Arsenal take on Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon in a crucial Premier League clash at both ends of the table.

Mikel Arteta's side have the chance to go eight points clear of second-placed Manchester City with a win against the Eagles, albeit the Citizens would have a game in hand on their title rivals. However, Arteta looks likely to be without centre-back William Saliba after the 21-year-old picked up a lower back problem during Thursday's Europa League clash against Sporting CP, when he was withdrawn after just 20 minutes of action.

The Gunners were set to assess the talented defender over the weekend to decide if he's available for the match against Palace, football.london understands. But a number of reports from France have since suggested these tests have confirmed that he won't be in today's matchday squad and could even be sidelined for the next few weeks.

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Injury insider, "Leaked Lineups", has since echoed these reports, claiming that the former Marseille loanee will be replaced by youngster Reuell Walters in today's squad. With that in mind, football.london has provided a little background on who Walters is and what his academy background is below.

Who is Walters?

Aged just 18, Walters is a talented defender born in London, England.

He is a versatile player, typically operating as a right-back but more than capable of being utilised in central defence as well considering his impressive physical qualities and intelligent reading of the game that exceeds his age. The talented teenager made the matchday squad for the first-team squad for 2-2 draw against Sporting CP earlier this month, although he was an unused substitute in the end.

Walters has played 19 games for the Under-21 side so far this season, featuring 12 times as a right-back and seven as a centre-half, as per Transfermarkt.

Break from playing football

After starting in Sunday League at Peckham Town, Walters was scouted by Crystal Palace, Chelsea and Arsenal's north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. He eventually chose to sign for Spurs' academy because he and his family believed it was the best thing for his development.

However, after four years with the club, he believed he was losing his way and so he made the tough decision to take some time out from the game.

Walters told Arsenal Media back in 2021: “We did a lot of research and decided that Tottenham would be the best place for my development. I stayed with them for the next four years of my life and they eventually offered me another two-year contract, but this is when I made the biggest decision of my career so far.

"At that time, I was permanently playing with the age group above, but I felt like over the years I’d lost my way with what makes me stand out on a football pitch and I was becoming a player that I didn’t want to be. I wasn’t attacking like I used to, I wasn’t as confident as I used to be, and I wasn’t showing what I thought I was capable of. I felt like being in an academy made me try to play a certain way and I was almost playing within myself.

"In that moment, my dad and I made the decision together that I would take a break from academy football and focus on myself again. That break would last nearly two years and I used almost every moment to challenge and improve myself. It was a really scary and risky decision, but I knew there was more to come from me and that I needed this break.”

Arsenal contract

Walters joined the Gunners after his break from football and he's progressed well ever since. Following spells in both the under-18s and the under-23s last season, he signed his first professional contract with Arsenal in February of this year.

He told the club: "I’m just really grateful for the opportunity I’ve being given.

"I just want to make sure that I start to push on and do what I’ve been doing before, but now to a new level."

His rise to the first-team is great to see. Arsenal fans will be hoping to see him do well if he is involved against the Eagles.


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