Crowley captures the attention, but others also impress against Peterborough

Photo by Kieran Clarke

Photo by Kieran Clarke

Dan Crowley’s scintillating performance against Peterborough United in the FA Youth Cup last night certainly captured much attention, with the 16 year old demonstrating his outstanding technical and tactical awareness throughout the fully deserved victory at London Road.

Peterborough were simply unable to cope with Crowley’s wizardry, as he frequently found pockets of space before threading pinpoint passes through to Arsenal’s myriad of attacking talents, which eventually culminated in the former Aston Villa player claiming four assists to go with the two goals that he scored himself.

Crowley’s first goal is certainly worthy of another mention. The midfielder seemed as if he was going to play a simple pass to Gedion Zelalem, but instead took a touch to steady himself before finding the net with a superb effort via the far post. The opposition may not have been of the highest calibre last night, but that should not take any of the shine away from what was simply a divine performance from Crowley; one that even eclipsed his display in the demolition of Torquay United in the previous round.

What next for Crowley? He has already edged his way ahead of Jack Jebb in the pecking order, but, at present, is yet to make his competitive debut for the U21s, with the likes of Zelalem, Kristoffer Olsson and Jon Toral all ahead of him. In a struggling U18 side in the league he has been one of the few plus points, but it will not be too long before he is elevated to the second-string on a permanent basis and, if he continues to churn out performances like last night’s, then the already considerable buzz surrounding his development will only increase.

Crowley may be the star turn, but there is plenty else to admire about this Arsenal FA Youth Cup side, and despite the persisting doubts over Carl Laraman’s coaching capabilities, the young Gunners will be hopeful of a lengthy run in the competition.

That players such as Jebb and Austin Lipman, who first featured for the U18s at the age of 15, cannot even command a place in the starting line-up tells you just how strong this side is. Zelalem’s performance last night was not in the same vein as Crowley’s, but the German is demonstrating signs of adapting to a deeper midfield role, whilst Chuba Akpom’s hat-trick provided the clearest indication yet that the striker is returning to his prolific goalscoring form of last season.

Photo by Kieran Clarke

Photo by Kieran Clarke

Full-backs Tafari Moore and Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill continue to impress, whilst Glen Kamara is quietly effective as the midfield anchor and winger Ainsley Maitland-Niles is starting to add goals to his already considerable attributes.

If there are some doubts about this side then they centre on the heart of the defence. Stefan O’Connor is an impressive player who is still in the first year of his scholarship, but Leander Siemann, who has been selected alongside him in the two ties so far, has failed to demonstrate his qualities since joining the club, whilst Alfred Mugabo, who emerged as a substitute last night, still seems somewhat unfit after returning from injury.

Hopefully Julio Pleguezuelo, the centre-back signed from Barcelona last summer, will be fit to return for the Fifth Round of the competition, where tougher opponents are likely to lie in wait.




  1. I saw zelalem play last season for the u21s in a friendly where he played in this deeper role. The club have played him in both positions a number of times, even in pre season he didn’t always play as a 10. There is some doubt about which is his best position, I think due to his movement and possession play,and getting out of pressure, the deeper role might be his best. Crowley is outstanding, as the arsenal commentator on the highlights said, he has it all, his dribbling, passing, vision, pace, is fantastic. He’s also been threatening to score goals for a while now, went close to scoring a wonder goal several times now this season, thankfully he’s finally had the luck for it to go in, hopefully that continues. The curling shot is becoming a trademark of his. Despite the u18s poor form this looks like a very strong team, several are England international’s, plus zelalem and the very good form of Niles.

  2. Jorge.
    There has been rumours that Leander Siemann was leaving Arsenal and going back to Germany. Any truth in those rumours?

    1. Well he stated in German footy mag that he is out of contract this summer and the club has not made him an offer yet. But German 1st and 2nd division clubs are interested, sounds to me he is following the likes of raage nordveit hajrovic monteiro and the other Swiss fella (whose name escapes me) out of the door.

  3. I’m just wondering where that sarcastic idiot is that said “that superstar Crowley” insinuating that he is overrated is today….He WILL be a star, and no he didn’t come from the Arsenal academy, but who cares??? We need to purchase the best young players from wherever we can in order to sustain a relative level of success. I am all for giving the academy kids a chance, but if the opportunity comes along to grab the next Iniesta, for example, you would tell me that we shouldn’t do it??? Stay in your hiding spot you dumbass!!! 😀

    1. We currently have an awesome crop of 26 players born 95-97 of which I believe only 4 that have yet to impress they are uade, siemann Wright and smith. I hope I am not being harsh on those 4 but I don’t recall ever reading a positive report about them

  4. I think Crowly is a bit like Lupoli in that he is a type that will impress at youth level but may not make an impact at senior level.

    Crowly looks impressive now because he holds on to the ball a lot – in fact too much. What he needs to be doing is keeping it simple, seeing the bass before he gets the ball, passing it quickly, save the fancy stuff for specific occasions. Especially when he is so small.

    I’m not even impressed by his supposed dribbling skills either. I dont think I have seen him do any dribbling that Akpom cant do – and Akpom is six foot tall. Difference is Akpom dribbles less and with much more with purpose behind it rather than just trying to hang on to the ball without a specific plan. Or look at a Ross Barkley, who can do all this and much more, but actually has some size and speed.

    Sorry to be so negative on this Crowley kid, but I just think he is way overhyped

      1. No, just being honest. I would think those who remember Lupoli and watched him a lot know what I am talking about here.

      2. Crowley is more impressive with his passing than his dribbling, so your theory is over before it begins. Don’t know how blinkered you must be to not have noticed his passing ability! Akpom is obviously “your boy”, but still, I think it’s a bit daft to say the least to say that he’s a better dribble than Crowley, who is clearly very special with his quick feet, balance and nimbleness. Don’t worry, Crowley is class. I remember lads that used to think JET was a better prospect than wilshere, and you seem just as preposterous as their kind were.

      3. It is sad that you feel the need to resort to implying that I have a personal connection with any of these players. I dont. Not my relatives or friends and I am not an agent.

        Also really bizarre that you find it “preposterous” that someone would think Crowley wont make it. The statistical fact is that making it to the level of being a superstar or top level premiership player is quite rare even for kids in the academies of premiership clubs. Even if the shave it down to the most highly touted kids, the numbers are still something like maybe one in four or five.

        So in fact assuming that Crowley is a can’t-miss is actually the preposterous idea. You’ll need to be more dispassionate in your assessment.

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