Maitland-Niles and Bramall struggle but Malen impresses as Arsenal are beaten by Chelsea

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Arsenal’s fourth game of pre-season was a rather disappointing affair as they were beaten 3-0 by Chelsea in China today.

Chelsea, who were dominant throughout, opened the scoring through Willian, with Michy Batshuayi hitting a brace to add further gloss to the scoreline.

As far as Arsenal’s young players were concerned, Ainsley Maitland-Niles was again deployed as a right centre-back, with the prospect struggling to cope with Chelsea’s regular attacks.

Meanwhile, Cohen Bramall, who started at left wing-back, also endured a difficult game and made some costly mistakes.

Later in the second half some of the other youngsters received opportunities to impress, with Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Donyell Malen all entering the fray.

Nelson was bright and looked to get at the Chelsea defence, while Malen made a major impact, with the Dutch striker making some clever runs and he hit the post with one effort.

Eddie Nketiah and Krystian Bielik weren’t involved.

Arsenal will now return to England ahead of next weekend’s Emirates Cup and it will be intriguing to see which youngsters remain with the first-team squad for that tournament.


Nelson and Willock feature as Arsenal beat Bayern Munich on penalties

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Arsenal’s pre-season preparations stepped up a gear today as Arsene Wenger’s side took on Bayern Munich in China.

Bayern dominated for much of the game and took the lead through a penalty from Robert Lewandowski early on after Ainsley Maitland-Niles had conceded the spot-kick.

However, Arsenal improved following the introduction of several youngsters and pulled level in the dying moments courtesy of a header from Alex Iwobi, which saw the game finish 1-1.

Arsenal then prevailed on penalties, with Juan Bernat seeing his effort saved by Emiliano Martinez.

In all, what threatened to be a disappointing game turned out to be a positive experience in terms of the result, but, most importantly, the youngsters involved will have learned a considerable amount from playing against such a high quality side.

In the first half Maitland-Niles and Krystian Bielik struggled to cope with the threat of Franck Ribery, although Maitland-Niles improved a little when he was switched to right centre-back in the second period.

Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah, Cohen Bramall and Joe Willock also received run-outs and, although they weren’t able to make as big an impact as they did during the previous games, the youngsters were full of enthusiasm and will benefit immensely from playing in this fixture.

Next up is a game against another high-profile opponent in Chelsea on Saturday.


Arsenal officially promote Ainsley Maitland-Niles to first-team squad



Arsenal have officially promoted youngster Ainsley Maitland-Niles to the first-team squad ahead of the new season.

Maitland-Niles, a product of Arsenal’s Hale End academy system, has developed well since signing scholarship terms four years ago and has made ten competitive appearances for the Gunners’ first-team so far, while he also gained valuable experience on loan at Ipswich Town in the 2015/16 season.

Capable of playing in various positions, Maitland-Niles is naturally a winger but has been frequently deployed as a central-midfielder in recent seasons, while on the club’s pre-season tour so far he has played as a centre-back and a left wing-back.

Part of the England squad that won the U20 World Cup earlier this summer, Maitland-Niles is expected to feature prominently in cup competitions for Arsenal this campaign.

The youngster, who turns 20 next month, has been wearing the number 30 shirt in pre-season.


Willem II complete permanent signing of Dan Crowley from Arsenal

Dutch club Willem II have completed the permanent signing of midfielder Dan Crowley from Arsenal. 

Crowley, who impressed on loan at Go Ahead Eagles in the second half of last season, has signed a three year deal with Willem II. 

Signed amidst much publicity from Aston Villa in 2013, Crowley produced some outstanding performances for Arsenal at youth level (one display against Middlesbrough in particular stands out) but he leaves without having made a competitive appearance for the first-team. 

Crowley struggled to make an impact during loan spells at Barnsley and Oxford United but in any case his chances of making the cut at Arsenal were hindered by the fact that he had players such as Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey ahead of him in the first-team. 

Undoubtedly one of the most naturally talented youth players at Arsenal in recent years, it is a surprise that Crowley didn’t make the cut but with less than a year remaining on his deal he has elected to make the switch to Holland. 

Arsenal’s Josh Dasilva features as England win U19 Euros by beating Portugal


Arsenal midfielder Josh Dasilva came on as a second-half substitute as England U19s beat Portugal 2-1 today to win the European Championship for their age group.

Easah Suliman put England in front before an own goal from Dujon Sterling saw Portugal equalise.

It was England who prevailed, however, with Lukas Nmecha scoring the winner and the Three Lions held on to win despite Tayo Edun being sent off in the closing stages.

Dasilva is now set to be given time off before returning to Arsenal next month.

Willock and Bielik produce impressive cameos as Arsenal beat Western Sydney Wanderers

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Arsenal continued their pre-season preparations with a 3-1 victory over Western Sydney Wanderers today.

There were fewer opportunities for youngsters than there were against Sydney FC, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who is set to be officially promoted, the only player from outside the first-team squad to start.

After a slow start Arsenal assumed control, with Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey and Mohamed Elneny all finding the net before half-time, although Western Sydney Wanderers did pull a goal back early in the second period.

Deployed in the unfamiliar position of left wing-back, Maitland-Niles was unable to make a major impact, although he will hope to get a run out as a central midfielder later in pre-season.

Towards the end of the second half some of the youngsters were called upon, with Krystian Bielik, Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah all featuring. Cohen Bramall was an unused substitute while Donyell Malen missed out through injury.

Bielik, who is well suited to playing in a back three, impressed with his composure in possession, while Willock was perhaps the standout performer of the youth players as he again won the ball well and drove into the opposing penalty area with regularity.

Nketiah, as he did against Sydney FC, struck the post and the 18-year-old, who has been so prolific at youth level, will be disappointed not to have found the net. However, further opportunities will surely come his way and he will hope to be involved in some capacity against Bayern Munich and Chelsea on the next leg of the tour.

Arsenal’s Marc Bola joins Bristol Rovers on loan with Tolaji Bola set to benefit

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Arsenal defender Marc Bola has joined League One side Bristol Rovers on a season-long loan.

The 19-year-old left-back, a product of the Gunners’ Hale End academy, will be looking to build upon the experience he gained while with Notts County in League Two last season, where he made 13 appearances and impressed.

Bola was named on the bench for the Arsenal first-team in the League Cup fixtures against Reading and Southampton last season.

However, his chances of becoming more involved with the senior squad this campaign were limited by the development of Cohen Bramall, who has fared well since arriving at the club in January and is currently with the first-team on their pre-season tour of Australia.

Bola’s temporary departure means that Bramall will be the first-choice left-back for Arsenal at U23 level this season.

On the occasions that Bramall is unavailable due to first-team commitments or injury, Tolaji Bola, who is of no relation to Marc, will step in.

Several other youngsters are likely to go out on loan before the transfer window closes at the end of next month, with Krystian Bielik, Ismael Bennacer, Savvas Mourgos, Tafari Moore, Julio Pleguezuelo and Aaron Eyoma all candidates for spells elsewhere.