Much concern for winless Arsenal U18s

“We were well beaten by a very good technical, tactical and physical outfit”. Arsenal U18s coach Carl Larman was talking about his side’s 3-0 defeat at home to Chelsea at the weekend, but could just have easily been referring to several other discouraging performances from the Gunners’ youngsters this season.

The Chelsea game, in which Jeremie Boga delivered an inspired performance for the opposition as he scored a first-half hat-trick, was Arsenal’s seventh loss at this level so far this season, whilst it has been well documented that Laraman’s team are still without a win since their opening day success against Liverpool.

The performances of the younger age-group are in stark contrast to those of the U21’s, with the second-string playing some swashbuckling football at times and dispatching of Aston Villa’s much-vaunted youth set-up with considerable ease last week.

At U18 level, however, things are not going so well, and the bad run of results cannot exactly be attributed to inexperience, with players such as Chuba Akpom, Jack Jebb and Alex Iwobi, who have regularly represented the club at far higher levels, all featuring against Chelsea.

Akpom and Jebb both came close to scoring, the latter striking a post with an excellent free-kick, but Arsenal’s defensive performance left much to be desired, with a lack of cohesion across the back line painfully evident. Leander Siemann and Arinse Uade are still struggling to convince despite now being second-years, whilst Tafari Moore and Elliot Wright possess promise but are still in the early months of their scholarship deals at the club.

The defence were not offered much in the way of protection, with Alfred Mugabo, who was deployed in defensive-midfield against Chelsea, not yet fully fit following a lengthy injury lay-off. Dan Crowley failed to make much of an impact against Arsenal’s London rivals, but the playmaker has only recently returned from a spell on the sidelines himself and is still adjusting to his new surroundings.

At times it seems as if most of the inspiration, particularly in an attacking sense, is provided by schoolboys who are determined to impress, with Kaylen Hinds and Stephy Mavididi, neither of whom featured against Chelsea, both finding the net this season and delivering commendable performances.

In fact, at U18 level, no player has scored more than two goals for the club so far this season, suggesting that, as well as the aforementioned defensive concerns, there is also a problem up front. The question must also be raised as to why some players can perform to such a high standard at U21 level, but fail to replicate that form when they return to the U18s, which should ordinarily be an easier level to play at.

Laraman’s performance in a coaching sense will also be questioned, but it seems unlikely that the coach will be dispensed of in the near future, and certainly not until a permanent replacement is found for Liam Brady as the club’s Head of Youth Development.

All the youngsters in the U18 side can do is apply themselves fully and hope to earn a promotion to the second-string as quickly as possible. Results at youth level are certainly not as important as in the senior game, but when the performances are also of questionable quality, then concerns begin to arise.

The aim will be to end this run as quickly as possible, with the mini North London Derby away to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday providing the ideal opportunity to end the hoodoo.




  1. I understand that Brady leaves at the end of the season, surely changes have to be made before then. Also, isn’t it a ‘shoe in’ that his replacement will be Terry Burton.

  2. Jeorge, do you know of any possible candidates for the head of youth development job? What do you think of bringing in someone from Spain?

  3. I saw the game. Chelsea were much stronger, but did play many of there under 21’s. Have to disagree with the comments on Dan Crowley, he was far and away Arsenals best player. Despite being the smallest and probably youngest on the pitch, against a really big and talented opposition

    1. Most fans information is restricted to twitter updates of the match, if a player isn’t mentioned in the updates much or didn’t get involved in goals that’s all we have to go on in terms of how they played. Good to know he played well though, cheers.

  4. Glad to see that the often-quoted “they are learning from this” is coming to fruition!! Can’t believe the set-up is as bad as the results indicate and a shake-up in coaching and recruitment is clearly needed.

  5. I think the level of coaching at the u18 level has dropped since steve bould got promoted. Terry Burton needs to help out with the academy

  6. did you actually watch the match? as attendance was restricted I presume not. The lack of transparency around the u18s these day, by that I mean restricted attendance, and the reduction of highlights to a mere 6 minutes, make it very difficult to analyse the u18s nowadays. This is all just speculation really, its clear something is wrong, we can see that because the results have been bad for a long time now, but we don’t know what is wrong, we don’t know what is causing problems or what the problems actually are. Its unfair for fans to accuse people without being informed of whats actually going on.

    1. Some players are doing a lot of mistakes in the highlights every match. I mean seriously don’t we have any better than Sieman in the youth ranks?

      1. I saw the highlights too and I know exactly the sequences youre talking about. two or three times he tried to one-touch ariel balls to the midfield and gave up possession, I attribute that more to a lack of cohesion with the midfield and indeed with the rest of the team that has been caused by the constant shuffling of the U18s. I know it seems like Siemann is doing badly right now but Elton Monteiro was awful during his first two seasons and the massively improved during his third to the point where we offered him a new contract though he declined.

  7. Bola’s first two goals the midfield/defence didn’t close him down quick enough and gave him far to much room. Huddart could have done better as well. Bola’s third goal was a good team goal for Chelsea.

    Akpom had a couple of good chances his header and shot which went wide. Jebb hit the post in the first-hald.

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