Martinez and Huddart set for Anderlecht trip

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Young goalkeepers Emiliano Martinez and Ryan Huddart are expected to travel with the first-team squad for tomorrow’s Champions League game away to Anderlecht.

Martinez is set to make his debut in the competition, and just his third competitive appearance for the senior team, with Wojciech Szczesny suspended and David Ospina injured.

Huddart, who has been the regular goalkeeper for the U18s this season, is set to be on the bench having trained with the squad this morning.

Huddart, who joined Arsenal from Charlton Athletic as a schoolboy, has long been held in high regard by the Arsenal coaching staff, but the decision to include him is still a little surprising given that Deyan Iliev and Josh Vickers are slightly more experienced options.

Huddart, though, has impressed for the U18s and kept a clean sheet for the U21s against Blackburn Rovers last week.

Theo Walcott and Serge Gnabry, who featured against Blackburn, are not yet ready to return to first-team action, but Calum Chambers is back from suspension.

It will be interesting to see whether Arsene Wenger persists with Nacho Monreal at centre-back or instead opts to deploy Chambers at the heart of the defence with Hector Bellerin continuing at right-back. Semi Ajayi trained, but the defender may be left out of the squad as a consequence of Chambers’ return.

Aaron Ramsey also trained although it isn’t currently clear whether he’s available to start.

Arsenal are still without several players because of injury- Mesut Ozil, Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny, Mathieu Debuchy and Yaya Sanogo are all absent, whilst Abou Diaby’s recovery is being managed very carefully.

Loan report- Jebb makes debut; Jenkinson assists; Afobe booked for diving

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Carl Jenkinson delivered another impressive performance for West Ham United, with the right-back setting up a goal as his temporary side beat Burnley 3-1. Jenkinson’s cross picked out Enner Valencia, who headed home the second goal for Sam Allardyce’s side.

Jack Jebb made his senior debut yesterday, with the midfielder replacing Dean Parrett for the final 34 minutes as Stevenage beat Accrington Stanley 2-1. It was Jebb’s first appearance at any level this season.

Ryo started and played 62 minutes as FC Twente drew 1-1 with Ajax.

Benik Afobe came close to scoring, but was ultimately unable to prevent MK Dons from drawing 0-0 with Leyton Orient. Afobe was booked for apparent simulation in the closing stages, but, prior to that, he had seen a powerful effort saved by the opposing goalkeeper.

Wellington played the whole 90 minutes of Almeria’s 2-0 defeat to Villarreal.

Austin Lipman replaced Junior Morais for the last 18 minutes of Boreham Wood’s 3-0 win over Hayes & Yeading.

Jon Toral was an un-used substitute as Brentford drew 0-0 with Wigan Athletic.

Kristoffer Olsson remained on the bench throughout as Midtjylland beat Silkeborg 2-1. The Swedish midfielder has made just one substitute appearance for his loan side so far.

Report- Walcott plays 45 minutes but Crowley the star as Arsenal U21s draw with Blackburn

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Picture by Hai Tuan
Picture by Hai Tuan

The return from injury of Theo Walcott will be widely reported in the national newspapers and on the television stations, but it was the performance of Dan Crowley that will prove to be the most endearing memory from tonight’s U21 stalemate against Blackburn Rovers.

An Arsenal side that started with Walcott, Serge Gnabry and Abou Diaby struggled to break down a resolute visiting outfit, but Steve Gatting’s side improved following the second-half introductions of Alex Iwobi and Gedion Zelalem. Iwobi had a goal disallowed, but it was Crowley, with his mesmerising skill and driving runs, who made the biggest impression.

Walcott completed 45 minutes on his first appearance since January and had something of an impact in the opening stages before becoming less involved as the half wore on. Gnabry, deployed in a central attacking midfield position, stayed on for longer but wasn’t at his sharpest.

Hector Bellerin and Isaac Hayden were absent, with the young defenders set to be in the first-team squad for the game against Hull City tomorrow. Ryan Huddart was given a rare start in goal, with Deyan Iliev rested as he is likely to travel to Anderlecht with the first-team next week. Gatting was forced into a late alteration before kick-off with Semi Ajayi withdrawing, meaning Glen Kamara was deployed at centre-back.

