Nketiah scores; Nelson and Willock involved as England U19s beat Latvia

Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah was amongst the scorers as England U19s continued their Elite Round qualification campaign with a 3-0 victory over Latvia.

Mason Mount and George Hirst were also on the scoresheet as England managed to build upon their victory over Hungary.

In addition to Nketiah, two other Arsenal players, Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock, were also involved.


Arsenal face summer goalkeeping dilemma over Martinez, Macey and Iliev


There will be plenty of decisions for Arsenal to make this summer and some of those choices will focus on the goalkeeping department, where there are several players who require clarity on their futures.

Emiliano Martinez, for instance, will turn 26 in September yet he has made just 13 competitive appearances for the Arsenal first-team since joining in 2010 and has endured a frustrating loan spell with Getafe this season, during which he has barely featured.

Matt Macey, meanwhile, also celebrates his birthday in September, when he will turn 24.

After having to be very patient since arriving from Bristol Rovers in 2013, Macey has become increasingly involved with the first-team this season, featuring in the Carabao Cup and the Europa League, and also signed a new contract, but if Martinez was to return then it would push him further down the pecking order.

Arsenal also have to consider the situation of Deyan Iliev, who is 23 and, having spent two years out injured, has shown some significant signs of improvement this campaign.

There are several other goalkeepers beyond them, including the talented Joao Virginia, but Arsenal do have decisions to make on Martinez, Macey and Iliev.

With Petr Cech expected to stay, much could depend on whether David Ospina remains at the club.

Should the Colombian depart then it could provide an opportunity for either Martinez or Macey to become second choice and gain further playing time at senior level.

Martinez, Macey and Iliev are all still relatively young as far as goalkeepers are concerned but at some stage Arsenal will have to let at least one of them go so that the others can be provided with opportunities, and it will be intriguing to see what transpires.

Arsenal’s goalkeeping situation


Petr Cech – Age 35

David Ospina – Age 29

Emiliano Martinez – Age 25 (On loan at Getafe)


Matt Macey – Age 23

Deyan Iliev – Age 23

Ryan Huddart – Age 21

Hugo Keto – Age 20


Joao Virginia – Age 18

Alex Crean – Age 18

Daniel Barden – Age 17

U16s (offered scholarships for next season)

Arthur Okonkwo – Age 16

Tom Smith – Age 16

Nelson hits brace; Nketiah and Willock feature as England U19s overcome Hungary

Arsenal youngster Reiss Nelson hit a brace as England U19s came from behind to beat Hungary 4-1 today.

Zsombor Bevardi gave Hungary a shock lead but England pulled level through Mason Mount before Nelson made it 2-1 with a neat finish.

In the second half Nelson added another, with substitute Jadon Sancho also getting on the scoresheet.

Two other Arsenal youngsters were in action, with Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock playing 85 and 89 minutes respectively.

England have two more Elite Round games to come, against Latvia and Macedonia.

Report – John-Jules and Amaechi strike but Arsenal held by Blackpool in FA Youth Cup semi-final first leg

FA Youth Cup semi-final, first leg

Blackpool 2 (Sumner 44, Jacobson 74) Arsenal 2 (John-Jules 31, Amaechi 64)


Arsenal still have much work to do if they are to reach the FA Youth Cup final for the first time in nine years after they were held to a 2-2 draw away to spirited Blackpool side tonight in the first leg of their semi-final.

The young Gunners twice took the lead, through Tyreece John-Jules and later Xavier Amaechi, but were pegged back on both occasions and Trae Coyle also missed a penalty

Arsenal evidently missed the class of the injured Emile Smith Rowe, who excelled in previous rounds, but they still have a good chance to progress when the sides meet again at Emirates Stadium on April 16.

Coach Kwame Ampadu made four alterations to the side that overcame Colchester United in the previous round.

Schoolboy Arthur Okonkwo started in goal with Joao Virginia on international duty, while Tobi Omole came in for Dominic Thompson at left-back.

In midfield James Olayinka replaced Smith Rowe, with John-Jules returning to take the place of Bukayo Saka.


Daley Campbell-Medley-Ballard-Omole


Amaechi-John Jules-Coyle


Subs: Barden, Olowu, Clarke, Saka, M. Smith.

The opening exchanges were rather uneventful but it soon became apparent that Blackpool were no pushovers, with the hosts enjoying some impressive spells of possession.

Fin Sinclair-Smith was starting to cause problems for the Arsenal defence and on one occasion the Blackpool player forced a save from Okonkwo with the first shot on target, which came 26 minutes into the game.

Proceedings then started to open up a little, and Arsenal eventually managed to take the lead, with John-Jules doing well to create space for himself before finishing cleverly through the legs of Blackpool goalkeeper Craig Thordarson.

That goal gave Arsenal an injection of confidence and they quickly sought to double their advantage, although Folarin Balogun could only shoot wide.

John-Jules then tried his luck again, with the attacker’s effort hitting the side-netting.

Blackpool, to their credit, refused to be disheartened, and they were rewarded for their persistence just before half-time when Dylan Sumner’s half-volley got the better of Okonkwo.

