Arsenal continued their fine start to the new Premier League season with victory over Brentford on Sunday afternoon, with the Gunners’ display having been a far cry from their limp showing away against the Bees just over a year ago.
A side looking full of confidence, the table-topping outfit produced a ruthless first-half performance to ease past Thomas Frank’s side, ensuring a sixth victory from their opening seven top-flight games of the season.
While that triumph notably saw summer signing Fabio Vieira fire in a 30-yard stunner for his first goal for the club, the game’s headline moment came in the form of a substitution, with Mikel Arteta handing academy starlet Ethan Nwaneri his senior debut from the bench.
That first team bow for the versatile midfielder notably caught the attention due to the youngster’s age, with the 15-year-old becoming the youngest player ever to feature in the Premier League in the competition’s history.
The 2007-born gem not only served to leave a host of fans and pundits alike feeling rather old, but also laid down a marker of just how highly thought of he is by the north Londoners, with it a testament to his quality that he has already been handed the trust of his manager.
Although it was a mere late cameo, the suggestion is that the England U17 international will go on to assume a more prominent role in the years to come, having been tipped for a “big, big future” by teammate Granit Xhaka.
Also lauded as a “special” talent by the Switzerland international – who has even coached the youngster at youth level as part of his coaching badges – Nwaneri has likely set tongues wagging among the club’s supporters, with the Gunners fanbase no doubt intrigued as to just how high this emerging prospect can go in the years to come.
The club have of course seen the likes of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe emerge from the academy in recent times, albeit with arguably one of the biggest talents to have been produced that of a certain, Jack Wilshere.
Although the hope will be that Nwaneri can avoid the injury woes that plagued the now retired gem’s later career, Wilshere is still a notable example of the type of impact that a young player can make if thrust into the first team.
Also a playmaking midfielder – like his compatriot – the former England international was handed his debut by Arsene Wenger in a league meeting with Blackburn Rovers back in 2008 at the age of just 16, before going on to a permanent fixture under the iconic Frenchman after a brief stint on loan at Bolton Wanderers.
Arguably the 5 foot 8 gem’s most memorable outing in the red jersey came against Barcelona in the Champions League in 2011, as he simply ran the show at the tender age of just 19 against Pep Guardiola’s imperious outfit.
While unable to truly build on that sparkling start to life at senior level – largely due to injury – the midfield magician still produced notable moments of quality in his 198 games for the club in all competitions, including netting a sensational team goal against Norwich City in 2013.
A true natural talent, Wilshere showcased that age truly is just a number if the player is good enough, with Nwaneri potentially able to have a similar impact if his recent outing leads to a more regular role.