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Why did Arsenal give Nwaneri record-breaking debut? Arteta explains 'gut feeling'

15:50 BST 18/09/2022
Ethan Nwaneri Arsenal 2022.
Mikel Arteta says a ‘gut feeling’ was behind his decision to make Ethan Nwaneri the Premier League’s youngest ever player.
  • Nwaneri, 15, entered in second half
  • Broke Harvey Elliott's Premier League record
  • Arteta listened to academy staff

WHAT HAPPENED? Arteta brought Nwaneri on for the final few minutes of Arsenal's 3-0 win at Brentford on Sunday, with the midfielder aged just 15 years and 181 days.

That sees the attacking midfielder become Arsenal's youngest ever player, beating Cesc Fabregas' record (16 years 5 months 24 days), and also the youngest player to ever play in the Premier League - seeing him surpass Liverpool's Harvey Elliott (16 years, 30 days).

WHAT THEY SAID: Speaking to reporters after the game, Arteta was asked why he decided to involve Nwaneri, who only made his Under-18s debut in May. He said: "It was a pure gut feeling. I met the boy (and) really liked what I saw.

"Per Mertesacker and the academy staff are giving me really good information, Edu as well. I met him, he’s trained a couple of times with us. He had to come because we have injuries, especially the injury of Martin (Odegaard), and then I had that feeling that if the opportunity could come that I was going to do it."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Asked what his gut feeling was over Nwaneri, Arteta added: "I don’t know what it is. When I met him, when I look at him, I had that feeling." The Gunners have a long history of standout youngsters - so they'll be confident Arteta's gut feeling translates to a successful career.


DID YOU KNOW? Nwaneri goes to school at St. John's Prep and Senior School in Enfield. He wasn't even born when Emirates Stadium opened in 2006.

WHAT NEXT FOR NWANERI? Mikel Arteta has suggested that the midfielder will now probably drop back down into the youth ranks following the international break. He will also go back to school on Tuesday.