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5 Hale End starlets you need to keep an eye on

By Allan Riley

The general consensus is that Arsenal have a good youth production system. This can be proved by the current crop of Hale End graduates such as Bukayo Saka, Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock. What about the current generation of Arsenal academy players, however?

Miguel Azeez

Azeez is an English-born, 18-year-old midfielder who is also eligible for Nigeria and Spain. He has been previously compared to Patrick Vieira. Why is this?

Well, like the former Arsenal captain, he’s determined to do his bit for the team. Azeez strongly enters his tackles, always wants to regain possession and has a good engine on him. On top of this, Azeez has impeccable technical ability. He has a stunning passing range and is confident with the ball at his feet. This allows him to dictate play and set the tempo from deep.

Nikolaj Moller

Moller is a new addition to the Arsenal academy, joining Hale End on deadline day. Since his arrival at the club, the Swede has been a revelation, with 4 goal contributions in 5 games for the under-23 side.

Moller is a behemoth of a player and a good target-man. Despite his frame, however, Moller is a very mobile player. He likes to get involved and is excellent at building up play as a result. However, this can be detrimental at times, as Moller often neglects finding space in order to help his teammates. If he does learn to be a bit more selfish, however, Arsenal could have a plan B type of striker they haven’t had since Olivier Giroud.

Matt Smith

Currently on loan at League One side Swindon, Smith has already got a taste of first-team football, being named on the bench for the FA Cup Final. Contrary to popular belief, the 20-year-old is a creative midfielder, not a centre-back.

Smith is that deep-lying playmaker Arsenal sorely lack and has been excelling on loan. As of November 22nd, he was leading his loan side for tackles, interceptions, chances created, big chances created, and goals.

He may be a cult hero on Arsenal Football Twitter, but Smith is a genuine talent who could also be a star in the making.

Catalin Cirjan

An Arsenal fan for most of his life, one thing particularly stands out for Cirjan. The Romanian has just turned 18 and is playing for the reserve side, following one season with Arsenal’s under-18s.

Cirjan seems to have brilliant chemistry with Moller, and is another attack-minded midfielder. Like Smith, Cirjan is a deep-lying playmaker who loves to carry the ball up the pitch, but can also play as a number 10. He’s great technically, is energetic and has an eye for an excellent pass or a long-range shot, similar to Tomas Rosicky.

Ben Cottrell

Cottrell is a full-back turned central midfielder. His composure and eye for a pass, as well as his maturity, has impressed Mikel Arteta, with the 19-year-old training with the first team multiple times and even travelling with the first team to face Molde in the Europa League.

He first caught the attention of Arsenal fans after replacing Kieran Tierney at left-wing-back after an hour in a pre-season friendly with MK Dons. While he isn’t the tallest, Cottrell has adapted from the under-18s to the under-23s by becoming a more physical player, tough tackling, who very rarely gives the ball away.

Cottrell can play as either a number 8 or number 10. He likes to get forward and score goals, but can also provide a link to the forwards. While his best position in the middle, he can also play on the flanks and is capable of delivering decent passes and crosses into the box.

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