Arsenal U18s have found consistency hard to come by in terms of results in the early stages of the season, but with regards to his individual performances Seb Ferdinand has been very reliable.
The 16-year-old has established himself as the first-choice right winger for Jack Wilshere’s team, as evidenced by the fact that he has started every game so far this season.
Ferdinand found the net in the 4-4 draw against West Bromwich Albion and will be looking to add more goals and assists as the campaign progresses.
With his direct running and dangerous crosses, Ferdinand is a hugely important player for the U18s, and he has an excellent understanding with prolific forward Omari Benjamin, who is currently out injured.
In addition to causing problems for opponents it is evident that Ferdinand frequently makes a significant contribution defensively as he often works hard to close opponents down.
If he continues to perform in this manner then further opportunities will open up for Ferdinand. Some of the other members of the U18 squad have already been involved at U21 level, but the problem that Ferdinand faces in the short term is that there are plenty of wide options for Mehmet Ali to call upon such as Amario Cozier-Duberry, Joel Ideho, Kido Taylor-Hart, Charles Sagoe Jr and George Lewis, while Nathan Butler-Oyedeji can also operate out wide.
Eventually, Ferdinand should be able to force his way into the U21 squad. For now though he is relishing playing for the U18s as he builds upon his impressive displays for the U16s last season.
Arsenal U21s remain unbeaten in Premier League 2 this season and the impressive form of goalkeeper Hubert Graczyk is a significant factor behind that sequence.
The 19-year-old has yet to keep a clean sheet this season, but he has a made a catalogue of impressive stops, including during the draw against Liverpool at the weekend.
The highlight of that game for Graczyk was his penalty save to deny Luke Chambers and afterwards the shot-stopper revealed to Arsenal Player that he had done a lot of research on Chambers’ penalties.
Graczyk commands his penalty area with authority and is very vocal, with his defenders often working well in front of him.
In the early stages of the season Graczyk has had to cope with many changes in the back four, but when pressed into action he is capable of making fine stops.
Graczyk has already been the third-choice goalkeeper on matchday for the first-team and he will hope that he can get a call-up to be on the bench at some point during the Europa League group stages.
Eventually a loan spell will follow for Graczyk, but for now he is relishing playing for the U21s.
In the long term he faces a very difficult task in attempting to get ahead of Arthur Okonkwo and Karl Hein and potentially Aaron Ramsdale eventually, but as things stand his development is going very well.
Norwich City 1 (Campbell 4) Arsenal 2 (Nwaneri 16, Ismail Oulad M’Hand 24)
After making his first-team debut before the international break, Ethan Nwaneri was back involved with Arsenal U18s today and the hugely talented youngster provided another indication of his quality as he scored and provided an assist in a win away to Norwich City. ￼
There was another start for schoolboy Myles Lewis-Skelly, while Osman Kamara was deployed on the left wing with Nwaneri up front. Defender Josh Robinson, who played for the U21s recently, started at right-back.
Mathaeus Roberts was named on the bench after recovering from an injury that saw him miss the start to the season.
Lewis Skelly-Ismail Oulad M’Hand
Subs: Roberts (for Nwaneri, 62), Green (for Kamara, 82), Ryan (for Dudziak, 90). Not used: Kovacevic, Small.
Arsenal got off to a disappointing start, with Charlie Campbell opening the scoring after just four minutes.
However, the young Gunners managed to pull level in the 16th minute as Nwaneri scored after he was found by Kamara.
Nwaneri then turned provider for Ismail Oulad M’Hand, who scored what proved to be the decisive goal of the game.
Roberts made his return as he entered the fray in place of Nwaneri in the 62nd minute, with Kaleel Green and Kamarni Ryan also later coming on.
Arsenal managed to hold on for their second victory of the season.
It will be interesting to see how Arsenal manage Nwaneri’s development but he certainly seems to have mastered playing U18s football.
Arsenal youngster Folarin Balogun continued his encouraging start to the season as he scored in England U21s’ 3-1 victory against their Germany counterparts at Bramall Lane tonight.
Balogun has impressed on loan at Reims in the early stages of the campaign and he looked full of confidence as he produced an encouraging overall display.
Felix Nmecha put Germany ahead but Balogun equalised as he showed impressive composure by finishing with an effort that went in off the post.
Conor Gallagher put England ahead shortly after the break, with substitute Cole Palmer adding a third goal late on.
