House finds a new home as Arsenal’s next scholarship intake takes shape

It was a hugely disappointing season for Arsenal U18s in terms of results, but one of the positives to emerge from the campaign was that several schoolboys gained valuable experience of playing at that level, albeit in difficult circumstances.

The majority of those U16 players will form the bulk of Arsenal’s new scholarship intake for next season. One player who won’t be joining them is goalkeeper Brad House, who has joined West Bromwich Albion having been told earlier in the season that he would be let go.

As well as being named on the bench four times for the U18s this season and a further four times for the U19s, House also played in the league defeat at home to Tottenham Hotspur as well as the UEFA Youth League loss away to Anderlecht.

However, with Hugo Keto progressing well and George Phillips and Jordan Perrin set to provide cover next season, Arsenal are well stocked in the goalkeeping department at youth level.

House joins Owen Moore, Rugare Musendo, Tyler Hayles, Mich’el Parker, Kwai Marsh-Brown and Brooklyn Beckham in leaving the club. Moore and Musendo have already secured deals with Brighton & Hove Albion and Southampton respectively, whilst Parker has joined Liverpool.

Where does that leave Arsenal’s scholarship intake? At present there will be seven Hale End products who will become full-time from July 1st, although it is worth bearing in mind that any of them could still leave before that date.

Arsenal’s new scholars:

Front row- (l-r) – Marcus Tabi, Nathan Tella, Charlie Gilmour

Back row- (l-r)- Tolaji Bola, Joe Willock, Edward Nketiah, Josh Da Silva

This is an intriguing group, but it must be said that, whilst it contains an abundance of attacking talents, Bola is the only defensive player included.

All seven players have been involved with the U18s this season and you can read more about each player below:

TOLAJI BOLA- Defender- Born: 4.1.99

A youngster who plays at centre-back or left-back, Bola, who is of no relation to fellow Arsenal defender Marc, already possesses experience of U18 football.

Good on the ball although occasionally a little rash in his decision making, Bola has been capped by England at U16 level.

JOSH DA SILVA – Striker- Born: 23.10.98

Capable of playing as a central striker or as an attacking midfielder, Da Silva has been a mainstay for the U18s this season and also made his UEFA Youth League debut as a substitute against Galatasaray.

A frequent goalscorer for the club at U16 level, he has found goals harder to come by for the U18s but he did find the net against Norwich City and will be hoping to score with more regularity next campaign. He is strong physically and possesses good link-up play.

CHARLIE GILMOUR- Midfielder- Born: 11.2.99

Once described by Liam Brady as one of the club’s most promising schoolboys, Gilmour has represented both Scotland at England at youth level.

A central-midfielder who is tidy in possession, he still has much to learn tactically, but he has been slowly bedded in to the U18 team this season and will hope to become a regular during 2015/16.

EDWARD NKETIAH- Striker- Born: 30.5.99

A diminutive but hard-working striker who has impressed for the U16s this season, Nketiah broke into the Arsenal U18 team midway through the season and has often been used on the left wing by coach Frans De Kat.

Very good technically, Nketiah scored whilst representing the club at the AlKass International Cup.

MARCUS TABI- Midfielder- Born: 2.2.99

Arguably the best performing Arsenal schoolboy this season, Tabi, who can play in central-midfield or out wide, has recently returned for the UEFA U17 European Championships, where he started all of the Republic of Ireland’s group stage matches.

He has also impressed for Arsenal U18s, notably scoring a good goal against Blackburn Rovers. Next season he is set to receive further game time at that level and may even push into the U21s as the campaign progresses.

NATHAN TELLA- Winger- Born: 5.7.99

A right-winger who fended off competition from Brooklyn Beckham to earn a scholarship deal, Tella turned in some commendable displays for the U18s in the second half of the season.

Quick and an intelligent decision maker, Tella was hugely impressive at the AlKass International Cup in Qatar.

JOE WILLOCK- Winger/central-midfielder- Born: 20.8.99

The younger brother of young professional Chris, Joe Willock will be hoping to show that he is an excellent talent in his own right.

