Arsenal U19s progress in South Africa despite losing to PSV + Akpom update

Arsenal U19s lost 1-0 to PSV Eindhoven in their final group stage fixture of the Durban U19 International Cup today, but, despite the defeat, Steve Gatting’s side still progressed to the Semi-Finals of the tournament after results elsewhere worked out in their favour.

The Gunners looked to be the architects of their own downfall, with PSV’s goal coming after Arsenal goalkeeper Hugo Keto turned the ball into his own net after he failed to control a back pass from Stefan O’Connor.

Arsenal named perhaps their strongest available side, with Gedion Zelalem, Chris Willock, Julio Pleguezuelo, O’Connor, Tyrell Robinson and Kaylen Hinds.

Zelalem impressed with one neat flick and has been Arsenal’s standout performer in the tournament so far.

  Keto

Moore-O’Connor-Pleguezuelo-M. Bola

Zelalem-Sheaf

Eyoma-C. Willock-Robinson

Hinds

Subs: Huddart, T. Bola, DaSilva, Osei-Tutu, Mourgos, Pileas, Donovan. 

Arsenal looked to be going out of the competition, but Celtic struck to late to defeat KZN Academy, meaning that the Gunners have progressed to the last four.

The Semi-Finals will take place on Wednesday, with the Gunners due to discover who their opponents will be tomorrow.

Meanwhile, in other news regarding Arsenal’s youngsters, striker Chuba Akpom is due to have a medical at Hull City tomorrow as he closes in on a season-long loan move to the Championship side.

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Alex Iwobi capped off a memorable pre-season as he was an unused substitute for the first-team’s victory over Chelsea in the Community Shield at Wembley today. 

 

 

Reine-Adelaide and Iwobi train with Arsenal first-team ahead of Community Shield

Youngsters Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Alex Iwobi continued to train with the first-team squad this morning at London Colney as Arsene Wenger’s side completed their final preparations ahead of tomorrow’s Community Shield fixture against Chelsea.

There is the possibility that either Reine-Adelaide or Iwobi could make the bench at Wembley given the current lack of available attacking options.

Chuba Akpom was absent as he closes in on a loan move to Hull City, whilst Serge Gnabry and Krystian Bielik weren’t with the senior group today. David Ospina trained but might not be fit enough to make the bench, with Emiliano Martinez in line to provide back-up to Petr Cech.

Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky, who both have knee problems, are the only two first-team players currently out injured. Welbeck is is contention to feature against Crystal Palace in a fortnight, whilst Rosicky’s return date is unknown at present.

Alexis Sanchez is set to return to training on Monday, whilst Joel Campbell is not due back until late August after he represented Costa Rica this summer.

Wenger has some difficult decisions to make regarding not just his starting line-up but his substitutes for tomorrow’s game.

He must decide whether to deploy Mathieu Debuchy or Hector Bellerin at right-back, whilst there is also considerable competition for places in the wide positions. Five players from today’s training group will have to be left out of the squad. Ospina, on account of his fitness, may be one, whilst Mathieu Flamini, Calum Chambers and Gabriel are other candidates for omission.

Players in training today: Debuchy, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Koscielny, Arteta, Wilshere, Ozil, Giroud, Ospina, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Monreal, Cazorla, Flamini, Chambers, Bellerin, Martinez, Cech, Coquelin, Iwobi, Reine-Adelaide.

Hayden seals Hull loan, with Akpom poised to join him

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Hull City have confirmed that they have signed Isaac Hayden on a season-long loan, but it appears that the 20-year-old won’t be the only Arsenal loanee spending the campaign at the KC Stadium, with Chuba Akpom also poised to link up with Steve Bruce’s team.

Hayden is seeking to take the next step in his development after producing several impressive performances for Arsenal at U21 level in recent seasons.

Speaking to Hull’s official website, Hayden said: “It’s exactly what I need at this stage of my career. This club is an ambitious one, so to be part of this is a great opportunity. It’s a chance for me to prove myself.”

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Akpom’s potential loan move is a very intriguing one, especially with the deal set to occur just a fortnight after manager Arsene Wenger said that he had no intention of loaning the forward.

