Amaechi, Okonkwo and Olayinka get first senior call-ups as Arsenal travel to Dubai

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Arsenal have announced their travelling squad for their warm-weather training camp in Dubai, with a host of youngsters in attendance.

Notably, goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo, midfielder James Olayinka and winger Xavier Amaechi have all received their first senior call-ups and could be involved in the friendly against Al Nasr next week.

Amaechi, along with Tyreece John-Jules, was initially named in the England U18 squad, but they were withdrawn at Arsenal’s request.

Other youngsters that have been named include Jordi Osei-Tutu, Dominic Thompson,  Ben Sheaf, Charlie Gilmour, Julio Pleguezuelo and Zech Medley.

Regarding first-team players, Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette, Denis Suarez, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Shkodran Mustafi, Carl Jenkinson, Bernd Leno and Petr Cech have all travelled.

Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and Danny Welbeck, who are all recovering from long-term injuries, have also made the trip.

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Josh Martin leaves Arsenal to sign professional contract with Norwich

Josh Martin has left Arsenal to sign a professional contract with Norwich City.

The winger, a product of Arsenal’s Hale End academy, signed scholarship terms with the Gunners last summer having featured for the U18s while he was still a schoolboy.

However, this season Martin found game time difficult to come by as he made just one appearance for the U18s.

Martin subsequently went on trial at Norwich, for whom he has been heavily involved at youth level in recent weeks.

The Canaries have now elected to sign Martin, and the fact that the 17-year-old is on professional terms gives him extra security for his future over the next couple of seasons.

Earlier in the season Norwich signed goalkeeper Daniel Barden from Arsenal.

Loan report – Ospina taken to hospital after collapsing; Martinez keeps clean sheet

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David Ospina was substituted in the 44th minute of Napoli’s 4-2 win against Udinese after collapsing on the pitch due to a head injury. The goalkeeper was taken to hospital, with manager Carlo Ancelotti saying afterwards: ‘Fortunately it’s nothing serious, he’s conscious’.

Emiliano Martinez kept a clean sheet as Reading drew 0-0 with Stoke.

Calum Chambers moved back into defence and played the whole game as Fulham lost 2-1 to Liverpool.

Matt Macey played the whole game as Plymouth Argyle lost 2-0 to Fleetwood Town.

Krystian Bielik played the entirety of Charlton Athletic’s goalless draw with Bristol Rovers.

Kelechi Nwakali came on in the 78th minute as Porto B drew 1-1 with Cova Piedade.

Reiss Nelson was brought on in the 85th minute as Hoffenheim drew 1-1 with Stuttgart.

Takuma Asano was an unused substitute as Hannover lost 3-1 to Augsburg.

Emile Smith Rowe wasn’t involved as RB Leipzig beat Schalke 1-0 as he isn’t fully fit after recovering from injury.

 

Report – Balogun scores brace as Arsenal U18s hit five against West Ham

U18 Premier League

West Ham United 2 (Emmanuel 75, McGuinness 88 (o.g.) Arsenal 5 (Swanson 14, Balogun 28, 72, Lopez 39, McGuinness 51)

The prolific Folarin Balogun scored a brace as Arsenal U18s continued their title challenge with a 5-2 victory away to West Ham United, extending their winning run to five games.

Coach Ken Gillard made one alteration to his side, with Joel Lopez replacing Tyreece John-Jules, meaning Zak Swanson pushed into midfield.

It was Swanson who opened the scoring in the 14th minute following impressive work from Sam Greenwood, and then Balogun managed to double Arsenal’s advantage.

Arsenal extended their lead further before the break, with Lopez scoring his first goal for the club.

Mark McGuinness added further gloss to the scoreline in the second half with Balogun then getting his 18th goal in 14 games after Coyle set him up.

West Ham, to their credit, refused to give up, with Mbule Emmanuel scoring a consolation before an own goal from McGuinness reduced the deficit further.

Arsenal had already done enough to secure victory, however, and remain top of the table, four points clear of their closest challengers Tottenham Hotspur, who have two games in hand.

Arsenal: T. Smith; Daley-Campbell, McGuinness, Clarke, Lopez; M. Smith, Swanson (Alebiousu 69); Greenwood, Cottrell (Flaherty 79), Coyle; Balogun (Matthews 81).

Subs not used: Okonkwo, Dennis.

