Unai Emery has used the Europa League as an opportunity to grant Arsenal’s youngsters some valuable game time this season and Thursday’s meeting at home to Qarabag was no different.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah all started the game at the Emirates Stadium, which ended 1-0 to the Gunners.
There was also a start for 17-year-old academy graduate Bukayo Saka.
Saka made his debut for the club against Vorskla Poltava last month but this was the first time he has been included in the starting line-up.
In getting that honour, he became the first player born in the year 2001 to start for the Gunners.
According to football.london, there is a belief at Arsenal that they have a future star in Saka, who joined the club at the age of eight.
And after playing the entire match against Qarabag, Arsenal supporters are beginning to realise why the club feel this way.
Arsenal fans rave about Saka
Saka was very impressive, constantly running at defenders and posing a threat.
Those stats, provided by Squawka, are some great numbers for a player who only made his debut for Arsenal’s Under-23s in August.
His display has left the club’s fans certain that Saka will have a bright future in the first team.
BT Sport show Saka's highlights
Arsenal boss Unai Emery reacted to Saka’s display at his post-match press conference.
“Saka played with a good performance with big personality,” the Spaniard said, per football.london.
“His personality is very important to try and do one to ones in the second half and trying to break lines.”
Charles Watts, Arsenal correspondent for football.london, rated Saka’s efforts as eight out of 10.
“Showed glimpses of why he is so highly rated,” Watts wrote. “Always looked to take his man on and get into dangerous areas.
“Tested the keeper twice with shots from distance and had another deflected just wide before having a point blank range effort saved right at the death.
It’s far too early to expect to see Saka in the first team on a regular basis but his emergence is another positive for the club.
Through to the next round of the Europa League, on a 22-match unbeaten run and with some promising youngsters coming through, Emery is doing everything right at the moment.