Arsenal’s 3-1 victory over Liverpool last weekend has reinvigorated their Premier League title challenge and if they can replicate this kind of display on a regular basis between now and the end of the season, they may end up lifting the trophy.
Mikel Arteta has built a team which is filled with extraordinary talent and during the win over the Anfield side, Arsenal’s starting XI average age of was just 25.7 years, indicating that the Spaniard is not just looking to build a title winning team for the present, but also for the future.
Hale End talent Bukayo Saka was arguably one of the stars of the show, getting on the scoresheet at the Emirates, but Arteta also had the likes of Reiss Nelson, Emile Smith Rowe, and Eddie Nketiah on the bench to call upon.
This current crop of academy graduates have established themselves in the first-team squad over the previous few years and Arteta’s task now is to develop the next crop of youngsters.
There are a few sparkling gems who are beginning to catch the eye who might be future superstars, and Myles Lewis-Skelly is one of the most exciting.
Could he emerge as one of the club’s next big midfield talents in the coming years? The suggestion is that he has the potential to be the next Jack Wilshere for the Gunners.
Jack Wilshere’s Arsenal statistics
Before the likes of Saka and Nketiah arrived on the scene, it was Wilshere who was heralded as the next massive talent to come out of the Hale End academy.
The midfielder became the youngest ever player to represent Arsenal in the Premier League back in 2008, making his debut against Blackburn Rovers aged 16 years and 256 days, and while this record has now gone to Ethan Nwaneri, Wilshere held it for years.
The Englishman made 197 appearances for the Gunners, yet it should have been so much more, as injuries curtailed his career at the highest level and there is certainly an argument that he didn’t live up to his prodigious talents.
There were some high points, winning the FA Cup twice during his spell at the club, while his performance against Barcelona aged just 19, in the Champions League, still gets talked about to this day among the supporters.
He bossed a midfield trio containing Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, and Sergio Busquets as he began to emerge as the most talented English player of his generation.
Wilshere was able to operate either as an attacking or defensive midfielder during his career, with his qualities enabling him to shine no matter where he was deployed.
Arsenal’s five youngest debutants
Age at debut
15 years, five months and 28 days
16 years, five months and 24 days
16 years, eight months and 12 days
16 years, ten months and 15 days
16 years, 11 months and 11 days
It has been a while since the club produced a genuinely world-class talent that could slot into the heart of the midfield, but in Lewis-Skelly, they could have their next Wilshere.
Myles Lewis-Skelly’s youth statistics
The 17-year-old has worked his way through the academy age groups over the last couple of years and is now playing on a regular basis for the U21 side, despite his tender years.
Last February, David Ornstein announced that the teenager had signed a scholar contract and this meant he could sign a professional deal in September 2023.
This is exactly what he did, penning a deal when he turned 17, and he was delighted at committing his future to the north London club.
“It means the world to me, my boyhood club ever since I can remember. To play for Arsenal, I’m truly speechless,” beamed Lewis-Skelly after signing his new contract.
“It feels amazing. I’m so delighted because, since I was a boy, I’ve been dreaming of this moment. To say that I’m a professional football player now is a dream come true for me and I just want to thank all the staff and all my family that came to support me. For the support around me, I couldn’t be any more grateful.”
The youngster has made six appearances for the U21 side this term, scoring once and registering two assists, showcasing his attacking abilities during his performances on the field.
Like Wilshere, Lewis-Skelly can operate either as a central or defensive midfielder and his flexibility could be a boost to Arteta when he begins to make his way into the senior side.
He was hailed as a “fitting hero” by journalist Charles Watts following his performance against Manchester City in the FA Youth Cup semi-final as Arsenal made their way to the showpiece.
This was not his first wonderful performance in the competition that season, as the Gunners recovered from a two-goal deficit in order to secure a 4-2 win over Watford in the fifth round of the competition and he was hailed by journalist Daniel Cutts, who said:
“Just seen the highlights of the Arsenal youth cup win last night. My word, what a player Myles Lewis-Skelly looks. He could be absolutely anything in the future.”
Myles Lewis-Skelly’s style of play
The teenage sensation tends to operate as a roaming playmaker who can contribute in an attacking sense, while he has also displayed various defensive qualities which would allow him to sit slightly deeper and allow others to push forward.
This adaptability proves how highly regarded he is, and he can switch things up depending on the match and the occasion.
This could stand him in good stead when he finally makes his senior bow, and it may occur sooner rather than later.
This season, the 17-year-old made the substitutes bench for a Champions League clash against Lens and while he didn’t feature, it shows that Arteta has big plans for the midfielder in the future.
There is a plethora of future talents emerging through the Hale End academy and Arteta could have plenty of important decisions to make over the next few years.
If Arsenal don’t manage to win the Premier League title this season, there is no doubt they have a side which could contend for the next 5–10 years and with talents such as Lewis-Skelly looking every inch the future first-team regular, they could well start their own dynasty.