Precocious Crowley hoping for Youth Cup involvement

Dan Crowley arrived at Arsenal in the summer with a reputation for being one of the country’s most promising youngsters, and, despite a month-long injury lay-off, he has so far managed to live up to that billing, turning in some superb performances for the club at U18 level in recent weeks.

That good form prompted coach Steve Gatting to name Crowley on the bench for Monday’s U21 Premier League defeat to Sunderland, and, although the midfielder was not called upon during the 90 minutes, he will be back at Boreham Wood’s Meadow Park ground tomorrow evening when Arsenal’s FA Youth Cup campaign gets underway against Torquay United.

It seems certain that Crowley will be included in the squad, but it is not currently clear whether he will be called upon to start the game or he will be on the bench again, with Arsenal possessing a range of midfield talents at this level, not least the likes of Gedion Zelalem and Jack Jebb.

If it is presumed that Zelalem and Jebb will both start, then perhaps Crowley’s only opportunity of earning a place in the starting line-up will be on the left flank, at the expense of Alex Iwobi, a player who, it must not be forgotten, made the bench for the first-team in the Capital One Cup earlier this season.

The Crowley or Iwobi dilemma will give coach Carl Laraman much to consider, but the rest of his side should not be too difficult to select. Matt Macey is poised to start in goal, with Tafari Moore and Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill set to occupy the full-back berths, and Chuba Akpom in line to start up front.

Arsenal do currently have some problems in central defence, however, with both Stefan O’Connor and Julio Pleguezuelo facing late fitness tests as they seek to be involved. If neither of them make it, then a rather unconvincing partnership of Alfred Mugabo and Leander Siemann may have to be called upon.

Arsenal have been given some tough tests by lower-league opposition in this competition in the past, but will be hopeful of progressing against Torquay, with the main aim being for the youngsters to rediscover the feeling of winning after some difficult results at various youth levels recently.

One player set to play a prominent role in Arsenal’s Youth Cup campaign is Ainsley Maitland-Niles, with the winger having broken into the U21 side during the first few months of his scholarship. Direct and skilful, he will seek to cause the opposition defence all manner of problems tomorrow, whilst Arsenal will also be hoping that Zelalem will deliver a performance that is more reflective of his natural ability than some of his displays in recent weeks.




  1. +’d love the goal scoring Jon Toral on the field of play pairing Jebb, Olsson, Iwobi and Maitland Niles in Midfield.

  2. Toral, Hayden and Olsson are all eligible (must be between 15 and 18 on Aug 30 2013) so not only is there a bit of a headache about who to leave out amongst creative mids (can’t have Olsson, Toral, Zelalem, Jebb, Maitland-Niles and Iwobi in there. No sir! Only four to start mmost likely as a more defensive player’s needed in there somewhere) but cb should be ok, or at least not as dicey looking, whatever happens with fitness tests, as Hayden can play there.

    Anyway, should be a good team. And if they can’t put Torquay away… may have to bring down my hopes a bit about their respective abilities.

    That O’Connor’s stock has (provisionally) risen a bit too this week- I thought it was the Ajayi cat who was working wonders for u21 defence, but O’Connor’s absent and…ohoh

      1. I took the wiki entry – ‘competition run by The Football Association for under–18 sides. Only those players between the age of 15 and 18 on 31 August of the current season are eligible to take part.’- as correct is all. Should’ve trusted your knowledge. Aint seen you get anything wrong to date.

        Figured (some) 18 yo’s could play in under 18 comp same way I was only ever properly under-whatever for a week or two in youth footy thanks to being 4 days within cutoff.

        Does the ,arbitrary-seeming-to-me, rule mean that if you signed,say, a 16 year old to a full pro contract (I’d have guessed, wrongly it seems, this was the Zelalem situation. Also that would mean Wilshere was only on a scholarship contract-seems risky- when 16 in the cup-winning year!) they wouldn’t be elligible?


  3. Zelalam normally plays as the number ten for Arsenal. Jebb has been playing deeper in midfield all this season. Crowley on the wing, then Niles or Iwobi on the other wing.

    1. I just took it off wiki. Under 18 (or under whatever in youth sports) usually means under it at a certain point (typically at start of season), so many players will no longer be under-whatever as tournament progresses. When Man Utd won it two years ago, Pogba, Morrison, Keane, and probably loads of others, were 18.

      Jeorge’s post seems to say, if I’ve read it right, that it’s more about contract type- 1st and 2nd year scholars+ schoolboys- rather than age as the wiki page suggests.

      Ha, maybe that’s why Man Utd lost Pogba- they creamed opposition to win cup, but should’ve had him on a long-term deal.

      1. it doesn’t matter whether players have professional contracts or not. Players like Akpom and Jebb who have professional contracts can still play, but they are still technically second years as they are in their second year at the academy.

  4. Nope Olsson recently said when he first joined the club he was playing as a ten but now his best position is a number eight deep in midfield. Don’t know about Jebb seen him play both roles.

    1. Yeah. But he has always preferred to be playing as a deep lying midfielder. I think he will be really good in the future. I just hope he is going on loan to Sweden again. Much better than U21. There are some good team in sweden he can play for.

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