regular starter for the north London side but one who has been an important squad player this term. He has started every game in the Europa League and League Cup and is attempting to gain Arteta’s trust for the Premier League games. He was certainly the heartbeat of the young Arsenal side last night with fans purring over his performance.
Arsenal are now a seriously likeable side now under Mikel Arteta. Not only do they play good football, but they now have a distinctive playing style and a crop of youngsters being trusted and allowed to develop by the coaching staff.
Regular starter Matteo Guendouzi isn’t talked about like a youngster anymore yet he is just 20-years-old, while the teenage duo William Saliba and Emile Smith Rowe have also shown promise.
If Arteta, the man credited with the improvement of Raheem Sterling at Manchester City, is given the chance to develop these players, Arsenal could be a force to be reckoned with over the coming years.