Iwobi makes senior Nigeria debut; Maitland-Niles scores for England U19s



Alex Iwobi may not yet be a member of the Arsenal first-team squad, but the winger is already a senior international after he made his full Nigeria debut today.

The 19-year-old, who signed a new long-term contract with Arsenal this week, replaced Ahmed Musa as a substitute during Nigeria’s 2-0 defeat to DR Congo.

Meanwhile, Ainsley Maitland-Niles was introduced as a substitute and promptly scored with a header as England U19s beat Macedonia U19s 2-0.

Maitland-Niles replaced fellow Arsenal youngster Dan Crowley, who was making his first appearance for the Three Lions since 2013. Tafari Moore was named in the original squad but missed out through injury.

Yesterday Chris Willock, Kaylen Hinds and Stephy Mavididi all scored as England U17s thrashed DR Congo U17s 8-0. The youngsters will represent their country at the upcoming U17 World Cup, although the in-form Ben Sheaf hasn’t been selected.

Ismael Bennacer started and played just over an hour as France U19s beat Liechenstein U19s 3-1. Les Bleus take on their Gibraltar counterparts tomorrow.

Glen Kamara could feature tomorrow when Finland U21s take on Germany U21s.

Krystian Bielik hasn’t been called up to the Poland U21 squad but will instead represent his country at U19 level against Italy.

Hugo Keto was an un-used substitute as Finland U19s drew 1-1 with Italy U19s.

Hector Bellerin was an un-used substitute yesterday as Spain U21s beat Georgia U21s 5-2.

Jordi Osei-Tutu signs professional terms with Arsenal


Young Arsenal defender Jordi Osei-Tutu has signed his first professional contract with the club.

The youngster, who joined the Gunners from Reading on scholarship terms in the summer, has been an ever-present for Arsenal U18s this season, featuring in all eight of Frans De Kat’s side’s fixtures so far.

The right-back, who can also play as a winger or at centre-back if required, has impressed with his attacking movements, but has struggled defensively at times.

Osei-Tutu will now be hoping to feature in the UEFA Youth League and U21 squads before the end of the season. He becomes the first member of this season’s batch of scholars to sign professional terms.

Earlier today Arsenal U21 winger Alex Iwobi signed a new long-term contract with the club.

Loan report- Wellington and Jenkinson score; Martinez impresses

Carl Jenkinson scores against Sunderland yesterday.  Getty Images Europe

Carl Jenkinson scores against Sunderland yesterday.
Getty Images Europe

Wellington scored his first competitive goal in English football yesterday, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Bolton Wanderers from losing 4-3 to Queens Park Rangers.

The Brazilian emerged off the bench to find the net in the 85th minute, but a strike from former Gunner Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, his second of the afternoon, swung the game back in QPR’s favour.

Carl Jenkinson scored a rare goal as West Ham United drew 2-2 with Sunderland. The right-back, who played the full game, found the net after latching onto Victor Moses’ ball in. Jenkinson was later booked for a challenge on Billy Jones.

Emiliano Martinez kept a clean sheet and made several impressive saves as Wolverhampton Wanderers beat Huddersfield Town 3-0. The Argentinean shot-stopper did particularly well to deny Mustapha Carayol and Dean Whitehead.

Chuba Akpom was introduced as a 74th minute substitute as Hull City beat Nottingham Forest 1-0. The striker was on the receiving end of a challenge from Matt Mills, which earned the Forest player a red card. Isaac Hayden wasn’t involved.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles started and created several chances as Ipswich Town lost 2-0 to Blackburn Rovers. The winger was substituted in the 59th minute, however, after picking up a yellow card.

Dan Crowley was brought on in the 80th minute of Barnsley’s 2-1 defeat to Doncaster Rovers.

Jon Toral was an un-used substitute as Birmingham City beat Leeds United 2-0.

Serge Gnabry wasn’t included in West Bromwich Albion’s matchday squad for their 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace. The winger has played just twelve minutes of Premier League football this season.

Gedion Zelalem wasn’t involved as Rangers beat Falkirk 3-1 in the Scottish Championship as the midfielder is currently away with the United States U23 squad.

Wojciech Szczesny played the whole game as Roma beat Palermo 4-2. Yaya Sanogo wasn’t involved as Ajax lost 2-1 to PSV. 

Reine-Adelaide, Iwobi and Pleguezuelo train with Arsenal first-team ahead of Manchester United game


Youngsters Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Alex Iwobi and Julio Pleguezuelo trained with the Arsenal first-team squad this morning as Arsene Wenger’s side held their final training session prior to tomorrow’s Premier League game at home to Manchester United.

Reine-Adelaide has made a surprisingly quick recovery from the injury he suffered whilst playing for the U21s against Newcastle United, with the winger having initially been expected to be out for two months.

Iwobi and Pleguezuelo have featured prominently for the club at U21 and U19 levels this season, and both players were drafted in for today’s training session with several senior players out injured.

Laurent Koscielny, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini are all out, whilst long-term absentees Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Danny Welbeck are still unavailable. Olivier Giroud, however, can be considered for selection again after returning from suspension.

Joe Willock signs scholarship terms as Arsenal U18s are held by Swansea

Image: The FA

Image: The FA

Youngster Joe Willock has signed his scholarship deal with Arsenal and should make his first appearance of the season in the next few weeks.

