Gedion Zelalem set to become first Arsenal player born during Wenger's tenure to feature for Gunners

Zelalem will make history if he features against Coventry tonight. Photo: PA

Gedion Zelalem is expected to become the first Arsenal player born during Wenger's era as manager to feature in a competitive fixture under the Frenchman tonight.

Wenger and Co. welcome Coventry to the Emirates for an FA Cup tie, where central midfielder Zelalem could make his senior debut.

It will be the perfect birthday present for the Ethiopian-born German youth international, who turns 17 on Sunday.

He was born five days before Arsene Wenger's side came away from Everton with three points during the 1996/97 Premier League campaign.

Dennis Bergkamp and Ian Wright were on target for the Gunners on that occasion, and there's no doubt Zalalem has enough potential to one day carve out legendary status with the Emirates faithful.

A ball playing central midfielder, he has been compared to former Arsenal favourite Cesc Fabregas in style.

Zalalem was offered a chance to impress Wenger in pre-season when Arsenal met Nagoya Grampus, and he grasped the opportunity fully by teeing up Theo Walcott for a goal.

After the game, Wenger said: "He's a young player who develops well,"

"Pre-season helps us to give a chance to these players, to get them to realise what it demands to be at the top level. He is improving very quickly and he had another appearance, that's good for his development."

Jack Wilshere was also full of praise following the same fixture:

"He sees passes that not a lot of players can. You think: 'what's he doing?' and suddenly someone is in. He's only 16 and he's an exciting player.

"It won't be long before he's ready. He's so comfortable on the ball. Even in training he's a nightmare to play against. He keeps the ball away from you and shields it. He's not very big but he's strong.

"He drifts in and out of players. He's quite a strong lad and technically he's right up there. He can use his left and right and sees so many passes. He's a good one for the future."

It remains to be seen whether Zalalem starts for the Gunners this evening or enjoys a second-half cameo instead.

The fact he is 16 years-old and anywhere near Arsenal's first team suggests we'll be hearing a lot more about the youngster in years to come.

Gedion Zelalem vs Nagoya Grampus