Having equalised prior to the break, Blackpool were determined to go in front early in the second half and Sinclair-Smith continued to be a nuisance with his trickery.

Arsenal found themselves under increased pressure and Okonkwo had to react quickly to make a save.

Ampadu then shuffled his pack, with Saka, who has been so impressive in this competition, and Matt Smith both entering the fray.

Shortly after those changes were made Arsenal took the lead as Amaechi scored following an excellent counter-attack.

Arsenal then had the chance to add some security to their lead when they were awarded a penalty, but Thordarson saved the spot-kick from Coyle and the young Gunners would go on to regret that miss.

Shortly afterwards Thordarson made another smart stop, this time to thwart Saka, and then Blackpool pulled themselves level for the second time in the game as captain Ben Jacobson capitalised after Okonkwo fumbled a cross.

Blackpool sought a third goal, with Sinclair-Smith coming close, before Arsenal pushed forwards in the closing stages but the game ended 2-2 and this tie will be settled in London next month.

Goalkeeper Daniel Barden set for Arsenal FA Youth Cup chance against Blackpool with Joao Virginia absent

Arsenal face Blackpool away tonight in the first leg of their FA Youth Cup semi-final, but Kwame Ampadu’s side will be without some important members of their squad for the game at Bloomfield Road.

In addition to Reiss Nelson, who is away with England U19s, and the injured Emile Smith Rowe, Arsenal are also deprived of the services of goalkeeper Joao Virginia, who has played every Youth Cup game for the club so far this season but has been called up to the Portugal U21 squad this week.

With Virginia unavailable, Arsenal will turn to first-year scholar Daniel Barden, and the 17-year-old will be determined to seize his opportunity.

Barden is a familiar presence in the U18 squad, having first been named on the bench at that level as a schoolboy two seasons ago.

The prospect signed scholarship terms last summer but struggled with injury in the first half of the campaign and has mainly been backup to Virginia since returning to fitness.

Barden has, however, made two league appearances for the U18s, with the first of those coming in the 5-1 victory away to West Ham United in January, while he kept a clean sheet in the 4-0 thrashing of Norwich City last week.

In addition, Barden received his first call-up to the U23 squad last weekend as he was on the bench for the win over Chelsea.

Arsenal have a host of academy goalkeepers at their disposal at present and Barden will certainly have to be patient if he is to make the cut in the longterm, but tonight represents an excellent opportunity to showcase his credentials.

Schoolboy shot-stopper Arthur Okonkwo, meanwhile, is likely to be on the bench.

Arsenal also have another goalkeeper,Alex Crean, on their books but he hasn’t played all season due to injury.

Possible Arsenal team: Barden; Daley-Campbell, Medley, Ballard, Thompson; Burton, M. Smith; Amaechi, Coyle, John-Jules; Balogun.

Subs: Okonkwo, Olowu, Omole, Swanson, Saka.

International duty: Nelson, Virginia

Injured: Smith Rowe, Crean, Tormey, McGuinness

Other options: Clarke, Spencer-Adams, Beckford, McEneff, Benson, Olayinka

Arsenal midfielder Gedion Zelalem to return in pre-season after suffering injury setback in January

Arsenal midfielder Gedion Zelalem will be fit in time for pre-season after suffering an injury setback in January.

The prospect hasn’t played all season as a consequence of the anterior cruciate ligament injury that he sustained while on international duty with the United States at the U20 World Cup last year.

Zelalem has been working hard at Arsenal’s London Colney training centre but it remains to be seen where his future lies and it wouldn’t be especially surprising if he was to leave permanently or on loan in the summer.

Now aged 21, Zelalem was previously regarded as one of Arsenal’s standout prospects and remains a fine distributor of the ball, but he has made just four competitive first-team appearances for the club.

He has also had loan spells with Rangers and VVV-Venlo.

Loan report – Lucas Perez assists; Sheaf features in midfield for Stevenage


Lucas Perez set up a goal and played 84 minutes as Deportivo La Coruna drew 1-1 with Las Palmas.

Kelechi Nwakali played 90 minutes and was booked in MVV Maastricht’s 1-1 drew with Waalwijk.

Ben Sheaf played the whole game in midfield as Stevenage drew 2-2 with Port Vale.

Julio Pleguezuelo played the whole game and was booked as Gimnastic de Tarragona lost 2-0 to Cordoba.

Tafari Moore played the full game as Wycombe Wanderers beat Barnet 2-0.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide played 69 minutes as Angers beat Caen 3-0.

Marc Bola was brought on in the 71st minute as Bristol Rovers lost 3-2 to Plymouth Argyle.

Takuma Asano was an unused substitute as Stuttgart beat Freiburg 2-1.

Joel Campbell was an unused substitute as Real Betis beat Espanyol 3-0.

Emiliano Martinez wasn’t involved as Getafe beat Real Sociedad 2-1.

Stephy Mavididi wasn’t involved as Charlton Athletic drew 0-0 with Fleetwood Town.

Carl Jenkinson and Cohen Bramall weren’t involved as Birmingham City beat Hull City 3-0.

Chuba Akpom‘s Sint-Truidense didn’t have a game this weekend, as was the case for Krystian Bielik‘s Walsall.