Arsenal U18s: Omole impresses at left-back while Smith-Rowe showcases potential


Arsenal U18s are in a constant state of flux, with players frequently stepping up to represent the club at older age groups.

For the game away to Swansea City last weekend coach Kwame Ampadu was without six players (Hugo Keto, Kostas Pileas, Reiss Nelson, Marcus McGuane, Donyell Malen and Tolaji Bola) who were all with the U23s, while Yassin Fortune and Charlie Gilmour remain injured.

As a consequence Ampadu had to delve deep into his resources just to field a team for the trip to Wales, with several first-year scholars featuring, while four schoolboys were included in the squad.

It was one of the more experienced players on show, striker Edward Nketiah, who found the net for Ampadu’s side in the 1-1 draw, but there were some other impressive performers, not least Tobi Omole, who filled in at left-back to good effect.

Omole is usually deployed at centre-back, but, with Pileas and Bola not available, he was moved across to left-back against Swansea. The 16-year-old was impressive as he frequently made forays down the flank and produced some incisive crosses.

There were, inevitably, some mistakes, with Joseph Olowu and Josh Benson not at their sharpest, but it will take time for the team to find cohesion after so many alterations.

Emile Smith-Rowe, one of the standout prospects in this group, was impressive on the left flank, although he won’t be available for the game against Brighton & Hove Albion this weekend as he is on international duty with England’s youngsters.

On the other wing Joe Willock showcased his potential, with the second-year scholar looking to earn a professional contract, while schoolboy Trae Coyle (an attacking midifielder) caught the eye on his first start at this level and it was from his free-kick that Nketiah eventually scored the equaliser.



Arsenal youngster Tyrell Robinson scores while on trial at West Bromwich Albion

Arsenal youngster Tyrell Robinson is on trial at West Bromwich Albion and featured for their U23 side against Fulham tonight in his preferred position as a left-winger. 

Robinson delivered an impressive performance and scored with a header that proved to be the decisive goal in a 2-1 victory. 

There is a possibility that Robinson could leave Arsenal before the closure of the transfer window, with the youngster having grown frustrated with the club’s decision to deploy him at left-back. 

Robinson, who hasn’t featured for Arsenal U23s this season, came close to joining West Ham United earlier this summer but that move broke down. 

Loan report-Toral and Crowley feature; Szczesny keeps clean sheet

jon toral

Wojciech Szczesny kept a clean sheet on his first appearance of his second loan spell at Roma as Luciano Spalletti’s side ran out 4-0 winners against Udinese.

Jon Toral made his competitive debut for Granada, with the youngster playing 73 minutes on the left of a midfield three in the 1-1 draw with Villarreal.

Dan Crowley was introduced in the 81st minute as Oxford United beat Peterborough 2-1.

Stefan O’Connor made his first competitive appearance for Maastricht, with the defender featuring as a late substitute in the 2-1 win over NAC Breda.

Tafari Moore was an un-used substitute as Utrecht lost 2-1 to AZ Alkmaar.

Ryan Huddart was an un-used substitute as Eastleigh drew 0-0 with Wrexham.

Julio Pleguezuelo wasn’t involved as Mallorca lost 1-0 to Reus Deportiu.

Joel Campbell has joined Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon on a season-long loan.


Arsenal’s Gnabry finishes as joint-highest scorer at Rio 2016 despite final heartbreak


Arsenal winger Serge Gnabry scored in the shootout for Germany against Brazil in the final of the football tournament at the Olympic Games, but it was the hosts who ran out winners, with Neymar scoring the decisive spot-kick with the game having finished 1-1 after extra-time.

However, Gnabry still enjoyed a hugely impressive tournament overall, with the winger finding the net on six occasions, making him the joint-highest scorer along with his compatriot Nils Petersen.

Gnabry will now return to Arsenal, although his stay may only be a short one, with the 21-year-old set to be sent out on loan again as he hopes for a considerably better experience than what he endured at West Bromwich Albion last season.


Nketiah strikes and four schoolboys called up as Arsenal U18s draw with Swansea


The prolific Edward Nketiah scored again as an inexperienced Arsenal U18s side drew 1-1 away to their Swansea City counterparts today.

