Arsenal U23s were crowned Premier League 2 champions on Friday night after seeing off West Ham United at London Stadium and it has been a superb season of development for Steve Gatting’s side.
In total, 44 players featured in the league for the U23s this season, and here is an assessment of the contribution that each of them made to the title success.
VLAD DRAGOMIR (20 games, 6 goals)
Dragomir started the season on the fringes of the U23 setup but he ended it having made more appearances at this level than any other player.
The Romanian, naturally an attacking midfielder, filled in well in several positions, including at left wing-back and as a striker at times, while he weighed in with six goals, including a brace at home to West Ham.
JORDI OSEI-TUTU (18 games, 2 goals)
Another player who developed extremely well this campaign, Osei-Tutu hadn’t made a competitive appearance for the U23s going into the season but soon established himself as a regular and provided a frequent attacking threat.
The former Reading defender also showed signs of improvement defensively and relished playing as a right wing-back when Arsenal deployed a 3-4-2-1 system.
JOSH DASILVA (17 games, 1 goal)
One of the most impressive performers in this side, the powerful midfielder ended the campaign by captaining the side.
Providing the perfect link between defence and attack, Dasilva helped Arsenal to retain possession and initiate attacks, while he also made good use of his physical strength.
TOLAJI BOLA (16 games)
Bola had to be patient for opportunities in the first half of the campaign but he was a regular once others headed out on loan.
Despite being vulnerable defensively, he regularly pushed forwards and weighed in with some vital assists, including two in the title-clinching win at West Ham.
ZECH MEDLEY (13 games)
Medley made the step up from U18 football to become a regular in the U23 team, making good use of his tall frame.
The centre-back demonstrated his composure in possession and worked well with different defensive partners.
EDDIE NKETIAH (13 games, 12 goals)
Although he has been on the fringes of the first-team squad for much of the campaign, Nketiah still featured fairly regularly for the U23s, and, unsurprisingly, finished as the team’s top scorer with 12 goals.
Amongst the highlights was a brace in the 4-3 win over Manchester City at Emirates Stadium early in the campaign.
JULIO PLEGUEZUELO (12 games, 1 goal)
The long-serving Spaniard left for Gimnastic de Tarragona on loan in January but before that he made a major contribution to Arsenal’s title-winning campaign.
Pleguezuelo’s late equaliser in the 3-3 draw at home to Derby County in December was very important and it is fitting that a player who has featured in so many games at this level was able to play a part in the title win.
JOE WILLOCK (12 games, 1 goal)
Like Nketiah and Reiss Nelson, Willock has been in and out of the first-team picture, which limited his game time with the U23s.
The midfielder did still produce some encouraging displays for the development side, though, and notably hit the winner at home to Chelsea.
REISS NELSON (11 games, 9 goals)
Nelson has racked up the appearances at first-team level in various competitions, although his contribution for the U23s this season shouldn’t be overlooked.
Widely seen as Arsenal’s standout youngster, he scored six goals in four games during a phenomenal start to the campaign.
EMILE SMITH ROWE (10 games, 1 goal)
Injured affected Smith Rowe’s campaign at times but when fit the England youth international produced some excellent displays as he stepped up from the U23s with ease.
Possessing flair in abundance, he was on the scoresheet in the win at Sunderland in January.
MARCUS MCGUANE (9 games, 2 goals)
The Hale End product left for Barcelona B in a high-profile January transfer but prior to that he was heavily involved for Arsenal at U23 level.
McGuane, who started the campaign at centre-back before moving into his preferred central midfield position, hit a brace in the defeat away to Everton.
CHARLIE GILMOUR (9 games, 3 goals)
It was a frustrating year for the Scottish midfielder at times as, in his first season as a full-time U23 player, he often found his game time very limited.
As the campaign wore on, however, Gilmour became increasingly involved, and he scored three goals, including the important strike to see off Swansea City in the penultimate game of the campaign.
DEYAN ILIEV (8 games)
After two years out injured, the Macedonian goalkeeper finally returned to the fray this season and he demonstrated notable signs of improvement.
Iliev made some impressive stops, although he missed the title win at West Ham after being kicked in the face against Swansea.
JEFF REINE-ADELAIDE (8 games, 1 goal)
The talented midfielder, although part of the first-team squad, was a key part of the U23 side in the early part of the season and scored in the victory over Manchester United in January before heading off on loan to Angers.
TYREECE JOHN-JULES (8 games, 4 goals)
A hard-working forward, John-Jules adapted very quickly to U23 football as he found the net on four occasions, which included a brace against Sunderland.
