Ambitious midfielder Kristoffer Olsson provided another reminder of his undoubted quality yesterday as he scored a hat-trick to help Sweden U21s secure a play-off place.
Olsson’s three goals, added to by a stoppage time strike from Oscar Hiljemark, ensured Sweden beat Turkey 4-3 in a dramatic final qualification fixture.
Olsson’s first goal was a finish from close range, with the 19 year old then doubling his tally by chipping the ball over the Turkish goalkeeper. Olsson completed his hat-trick with a well-struck effort from just outside the area. Turkey staged a commendable fightback, but Hiljemark’s goal in the second minute of stoppage time gave Sweden victory.
Whether Olsson will still be an Arsenal player when the U21 European Championship Finals take place next year is a matter of some debate. Having expressed his frustration at his lack of first-team football in North London, he has relocated to Denmark, joining FC Midtjylland on loan, initially until January.
Olsson may be afforded some time off after his international commitments, meaning that Friday’s game against OB may come too soon for him to make his debut, but he should feature away to Norsjaellland the following week.
The first-team’s qualification for the Champions League means that Arsenal’s youngsters will once again compete in European competition this season. They have previously enjoyed lengthy runs in both the UEFA Youth League and that tournament’s predecessor the NextGen Series, but this year they will be hoping to go even further.
As with the senior side, the U19s will take on Borussia Dortmund, Anderlecht and Galatasaray both home and away in the group stages, which should present them with a variety of challenges. Dortmund are familiar opponents, with the two sides having faced eachother last season. Both matches ended in draws, with Chuba Akpom being sent-off in the home fixture.
Anderlecht’s academy is renowned, with the Belgian club having helped to produce talents such as Romelu Lukaku and Adnan Januzaj, whilst the trip to Galatasaray will provide Arsenal’s youngsters with what is sure to be a memorable experience.
One considerable problem facing Arsenal with regards to this competition, however, is that fact that, this year, the tournament is only open to players born in 1996 or later, which rules out the likes of Chuba Akpom, Hector Bellerin, Isaac Hayden, Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, Jack Jebb, Glen Kamara, Josh Vickers and Deyan Iliev.
Indeed, Alex Iwobi is the only third year who is eligible for this competition, with the rest of the squad set to be made up of first and second-year scholars. There is still some relative experience amongst the players who can be called upon, though, with Gedion Zelalem, Julio Pleguezuelo, Chris Willock and Iwobi having all been involved in the first-team squad in some capacity.
The tournament should also provide some much-needed playing time for the likes of Elliot Wright and Renny Smith, who are on the fringes of the U21 squad, whilst Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Dan Crowley will be seeking to continue the impressive form they have shown at that level.
The UEFA Youth League will also be an intriguing experience for the new first-years, with players such as Stephy Mavididi, Tyrell Robinson, George Dobson and Kaylen Hinds looking to continue to develop having already represented the U18s on numerous occasions.
The dates for the group stage fixtures should be finalised early next week, with Arsenal’s first assignment a trip to Dortmund.
Possible Arsenal team for UEFA Youth League
subs: Keto, Dobson, Hinds, Mavididi, Robinson, Sheaf, Da Graca.
Also eligible: Johnson, Bola, Chatzitheodoridis, Donovan, Mourgos.
Chuba Akpom and Isaac Hayden both featured as England U20s thrashed Romania 6-0 yesterday. Hayden played the whole game at right-back, whilst Akpom was deployed as the lone striker before being replaced after 63 minutes.
Kristoffer Olsson played the whole game as Sweden U21s beat Greece 3-0. Olsson, who recently sealed a loan move to FC Midtjylland, is expected to feature again when Sweden take on Turkey next week.
Glen Kamara played the entirety of Finland U21s’ 2-2 draw with Wales. The result means that Finland, who take on San Marino next week, still have a small chance of reaching the final tournament.
Renny Smith came on after 60 minutes as Austria U19s lost 4-1 to Switzerland. The midfielder helped to win the corner from which Austria’s goal was scored.
Tafari Moore played the whole game at right-back as England U18s beat Holland 3-1.
Goalkeeper Hugo Keto was called up but didn’t play as Finland U17s beat Slovakia 2-1.
Deyan Iliev is in the Macedonia squad for their qualification game against Cyprus on Tuesday.
Arsenal have submitted their updated Champions League squad for the group stages and have made several changes from their previous list of eligible players. New signing Danny Welbeck is included along with Theo Walcott and David Ospina, who were left out of the last squad owing to injury.
However their inclusion means that some players had to be omitted, with Olivier Giroud, the French striker who is expected to be out through injury until the New Year, being left out on this occasion. Goalkeeper Matt Macey has also not been registered, with the same fate befalling Samuel Galindo. In addition, Semi Ajayi, Dan Crowley, Deyan Iliev and Julio Pleguezuelo have been left out as they are not yet eligible for the B-list, which requires players to have been registered with the club for two whole years.
Abou Diaby, Francis Coquelin and Gedion Zelalem are amongst those who have kept their place on the A-list.
Emmanuel Eboue, meanwhile, has been left out of Galatasaray’s squad, meaning the Ivory Coast international won’t be returning to Emirates Stadium when the two sides meet next month.
