Arsenal cruised to a comfortable 3-0 win at the Community Stadium. But something record-breaking happened in the game as Ethan Nwaneri came on as a substitute for Fabio Vieira in stoppage time to make his Arsenal debut.
Nwaneri first joined the Arsenal youth academy in 2016 at the age of nine and has been with the North London club since then. He has taken squad number 83 in his first season as part of the first-team squad.
Ethan Nwaneri, who is only 15 years old, has smashed the record for the youngest player to play in the Premier League with his appearance on Sunday. The record was previously held by Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott.
The Reds’ midfielder, who was only 16 years and 30 days old when he made his Premier League debut against Fulham in 2019, broke the previous record held by another former Arsenal youth academy graduate – Jack Wilshere.
Speaking after the match, Mikel Arteta explained why he introduced the teenager off the bench.
“It was a feeling that I had yesterday, I don’t know why,” Arteta said at full-time.
“The first day I met him I looked him in his eyes and everyone was telling me about him, Per was telling me about him, and because of the injuries we only have 12 or 13 senior players yesterday to put in the squad and we decided to bring him, and that’s it.
“It’s one step, one experience, so enjoy it and congratulations!
“It’s just one step and all the steps in your career are not forward and you have to know that. You can go forward then backward and then forwards. You fall, you go back – that’s, unfortunately, this industry and the football career of any player.”
Going by the explanation Arteta gave, Nwaneri is a huge prospect and one for the future. He still has many more years in him to make an impact at the club.
It is left to be seen if Arteta will field him in the cup competitions later in the campaign, but this is a great start for him.
Arsenal has always been a good club for youngsters to come in and thrive and it is perhaps no surprise that the Gunners have the youngest age average in the Premier League.
Nwaneri is expected to commit to a professional contract once he turns 16 and Arsenal can say they have a proper talent on their hands, provided they can keep him away from poaching rival sides.