Arsenal stars Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe have both been nominated to win the PFA Young Player Of The Year award, but fellow youngster Gabriel Martinelli misses out.
The Gunners boasted the youngest squad in the entire Premier League last season with an average age of 25.2, a whole year younger than the next youngest side, Brentford. (The Athletic)
That may well have been the reason why we slipped up in the end, but what our players managed to do for most parts of the campaign deserves immense credit – Saka, Smith Rowe and Martinelli in particular.
Saka and Smith Rowe nominated for the PFA Young POTY award
Since they came into the side, Saka and Smith Rowe have been absolutely incredible for us. They’ve carried Arsenal at times, and without them, we’d be nowhere near the fifth spot.
Saka played 43 times for the Gunners in all competitions last season, scored 12 goals and provided seven assists. He ended the campaign as our top scorer and arguably, our best attacker.
Smith Rowe, like his young pal, had a fine campaign as well.
The 21-year-old ended the campaign with 11 goals in all competitions, 10 of which came in the Premier League, where he averaged a goal every 192 minutes – just a shade higher than Harry Kane’s average of a goal every 190 minutes.
Now, one of them could win the PFA Young Player Of The Year award.
Ex-Arsenal stars who’ve won the YPOTY award
Arsenal have a fantastic history of developing young players, but surprisingly, only five ex-Gunners have won that award since its inception in 1974.
Tony Adams was the first one to win it at the end of the 1986/87 campaign when he was just 20 years old. He played 43 times for us that season, scored six goals and helped us win the League Cup.
Paul Merson was the next Arsenal player to win the award at the end of the 1988/89 season at the age of 21. He scored 10 goals that term and helped us win the First Division.
Nicolas Anelka won the award exactly 10 years later after an incredible 19-goal campaign. He was just 20 at the time.
Arsenal then had to wait nine more years for their next winner – Cesc Fabregas. The then 21-year-old was named the Young Player Of The Year after a truly sensational campaign that saw him score 12 goals and provide 22 assists in all competitions.
Jack Wilshere was the last Arsenal player to win this award. He got his hands on it as a 19-year-old in 2011 – the same season he ran rings around Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in the Champions League at the Emirates.
Saka or Smith Rowe could become the sixth-ever Arsenal player to win PFA Young Player Of The Year award this month, but it will not be easy considering that the likes of Phil Foden and Conor Gallagher are also in the race.
The winner will be announced on the 9th of June.