Report – Amani Richards scores as Arsenal U18s draw with Everton to progress in Premier League Cup

Everton 2 (Sherif 37, 50) Arsenal 2 (Edwards 9, Richards 10)

U18 Premier League Cup

Everton 2 (Sherif 37, 50) Arsenal 2 (Edwards 9, Richards 10)

Amani Richards scored his first goal of the season as Arsenal U18s drew 2-2 away to Everton today to finish top of their group in the Premier League Cup.

The striker has been used sparingly so far this season but was afforded a start today with severe players unavailable.

Arsenal were without defenders Taylor Foran and Henry Jeffcott, who were with the U23s yesterday, while Zach Awe, Reuell Walters, James Sweet and Charles Sagoe Jr were also missing.

Brooke Norton-Cuffy, who was suspended for the U18s, made his first appearance at this level since April, and there was a debut for U16 defender Luis Brown. U15 midfielder Myles Lewis-Skelly also started. Mauro Bandeira returned to the side.

Mitchell

Norton CuffyIbrahimBrown

Bandeira-Henry Francis-Lewis Skelly-Cozier Duberry

Flores-Edwards

Richards

Subs: Gaspar (for Richards, 58), Brown (for Vigar, 82). Not used: Kovacevic, Davies.

Khayon Edwards has been prolific this season and the striker managed to get on the scoresheet again in the ninth minute after being teed up by Amario Cozier-Duberry.

Just a minute later it was 2-0 as Marcelo Flores found Richards, who was rewarded for being very patient so far this season.

Everton managed to get a goal back before half time, with Martin Sherif scoring.

Sherif added another after the break as Everton pulled level.

Arsenal sent on Luigi Gaspar and Billy Vigar but they couldn’t find a winner.

However, they had still done enough to progress to the next stage of the competition.

Highly rated schoolboy Luis Brown to make Arsenal U18s debut v Everton

Schoolboy defender Luis Brown is starting for Arsenal U18s away to Everton today.

The highly-rated centre-back, who possesses excellent leadership skills, has produced some excellent performances at U16 level this campaign.

Brown, an England youth international, has also previously been called up by Arsenal at U17 level. He will hope to make a major impact in today’s U18 Premier League Cup fixture.

The U18s are without Taylor Foran and Henry Jeffcott, who both featured for the U23s yesterday.

Report – Folarin Balogun scores hat-trick but Arsenal U23s concede five in defeat to Derby County

Premier League 2

Arsenal 3 (Balogun 10, 23, 72) Derby County 5 (Sibley 3, Alebiosu (o.g.) 32, Plange 49, Dixon 54, Sibley 56)

By Jeorge Bird @LV Bet Stadium Meadow Park

Arsenal U23s went into this fixture top of the Premier League 2 table, with Derby County at the bottom, but you wouldn’t have known it from what unfolded on a bitterly cold evening in Hertfordshire.

It was evident from the outset that Derby were eager to put Arsenal under pressure, and they succeeded in doing so, with Louie Sibley, who possesses much experience of playing at senior level, catching the eye, while Luke Plange returned to haunt the Gunners.

Coach Kevin Betsy has done much good work since his appointment, but two of his tactical decisions caused difficulties for his team tonight, with Ryan Alebiosu starting as a right-sided centre-back, while, even more bizarrely, Kido Taylor-Hart was deployed as a left wing-back.

Taylor-Hart, who usually plays as a winger, is known for his creative qualities, but, understandably, he struggled defensively in an unfamiliar position.

There were some positives to take from proceedings for Arsenal, not least the performance of Folarin Balogun, who scored a hat-trick, with his third goal being of a particularly high standard.

It has been clear for some time that Balogun is well above U23 level and he certainly needs to be tested in the senior game in the near future.

In addition, Henry Jeffcott made his U23s debut as a substitute, with the left-back acquitting himself well as he helped to add more stability to the Arsenal defence.

Betsy was forced into a defensive reshuffle as he was without Joel Lopez and Omar Rekik due to injuries, while Brooke Norton-Cuffy was missing due to suspension.

In hindsight, rather than using Alebiosu and Taylor-Hart in unfamiliar roles, Betsy perhaps should have used a four man defence and played Jeffcott at left-back, with Tim Akinola in midfield. The three at the back system has benefitted Arsenal hugely this season but at times it has felt that Betsy has stuck with it even when his resources in terms of the back three are limited.

Taylor Foran was given an opportunity at centre-back with James Olayinka at right wing-back, while Nathan Butler-Oyedeji and Joel Ideho returned to the matchday squad as they were named among the substitutes.

