'Arsenal must build around their Hale End academy stars'
- Credit: PA
The Hale End academy is enjoying a purple patch after superb individual performances during the 2020/21 season.
Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Joe Willock have all caught the eye amid an abysmal season for Arsenal, their worst since the mid 1970s to be precise.
The first two have endured strong seasons at their boyhood clubs, playing the majority of the season and catching the headlines when on song.
Willock had to move up north in order to prove Mikel Arteta he can handle the Premier League. Scoring seven in seven for Newcastle United immediately elevated his status, possibly putting his name in the starting 11 at the Emirates Stadium next season.
While it seemed Saka and Smith Rowe were the more developed two from the Hale End, we are now talking about Willock, who smashed his loan spell away from home.
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It is time to appreciate the new era of Hale End players coming through the system. These three aren't going to win the league for Arsenal next season, but their progression and natural maturity will be admirable to watch over the coming years.
There is no doubt that Arsenal have fallen since they arrived at N7 in 2006, but it’s realistic to say Arsenal will be challenging for Europa League football next season.
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This means the coaching staff and recruitment team must work together in forming a capable and fluid squad around these three lads. They are the future of the club.
Signing older, past-their-prime players must become a thing of the past if the club want to look forward. Willian was the last straw, surely? It is an approach that simply hasn’t worked.
Neighbours in west London have just won the Champions League with a youthful, systematic approach. This isn't suggesting Arsenal will do the same thing, but the club in general can take inspiration and motivation with their philosophy.
It isn't going to be an overnight thing. The most important thing is the person taking the club forward. Arteta will be given the tools if the hierarchy feel he is suitable for the role.
It has potential to be a young squad with a young manager – a club that can grow together, building experience and memories with each other.
It's not always a fairy tale, but dreams can be made with the correct mindset and process in place. Give it time.