Crowley injury compounds Arsenal U21s defeat to Middlesbrough

U21 Premier League- Game 9

Middlesbrough 3 (Kamara 23, 44 Haroun 47). Arsenal 1 (Afobe 5)

Arsenal U21s suffered their second league defeat of the season this afternoon despite taking an early lead against Middlesbrough. Benik Afobe opened the scoring in the fifth minute, but the hosts, inspired by Kei Kamara, eventually ran out deserved victors. Arsenal’s defeat was compounded by a serious-looking injury to Dan Crowley, who was stretchered off midway through the second-half.

The headline team news saw Crowley come into the side for his first competitive start at this level with Gedion Zelalem still with the Germany U17 side at a training camp. Julio Pleguezuelo, meanwhile, made his return from injury, whilst Ainsley Maitland-Niles was also restored to the side. Jon Toral is currently away with the Spain U19 squad.


Yennaris-Pleguezuelo-Ajayi-Ormonde Ottewill


Maitland Niles-Crowley-Eisfeld


subs: Iliev, O’Connor, Kamara, Moore, Iwobi.

Arsenal attacked from the offset and, if they were seeking a fast start that is exactly what they got, with Benik Afobe opening the scoring after just five minutes with the striker seizing on a loose ball before finishing adroitly.

Arsenal were attacking with considerable dynamism in the early stages and very nearly doubled their advantage early on when Maitland-Niles found Kristoffer Olsson, with the Swedish midfielder’s effort striking the crossbar.

The impressive Maitland-Niles then did well to play in Afobe, but the latter dithered in front of goal and his effort was gathered.

That miss would prove costly with Middlesbrough equalising when Kamara, on his return from injury, did well to emphatically head the ball past Matt Macey following a dangerous cross.

Arsenal, undeterred by their concession, sought to regain their advantage immediately and their next chance fell to Maitland-Niles, whose shot was deflected wide.

Middlesbrough were always a threat on the counter-attack, however, with Kamara finding the net again before the interval to put Middlesbrough in front.

Middlesbrough, buoyed by their goal, became increasingly dominant after the interval and went 3-1 ahead when Faris Haroun capitalised on some disappointing Arsenal defending from a corner.

Things then went from bad to worse for Arsenal, with Crowley forced to be stretchered off with an injury that saw him replaced by Alex Iwobi.

Macey then had to be alert to rush off his line to prevent further damage, whilst, at the other end, Iwobi at least provided some attacking intent, with the substitute shooting wide before striking the post shortly Ap. afterwards.

Hayden then shot over but the damage had long been done. Hopefully, in the case of Crowley, it won’t be too profound.



  1. Just for anyone who doesn’t know: Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Stefan O’Connor (plus Crowley and Moore) have been called up to the England u17 squad for training and games at St George’s Park.

  2. Jeorge,

    Just wanted to put out a big thanks for the information you provide on the youth setup for the likes of me here in Miami (USA). As a coach of younger lads and a die hard Arsenal fan I appreciate the work you put in.

  3. Think the player making that challenge is the same guy who was challenging all sorts of youngest player records for Middlesborough about three years ago, before a bad ankle injury kept him out for a long time.

    And yet, unless Crowley jumped in front in him in the middle of his lunge (very unlikely), it looks like he’s thought nothing of launching himself dangerously through the back of a, probably unsuspecting (looks like Crowley was in a position to shield the ball from all sensible challenges), slighter-than-average kid.

    Mourinho was on about English blood the other day, and sadly it looks like a case of it from the photo. English blood. English brains. It’s gotta be a factor in the deficiencies in techique best exposed by International football : a player with limited technique, always looking to keep it simple, often by necessity, is so much safer than a player like Crowley with superb control and dribbling ability, and that has to be hugely influential in the players we end up with, the environment moulding each player within it.

    Sadly, it ends up looking like in this case they perhaps should have kept him away from the adults longer, under 18s straight to, at some point, first team football, where the extra scrutiny might make people a bit more careful. Not because he couldn’t cut it at that-u21- level but because you just can’t trust the opposition to show a little sense.

    If somehow the photo doesn’t represent what really happened, then of course I apologise to the player involved (not that they can hear it), but it looks like a crap challenge.

    Anyway hope he recovers quickly ,and keeps the faith with his playing style afterwards, because he looks a superb talent.

  4. Yeah, looks like the other player can’t make the ball without making a lot of contact- at the same instant or just before- with the player. Crowley wouldn’t have been prepared and so couldn’t make any adjustments to protect himself.

    Links above with photos seemed to have stopped working, ditto those on photographer’s own twitter, so I was a bit suspicious that there are things going on behind scenes.

  5. That is a horrible challenge. Can’t even call it a “tackle” at all.

    That said, I remember saying just last week that IMO Crowley needs to move the ball on faster. Look at Ozil and Rosicky – not giants but they move that ball on quickly. At that size you simply have to unless you have Messi speed – and even he would get savaged if he played in this country.

      1. Oh yeah your right, give Crowley a 10 year ban for having more than one touch on that occasion. Give the defender a knighthood for punishing the horrendous crime

      2. Another woeful display of your lack of reading comprehension. You managed to reply my post (ziontrain January 16, 2014 at 11:35 pm) while failing to absorb any of the first paragraph.

        I will repeat it for you:
        ….That is a horrible challenge. Can’t even call it a “tackle” at all…..

        If that is really a call for “knighthood” for the defender, then you must be a member of Mensa…

      3. Oh don’t worry lad, I read your comment fine. Crowley got taught a good lesson in how he shouldn’t hold onto the ball. Your advice to him here, which I’m sure he contemplates 24/7, coupled with that horrible challenge, has surely put him on the right path. Otherwise, he might have continued dribbling and actually expressing his talent, which your wisdom has taught would be wrong.

      4. Well, I’m not sure he’d be looking for analytical insights from someone who cannot comprehend a simple 100-word post.

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