Ejeheri

Alebiosu-Foran-Ogungbo

Olayinka-Patino-Salah Eddine-Taylor Hart

Hutchinson-Biereth-Balogun

Subs: Jeffcott (for Taylor-Hart, 63), Akinola (for Alebiosu, 63). Not used: Hillson, Ideho, Butler-Oyedeji.

Plange looked determined to make an impact and forced Ovie Ejeheri into a save before Derby took the lead with just three minutes gone courtesy of a fine finish from Sibley.

Arsenal looked to respond to that early setback, with Olayinka doing well to find Balogun. The striker put the ball in the net but the flag was raised for offside.

Very soon afterwards Balogun struck again and this time it stood, with the England U21 international finishing clinically.

Ejeheri then had to make a save, but Arsenal were growing into the game and Charlie Patino embarked upon a mazy run before going down in the penalty area only for the referee to wave play on.

Taylor-Hart, who was afforded licence to push forward from left wing-back, then shot over.

Arsenal took the lead with their next attack and it was a simple finish from close range for Balogun as he capitalised upon a defensive mistake.

Betsy’s side were in front for just nine minutes, however, with Derby exploiting Taylor-Hart’s lack of defensive awareness again before the ball went in off Alebiosu.

Derby again attacked down Arsenal’s left before missing an opportunity, with Mika Biereth then having an attempt saved at the other end.

Ejeheri made another stop, with the two sides level at 2-2 going into the break.

It was hoped that Arsenal would use half-time to focus on being more resilient defensively, but that certainly didn’t appear to be the case, with Derby creating plenty of opportunities in the early stages of the second half.

Plange, who appears much stronger physically since he left Arsenal, was in inspired form in the second period and he fired Derby ahead.

It was then 4-2 as Connor Dixon got another for Derby and a fifth goal followed, with Plange playing in Sibley, who finished emphatically.

Somewhat belatedly, Betsy then turned to his bench, with Jeffcott and Akinola coming on for Alebiosu and Taylor-Hart.

Arsenal switched to a back four and it is hoped that this is something we will see more of in the near future.

Even in difficult circumstances there were some glimmers of hope for Arsenal and Balogun scored a memorable goal as he feinted to shoot twice prior to unleashing a sweet strike.

Patino then tried his luck with an overhead kick which went over, and there was some further pressure from Derby in the closing stages but they were unable to get a sixth goal.

Overall, this was a disappointing, disjointed display from Arsenal, who have relinquished their place at the top of the table, with West Ham taking over for now.

Betsy deserves much praise for the work he has done this season but tonight demonstrated that on some occasions it would perhaps be better to have more tactical flexibility rather than shoehorning players into positions which they are clearly not comfortable playing.

The midfield didn’t provide sufficient protection to the defence, with Salah-Eddine not at his best. Akinola may feel he now has a chance of reclaiming his place in the side.

All is not lost for Arsenal but they will have to be significantly better against Ipswich Town next week to avoid being knocked out of the Papa John’s Trophy.

Mehmet Ali to join Arsenal U23s coaching staff from Reading in January

Exclusive

Reading U23s coach Mehmet Ali will join the coaching staff of Arsenal’s U23 team in January.

Ali will provide assistance to coach Kevin Betsy following the recent departures of Greg Lincoln and Ryan Garry, who both took up positions as part of the England youth setup.

Having previously been at Tottenham Hotspur as coach of the U16s, Ali initially joined Reading as their assistant manager at U23 level in 2019, where he worked alongside former Arsenal player Scott Marshall.

Ali then took charge of the team himself at the start of last season. Reading finished 8th out of 13 teams last campaign, while they are currently 13th out of 14 teams.

Today Ali informed the Reading U23 squad that he will be departing on December 17th.

Defender Josh Nichols offered scholarship deal at Arsenal ahead of next season

Arsenal have offered a scholarship deal to Josh Nichols ahead of next season.

The defender, who can play at right-back or left-back, is currently part of Arsenal’s U16 squad.

It is expected that it will soon be revealed which other players from the U16 team have been offered the chance to continue their development at the club.

Goalkeepers Alexei Rojas and Brian Okonkwo are in contention, with the former having already trained with the first-team.

Striker Omari Benjamin and midfielder Michal Rosiak have both been on the bench for the U18s, while winger Seb Ferdinand has impressed for the U17s.

Other players under consideration include Luis Brown, Max Jolliffe, Louie Copley, Stanley Skipper, Coby Small, Harrison Dudziak, Ismael Kabia, Romari Forde and Kamarni Ryan.