A winger or central-midfielder, he scored for England U16s earlier in the campaign but has had to be patient for opportunities to represent Arsenal at U18 level. That should change next season, however, and it will be interesting to see how he adapts to playing at a higher level.

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These seven players will be a major part of next season’s U18 squad. They will be joined in that regard by some of the current first-years- Keto, Ilias Chatzitheodoridis, Kristopher Da Graca, Ben Sheaf, Harry Donovan, Savvas Mourgos and Aaron Eyoma.

The likes of Stephy Mavididi, George Dobson, Chiori Johnson, Kaylen Hinds, Marc Bola, Tyrell Robinson and Chris Willock will still be eligible for the U18s but should be more heavily involved with the U21s. Ryan Huddart will still be eligible to feature for the U18s in league matches as an overage goalkeeper.

Then there is a group of players- Reiss Nelson, Robbie Burton, Tobi Omole, Josh Benson, Perrin, George Phillips, Rob Howard and Emile Smith-Rowe- who will still be schoolboys next season but will hope to play at least some games for the U18s (Nelson should be heavily involved).

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That could still leave Arsenal’s U18 squad looking a little light in some areas, though, which is where the potential new signings come in. Kostas Pileas, a Cypriot youth international centre-back who has impressed on trial at the club, is likely to join, whilst this week there were (as yet unconfirmed) reports that French attackers Yassin Fortune and Jeff Reine-Adelaide will also sign.

There still hasn’t been any word whether Martin Graiciar, a highly regarded striker from the Czech Republic, will indeed be joining the club, despite a deal appearing close to conclusion earlier this year. Arsenal have also included two further trialists from their Elite academy in Greece in their squad for the Geneva Cup, an U16 tournament which gets underway today.

Konstantinos Balagiannis and Marko Divkovic have linked up with the team for the tournament.

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With the above information in mind, Arsenal’s U18 squad for next season could look something like this:

KETO

Phillips

Perrin

   Huddart*

JOHNSON – DOBSON – DA GRACA- M. BOLA

     Eyoma – Omole-T. Bola-Chatzitheodoridis

                                                                     Howard

      DONOVAN – SHEAF

Gilmour

Benson

 HINDS- C. WILLOCK- ROBINSON

 Tabi-Mourgos- Nketiah

 Tella-Nelson- J. Willock

                 Burton- Smith-Rowe

      MAVIDIDI

     Da Silva

*Overage player

This is the strongest possible squad and will inevitably be much weaker for many U18 league fixtures.

Loan spell next on the agenda for Gnabry

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When he was enjoying his impressive breakthrough campaign in 2013/14, Serge Gnabry probably wouldn’t have envisioned that he would end the following season back in the Arsenal U21 team.

A troublesome injury, however, has meant that the German has endured a stop-start season, with fitness problems depriving him of the opportunity to represent the first-team this campaign.

A player who doesn’t turn 20 until July, Gnabry still has time on his side, though, and, as he demonstrated with a virtuoso performance for the second-string against Wolverhampton Wanderers last night, he is edging closer to full sharpness following his lengthy injury lay-off.

Arsene Wenger is a believer in Gnabry’s talent, but the competition for places in the Arsenal squad may mean that the former Stuttgart player will have to head out on loan at some point next season to further his development.

Given his physique and the experience he already possesses of top-flight football, a temporary stint at a Premier League club shouldn’t be beyond Gnabry, although it is hugely important that he goes to a club where he is likely to play regularly, as opposed to many of Arsenal’s recent loanees who have spent far too much time on the bench.

Given his ability to operate across the forward line and slightly deeper (he has shown some especially encouraging signs as a playmaker in the number ten position), Gnabry would be a useful asset for several clubs, with his pace and trickery his key attributes. His finishing is improving, too, although there are some aspects of his game that the young German needs to rectify, most notably his particularly heavy first touch.

There is still much to be optimistic about as far as Gnabry is concerned, despite injuries wreaking havoc with his progress this season. He seems perfectly suited to Arsenal’s style of play and doesn’t seem fazed when placed in a first-team environment. A hard worker and willing learner, Gnabry’s determination has also seen him rewarded on the international stage as he was called up to the Germany U21 squad this season for the first time.

