Positives can be gleaned from Youth Cup run despite exit to Everton

With the dust beginning to settle on last night’s frustrating FA Youth Cup exit at the hands of a spirited Everton team, time can now be taken to reflect on this season’s run in the competition, the lengthiest that the club has enjoyed for three seasons.

The best performance undoubtedly came in the 3rd Round as Newcastle United were swatted aside at Underhill, before Steve Gatting’s side showcased grit and determination to overcome Fulham in extra-time at the same venue last month. Even last night, for all the negative aspects of proceedings, there were some individual performances to savour, with both Serge Gnabry and Chuba Akpom demonstrating glimpses of their respective qualities, whilst winger Anthony Jeffrey was perhaps Arsenal’s most consistent performer over the course of the three games, tormenting opponents with his potent blend of pace and power.

It now seems certain that Jeffrey will be offered a professional contract at the end of the season on the back of his performances in this competition, although the same could not be said of centre-back Zach Fagan, who was at fault for two of the goals conceded last night and, for all his commendable composure whilst in possession, he has a tendency to commit costly errors at crucial times.

Hector Bellerin, meanwhile, was not at his best last night but was impressive in the two previous fixtures, whilst Isaac Hayden demonstrated both his versatility and his leadership qualities, popping up in an attacking midfield role in the latter stages against Everton, and teeing up Gnabry for a sublime finish.

It is disappointing that a prolonged run in the competition, and with it a potential fixture at Emirates Stadium, has eluded this crop of youngsters, but there remains the chance of silverware in the NextGen Series, whilst many of the players on show last night have featured somewhat regularly for the U21s this season.

The likes of Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, Jack Jebb, Alfred Mugabo, Austin Lipman and, not least, Akpom will still be eligible for next year’s assault on the trophy, although the early stages of the campaign may take place in less familiar surroundings with Barnet poised to depart Underhill at the end of the season.

The U21s and U18s still have several league fixtures to fulfill for the remainder of the campaign, meaning that all is not lost for Arsenal’s youngsters despite last night’s defeat.



  1. Well if there is something positive to note is the youth of the team , I think many will stay eligible for next year cup ……..However many special Jebb and Lipman really need to work harder and step up their game …..They are definetly not matchnig the hype….

  2. I think it would be unfair but the club to judge Fagan on the defensive errors that he’s made this season seeing as the first team’s defenders havent exactly covered themselves in glory these past few years

  3. Still rate Fagan , you cant decide a young man’s future on a single game, his age will mean he will make mistakes, he is very comfortable on the ball and will make a pro footballer somewhere. Feel sorry for him right now , but that’s football, it will make him stronger in the future.

    1. I totally agree. Just look at how Vermaelen, Per and Sags are playing at the minute, they’re more than error prone this season and they are experienced pros. Djourou is pony and squillaci..well squillaci is just another story. Miquel who is more Fagan’s competition still doesn’t look convincing to me he’s the worst alternative to have even

  4. “…for all his commendable composure whilst in possession, he has a tendency to commit costly errors at crucial times.”

    I’m sure I heard that description for Miquel a few times! I’m with the poster above on this one, he’s still young and will get better. Defenders have to make mistakes, that’s how they learn.

  5. personally think its just been an awful season for the club all round. i think it stems from so many changes in personnell both at playing and backroom level over the summer and during the season. the biggest impact has been on our win percentage at all levels. zonal marking has caused problems right through the club and as i see it there is going to be more wholesale changes this summer. we have 15 players currently out on loan most of whom have been under used and unimpressive so theirfutures are looking grim. there must be at least another 10 players out of contract or entering the last year these include the likes of fabianski mann one shea sagna afobe eastmond squillaci santos wynter rees ebicilio djourou denilson arshavin rosicky henderson frimpong galindo park watt bendtner chamakh boateng roberts

    1. There is a team of loan/U21 players too good/old to hang around playing U21 football worth who are worth perservering with on loan for another season or two who could replace a consistently underperforming counterpart in the main squad.
      GK: Martinez
      These players should be sold or loaned indefinitely: Fabianski, Mannone, Shea, Eastmond, Watt, Santos, Denilson, Henderson, Park, Wellington, Bendenter, Chamakh and Boateng. Ashavin and Squillaci are definitely out of contract.
      Arsenal need two top or topish players in each position that can be rotated without weakening the team; We have some such pairs now:
      RB: Sagna,Jenkinson
      CB1: Vermarlen, Koncielny
      LB: Monreal, Gibbs
      CM: Wilshire, Arteta (Diaby/Ramsey)
      AM: Carzola, Rosicky
      RW: Walcott, AOC
      LW: Podolski, Gerviniho
      Positions where we have only one player and need to buy a top class player is
      GK xxxx, Sczezny
      CB1 xxxx, Metasaker
      DM xxxx, Coquelin (Frimpong)
      ST xxxx, Giroud
      As for Diaby, Ramsey and Frimpong not sure what is best as they should be playing regularly in best position. Ramsey is so much better when not played on wing or AM but not sure he is better then Arteta or Diaby in CM. It would be better to reduce players coming in to just three (Sagna should be re-sgined and re-motivated) and get top top quality so could risk Frimpong as DM, and hope AOC and Gerviniho improve but please not Arteta again in DM…

  6. Arsenal 18 v Everton 18.

    I thought it looked alright in some sequences but not good defending. We need to teach how to defend really.. as a team.

  7. When you look at it what is Fagan supposed to do for the third goal?
    He’s facing his own goal , he knows the Everton lad has a tap in on his left, so he has to go for it on the stretch in front of his goal, nightmare for a defender, and he’s misjudged a header, should be more annoyed about there 4th goal that came from your free kick!

  8. Jeffrey should tell them to stick their pro. Hes been easily the best u18 player bar none despite injuries. U21s football was denied to him and given to the glory boys who as usual failed to show up when it mattered despite being pros and getting good cash. Akpom Ollson and Bellerin step forward. He should follow Monokana go and play championship / league by 20/21 he would have 75 plus games with a solid career ahead of him.

    1. Jeffrey isn’t better than Gnabry or Eisfeld who stand in his way, and you also know nothing of Jeffrey’s attitude, intelligence or application to properly judge how deserving he is of Arsenal investing more time and money in his development.

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