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Six Arsenal youngsters promoted to first-team training including exciting wonderkid

Mikel Arteta has handed opportunities to six academy graduates during training at London Colney in the build-up to Saturday’s Premier League game against Leicester City

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Mikel Arteta previews Leicester City clash

Mikel Arteta has promoted six academy graduates to first-team training ahead of Arsenal ’s match against Leicester on Saturday.

Arsenal head to the King Power Stadium for the 12.30pm kick-off full of confidence following a turnaround in form.

Having made a poor start to the campaign, the Gunners are now unbeaten in their last eight games in all competitions since the 5-0 defeat by Manchester City on August 28.

The Gunners’ form has, in part, been led by Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka, who have been performing consistently recently.

Fans take particular heart from their performances, given they are graduates of the club’s academy, and Arteta has taken steps towards unearthing the next generation this week.








Mikel Arteta bolstered his ranks in training this week
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Image:

Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)



There has been much hype about 18-year-old midfielder Charlie Patino – and now fans have some other young players to get excited about.

One of those pictured in Arsenal training ahead of the Leicester game is Arthur Okonkwo, a 19-year-old goalkeeper who is now the third-choice behind Aaron Ramsdale and Bernd Leno following Alex Runarsson’s departure on loan.

Okonkwo signed a new contract in the summer and, although he made a blunder in a pre-season friendly against Hibernian, he is highly thought of at Arsenal.





Striker Mika Biereth was also involved on Thursday – and he is someone Arsenal are particularly excited about.

The 18-year-old forward joined the Gunners from Fulham, where he caught the eye by scoring 21 goals and contributing 13 assists in 21 games for the Cottagers Under-18s.

Unsurprisingly, that goal contribution is a record unmatched by any other player in Premier League 2.

Who is Arsenal’s most exciting young player at the moment? Have your say in the comments section below.








Arthur Okonkwo was in Arsenal training this week
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Image:

Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)



Holding midfielder Tim Akinola is more established, having spent time on loan with Mansfield, Lincoln City and Huddersfield and the 20-year-old is hoping to impress Arteta in training.

Centre-back Omar Rekik joined Arsenal from Hertha Berlin in the summer for a reported £600,000 and he is now playing alongside the first team.

Anass Salah-Eddine is not an entirely new name to fans, having been named on the bench for Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Leeds in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.





The 19-year-old central midfielder is therefore on the edge of the first team and could make his debut later this season.

The final youngster involved in training was Joel Lopez, a 19-year-old left-back who joined Arsenal from Barcelona.

Arsenal reportedly fought off competition from other clubs for Lopez’s signature, with his pace a particular asset to look out for.








Tim Akinola and Joel Lopez were included in Arsenal training on Thursday
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Image:

Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)



None of the youngsters are likely to feature against Leicester, where Arteta will be hoping to build on their positive run of results.

Despite the improvements, the Gunners manager is still asking for more from his players.

“I think in every department we can get better,” he said on Friday.




“The use of the ball, the understanding of the game, how we manage situations, how we deal with moments of pressure.

“In everything, in every department, I still think we have a lot of improvements to make.

“But there are some basics which we’re doing a lot better which helps a lot to win football matches.”


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