Arsenal under-18s have the opportunity to secure the first half of a presitigious double when they take on North London rivals Tottenham in the Premier Academy League play-off Final at White Hart Lane tomorrow afternoon.
It has been a superb season for Steve Bould’s side, who have only lost two games all campaign, and remain undefeated in 2009. Having topped Group A by a staggering 25 points, they will be full of confidence going into tomorrow’s encounter.
However, last week’s performance in the semi-final against Manchester City left a lot to be desired, with Bould admitting that the Gunners would be ‘turned over’ if they played like that again. Spurs will be looking for revenge for their FA Youth Cup exit against Arsenal earlier this season and will be boosted by the return of Andros Townsend and Jon Obika from a highly profitable loan spell at Yeovil.
The Gunners may be without Jack Wilshere (thigh) after he picked up an injury on international duty, whilst left-back Thomas Cruise faces a late fitness test. Rhys Murphy will be pushing for a start, whilst Luke Freeman and Benik Afobe could return on the bench, although Oguzhan Ozyakup is still in Germany with Holland U17’s.
Bould may opt to rest some players ahead of Friday’s FA Youth Cup final first-leg with Liverpool at Emirates, but this trophy is one which has eluded Arsenal since its formation at the start of the 2004-05 season.
ANDROS TOWNSEND V CRAIG EASTMOND
Live-wire Andros caused Craig all sorts of problems in the FA Youth Cup quarter-final and, after a highly successful spell away at Yeovil, he will be brimming with confidence. Eastmond has had a solid season and was particularly impressive against Manchester City in the semi-finals, but he will have to be on his guard here.
STEVEN CAULKER V SANCHEZ WATT
Sanchez may operate as a lone striker for Arsenal, although he will receive
lots of support from his midfielders. Caulker is a solid, no-nonsense centre-back and will be determined to keep a clean sheet.
JON OBIKA V KYLE BARTLEY
Powerful striker Obika was a thorn in Arsenal’s side in the FA Youth Cup clash and the much-improved Kyle Bartley will have to be on his guard to stop him. Obika impressed on loan at Yeovil and will be looking to impress potential suitors ahead of another temporary move next season.
subs: Shea, Afobe, Freeman, Henderson, Boateng.