Arsenal U21s to play at Boreham Wood next season, with UEFA Youth League entry also likely


Last season saw Arsenal’s second-string side experience a radical overhaul, with the Reserves being reformed as the U21s as part of a new Premier League set-up, whilst the club also made their maiden outing into European football at youth level by participating in the NextGen Series.

This time around, further changes are afoot, and one key issue centring on where the majority of the club’s home U21 fixtures will be played in the forthcoming season following Barnet’s decision to leave Underhill has been made a little clearer this evening, with Chief Executive Officer Ivan Gazidis revealing at a meeting that, as things stand, Boreham Wood’s Meadow Park ground will take over as the lead venue for Steve Gatting’s side. An Arsenal XI have played a pre-season friendly at the ground for several years.

Several matches will also be staged at Emirates Stadium, whilst, as per usual, home games in the winter months will take place at London Colney so that players do not pick up any unnecessary injuries owing to the bad conditions. Fixtures for this level are expected to be announced towards the end of next month.

Arsenal also have a decision to make regarding their participation in the NextGen Series for the forthcoming campaign. Despite reaching the semi-finals of the competition in 2012/13, should the first-team win their impending Champions League qualifier in August, then the club will automatically be invited to participate in the UEFA Youth League, a competition established by European football’s governing body in order to rival the NextGen tournament. It is believed that Arsenal are leaning towards the UEFA tournament, which is open to, but not compulsory for all Champions League clubs.

15 comments

  1. I would like to see enter both competitions if allowed? Even with all the departures with a few more signings we should have enough players. We have some excellent schoolboys to make up the numbers for the next gen. Should we get knocked out of one competition early at least we would have the other to fall back on. But perhaps uefa could use the next gen like a europa lge equivalent?

    1. I’m not sure we can register two different u19’s for two different competitions that run concurrently

  2. I really hope Arsenal and other clubs stay with the Next gen set up. Very well run and will only grow and grow, Uefa only jumping on the bandwagon as they can see what a success this will be.

    1. both nexgen and uefa probably wants the best team in the world to compete. I see no problem to compete in both competition at the same time. Yes one team in one of the competition will be weaker but would you reject arsenal, united, ajax, milan, real madrid, barcelona just because they will field a “weaker” team?

      Looking at our U21 and U18 we can easily field two pretty strong teams for both competitions. if either uefa or nexgen reject us because they think we don’t priorities their competition enough then they are the one who have lost more from it than we have.

      Its a win win situation for us. we will be in one of the competition no matter what. I hope we compete in two competitions and let as many as our players get the experience to play vs the best youth sides in the world.

  3. It’s probably not feasible to enter both. The fixtures will probably run in parallel, how are you going to divide up the players and the coaching staff for something like that? And besides, it seems like all the big sides will jump over to UEFA’s competition and leave the NextGen Series with a pretty weak field, the equivalent of an U19 Europa League (If UEFA don’t create that as well to really finish NextGen off as a competition). It was pretty under handed from them to do this, they allowed NextGen to do the groundwork and take on the massive challenge of setting it up and convincing clubs to take part, then copied them and took all their big name clubs once they saw how successful it has been.

    1. yeah but I do think we can field two teams. as we saw last year they didn’t do a lot of substitutions. it was basically the same team for 85 min. in all the games. I also think nexgen will adopt and wont make fixtures to collide the same day. I don’t know what will happen but u18 alone consist of 16-18+ players? U21 of 14-15 regulars? those on the bench a lot can make a team and it will be a alright team anyway. like we have 5-6 midfielders who won’t be able to play all the u21 games. then we have schoolboys who if necessary can come in too.

      1. If we hadn’t sold/released as much youth as we have this summer I would quite like the idea of entering both but I can’t see how we could manage it now. Assuming we go full strength in the more competitive UEFA competition, we would basically have to play U16s (except for in midfield) in the NextGen. I’m not sure how wise it would be to throw 15/16 year-olds up against 18/19 year-olds. There’s also the danger of exposing our young talent to European scouts before we’ve got them on professional terms.

      2. Lets see what happens. I am also worried about the exposure for other teams. If UEFA ban the teams to be on both competitions then thats just sad. There will still be many good teams for nexgen and I also agree that the cost alone for being in both competitions might be too much.

    2. Totally agree, very underhand and very much like Uefa to jump in and steal the glory. I think Barcelona have indicated they would field two separate teams , but cant see many teams agreeing to do that, just costs alone would stop it, although i think you could theoretically field to European teams.

      1. whilst 16 academy players sold/released may seem a lot lets not forget that the majority of those were not eligible for next gen or uefa youth CL. Also we have brought in 9 players so far that are eligible, so according to my basic sums, we actually have a bigger squad (29 including Ansah, Jeffrey, Crowley and Pleguezuelo) for u19/u18 football than last season.

        I am still convinced that all the players born 1993 or earlier will join the first team squad this season, with the exception may be of boateng (who I think will captain the u21s if he doesn’t go out on loan) wellington and galindo. However, I think many of the 1992/1993 born players will go out on loan.

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