Report – Balogun hits late winner against Blackburn as ten-man Arsenal U23s go top

Premier League 2

Blackburn Rovers 2 (Burns 60, McBride 72 (pen.) Arsenal 3 (Biereth 33, Hutchinson 45, Balogun 89)

Folarin Balogun scored an impressive late winner as a ten-man Arsenal U23 side survived a fightback from Blackburn Rovers to return to the Premier League 2 summit.

Arsenal started the game well and had established a two-goal lead by half time, with Mika Biereth opening the scoring before Omari Hutchinson found the net with a spectacular strike.

However, the momentum of the game shifted when Brooke Norton-Cuffy was sent off for handball in the early stages of the second period, with Blackburn managing to get back into the encounter.

Sam Burns reduced the deficit for the hosts and Connor McBride then equalised from the penalty spot.

Blackburn appeared more likely to get a late winner, but Balogun intervened as he continued to excel at this level.

In the closing stages Blackburn were reduced to ten men themselves, with substitute Daniel Pike dismissed for a foul on Balogun.

There was some positive news on the injury front for Arsenal going into the game, with Charlie Patino, Omar Rekik and Mazeed Ogungbo all available again.

Ovie Ejeheri was called upon in goal, while James Hillson was named on the bench as he was included in a matchday squad for the first time this season.

Ejeheri

Norton Cuffy-Rekik-Ogungbo

Alebiosu-Patino-Salah Eddine-Lopez

Hutchinson-Biereth-Balogun

Subs: Awe (for Patino, 62), Akinola (for Hutchinson, 72), Olayinka (for Salah-Eddine, 90). Not used: Hillson, Taylor-Hart.

Arsenal found themselves under a considerable amount of pressure in the early stages of the game, but Rekik was on hand to deal with the danger.

Balogun then had Arsenal’s first opportunity of the game, with the forward having a shot saved after he was located by Biereth.

Defender Joseph Ferguson shot just wide for Blackburn, but there weren’t many openings for either side in the early stages of the first half.

Eventually the game started to open up somewhat, with Patino doing well to win possession prior to finding Hutchinson, who in turn played in Balogun. However, Blackburn goalkeeper Aynsley Pears was again equal to his effort.

Soon, though, Arsenal took the lead, and it was Biereth who scored, with the Danish youth international turning well in the box before finishing adroitly after latching onto a cross from Joel Lopez.

Arsenal immediately sought to add to their lead. Salah-Eddine played an intelligent pass into the path of Hutchinson, but the latter was denied and then Biereth had an attempt cleared away after he had managed to get around Pears.

Just prior to half time it was 2-0, with Hutchinson scoring a superb solo effort as he pushed forwards and finished emphatically.

It was an assured first half display from Arsenal, who defended resolutely and also produced moments of quality in the final third.

Blackburn started the second half brightly as they looked to get a goal back. Ejeheri made a good stop to deny Jared Harlock, and Burns then shot wide after Patino slipped.

Arsenal looked as if they were able to cope with the Blackburn pressure, but matters took a turn for the worse when Norton-Cuffy was sent off for handball.

Coach Kevin Betsy temporarily switched to playing a four-man defence, with Ryan Alebiosu dropping back to right-back.

Ogungbo did well to clear the danger and then Arsenal, despite their numerical disadvantage, managed to create some chances of their own as Balogun and Salah-Eddine both had attempts saved.

Eventually, though, Blackburn proved too difficult for ten-man Arsenal to deal with as Burns got a goal back after his side’s initial effort had struck the post.

Arsenal sent on Zach Awe in place of Patino, with Blackburn continuing to push forward with regularity.

Joe Nolan shot wide for Blackburn before Ejeheri made an impressive save.

Blackburn were then awarded a penalty following a foul by Awe, and McBride managed to score the equaliser from the spot.

Tim Akinola then came on for Hutchinson, and Blackburn continued to attack. McBride shot over, with Blackburn then squandering a golden opportunity from close range.

Arsenal, to their credit, refused to give up and Balogun in particular was a threat on the counter-attack.

The England U21 international was eventually rewarded for his persistence as he restored Arsenal’s lead with a fine strike after he did well to turn.

Five minutes were added on, with Blackburn going in search of an equaliser. Harlock’s effort ended up on the roof on the net and then Ejeheri was on hand again to make a save.

James Olayinka was brought on for Salah-Eddine as the clock continued to tick down, and the outcome of the game was beyond doubt when, deep into stoppage time, Blackburn went down to ten men themselves with Pike kicking out at Balogun in frustration.

This was certainly a dramatic encounter and Arsenal fought until the end to get what could well prove to be a crucial victory come the end of the season.

