Alan Smith suggests this Sunday’s clash against Burnley may be the time for Mikel Arteta to ‘throw in’ Arsenal’s youngsters given how poorly their more experienced players are performing.
The Gunners have endured a dreadful start to the season having lost six of their open 11 Premier League games.
They go into their match against Burnley this weekend in desperate need of all three points after dropping down to 15th place in the table.
Meanwhile, Arsenal’s talented crop of youngsters have flourished in the Europa League, with 19-year-old Folarin Balogun particularly dazzling with an excellent goalscoring cameo in Thursday’s 4-2 win over Dundalk.
And Smith believes fielding some of Gunners starlets including Balogun, Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock and Emile Smith Rowe could provide the injection of ‘life and motivation’ that Arteta’s squad will need to get past a stubborn Burnley side.
‘We might have reached a point now when Mikel Arteta might be thinking very carefully about his Arsenal starting XI,’ the Arsenal legend told Standard Sport.
‘Too many senior players are letting him down. Too many appear to lack the desire and hunger for what is turning into a long, cold winter.
‘Standing on the sideline at Dundalk [on Thursday], Arteta saw some young players busting a gut to impress, eager to make a mark at senior level.
‘We’re talking about youngsters with lots of potential such as Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock, Folarin Balogun and Emile Smith-Rowe, a player rated very highly by many at the club.
‘Fighting for their lives, the visitors won’t lack for passion and spirit. If Arsenal don’t match that, the situation could get worse. Because of that, maybe it’s time for Arteta to make a statement by picking the kids.
‘It’s not usually the answer, despite what fans claim. But on this occasion, the move might just inject more life and motivation.’