Balogun had a couple of other opportunities and forced a corner on one occasion, but the 21-year-old demonstrated that there is much more to his game than just goalscoring, with his hold-up play also being of a high standard, while he didn’t shy away from helping out the defence before being replaced in the 70th minute.
Following his latest strike, Balogun now has seven goals in 13 games for England U21s, although he still has some way to go if he is to surpass Eddie Nketiah’s record of 16 goals at this level.
The Arsenal first-team squad were in training today and with a host of players missing due to international duty, a large contingent of youngsters were called upon.
Midfielders Matt Smith, Mauro Bandeira and Jack Henry-Francis trained with the first-team along with defenders Reuell Walters, Elian Quesada-Thorn and Taylor Foran and forward Nathan Butler-Oyedeji.
Winger Joel Ideho and goalkeepers Hubert Graczyk and James Hillson were also involved.
First-team players who took part in the session include Ben White, Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Jesus, Rob Holding, Marquinhos, Gabriel, Reiss Nelson, Fabio Vieira and Albert Sambi Lokonga.
With Arsenal U21s in the midst of a hectic schedule, coach Mehmet Ali elected for a centre-back pairing against Burnley that was comprised of two prospects who are technically U18 players.
Reuell Walters, who captained the side, already has plenty of experience at U21 level and impressed with the first-team in pre-season. The 17-year-old was making his first start of the campaign after returning from injury and again demonstrated his versatility as he played as a left-sided centre-back.
Alongside him was a player who has made tremendous progress since joining Arsenal towards the end of last season following his departure from Fulham.
16-year-old Maldini Kacurri, an Albania youth international, has been a regular for Arsenal U18s in the early stages of the season and is now taking his chance with the U21s.
Speaking to Arsenal Player after the 3-1 win, Ali said: ‘I was really impressed with Maldini as a right centre-half. I thought he defended really well.
‘Reuell’s been injured for a while, he was flying in pre-season, he had an opportunity with the first-team and did well, so I thought both centre-halves today were excellent.
‘Those two obviously took the opportunity to play today and did well.
‘All of them, their attitude towards the game and application was excellent. Of course, there are areas that they all need to improve on, which we will address and help them with, and that will help them with their development going forwards.’
Zane Monlouis and Zach Awe started the season as Arsenal’s first-choice centre-back pairing at U21 level and they impressed before Monlouis suffered an injury, which allowed Taylor Foran to come into the side.
With Kacurri and Walters impressing and Henry Jeffcott also capable of operating at centre-back, Ali knows that he has plenty of options at the heart of the defence, which will be especially useful given the amount of games that are scheduled for the next couple of months.
Joel Ideho scored twice as a much-changed Arsenal U21 side returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory away to Burnley in the Premier League Cup today.
Arsenal often rotate in this competition and there were further changes on this occasion with several players missing due to international duty.
As a result, first year scholars Maldini Kacurri and Harrison Dudziak were given their debuts at this level, while on the bench Alexei Rojas, Josh Nichols and Jimi Gower were called up for the first time.
There were also chances in the starting lineup for the likes of James Hillson, Josh Robinson, George Lewis and Billy Vigar.
Reuell Walters, who was deployed at centre-back captained the side as he made his first start after injury.
Subs: Gower (for Dudziak, 46), Foran (for Walters, 71), Taylor-Hart (for Gower, 73), Nichols (for Lewis, 82). Not used: Rojas.
Arsenal were eager to build upon their win against Swansea City in their opening game in this competition but they faced a Burnley side containing two experienced players in Matt Lowton and Kevin Long.
The young Gunners weren’t daunted, however, and took the lead after just eight minutes, with Ideho scoring with a curled effort from outside the box.
Burnley sought to equalise immediately, with Hillson pressed into action as he made a save.
Arsenal were then awarded a penalty as Lewis was fouled by Owen Dodgson in the area. Mauro Bandeira stepped up to convert the spot-kick for his first goal at this level.
Mehmet Ali made an alteration at the break, with Gower replacing fellow debutant Dudziak.
Burnley managed to reduce the deficit through Michael Mellon, who scored after being found by Marcel Lewis.
Arsenal managed to restore their two-goal lead quickly, though, with Ideho scoring again after dribbling into the area and finishing well having received the ball from Bradley Ibrahim.
Gower had to go off after suffering a slight injury, with Kido Taylor-Hart replacing him, while Taylor Foran came on for Walters.
There was still time for Arsenal to give another player their U21 debut as talented full-back Nichols entered the fray in place of Elian Quesada-Thorn.
Overall, it was a very good workout for Arsenal, with three goals and four debutants.