He will inevitably have designs on representing the World Cup holders at senior level in the future, but, for now, his primary focus should be on his club career. A loan spell will hopefully help to smooth out some of the rough edges in his game and see him return to Arsenal ready to compete for a regular place in the side.

Report- Gnabry stars as Arsenal U21s end season with demolition of Wolves

U21 Premier League

Arsenal 4 (Iwobi, Gnabry, Pleguezuelo, Upton (o.g.) Wolverhampton Wanderers 0

Although they may not have managed to gain promotion back to the top tier, Arsenal U21s have ended the campaign in impressive form, with tonight’s comprehensive 4-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers representing the third win in succession for Steve Gatting’s team.

It was an evening of positives for the young Gunners, especially with regards to the performance of Serge Gnabry. The dynamic German youth international hasn’t represented the first-team for over a year, but he provided a reminder of his talent here as he scored one goal and set up two others.

Alex Iwobi capped off a fine season on a personal level by scoring his tenth strike for the U21s this campaign, whilst Julio Pleguezuelo scored his first competitive goal at this level. The rout was completed when Wolves’ Regan Upton scored an own goal.

The major team news saw Isaac Hayden make his first appearance since December after recovering from injury. Hayden partnered Krystian Bielik in the defensive-midfield pivot, with first-year scholars Chiori Johnson and Marc Bola occupying the full-back berths.

Arsenal were without Dan Crowley because of injury and Gedion Zelalem, who is set to represent the United States at the U20 World Cup, so Tyrell Robinson was afforded a start on the left wing, with Iwobi continuing up front.

Macey

Johnson-Pleguezuelo-O’Connor-M. Bola

Bielik-Hayden

Maitland Niles-Gnabry-Robinson

Iwobi

subs: Kamara (for Hayden, 46), Dobson (for Johnson, 67), Eyoma. Not used: Huddart, Sheaf.

Arsenal had overcome Bolton Wanderers in their previous fixture and they started very brightly on this occasion. Gnabry was on set-piece duty and his free-kick found Pleguezuelo, who could only head straight at Harry Burgoyne.

Wolves responded with Jordan Graham forcing Matt Macey to make a good save, before the bright Bright Enobakhare shot wide.

Arsenal would find the net with their next attempt, however, and, given the form he has been in recently, it was of little surprise that Iwobi was the scorer, with the Hale End product finishing well after Hayden’s initial effort was parried.

Iwobi attempted to get the better of Burgoyne again shortly afterwards, but this time the goalkeeper was equal to his effort.

Wolves briefly threatened to equalise through Conor Hunte, but Arsenal soon doubled their advantage, with Gnabry getting on the scoresheet following good work from Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

Wolves, to their credit, continued to battle on despite the scoreline, but Burgoyne was then called into action again, with the goalkeeper doing well to deny Hayden.

The first meaningful opportunity of the second period fell to Enobakhare, who brought another impressive stop out of Macey, but by the hour mark the game was well and truly over, thanks to two moments in which Gnabry was heavily involved.

Firstly Gnabry’s free-kick was flicked onto the crossbar and the eager Pleguezuelo managed to head home the re-bound to make it 3-0. The fourth came from another Gnabry free-kick, with the ball striking the leg of Upton and going into the net.

Robinson and Maitland-Niles missed chances to add further gloss to the scoreline, but the damage had long since been done, with Gnabry at the very heart of matters.

Arsenal end an inconsistent campaign by finishing fourth in U21 Premier League Division Two, missing out on promotion by four points. Middlesbrough and Reading have been promoted to the top tier, with Fulham and West Ham United joining the young Gunners in the second division.

Reports- Arsenal set to sign Yassin Fortune

Arsenal have reportedly agreed a deal to sign French youngster Yassin Fortune from Lens.

The 16-year-old has previously been linked with other prominent clubs, including Manchester United, but the French U16 international, who usually plays as a striker, has chosen to join Arsenal, according to France Football.

