Gedion Zelalem to get early birthday present for Arsenal v Coventry?

Gedion Zelalem

Arsenal youngster Gedion Zelalem turns 17 over the weekend, could he make his first team debut on Friday night?

Arsenal teenager Gedion Zelalem could make history this weekend by becoming Arsenal's youngest ever player to feature in the FA Cup.

The midfielder sensation is on the cusp of the first team, impressing on pre-season and already holding his own in the under-21 ranks.

He has been named on the bench in the Premier League already this season, but unfortunately was injured during Arsenal's brief League Cup run back in the Autumn.

So could he get a chance this Friday evening against League One side Coventry City?

It would be ideal timing for the youngster. Zelalem turns 17 on Sunday, and not only will it be an early birthday present, it will be the final chance for him to say he made his competitive first team debut at 16.

The FA Cup is known for it's romanticism and fairytale stories, yet that will of course be exactly what Arsenal are trying to avoid against a Coventry City side two leagues below them.

Arsenal faced them in the League Cup last season, scoring six, yet there is unlikely to be too much room for complacency.

Don't expect to see wholesale changes, but Arsene Wenger is likely to make adjustments and rotate his side.

We would not foresee Zelalem starting the game, as Wenger will be keen to make amends for Arsenal's early exit last season at the hands of Blackburn Rovers, and make a push to win a trophy which provided the club's last taste of silverware back in 2005.

A place on the bench is very conceivable, and Arsenal could bring the youngster on for his debut should the game be put out of reach by the starting eleven early on.

Wenger made a personal check on the under-21 side against Liverpool on Monday, with Zelalem featuring. It's unlikely the temptation to hand the wonderkid an opportunity has not crossed his mind, and this weekend could be a very memorable one for the Berlin-born midfielder. 

image: © Kieran Clarke

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