Arsenal’s Champions League squad:
1. Wojciech Szczęsny, 2. Mathieu Debuchy, 3. Kieran Gibbs, 4. Per Mertesacker, 6. Laurent Koscielny, 7. Tomáš Rosický, 8. Mikel Arteta, 9. Lukas Podolski, 10. Jack Wilshere, 11. Mesut Özil, 13. David Ospina, 14. Theo Walcott, 15. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain*, 16. Aaron Ramsey, 17. Alexis Sánchez, 18. Nacho Monreal, 19. Santi Cazorla, 20. Mathieu Flamini, 21. Calum Chambers, 22. Yaya Sanogo, 23. Danny Welbeck, 24. Abou Diaby, 26. Emiliano Martinez, 27. Serge Gnabry*, 28. Joel Campbell, 34. Francis Coquelin, 35. Gedion Zelalem, 38. Chuba Akpom*, 39. Héctor Bellerín*, 42. Isaac Hayden*, 43. Ryan Huddart*, 45. Alex Iwobi*, 46. Jack Jebb*, 47. Glen Kamara*, 52. Tafari Moore*, 53. Kristoffer Olsson*, 54. Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill*, 57. Josh Vickers*.
*- B list
Francis Coquelin has been named in Arsenal’s Premier League squad for the 2014/15 season, despite reportedly coming close to joining Queens Park Rangers on transfer deadline day.
Coquelin, who endured a frustrating loan spell with Freiburg last season, will be looking to add to his 21 league appearances for Arsenal. New signing Danny Welbeck has also been included and helps Arsenal to meet the criteria of “homegrown” players, with Abou Diaby and Damian Martinez also being listed.
Samuel Galindo, as expected, has been left out, whilst first-team players Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Yaya Sanogo, Serge Gnabry, Calum Chambers and Gedion Zelalem are on the U21 list.
The vast majority of the club’s new scholars have also been included on the U21 list although the new foreign signings- Hugo Keto, Ilias Chatzitheodoridis, Savvas Mourgos and Kristopher Da Graca- have been left out as their transfers are yet to formally be approved by FIFA, which also explains why they are yet to feature for Arsenal at U18 level.
Loanees Carl Jenkinson and Ryo have not been named, but Wellington, Austin Lipman, Kristoffer Olsson, Jon Toral and Benik Afobe, who are all on temporary transfers away from the club, are on the U21 list.
Arsenal Premier League squad
Senior list: Mikel Arteta, Joel Campbell, Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin*, Mathieu Debuchy, Abou Diaby, Mathieu Flamini, Kieran Gibbs*, Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny, Emiliano Martinez*, Per Mertesacker, Nacho Monreal, David Ospina, Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski, Aaron Ramsey*, Tomas Rosicky, Alexis Sanchez, Wojciech Szczesny*, Theo Walcott*, Danny Welbeck*, Jack Wilshere*.
*= Homegrown players
U21 list: Benik Afobe, Semi Ajayi, Chuba Akpom, Wellington, Hector Bellerin, Marc Bola, Calum Chambers, Dan Crowley, George Dobson, Harry Donovan, Aaron Eyoma, Serge Gnabry, Isaac Hayden, Kaylen Hinds, Ryan Huddart, Deyan Iliev, Alex Iwobi, Jack Jebb, Chiori Johnson, Glen Kamara, Austin Lipman, Matt Macey, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Stephy Mavididi, Tafari Moore, Stefan O’Connor, Kristoffer Olsson, Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Julio Pleguezuelo, Jonatas Centeno, Tyrell Robinson, Yaya Sanogo, Ben Sheaf, Renny Smith, Jon Toral, Josh Vickers, Chris Willock, Elliot Wright, Gedion Zelalem.
Kristoffer Olsson has finally got his wish of securing a loan move away from the club, but the destination of the Swedish midfielder may come as a surprise to some after he joined Danish side FC Midtjylland on a temporary transfer until January.
The deal comes with an option of a permanent transfer at its conclusion, raising the possibility that Olsson’s Arsenal career could come to an end in a few months’ time. Olsson, who joined as a scholar in 2011, has grown increasingly impatient about his lack of first-team opportunities at Arsenal, with the youngster having only made a solitary appearance as a substitute in the Capital One Cup to date.
He has featured for the senior team in pre-season, notably scoring in the victory over Boreham Wood in July, but it is clear that he is in need of regular football to further his development. Olsson, who is extremely skilful, has a penchant for unlocking opposition defences with precise passes, but has not always delivered consistent performances at U21 level.
Ignasi Miquel’s Arsenal career has come to an end this evening after the centre-back signed a permanent deal with Championship side Norwich City.
The 21 year old joined Arsenal as a schoolboy from Cornella in 2008 and went on to make 14 competitive appearances for the first-team, featuring in all four major competitions and scoring his only goal against Coventry City in the League Cup.
The Spanish U21 international spent last season on loan at Leicester City but failed to feature regularly for the Foxes and will be hopeful of reviving his career at Carrow Road.
Although he demonstrated much promise as a youngster, making his debut for the Reserves at 16 years of age, Miquel failed to really progress in recent seasons and was particularly disappointing when asked to play out of position at left-back. With the defender having entered the final year of his contract and now being classed as a senior player according to Premier League and Champions League regulations, now seems the correct time to let him leave, especially with Julio Pleguezuelo and Isaac Hayden progressing well.