Betsy’s side were dominant prior to Norton-Cuffy’s sending off and they had to dig deep thereafter, but throughout it all Balogun was a frequent threat to the Blackburn goal.

Lopez also deserves much credit for a hugely impressive performance, with the Spaniard pushing forward well and also defending diligently. Hutchinson also gave a very good account of himself in the first half in particular.

Ejeheri’s performance in goal was also key for Arsenal, who may now be starting to think about a sustained challenge for the title.

Loan report – Bellerin sent off; Marseille game abandoned; Nelson features

Hector Bellerin was sent off as Real Betis beat Elche 3-0. It was the first red card of his career.

William Saliba and Matteo Guendouzi started for Marseille but their game away to Lyon was abandoned after their team-mate Dimitri Payet was hit by a bottle thrown from the stands in the fifth minute. The game was stopped before officially being called off nearly two hours later.

Daniel Ballard played the entirety of Millwall’s 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough.

Konstantinos Mavropanos played the whole game as Stuttgart lost 2-1 to Borussia Dortmund, for whom former Arsenal striker Donyell Malen scored.

Lucas Torreira played 90 minutes as Fiorentina beat AC Milan 4-3.

Reiss Nelson was brought on in the 67th minute of Feyenoord’s 4-0 victory against PEC Zwolle.

Miguel Azeez was an unused substitute as Portsmouth beat AFC Wimbledon 2-1.

Alex Runarsson was an unused substitute as OH-Leuven lost 3-1 to RFC Seraing.

Jonathan Dinzeyi was an unused substitute as Carlisle United were beaten 2-1 by Exeter City.

Deyan Iliev wasn’t involved as Sered beat Pohronie 3-1.

Tyreece John-Jules wasn’t involved as Blackpool drew 1-1 with Swansea City.

Nikolaj Moller’s Viktoria Koln play Meppen this evening.

Harry Clarke’s Ross County weren’t in action this weekend.

Jordi Osei-Tutu wasn’t involved as Nottingham Forest drew 1-1 with Reading. The defender is training with Arsenal to build up his fitness after injury.

Matt Smith wasn’t involved as Doncaster Rovers drew 0-0 with Lincoln City due to suspension.

Tom Smith missed out through injury as Welling lost 6-0 to Ebbsfleet United.

Report – Billy Vigar scores late equaliser as Arsenal U18s draw with West Ham United

U18 Premier League

Arsenal 2 (Sagoe Jr 73, Vigar 90) West Ham United 2 (Mubama 28, Scarles 33)

Substitute Billy Vigar salvaged a point for Arsenal U18s in a 2-2 draw against West Ham United at London Colney today.

Vigar, who has endured much misfortune with injuries, was making his first appearance of the season and proceeded to score his maiden goal at this level.

The young Gunners were trailing 2-0 at half time but showed excellent spirit to fight back and get a draw.

Marcelo Flores returned to the side after his exploits with Mexico U20s, but Josh Robinson and Tino Quamina weren’t involved.

Schoolboy goalkeeper Alexei Rojas Fedorushchenko was on the bench.

Mitchell

Foran-Awe-Jeffcott

Walters-Sweet-Henry Francis-Cozier Duberry

Flores-Sagoe Jr

Edwards

Subs: Ibrahim (for Flores, 56), Vigar (for Cozier-Duberry, 73). Not used: Fedorushchenko, Gaspar, Green.

Arsenal went into this game having won just one their last four matches, so they were determined to secure all three points.

The prolific Khayon Edwards looked as if he had put Arsenal in front, but his effort was cleared off the line.

It was West Ham who took the lead, with Divin Mubama opening the scoring in the 28th minute.

Schoolboy Oliver Scarles doubled West Ham’s advantage just before half time.

Arsenal made a change in the 57th minute with Bradley Ibrahim coming on for Flores, who must have been fatigued after representing Mexico.

Sagoe Jr, who has produced some encouraging performances this season, reduced the deficit with an excellent strike from 20 yards out in the 70th minute. Just prior to that he had had a penalty claim turned down.

Vigar, who last played in pre-season, replaced Cozier-Duberry in the 80th minute.

It proved to be an inspired substitution as, in the second minute of stoppage time, Vigar headed in as Arsenal secured a point.

Arsenal are back in action next weekend when they face Everton away.

Meanwhile, Arsenal U16s beat West Ham 4-3, with Seb Ferdinand amongst the scorers.

Arsenal’s Marcelo Flores continues to excel for Mexico U20s

Marcelo Flores has unquestionably been one of Arsenal’s standout performers at U18 level this season, and he is also making a major impact on the international stage.