If he does sign, Fortune would form part of Arsenal’s scholarship intake for next season, which could also include Cypriot defender Kostas Pileas.

Loan report- Ryo and Toral conclude temporary spells

Picture: EMPICS

Picture: EMPICS

Carl Jenkinson played the entirety of West Ham United’s 2-1 defeat to Everton. The right-back created a chance that was squandered by Alex Song.

Wellington started on the right wing and was replaced after 74 minutes as Almeria lost 2-1 to Sevilla.

Jon Toral played the final half an hour as a substitute as Brentford’s play-off dream came to an end with a 3-0 defeat to Middlesbrough. Toral, who recently signed a new one-year deal with Arsenal, made 36 appearances for the Championship side, scoring six goals.

Joel Campbell started but was substituted at half-time as Villarreal beat Malaga 2-1.

Lukas Podolski was introduced as a substitute for the final eight minutes as Inter Milan lost 2-1 to Juventus.

Ryo was an un-used substitute as Twente concluded their campaign with a 3-0 victory over Heerenveen. The Japanese winger made just 10 appearances for Twente’s senior team but featured on 14 occasions for their reserve side.

Yaya Sanogo wasn’t involved as Crystal Palace beat Liverpool 3-1.

Jack Jebb wasn’t part of the Stevenage squad for their 3-1 play-off defeat against Southend United.

Prospective signing Pileas scores as Arsenal U17s beat MK Dons

Screen shot 2015-05-16 at 19.47.48

An Arsenal U17 side containing many schoolboys prevailed with a 1-0 victory over their MK Dons counterparts in a friendly at London Colney this morning.

Arsenal’s goal was scored by Kostas Pileas, a Cyprus U17 international who previously impressed whilst representing the club as a trialist at the AlKass International Cup in Qatar. It seems likely that Pileas, who has previously played for Arsenal’s Elite Academy in Greece, will form part of the club’s scholarship intake for next season, although such a deal is yet to be formally announced.

The team that played today provided something of an indication as to what the club’s U18 side could look like in the near future.

Hugo Keto, Savvas Mourgos and Elliot Wright, the latter potentially playing his last match for the club, were the only full-time scholars who started the game. Several members of next season’s scholarship intake- Tolaji Bola, Charlie Gilmour and Eddie Nketiah were also in action, whilst the most intriguing selections were the U15 players on show, including Nathan Tormey and Jaidon Anthony, two players who have yet to be called up to the U18 squad.

Keto

Howard-Wright-Pileas-T. Bola

Gilmour-Mourgos

Tormey-Anthony-Smith Rowe

Nketiah

subs: Perrin, J. Willock, Benson, Omole, Chatzitheodoridis, Burton. 

Info via AFCFixtureNews

Arsenal’s Willock stars at U17 European Championships

The FA

The FA

Arsenal may not have won any silverware at youth level this season, but there remains a strong possibility that some of the club’s youngsters could end the season with a trophy, after an England side containing Chris Willock and Stephy Mavididi progressed to the Quarter-Finals of the U17 European Championships.

Both players started England’s first two group stage matches, with Willock being named man of the match following a virtuoso display in the 1-1 draw with the Netherlands. The Arsenal duo started today’s final group stage game against the Republic of Ireland on the bench, but were introduced in the second-half.

Willock again had a profound impact on proceedings, with the youngster setting up the only goal of the game, a stunning strike from Tottenham Hotspur talent Marcus Edwards.

There was another Arsenal player on show in Bulgaria, with schoolboy Marcus Tabi completing another full game for Ireland. His nation may have crashed out of the tournament prematurely having taken just one point from their three fixtures so far, but Tabi, who has already established himself as a key member of Arsenal’s U18 squad, will surely have gained some valuable experience from the competition to take into his first year as a full-time scholar.

For Willock and Mavididi the trophy is in sight as England look to win this tournament for the second year in succession. Last season Tafari Moore was involved as the Three Lions reigned supreme, but this time England will first have to navigate their way past Russia in the Quarter-Finals this weekend. Willock and Mavididi will be hoping to be restored to the starting line-up for that fixture.