Akpom, who has made nine competitive appearances for the Arsenal first-team, impressed during this summer’s opening pre-season fixture as he scored a hat-trick against a Singapore Select XI. However, his performances in the Emirates Cup last weekend demonstrated that he is still some way from being the finished article.

An England U20 international, this is set to be Akpom’s fourth loan spell after previous stints with Brentford, Coventry City and Nottingham Forest. Despite boasting an excellent goalscoring record at youth level, Akpom is yet to score in a competitive senior match, something he will certainly be seeking to address if his proposed move to Hull goes ahead.

From an Arsenal perspective, the idea of loaning both Hayden and Akpom to the club could well prove to a beneficial one as it will enable both players to settle into their new surroundings very quickly.

If Akpom does depart on loan then it will leave Arsenal with just two available options for the centre-forward position going into the new season in Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott, with Danny Welbeck out injured and Alexis Sanchez not due to return to training until Monday after participating in the Copa America.

Of the club’s current crop of U21 players it appears that wingers Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Alex Iwobi are currently closest to the first-team squad, with both of the youngsters in contention to make the bench against Chelsea in the Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday.

Report- Chatzitheodoridis sent off as Arsenal U19s draw with KZN Academy XI

Durban U19 International Cup- Group stage

Arsenal 1 KZN Academy XI 1

Arsenal U19s recovered from having a player sent off to draw 1-1 with a KZN Academy XI in their second group game in South Africa today.

The Gunners played much of the game with ten men following the dismissal of Ilias Chatzitheodoridis but, despite falling behind, eventually drew level through substitute Ben Sheaf.

Arsenal made several changes from the Celtic game, with summer recruits Yassin Fortune and Kostas Pileas included in the starting line-up.

Huddart

Moore-Pleguezuelo-Pileas-Chatzitheodoridis

Donovan-Zelalem

C. Willock-Da Silva-Mourgos

Fortune

Subs: Keto, Eyoma, M. Bola, T. Bola, O’Connor, Osei-Tutu, Sheaf.

It was clear that the KZN Academy XI would be no pushovers after they beat PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday, and Arsenal struggled to play with the same flair that they did against Celtic.

Arsenal’s task was made even more difficult when left-back Chatzitheodoridis was sent off in the first-half following a disagreement with the linesman.

Arsenal were in danger of losing their discipline, with Pileas receiving a yellow card as the half edged towards its conclusion. The game went from bad to worse for Arsenal, with the KZN Academy XI then taking the lead just before the break with a long-distance effort from Sithole.

Arsenal continued to struggle to impose themselves in the second period, with Harry Donovan also receiving a yellow card. Coach Steve Gatting sought to change matters, with Sheaf and Stefan O’Connor both being introduced and Gedion Zelalem and Chris Willock being withdrawn.

Arsenal saw more of the ball in the second period but, perhaps inevitably given that Zelalem and Willock were no longer on the field, they struggled to create many clear cut chances.

The Gunners then had Ryan Huddart to thank for making two very good saves in quick succession to prevent the opposition from scoring again after O’Connor conceded a free-kick with a late challenge.

Arsenal introduced Kaylen Hinds as they sought to score an equaliser and they eventually managed to draw level thanks to another well-taken strike from Sheaf.

One of the biggest plus points to emerge from the game was the performance of Fortune, who demonstrated his skill and good link-up play. The 16-year-old, who recently joined from Lens, is comfortable either as a central striker or out wide.

Arsenal’s final group stage game is against PSV on Sunday.

Reports- Crowley set for Barnsley loan move

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It is being reported that Arsenal midfielder Dan Crowley is set to join League One side Barnsey on a six-month loan deal.

Crowley, who turns 18 next month, has been one of Arsenal’s star performers at youth level since joining the club from Aston Villa two years ago and is now set to further his development by taking his first steps into senior football.

The England youth international featured for Arsenal’s first-team against a Singapore Select XI in pre-season and has been allowed to leave on loan despite the fact that he is yet to make his competitive debut for the club.

UPDATE: Crowley’s loan move until January has now been confirmed. 

Meanwhile, another Arsenal youngster could soon depart the club on a temporary basis, with Isaac Hayden being tipped to spend the entire campaign with Championship team Hull City.

