Arsenal are in FA Cup third-round action on Saturday evening and, though we may not have the easiest of ties, it could still be a good chance for Mikel Arteta to experiment and give game time to fringe players and Hale End gems.
Emile Smith Rowe’s long-awaited first-team breakthrough was a case of the Gunners realising that a solution to their creativity problems was on their books all along.
But ESR aside, there’s another creative academy prodigy who Arteta could look to give more minutes to, and although he’s a bit younger and more raw, he’s certainly worth a shout against Newcastle, at least off the bench.
Miguel Azeez is very highly rated at Hale End, progressing well through the ranks after joining the Gunners aged five.
The 18-year-old is a dynamic midfielder equally skilled as an anchorman as he is playing at No. 10, and is also viewed as a natural leader and captain material.
Azeez was playing for Arsenal’s Under-18s when he was 15 and didn’t look out of his depth in the slightest – by the time he was 17, he was captaining the team.
Currently playing for the Under-23s, he has been in and around the first team, taking part in training sessions and being handed his debut in December’s Europa League win over Dundalk.
Some fans compared his style of play to Andres Iniesta and Andrea Pirlo (football.london), and later in the month, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang singled Azeez out for praise.
“One player who I think looks really good is Miguel Azeez,” Aubameyang wrote in the Manchester City pre-match programme (via Metro).
“Miguel is going to be a great player in the future. He’s really calm and mature so I’m sure he’s got what you need to be a success and have a big career.”