The England youth international, who is the younger brother of U21 player Chris, featured for Arsenal at U18 level last season and was subsequently offered scholarship terms, but he deliberated over signing the deal.

He has now put pen to paper, though, and will be hopeful of making a similar impact to that of his brother, who has already featured for the first-team in friendly fixtures.

*Info via Andy’s Arsenal U18’s

Meanwhile, Arsenal U18s were held to a goalless draw away to their Swansea City counterparts in their latest league fixture today.

Striker Donyell Malen made his first start at this level, whilst fellow summer arrival Vlad Dragomir made the bench for the first time. Yassin Fortune was absent through injury but will be hopeful of featuring against Leicester City next week.

Frans De Kat’s side have made a mixed start to the season, winning four, drawing two and losing two of their opening eight fixtures.


Osei-Tutu-Da Graca-Pileas-Chatzitheodoridis




Subs: Phillips, Dragomir, Tella, Nketiah.

Round-up: Nelson hits hat-trick; Akpom in England U21 squad



Arsenal schoolboy Reiss Nelson enhanced his rapidly-growing reputation further still today as he scored a hat-trick for England U17s in their 5-0 trouncing of Armenia.

Nelson, who also found the net in the 8-0 victory over San Marino on Tuesday, was in imperious form for the young Lions, as he scored two goals from close range that were sandwiched between an excellent individual goal.

In other news regarding the England set-up, striker Chuba Akpom, who is currently on loan at Hull City, has been named in Gareth Southgate’s U21 squad for the European qualifier against Kazakhstan later this month. Akpom was named in the England U21 squad earlier this season but had to withdraw through injury so he will be hopeful of making his debut at that level this time around.

Bielik at centre-back – Temporary experiment or long-term planning?

When Krystian Bielik joined Arsenal in a high-profile move from Legia Warsaw in January, few people would have predicted that the young Pole would still be waiting to make his senior debut for the club by the time October came around.

That is the case, however, and to casual onlookers it may appear that the 17-year-old hasn’t developed quite as expected in the ensuing period. The reality is, though, that Bielik has been progressing very well for the club at U21 level and that he hasn’t been afforded an opportunity to impress in the first-team is largely owing to the fact that he has several senior players ahead of him in his two main positions of defensive-midfield and centre-back.

Bielik’s development since he joined the club has been interesting to watch, especially in terms of the positions he has been deployed in. Upon his arrival he started as a defensive-midfielder for the U18s before delivering some composed performances at the heart of the defence after he was swiftly promoted to the U21s.

He then enjoyed a run of games in midfield towards the end of last season, but this campaign he has, to the surprise of many, been utilised exclusively at centre-back.

That decision has been difficult to comprehend for some given that he is one of the very few bonafide defensive-midfielders on the club’s books at youth level. Furthermore, the fact that Bielik has been a regular starter for the U21s at centre-back has meant that Stefan O’Connor, another player the coaching staff have high hopes for, has been mainly used as a substitute this season.

As far as Bielik is concerned, he has fared well in his new position, forging an effective partnership with Julio Pleguezuelo. Bielik’s height and physical presence complements Pleguezuelo’s speed and craft, whilst Bielik himself is also excellent technically.

Bielik also possesses the intelligence to spot team-mates in good positions, although his passing can occasionally be off-key. He can also be caused problems by skilful and quick attackers, but, for the most part, he has fared well at centre-back.

The coaching staff’s decision to deploy him there seems rather deliberate, but there is a serious case to be argued that Bielik is even more effective as a defensive-midfielder. The youngster specialises in breaking up play and is more suited to playing his favoured short, snappy passes when he is stationed in the middle of the pitch.

In the U21 game against Derby County earlier in the season, Bielik started the game at centre-back and wasn’t at his best, but he thrived upon being moved into midfield following the introduction of O’Connor.

The decision to use him at centre-back also seems rather bizarre given that Bielik’s most obvious route into the first-team set-up at present would appear to be as a midfielder. The Gunners are well stocked for senior centre-backs at present, with Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel and Calum Chambers all at the club.

In contrast, in defensive-midfield the club are rather short of options beyond Francis Coquelin, with Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini both in their thirties and also in the final year of their current contracts at the club.

It has been a little surprising to see Glen Kamara training with the first-team regularly in recent weeks to provide defensive-midfield cover when Bielik is readily available. It seems, then, that the club see Bielik as a centre-back at the moment, and he certainly won’t mind so long as he is featuring regularly for the youth sides.

When it comes to first-team action, though, he may have to be rather more patient than initially anticipated for sustained opportunities. He stands a chance of making the squad for the Capital One Cup game away to Sheffield Wednesday next month, but before then he will seek to impress in training for the U21s.

Arsene Wenger is evidently a fan of Bielik, despite the fact that he demoted him, surely temporarily, from his first-team squad over the summer. The youngster will inevitably be back in the senior set-up in due course, but at the moment it appears that he will do so as a centre-back rather than as a defensive-midfielder.

It could well be the case that the club are attempting to school him as a centre-back so that he is able to cover there if needed in the future, and the development of a more rounded player would be to everybody’s benefit.

For now, though, Bielik is being seen as a centre-back and it will be interesting to see how he fares in that position throughout the course of the campaign, particularly if he comes up against exacting opposition in the UEFA Youth League.