As Arsenal's senior side continue to make progress under head coach Unai Emery, putting together an impressive 18-game unbeaten run, the next generation of talent at Emirates Stadium is beginning to turn heads.
Freddie Ljungberg's Under-23s and Ken Gillard's Under-18s continue to develop, with Academy chief Per Mertesacker impressed by the level of talent currently on show at Hale End.
Goal continues to track the progress of Arsenal's emerging stars of the future. With the likes of Emile Smith Rowe and Eddie Nketiah both considered first-team prospects, and Reiss Nelson making a name for himself on loan at Hoffenheim, who will be the next starlet to be blooded by Emery?
Bukayo Saka - Arsenal Under-23s
Bukayo Saka is the latest prodigious youngster to come off Arsenal's talent conveyor belt, with the teenage having stepped off the bench to make his senior debut against Vorskla in the Europa League.
The 17-year-old has turned in consistent performances for the U23s this season and won a penalty in the recent Checkatrade Trophy match against Forest Green Rovers after beating more than four defenders with a skilful run.
Joe Willock, who scored twice in that game, told Arsenal Player that Saka "is one of the most talented players we have in the team" before describing him as "fast" and "if you play to his strengths he's unstoppable at times," - high praise for a winger who has contributed to 11 goals for the youth teams this season, which works out as a goal every 79.5 minutes.
Born and raised in London, Saka is of Nigerian descent and has represented England at youth level where he currently plays for the Under-19s. He recently scored just three minutes into his debut in a 4-0 win over Moldova, finishing Stephen Walker’s through ball to score the third goal for England.
A direct, tricky left winger who is one of the youngest players in the U23 set-up, Saka remains highly regarded by his coaches at Hale End and there is a growing belief that he could be close to making more first-team appearances if his performances continue on the same level for the youth teams.
“Bukayo is a great talent and played very, very well today,” Ljungberg told Arsenal Player after the 4-0 win over Liverpool in September.
“We’ve given him 15 minutes here and 20 minutes there to help him get used to the tempo, the speed and strength of opponents, and he’s taken it in his stride. He’s just going to get better and better, keep his head down and keep on working.”
Saka scored against Chelsea in the recent 5-4 thriller in Premier League 2 and has been one of Arsenal's best performers at youth level alongside Xavier Amaechi, Tyreece John-Jules and Smith Rowe.
He's still a raw talent but will benefit from playing at left-back in his long-term development, a position that the Gunners will look to strengthen in over the coming seasons.
Other academy talking points
- Bayli Spencer-Adams scored twice as Arsenal U18s beat Fulham in the Premier League Cup.
- Ben Cottrell - who turned 17 last month - has impressed for the Under-18s this season on the flanks and provided an assist against Fulham last weekend. He's reportedly attracting interest from Borussia Dortmund and Marseille.
- Joe Willock scored a brace as Arsenal U21s beat Forest Green Rovers 3-1 and progressed to the knockout stages of the Checkatrade Trophy.
- Eddie Nketiah scored twice as Arsenal U23s were beaten 5-4 by Chelsea at Boreham Wood's Meadow Park.
Premier League 2 results
Arsenal 4-5 Chelsea
Arsenal 0-0 Everton
Leicester 1-2 Arsenal
Blackburn 0-0 Arsenal
U18 Premier League results
Arsenal 4-0 Fulham
Swansea 1-3 Arsenal
Arsenal 4-2 Reading
Arsenal 2-1 West Ham