Scott Parker has praised Arsenal youngsters Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe ahead of today’s London derby between the Gunners and Fulham.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference via The Daily Mail, the ex-Tottenham and Chelsea midfielder believes that the two Hale End academy graduates make Arsenal a better team as they offer Mikel Arteta’a side that little bit of something the north London side had been missing this season.
Saka and Smith Rowe were instrumental in Arsenal’s massive 4-0 win over Slavia Prague on Thursday night, with the duo playing a role in three of the goals on the evening as the Gunners progressed to the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League, and for Parker, the pair have proven they deserve to be starting with their performances and individual qualities.
Parker said when asked about the importance of youth in the Premier League: “The players you’ve suggested at Arsenal, Saka and Smith Rowe, are players with huge quality, they have huge potential. The reason they are playing in that team is because they offer something and they make Arsenal better and that’s the same with us.”
TBR View: Arteta’s faith in youth is winning plaudits from rival managers
It’s no secret that young players have been key to Arsenal’s high points this season, with Saka and Smith Rowe starting and starring for the Gunners in their 3-1 win over Chelsea on Boxing Day as well as other key games, such as the aforementioned result over Slavia, and this faith in youth is winning Arteta some much needed praise.
As a recent study from the CIES Football Observatory shows, Arsenal have one of the youngest squads in the Premier League, with 11.3% of all minutes this season being played by players under the age of 21, and given how important the likes of Saka and Smith Rowe have been to the Gunners, it would be no surprise to see that number increase come the end of the season.