Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has told Arsenal’s young talent to remain patient and warned them of the pressure on their shoulders if they are thrust into the first-team spotlight.
There has been a recent clamour for Mikel Arteta to back his precocious youngsters given a dire run of form of late.
The Gunners have not won a domestic match since November 1 and sit 15th in the Premier League table – just four points clear of the relegation zone – ahead of a London derby against Chelsea on Boxing Day.
Most of Arteta’s experienced players have experienced a dip in form at the same time, with the likes of Willian, Granit Xhaka and Alexandre Lacazette struggling.
Aubameyang, too, has not been his usual self and has scored just one goal from open play in the Premier League since the opening-day win at Fulham.
Such is the collective form of the squad, fans have been calling for the inclusion of young players such as Folarin Balogun, Emile Smith Rowe and William Saliba.
Aubameyang has missed the last two games with a minor calf injury and it remains to be seen if he will be fit to line up against Chelsea.
If he misses out and a player such as Balogun or Eddie Nketiah replaces him, the captain has told them it will be up to them to show they belong in the first team moving forward.
“When you are a young player trying to come through at a club like Arsenal then for sure there’s a lot of pressure,” he told the matchday programme before the loss to Manchester City on Tuesday.
“You have to be patient too because we have great players who are playing in the first team so it’s always hard to find your way through.
“I remember when I was playing at AC Milan it was always really, really difficult to get into the first team, so I know that type of feeling.
“With the Europa League this season, there have been maybe more opportunities for the young guys to get minutes. We saw a few young players in our last European game and we also have them joining in with training quite a lot lately.
“For them it is not easy, but when you get the chance you have to take it and I think they are doing well when they have had the chance so far.
“You can see that the young lads always perform when they come in because the coaches are doing great work with them to get them ready for the games. The rest is down to them.”