Arsenal will be looking to extend their winning run to five matches and end what has been a disappointing Premier League campaign on a high when they welcome Brighton & Hove Albion to the Emirates Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
The Gunners, who beat the Seagulls 1-0 in the reverse fixture at the AMEX Stadium back in December, still have an outside chance of bagging a spot in the final round of qualifiers for the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League next season.
A win for Arsenal, combined with Everton and Tottenham Hotspur failing to beat Manchester City and Leicester City, would see them climb to seventh and secure a spot in Europe, albeit not in the competition that they would have wanted to be in.
However, whilst the Gunners have the chance to compete in Europe next season it is one they most certainly need to make the most of.
Fortunately for manager Mikel Arteta he has very few injury concerns to worry about, meaning he has no shortage of options available to him to name his starting line-up, as he looks to guide his side to a final day victory. Goalkeeper Mat Ryan, who is ineligible to face his parent club, and Hector Bellerin are the only two confirmed absentees, whilst David Luiz is the only other doubt.
But whilst the Spaniard does have the chance to call upon his most senior stars to try and put Brighton to the sword, the Gunners chief is still keen to hand out opportunities to the club’s younger players and get a close look at them in training.
That was most certainly the case during the Gunners’ training session at London Colney, with eight youngsters, all of whom are 21-years-old or younger, getting a chance to impress.
Here, football.london has taken a close look at the eight involved and a little bit of detail on them.
A regular fixture in first-team training in recent weeks, 19-year-old goalkeeper Okonkwo was involved in training alongside the likes of Bernd Leno and Ryan on Friday, as he continues to learn from experienced international shot-stoppers.
The youngster is predicted to have a big future in north London and will almost be certainly be hoping to get a real chance to impress in pre-season ahead of the start of next term.
With a signing a new goalkeeper poised to be high up on Arteta’s to-do list, Okonkwo will be hoping to throw his name into the hat to try and challenge Leno next term.
Snapped up on a free transfer last summer following his exit from north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, centre-back Dinzeyi has been a regular in the Premier League 2 this season, racking up 17 appearances for the under-23s.
However, with Arsenal’s centre-back options poised to decrease this summer, with David Luiz set to leave the club upon the expiry of his contract, Arteta will be a man light when it comes to his central defensive options.
With that in mind, Dinzeyi, who trained with the group on Friday, will be looking to step up into senior football in the near future and give Arteta food for thought.
Another centre-back who will be hoping to impress Arteta this summer in the hope of breaking into the first-team squad next season will be Tunisian centre-back Rekik.
The defender joined Arsenal in the January transfer window from German outfit Hertha Berlin and was expected to become an instant hit for the Under-23s. However, a shoulder injury put pay to those hopes, meaning he has made just one appearance since arriving in north London.
But now he is back fit and aiming to impress, he will be targeting some opportunities in the first-team next season, as he looks to continue to climb his career ladder.
Eighteen-year-old centre-back Kirk is another central-defender that will be aiming to creep into Arteta’s thoughts before too long, once again highlighting just how much depth the Gunners have along the production line.
The youngster signed his first professional contract at the Emirates Stadium back in January and has been a regular at youth-level this season, racking up a total of 24 appearances in all competitions, ten of which have come for the Under-23s.
Known for his composure when in possession, Kirk has been allowed to train with the first-team on several occasions, meaning he has already had no shortage of opportunities to show the first-team coaching staff what he is capable of.
With signing a left-back set to be a priority for Arsenal this summer, 18-year-old Ogungbo will be hoping to make a name for himself and show Arteta what he is capable of during pre-season ahead of the start of next season.
The youngster, who is highly thought of by those inside the Gunners academy, has been showing plenty of promise for the Under-18s this term, scoring two goals and claiming one assist in 18 appearances.
As well as being a regular for the Under-18s, who he has captained on occasions this term, both in the Under-18s Premier League and FA Youth Cup, he has also played twice for the Under-23s.
A more familiar face to the first-team fold, attacking-midfielder Azeez was once again involved in first-team training on Friday as he looks to step up his chances of creeping into Arteta’s plans.
The England Under-19 international, who is considered as one of the most exciting prospects emerging from the club’s academy system, has trained with the first-team squad on numerous occasions this term, but he has only earned one first-team appearance, that coming as a late substitute in the Europa League against Dundalk back in December.
But considering that he has impressed at youth-level this term, it is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility that he could see more first-team action next season.
A regular for the Under-18s in the Under-18s Premier League this season, winger Butler-Oyedji was allowed to train with some of Arsenal’s biggest names on Friday ahead of the tussle with Brighton.
The youngster, who has also had one appearance for the Under-23s this season, despite his tender age, is showing plenty of promise in the club’s academy system.
Butler-Oyedji, who is considered as a goal-scoring wide player, is poised to sign a first professional contract at the Emirates Stadium this summer, according to a report that was published back in January.
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Fresh from signing a long-term contract at the Emirates Stadium last month, striker Balogun has been training with the first-team squad ever since he put pen to paper on his new deal.
He will have benefitted massively from training alongside the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang day in, day out, as he looks to earn his first senior start for the club.
But whilst he has been present in first-team training, he is yet to play a single minute since committing his future to the club. He will be hoping that changes in the not too distant future.