There was a low point, as he was sent off away to Leicester City, but the youngster bounced back to end the campaign strongly.
XAVIER AMAECHI (8 games)
A winger who is very highly regarded at Arsenal, Amaechi broke into the U23 setup during the campaign and gained plenty of playing time.
Although still rather raw, he demonstrated some tantalising glimpses of his ability and helped the side greatly in the latter stages of the season.
FOLARIN BALOGUN (7 games, 1 goal)
Another first-year who became involved with the U23s, Balogun’s last gasp equaliser as a substitute away to Liverpool gave Arsenal some much-needed momentum.
It is anticipated that the striker will feature more prominently at this level next season.
AARON EYOMA (6 games)
The winger has long been deemed surplus to requirements by Arsenal and only featured when many other players weren’t available, but he can still be said to have played a part in a title win in his final season at the club.
CHUBA AKPOM (6 games, 2 goals)
A veteran of U23 football (or equivalent), Akpom has played half a century of games at this level and he scored twice for the second-string this season prior to joining Sint-Truidense on loan.
MATT MACEY (6 games)
Another player who has been a long servant at U23 level, Macey didn’t feature prominently this season due to his first-team commitments, where he was often training with the senior squad.
BEN SHEAF (6 games)
Composed in possession, Sheaf continued his transformation from central-midfielder to centre-back and produced some fine displays before signing for Stevenage on loan.
JOSEPH OLOWU (6 games)
The centre-back flitted between the U18 and U23 squads, and temporarily lost his place in the starting lineup for the latter age group before regaining it late on in the campaign.
YASSIN FORTUNE (5 games)
The Frenchman was on the periphery of proceedings this season, as demonstrated by the fact that he was left out of the squad to face West Ham, and he seems to have no future at the club.
KONSTANTINOS MAVROPANOS (5 games)
Despite being a first-team player, the January arrival was given plenty of game time at U23 level and produced some impressive displays.
HUGO KETO (4 games)
A talented goalkeeper, it was a difficult season for the Finland youth international as his playing time was limited.
AINSLEY MAITLAND-NILES (4 games)
The versatile youngster was involved with the U23s early in the season before truly establishing himself in the senior squad.
KRYSTIAN BIELIK (4 games)
Bielik endured an injury-ravaged campaign which continued after he joined Walsall on loan in January.
TAFARI MOORE (3 games)
Another player who seems to have no future at the club, the right-back was involved fleetingly before signing for Wycombe Wanderers on loan midway through the campaign.
RYAN HUDDART (3 games)
The goalkeeper was involved at the start of the season but hasn’t featured since September despite currently being in training.
JOAO VIRGINIA (3 games)
An exciting prospect, the Portuguese goalkeeper adapted well to U23 football and could soon be a regular at this level.
TOBI OMOLE (2 games)
The defender was on the periphery of the squad earlier in the season before falling out of favour.
TRAE COYLE (2 games)
Surprisingly saw his playing time at this level limited, but the winger should be involved more next season.
DONYELL MALEN (2 games)
The striker left for PSV Eindhoven in January having been involved in the U23 squad early in the season.
JACK WILSHERE (2 games)
The first-team midfielder hit the headlines after being sent off against Manchester City.
FRANCIS COQUELIN (2 games)
A former youth player at Arsenal himself, Coquelin was involved with the U23s to build up his fitness.
ROB HOLDING (2 games)
Another first-team player who gained playing time, albeit fleetingly, at U23 level.
ROBBIE BURTON (1 game)
The talented Welsh midfielder will hope for further appearances next campaign.
JOSH BENSON (1 game)
It is anticipated that the Hale End product will leave this summer.
DANIEL BALLARD (1 game)
The U18s defender played just one game for the U23s, but he did score against Tottenham Hotspur.
VONTAE DALEY-CAMPBELL (1 game)
The powerful right-back made his U23s debut away to Liverpool.
MATHIEU DEBUCHY (1 game)
The most senior player to feature at this level this season.
KIERAN GIBBS (1 game)
Played 45 minutes at start of the season before leaving for West Bromwich Albion.
CALUM CHAMBERS (1 game)
Yet another first-team player who was given a runout.
COHEN BRAMALL (1 game)
The left-back featured once before his ill-fated loan move to Birmingham City.
MADE THE BENCH BUT DIDN’T PLAY: Daniel Barden, James Olayinka, Harry Clarke, Matt Smith, Zak Swanson.
U23 PLAYERS THAT DIDN’T PLAY THIS SEASON: Gedion Zelalem, Chiori Johnson, Marc Bola*, Stephy Mavididi*, Kelechi Nwakali*
*= On loan