Aside from the FA Cup and Community Shield victories since taking over as Arsenal manager, one of the main hallmarks of Mikel Arteta’s almost one-year in charge has been his willingness to play the youngsters.
The likes of Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah have been given a lot of game-time under his stewardship, with the former even being named as part of the 20-man shortlist for the Golden Boy award following his performances for the club.
Naturally, attentions will turn towards who could be the next break-out star to come out from the Hale End academy, and there is one midfield starlet who is already making waves: Ben Cottrell.
The 18-year-old featured in the Gunners first-team’s pre-season clash against MK Dons earlier in the summer, and has started the new campaign like a house on fire for the U23s side.
Capable of playing in holding midfield and slightly further forward, Cottrell’s technical skills and ability to drive forward is very reminiscent of former Arsenal prospect Jack Wilshere.
In the five games that he has played this season for the U23s, he has also shown a real knack of getting into the box and picking out the right pass too, scoring twice and providing one assist too.
Speaking back in the summer of 2018, Cottrell himself outlined his own playing style, saying: “I enjoy making and scoring goals but midfielders need to make a contribution defending and that comes naturally to me because of my time as a defender. But it’s an area I want to develop further. I like to learn from players like Steven Gerrard who could make and score goals but was phenomenal defensively too.”
Even with Thomas Partey’s deadline day arrival from Atletico Madrid, there isn’t too much competition for places in the Arsenal midfield, with Arteta only having the likes of Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny, Dani Ceballos and Joe Willock at his disposal.
There is a real chance for Cottrell to kick on this season and become the next jewel in Arteta’s crown.
And in other news, this Arsenal ace’s exit was a fantastic Unai Emery decision.