The 2o-year-old, who has made two competitive appearances for the Arsenal first-team, struggled with injuries last season but returned to feature in the Emirates Cup last weekend.

Toral heads to Birmingham on loan, with Crowley another candidate to depart

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Arsenal have announced that Jon Toral will spend the entire 2015/16 campaign on loan at Championship side Birmingham City.

The Spanish midfielder impressed on loan at Brentford in the same division last season and featured for Arsenal during their opening pre-season fixture this summer in Singapore.

However, the 20-year-old’s hopes of making the grade at Arsenal are complicated by the fact that the club currently have several high-profile midfielders on their books.

Toral, who joined Arsenal from Barcelona’s academy four years ago, can operate out wide but is most comfortable as a central-midfielder. Despite featuring for the Gunners in pre-season friendlies, he is yet to represent the club in a competitive fixture and, as things stand, his stint with Birmingham will take the youngster to the end of his current Arsenal contract, after he signed a one-year extension towards the end of last season.

Toral becomes Arsenal’s fifth loanee for the new season, following in the footsteps of Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Ipswich Town), Yaya Sanogo (Ajax), Carl Jenkinson (West Ham) and Wojciech Szczesny (Roma).

Another player who could soon depart the club on loan is fellow midfielder Dan Crowley, who was left out of Arsenal’s squad for the Emirates Cup last weekend. Crowley has been tentatively linked with several Championship sides this summer, but it appears that it may be a while yet until any deal is agreed.

Meanwhile, Wellington’s destination for the new season remains unclear. The Brazilian is still training at London Colney but hasn’t represented the club at any level during pre-season.

Arsene Wenger has stated that wingers Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Alex Iwobi won’t be heading out on loan in the near future, but there are other candidates for temporary transfers, including Serge Gnabry, Isaac Hayden and Glen Kamara.

Bennacer confirms Arsenal move as Jonker strives to revitalise the academy

French midfielder Ismael Bennacer has confirmed via social media that he is now an Arsenal player, with the prospect becoming the club’s seventh acquisition at youth level this summer.

Bennacer, who featured six times in Ligue 2 for Arles-Avignon last season, joins Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Yassin Fortune, Kostas Pileas, Vlad Dragomir, Donyell Malen and Jordi Osei-Tutu in signing for the club during the pre-season period.

The sheer number of acquisitions in one summer is unprecedented for Arsenal at youth level and can be seen as evidence of Academy Manager Andries Jonker seeking to make amends after the club suffered the ignominy of finishing as the worst-placed team in the Premier Academy League last season.

It is telling that all but one of the new signings is from abroad, with Jonker seeing to add more flair and dynamism to Arsenal’s youth sides.

Reine-Adelaide has already made a substantial impact for the first-team in pre-season, whilst Fortune, Pileas, Dragomir and Osei-Tutu have all settled in well with the U21s.

Bennacer adds to Arsenal’s crop of central-midfielders and he could well feature prominently for the second-string if Jon Toral and Dan Crowley go out on loan.

It is commendable that Jonker has decided to act decisively in the wake of the disappointments of last season, but the club still remain short of defensive options at youth level, particularly in the U18 team.

There may still be further signings to come, with Portuguese goalkeeper Joao Virginia having been strongly linked with a move to Arsenal of late.

As for the players who have already signed, it will be very interesting to see how they adapt to life in North London. Some of the recent signings from abroad, such as Ilias Chatzitheodoridis and Kristopher Da Graca, have struggled greatly, but there have also been notable success stories like Hector Bellerin and Serge Gnabry, who both fitted in immediately.

It has been a summer of considerable change for Arsenal at youth level. It started with several long-serving players, including Jack Jebb, Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, Austin Lipman and Josh Vickers, being released  and over the past few weeks we have gradually seen next season’s youth squads begin to take shape.

There are already some promising talents in the system, such as Hale End products Chris Willock, Kaylen Hinds, Tyrell Robinson and Stephy Mavididi. It is hoped that some of the new signings will help to make Arsenal a force again at youth level, whilst also eventually providing Arsene Wenger with further options to supplement his first-team squad.