Coach Kwame Ampadu made several changes to his side, with Joe Willock, Josh Benson, Daniel Ballard (who made his debut at this level) and schoolboy Trae Coyle all starting. Joao Virginia, meanwhile, returned in goal after he was part of the Portugal squad at the Olympics.

New scholar Jay Beckford made the bench for the first time, whilst there were call-ups for schoolboys James Olayinka and Vonte Daley-Campbell.


Osei Tutu-Omole-Olowu-Barden


J. Willock-Coyle-Smith Rowe


Subs: Burton (for Smith-Rowe, 64). Not used: Barden, Beckford, Olayinka, Daley-Campbell.

Swansea took the lead in the first-half courtesy of a neat finish from James Cullen that was beyond the reach of Virginia, but the young Gunners strove for an equaliser immediately, with Coyle coming close to scoring.

Eventually Nketiah managed to draw Arsenal level, with Ampadu’s team having taken four points from their first two fixtures. Next up is another away game against Brighton & Hove Albion.


Report- Maitland-Niles impresses as Arsenal U23s are beaten by Man. City

maitland niles

Arsenal U23s are still searching for their first win and their first goal of the season after they were beaten 1-0 by their Manchester City counterparts at the Etihad Stadium tonight.

Coach Steve Gatting made just one alteration to his side, with Glen Kamara replacing Gedion Zelalem, which meant that Ben Sheaf was once again deployed at centre-back in a vulnerable back line.


Johnson-Da Graca-Sheaf-Pileas


Nelson-Maitland Niles-C. Willock


Subs: McGuane (for Johnson, 75), Malen (for C. Willock, 75). Not used: Keto, T. Bola, Mourgos.

After an even opening Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Macey was pressed into action as he had to react quickly to thwart Javairo Dilrosun and Paolo Fernandes, before Ainsley Maitland-Niles almost found the net for the young Gunners with a fiercely-hit shot.

However, it was City who took the lead, with Rodney Kongolo finding the net following good work from Aaron Nemane.

Arsenal were more impressive as an attacking force in the second period, with captain Ismael Bennacer coming close to scoring with a free-kick before Maitland-Niles was denie by some last-ditch defending from City after Stephy Mavididi had done well to create an opening.

Maitland-Niles, who was at the hub of much of Arsenal’s good play, then struck a post after he was located by Kostas Pileas, but Gatting’s team couldn’t make the breakthrough.

Overall, this was an improved showing from Arsenal even though they were ultimately unable to find the net. However, their lack of assurance at the back could well prove costly as the campaign develops.

Arsenal U23s’ lack of options could make Sheaf’s centre-back transition a permanent change


Arsenal U23s take on their Manchester City counterparts at the Etihad Stadium tonight as they look to gain their first victory of the season, but their chances of achieving that aim are hampered by the lack of defensive options available to them.

Against Reading last week coach Steve Gatting called upon a central-defensive partnership of Kristopher Da Graca (who is unconvincing at the best of times) and Ben Sheaf (who is a central-midfielder), while, with Marc Bola out injured, Kostas Pileas was drafted in at left-back. As a consequence Arsenal struggled defensively and eventually lost 2-0.

The worrying aspect for Gatting is that it doesn’t appear that the situation will improve any time soon. There are other options available, with Jordi Osei-Tutu and Tolaji Bola capable of stepping up from the U18s, but it doesn’t appear as if it will be too long until 16-year-olds such as Tobi Omole and Joseph Olowu are pressed into action for the U23s.

Krystian Bielik was a regular at the heart of the defence for Arsenal’s second-string last season, but the Pole is unlikely to feature quite so prominently this time around as he will usually be training with the first-team or, perhaps later in the season, dispatched out on loan.

That could well mean that Sheaf’s transition from midfield to defence becomes rather more than just a temporary solution as the 18-year-old could be required to marshal the back line on other occasions, including against City tonight.

Sheaf is clearly better suited to playing in midfield, but he is efficient at winning the ball back and is calm on the ball. Nobody could have predicted such a scenario, but Arsenal’s lack of defensive options could well lead to a significant, and perhaps permanent change for Sheaf.