Unai Emery is set to continue Arsene Wenger’s habit of using some of Arsenal’s academy prospects in the Carabao Cup when the Gunners take on Brentford on Wednesday.
Emery confirmed he will give some of his most promising youngsters a chance to play as he rests his Premier League regulars, which could mean a first career start for teenage midfielder Emile Smith-Rowe.
“Against Brentford I am going to prepare the best performance for us, but I’ll be giving chances and opportunities to the players who are playing less in the [Premier League],” Emery said. “Also maybe the young players can have opportunities to play in this game if I think it’s the best for us to give them this opportunity of starting in the first XI, but the first thing about the best performance is thinking about winning.”
Wenger traditionally used the League Cup as a chance to blood his youngsters, and outgoing club chief executive Ivan Gazidis said when Emery was hired in May that he expected the new manager to have a similar focus on developing academy talents. Smith-Rowe came on for the last 20 minutes of last Thursday’s Europa League win over FC Vorskla, when fellow 18-year-old Eddie Nketiah was also in the squad.
Nketiah netted twice in a Carabao Cup win over Norwich last season, while Smith-Rowe is seen as the next academy prospect in line for a first-team breakthrough. Both players played prominently during a summer tour to Singapore and could get a chance to shine at the Emirates.
“We were preparing in preseason with the young players and every player to give them a chance to show us their confidence and performance,” Emery said. “Now we are preparing for each match thinking only about our best performance, but we need every player because all the competitions in the season are very long and we need to prepare players and young players also to help us in these moments of the season.”
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