Four under-23 stars have been training with Arsenal ahead of tonight’s Europa League second leg contest with Olympiacos. The Gunners will defend a 1-0 lead at the Emirates Stadium this evening in search of a last 16 berth.
Some changes might be on the cards for Mikel Arteta tonight as he looks to keep his squad fresh ahead of a taxing run of fixtures.
Folarin Balogun, Tolaji Bola, Zach Medley and Matt Smith were all called up to take part in training yesterday.
The young quadruple have been shining for Steve Bould’s under-23 ranks and it remains to be seen whether any of them will make Arteta’s squad for this evening’s game.
Arsenal do have a proud history of allowing youngsters to play in the first-team, stretching back to the days when Arsene Wenger was reigning supreme in English football.
The big one for supporters will probably be Balogun, who has been in great form for the development squad this season.
An 18-year-old centre forward, the New York-born player has scored eight goals for the under-23s this season.
Supporters have been raving about his performance for a while and if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette earn a rest, the teenager could step up.
Smith is a central midfielder, Medley a central defender and Bola is a left-back. All four would love to get an opportunity to impress and it remains to be seen what plans Arteta has for them.
The Spaniard probably won’t be making wholesale changes. The winners of the Europa League earn a place in next season’s Champions League and that is a big incentive for Arsenal.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see one or two of them on the bench, however.