Huddart

Moore-O’Connor-Kamara-Ormonde Ottewill

Diaby-Maitland Niles

Walcott-Gnabry-Crowley

Akpom

subs: Iwobi (for Walcott, 46), Zelalem (for Gnabry, 59), Johnson (for Diaby, 67). Not used: Macey.

Walcott, despite showing some rustiness, demonstrated that his searing pace is still very much intact when he glided past four players in the opening stages. The England international subsequently found Gnabry, but the 19 year old’s shot was blocked.

Gnabry squandered another opportunity when he sent a free-kick over the crossbar. Arsenal were gradually beginning to up the tempo, with Crowley becoming increasingly involved. The midfielder’s cross eventually found its way to Walcott, whose effort was wayward.

Blackburn threatened intermittently, with captain Bradley Bauress shooting over, but most of their good work was done in their defensive third, with Chuba Akpom in particular struggling to get into the game.

Huddart had to be alert to gather a long-range effort, before Arsenal launched a swift counter-attack. Crowley drove forward with ease and slipped the ball through to Akpom, but the striker’s touch was heavy and the chance fizzled out.

Blackburn could have taken the lead before the interval after Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill allowed Blackburn too much space down his flank, but the visitors’ effort didn’t trouble Huddart.

In a pre-planned substitution Alex Iwobi replaced Walcott at the start of the second-half. The winger, who hasn’t been regularly involved at this level this season, was determined to make an impression and he added pace and vibrancy to Arsenal’s attacking movements.

Before he could have too much on an impact, though, Arsenal were reliant on impressive defending from Tafari Moore at the other end, with Huddart also making a good save.

Crowley was attempting to weave his magic and saw a shot deflected for a corner, with Iwobi doing likewise shortly afterwards.

Crowley was nominally stationed on the left flank, but he kept drifting infield to devastating effect. One eye of the needle pass unlocked the Blackburn defence, but Ainsley Maitland-Niles saw his effort repelled.

Arsenal then had the ball in the net after Iwobi’s effort hit the post and then rebounded in, but the goal was disallowed.

Gatting’s side were in the ascendancy now but one moment of recklessness very nearly cost them. Ormonde-Ottewill squandered possession, leaving Maitland-Niles stranded in central-midfield with a Blackburn player racing past him. Maitland-Niles committed a foul to bring down his opponent and was yellow carded, with Blackburn not making the most of the subsequent free-kick.

Chiori Johnson had entered the fray as a replacement for Diaby, with the first-year scholar making his competitive debut at this level. He almost marked it with a goal, but Ormonde-Ottewill’s cross just evaded him.

The final few minutes consisted of Crowley, almost single-handedly at times, attempting to breach the seemingly impenetrable Blackburn defence. He very nearly succeeded in doing so, with his pass finding Iwobi, whose shot was saved.

Crowley then seized the initiative himself, embarking on a dazzling run that left U18s coach Carl Laraman, watching on the sidelines, gobsmacked. The diminutive youngster shot just wide after that mazy dribble and then came even closer to scoring when his free-kick was tipped onto the crossbar by the Blackburn goalkeeper.

It ended 0-0 but Crowley had done his utmost to attempt to gain all three points. It takes something special to render the long-awaited return of Walcott as something of a sub-plot, but, then again, as we all know, Crowley is something special.

Arsenal U18s suffer disappointing defeat to Tottenham

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U18 Premier League- Game 9

After an impressive start to the campaign, things have taken a slight turn for the worse for Arsenal U18s, with Frans de Kat’s team failing to score in their last three games.

The barren run continued today as Arsenal lost 2-0 to Tottenham Hotspur. Tottenham scored in either half, meaning that they prevailed despite the dismissal of Anton Walkes.

Arsenal were without the injured Kaylen Hinds, but de Kat was able to give a debut at this level to Greek left-back Ilias Chatzitheodoridis.

Schoolboy goalkeeper Brad House was also called upon, with Renny Smith and Joshua Da Silva being restored to the starting line-up.

Tottenham merited their victory, with Arsenal left frustrated after taking just two points from their last three games.

Arsenal House: Centeno, Wright, M. Bola, Chatzitheodoridis; Smith, Mourgos; Da Silva, Donovan, Willock; Mavididi. Subs: Tabi (for Willock), Sheaf (for Mourgos). Not used: Parker, Phillips.

Via afc fixture news.

Jebb looks to get his season going at Stevenage

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Jack Jebb hasn’t played a single minute of football so far this season, so it wasn’t very surprising when it was announced today that the midfielder has joined League Two side Stevenage on a one-month loan deal.