Flores is eligible to represent Canada and has previously trained with their senior side, but for now he seems committed to playing for Mexico, who he is currently representing at U20 level.

Having scored against Brazil in the previous game, the 18-year-old proceeded to find the net in impressive fashion against the United States last night, while he also provided an assist as he helped Mexico win the Revelations Cup.

At times this season, Flores, who is usually deployed as an attacking midfielder, has appeared almost too good to be playing at U18 level for Arsenal. Indeed, in eight appearances he has scored six goals and has provided two assists.

Possessing excellent close control, delightful dribbling and also good shooting accuracy, when he is at his best Flores is capable of tormenting opponents.

After he made his debut for the U23s at the end of last season, it had been anticipated that Flores would feature prominently at that level this campaign.

That hasn’t transpired so far, but it is through no fault of his own, with the club simply having too many players in their U23 squad.

If some of those players go on loan in January then space will open up for Flores, who will then hopefully be able to push on further in his development.

Arsenal to face Swindon or Colchester in FA Youth Cup third round – Which players will be involved in the competition this season?

The draw for the third round of the FA Youth Cup has been made, with Arsenal U18s to take on Swindon Town or Colchester United away.

Arsenal, who last won the competition in 2009, reached the quarter-finals last season, where they were beaten by Liverpool at Anfield.

The current crop of players, overseen by coach Dan Micciche, is one of the strongest groups in recent years and there are hopes that the young Gunners could enjoy a lengthy run in this prestigious competition.

For this season, players born between September 1st 2003 and August 31st 2006 are eligible to play in the Youth Cup.

Here’s a look at who could feature for Arsenal in this competition.

Goalkeepers

Remy Mitchell

Remy Mitchell is set to start in goal, with Alex Kovacevic providing back-up.

Centre-backs

Zane Monlouis

Micciche has typically deployed a three-man defence this season but faces a difficult decision over who should start.

Zane Monlouis is part of the U23 squad but could drop back down to the U18s for this competition, while Taylor Foran and Zach Awe could also start.

Reuell Walters, who has developed very well this season, provides an option at either centre-back or right wing-back. Josh Robinson is an alternative choice.

Wing-backs

Brooke Norton-Cuffy

Brooke Norton-Cuffy is another player who usually plays for the U23s but he could be called upon here at right wing-back.

It may seem somewhat harsh to leave out James Sweet, who has produced some encouraging displays for the U18s this season, but he would provide a useful option from the bench.

The versatile Amario Cozier-Duberry could operate in the opposite wing-back berth, with Henry Jeffcott also in contention. Tino Quamina and Elian Quesada-Thorn may have to wait until next season for an opportunity in this competition, with the latter currently injured.

Central-midfield

Charlie Patino

If he is back fit and doesn’t have any other commitments in terms of playing at a higher level, then Charlie Patino will start. It seems likely that Jack Henry-Francis will partner him.

Mauro Bandeira, who is currently injured, is another option, with first-year scholar Bradley Ibrahim also in contention. Luigi Gaspar and Jimi Gower will be looking to earn a place on the bench. Ismail Oulad M’Hand hasn’t played yet this season so it seems unlikely he will be involved in the early rounds.

Attacking midfield

Marcelo Flores

Marcelo Flores has been one of the stars for the U18s this season, while Omari Hutchinson is another U23 player who may drop down.

Charles Sagoe Jr, who has had an encouraging start to the season, will also be determined to be involved. Mathaeus Roberts is a talented player but he has been used sparingly so far this season.

Striker

Khayon Edwards

It seems certain that the prolific Khayon Edwards will lead the line, with Amani Richards likely to be on the bench. Kaleel Green and Henry Timi Davies are also available, but second-year scholar Billy Vigar hasn’t featured this season due to injury.

* Note – schoolboys Myles Lewis-Skelly and Ethan Nwaneri have previously featured for the U18s but aren’t eligible to play in this competition this season as they are still U15 players.

Possible team

Mitchell

Foran-Awe-Monlouis

Norton Cuffy-Patino-Henry Francis-Cozier Duberry

Flores-Hutchinson

Edwards

Subs: Kovacevic, Walters, Jeffcott, Bandeira, Sweet, Sagoe Jr, Richards.

Other options: Gaspar, Vigar, Quamina, Roberts, Robinson, Quesada-Thorn, Davies, Gower, Ibrahim, Green, Ismail, Fedorushchenko, B. Okonkwo, Benjamin, Rosiak, Ferdinand, Brown, Forde, Ryan, Jolliffe, Skipper, Kabia, Copley, Dudziak, Small.