Summary: Dennis Bergkamp has described the next year as vital to the development of Arsenal's young players and believes it will determine in some cases whether they fulfil their potential or struggle at the top level in the Premiership.
The Dutchman has no doubt the raw talent is there and is encouraged by the youngsters' progress but feels they need to maintain their steep learning curve. He wants them to prove they are over the loss of experienced players such as Patrick Vieira and help drive the team to the top-four finish he expects.
"Over half a season you really get to notice the difference when you don't have those [experienced] players in certain games and at certain parts of the season but it's very important for them to understand what it's all about," said Bergkamp. "Hopefully they will pick that up and learn from that. If they do, they can be fantastic players. If they don't, they will struggle for the rest of their careers."
The inexperience of Arsenal's starting teams can be exaggerated - on Tuesday they began with two players aged 22 or under, one fewer than Manchester United - but Arsène Wenger's squad does have a youthful streak. José Antonio Reyes, Robin van Persie, Cesc Fábregas, Mathieu Flamini, Philippe Senderos, Emmanuel Eboué, Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, Ga?l Clichy and Alex Song are not 23 and have played in the Premiership this season.
Bergkamp hopes they maximise their gifts. "They've got the talent, they need the power and to get used to the English game," the striker said. "They need experience but, when the talent is there, that's the main thing. And the talent is definitely there, it's a matter of development and they have to be with the right people around them."