Jebb, who is capable of playing excellent passes as well as being a renowned free-kick taker, has found himself in a rather precarious position in the early weeks of the season- he is no longer eligible for the U18 or UEFA Youth League sides, yet, with players such as Gedion Zelalem and Dan Crowley ahead of him, he has struggled to break into the club’s U21 set-up.

The move to Stevenage will hopefully provide him with some experience of first-team football, although the youngster may be frustrated at the fact that he has had to go elsewhere to get playing time. Prior to this season he had made just six appearances for the U21s, despite regularly for the club at U18 level.

Jebb is the latest Arsenal player to make the transition from Arsenal to Stevenage, with Luke Freeman and Anthony Jeffrey having both enhanced their development at Broadhall Way. Another one-time Arsenal scholar, Roarie Deacon, is still on Stevenage’s books.

Meanwhile, Arsenal U21s are preparing to face Blackburn Rovers at Meadow Park tomorrow evening. Arsene Wenger confirmed today that Theo Walcott will play some part in the fixture as he steps up his return from injury, but Serge Gnabry is still a little way off the England winger in the recovery process and may not be involved against Blackburn.

Julio Pleguezuelo is unlikely to have recovered from injury in time to feature. Coach Steve Gatting is likely to field a far stronger side than the one that lost to Newcastle United last time out, with the likes of Isaac Hayden, Semi Ajayi and Chuba Akpom set to return to the fore.

The U18s play Tottenham tomorrow morning, with coach Frans de Kat hoping that Tyrell Robinson and Ben Sheaf will be available again. Ilias Chatzitheodoridis is expected to make his debut at that level.

Walcott return to benefit U21s/ Gnabry could also feature against Blackburn

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Several members of the Arsenal first-team squad have already represented the U21 team so far this season, with Abou Diaby, Francis Coquelin, Joel Campbell and Emiliano Martinez all having played for Steve Gatting’s side in the early weeks of the campaign.

They are likely to be joined in that regard this week by Theo Walcott, who is pencilled in to make his first appearance since January when Blackburn Rovers U21s visit Meadow Park on Friday evening. According to reports, Walcott could play an hour of the fixture, and whilst his inclusion will see one of the youngsters demoted to the bench, it will be a great experience for some of the club’s prospects to play with such a high-profile player.

It’s easy to forget now, but there was a time when Walcott himself relied on Reserve games for match practice early in his Arsenal career before going on to establish himself in the first-team. Arsenal made an excellent start to the current U21 campaign before a depleted side lost to Newcastle United last time out.

If Walcott features against Blackburn despite only returning to full training on Monday, then it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect fellow winger Serge Gnabry to do likewise. Gnabry has also been out of action for a prolonged period, having not featured since the Champions League game away to Bayern Munich in March. Having made a breakthrough into the first-team squad last season, the German will be eager to re-establish himself in Arsene Wenger’s plans.

Friday will be busy for the club’s youngsters, with the U18s also facing Tottenham Hotspur earlier in the day. Striker Kaylen Hinds is doubtful for that fixture because of injury. With so many senior players out injured, meanwhile, manager Arsene Wenger may select some youngsters to train with his first-team squad.

O’Connor turns professional but three others left to wait for confirmation on their futures

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Stefan O’Connor signed his first professional contract last week, with the centre-back being rewarded for an impressive start to the season.

It is quite a turnaround for O’Connor, a player who Arsenal were considering releasing when he was a schoolboy. In the absence of the injured Julio Pleguezuelo, however, he has established himself as a key part of Steve Gatting’s U21 set-up and even trained with the first-team squad earlier this month.

O’Connor’s short-term future is now secure, but the three remaining second-years are yet to be provided with assurances regarding whether they too will be awarded professional contracts.

Even though such a deal is yet to be confirmed, Ainsley Maitland-Niles seems certain to receive one, with the winger having enjoyed a tremendous first season as a scholar. Like O’Connor, Maitland-Niles is now regularly involved in the U21 set-up and has also been utilised in central-midfield in recent weeks.

The futures of Elliot Wright and Renny Smith appear less clear, with both players having yet to make a sustained breakthrough into the U21 set-up. Both have delivered some impressive performances for the U18s, with Wright particularly impressing against West Ham United last weekend, but the pair have several players ahead of them in their respective positions.