Arsenal youngster Daniel Ballard rewarded with senior Northern Ireland call-up

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Arsenal defender Daniel Ballard has been rewarded with his first call-up to the senior Northern Ireland squad.

The committed centre-back has previously represented Northern Ireland at U19 and U21 levels and has now been drafted into the senior setup for the upcoming EURO 2020 qualifiers against Estonia and Belarus.

Ballard has regularly featured for Arsenal’s U23 side this season and has also trained with the first-team on several occasions.

The 19-year-old scored the winner for Northern Ireland U21s against Iceland earlier this season.

Report – Arsenal U23s battle to secure point against league leaders Everton

Premier League 2

Everton 0 Arsenal 0

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Arsenal U23s secured a commendable point away to league leaders Everton tonight, but their hopes of retaining the Premier League 2 title are now over.

Freddie Ljungberg’s side faced a tough challenge on Merseyside, and the young Gunners had to be resolute defensively in order to keep a clean sheet.

Ljungberg made just one alteration to his team, with Nathan Tormey rewarded with a starting berth for his impressive cameo against Swansea City as he replaced Bukayo Saka.

Iliev

Osei Tutu-Ballard-Medley-Pleguezuelo

Gilmour

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Subs: Balogun (for Tormey, 69), Bramall (for Medley, 79). Not used: Okonkwo, Omole, M. Smith 

Arsenal had the first meaningful effort of the game, with Xavier Amaechi forcing his former team-mate Joao Virginia into a save from a free-kick.

Everton then began to demonstrate their qualities, however, with Deyan Iliev having to make a stop to thwart Nathangelo Markelo before Warren Feeney headed just wide.

Tyreece John-Jules, starting up front in the absence of Eddie Nketiah, saw a back-heeled effort cleared off the line and later Amaechi tested Virginia with another attempt.

Arsenal were fortunate to go into the break level, though, with Everton’s Josh Bowler squandering an excellent opportunity to find the net.

The second-half was slow to get going, but Arsenal did eventually press Virginia into action once more, although Charlie Gilmour’s free-kick was saved.

Ljungberg brought on Folarin Balogun but Arsenal had to be heavily focused on defending in the closing stages of the game, with Everton threatening with increased regularity.

Julio Pleguezuelo and Daniel Ballard combined well to deny the Toffees on one occasion, and then Bowler looked to have won in for Everton but his strike was ruled out for offside.

It wasn’t a vintage encounter, but Arsenal should be praised for managing to secure a point against a side that could well succeed them as Premier League 2 champions.

 

 

Arsenal midfielder Gedion Zelalem set to complete permanent move to Sporting Kansas City on Monday

Sporting Kansas City are set to complete the permanent signing of Arsenal midfielder Gedion Zelalem on Monday.

The 22-year-old has been heavily linked with a return to the United States and will make the move to Sporting Kansas City on a free transfer despite the fact that his Arsenal contract was set to run until the end of the season.

Zelalem has arrived in the United States and the deal is set to be announced at a press conference, according to The Washington Post.

It has been clear for some time that Zelalem’s Arsenal career was heading towards its conclusion, especially given that he has failed to command a regular starting berth for the U23s this season despite being one of the most experienced players in the squad.

Zelalem joined Arsenal as a schoolboy in 2012 and quickly became hyped as one of the club’s standout prospects.

Blessed with the quality to play defence-splitting passes with regularity, he initially featured for the U16s as he found it difficult to cope with the physicality of the English game following his switch from Olney Rangers.

Soon, though, Zelalem was playing and impressing for the U21s while he was still a schoolboy and he then made a major impact for the first-team during pre-season in 2013.

For all the talent he demonstrated, however, Zelalem will leave Arsenal with just four competitive first-team appearances to his name and without having featured in the Premier League.

At one stage he was officially part of the first-team squad but Zelalem was never able to truly establish himself, with injuries not helping his cause.

Zelalem spent time on loan at Rangers and VVV-Venlo but the beginning of the end for his Arsenal career came when he suffered a serious injury while representing the United States at youth level, which stopped his development in its tracks.

In truth, Zelalem hasn’t been especially impressive for the U23s this season and this move is probably best for all concerned.

This is another disappointing tale, though, of a youngster with immense potential not being able to fulfill it, not necessarily owing to his own actions.