MIKEL ARTETA promoted SIX academy prospects to first-team training ahead of Saturday’s lunch-time kick-off against Leicester.
The Gunners have returned to form with six wins in eight games and Arteta is keen to see what his youth players can offer following the impressive performances of youngsters Emil Smith Rowe and Buakyo Saka.
The Spaniard also spoke about the youthful look to his side and how senior players like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are now acting as role models.
Arteta has now taken things a step further by providing some members of the under-23s side with a chance to test themselves against the first team.
Included in the group making the step up is January signing Omar Rekik, who joined from Hertha Berln for £600,000.
The goalkeeper, 19, signed a long-term contract in the summer after impressing at youth level.
Mikel Arteta played him in a few pre-season matches too so he is clearly highly rated by the Spaniard.
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After Alex Runarsson left to join OH Leuven on loan Okonkwo was promoted to third-choice goalkeeper.
And he could get even closer to first-team action if Bernd Leno decides to leave after losing his no 1 spot to Aaron Ramsdale.
Biereth joined The Gunners in the summer after impressing for Fulham under-18s last term, where he scored 21 goals in 21 games.
The striker also produced 13 assists – a record unmatched by any player in Premier League 2.
He described joining Arsenal as a once in a lifetime opportunity and it seems he is beginning to take that after taking part in training with the first team.
The oldest of the bunch at 20, Akinola has already been around for quite a bit with spells at Mansfield, Lincoln City and Huddersfield.
Akinola is a midfielder who is brilliant in tight spaces with the ball at his feet and he can also pick a pass.
With Granit Xhaka out injured and Arsenal progressing to the quarter-final of the Carabao Cup he will hope that impressing in training could lead to first-team appearances.
Upon signing Arsenal described Rekik as a ball playing centre-back so he fits with Arteta’s philosophy of playing out from the back.
Like Akinola, the defender has also had a journeyed career at youth level, featuring for Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven in his native Netherlands as well as Manchester City and Marseille.
Salah-Eddine was named on the bench for Arsenal’s win over Leeds in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.
The central midfielder could offer the Gunners a different dimension with his agility and creativity, which are two of his key attributes according to journalist Chris Wheatley.
That places him in a similar category to Smith Rowe, who is fast becoming one of Arsenal’s most important players.
The Spaniard has enjoyed a rapid rise at Arsenal and is tipped to be the next Hector Bellerin after joining from Barcelona.
That is not his only similarity to the right-back, as Lopez is blessed with lightning pace and the ability to recover quickly.
Arsenal fought off competition from Liverpool to bring him to North London, and Barcelona also offered him a deal in an attempt to persuade him to stay.