Sanogo returns as Arsenal U21s are held by Southampton

U21 Premier League- Game 12

Arsenal 0 Southampton 0

Source: Michael Regan/Getty Images Europe

Source: Michael Regan/Getty Images Europe

Yaya Sanogo completed 61 minutes on his first appearance since August as Arsenal U21s drew 0-0 with Southampton at London Colney today. The French striker failed to make a substantial impact on proceedings, but will be delighted to have finally received some match action after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

This was not exactly a memorable encounter, with neither side possessing much in the way of attacking verve. Ryo intermittently threatened for Arsenal, but couldn’t find the net, whilst, at the other end, Matt Macey made a couple of good interventions to keep the scores level.

Coach Carl Laraman made three changes from the side that drew 2-2 with Norwich City last week, with Sanogo, Stefan O’Connor and Jon Toral all coming into the team.


Moore-Ajayi-O’Connor-Ormonde Ottewill




subs: Lipman (for Sanogo, 61). Not used: Iliev, Fagan, Kamara, Maitland-Niles.

Kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes, but, once the game did get underway Arsenal wasted no time in asserting their authority, with Semi Ajayi coming close to opening the scoring when the tall centre-back connected with Kristoffer Olsson’s corner, but his header was narrowly wide.

Sanogo was then found by a perceptive pass by Thomas Eisfeld, but Jack Stephens stole the ball with the French striker racing down on goal.

Arsenal’s dominance continued with Ryo beating three opponents before shooting just wide. It has been a difficult week for the Japanese winger, who was left out of the club’s updated Champions League squad, but he appeared determined to impress here. Eisfeld then did well to find Olsson, but the latter’s effort was pushed away by goalkeeper Cody Cropper.

The start to the second-half was rather uneventful with both sides enjoying sustained spells of possession without being able to create any clear-cut chances. With an hour on the clock Southampton eventually carved out an opening, with Jake Sinclair forcing Macey into a good save after combining well with Sam McQueen.

Sanogo was then withdrawn as had been pre-planned, with Austin Lipman, seemingly back from a loan spell at Boreham Wood, entering the fray. Ryo then shot wide when well placed before Lipman had a shot blocked from close range after he was located by Toral.

Southampton had several half-chances in the closing stages, but Macey was alert to keep his clean sheet intact. This was not a game that will be remembered too fondly, but, on the positive side, the Gunners managed to avoid conceding a goal in a match for the first time since September.



  1. Nice report, Jeorge.

    How do you rate the center backs at our youth level? Like you mentioned, clean sheets have been quite rare at this level this season. Do you think Ajayi / O’Connor have got what it takes to make the step up to the first team? Or is that an area where we have to use the market to buy?

    1. Ajayi has looked very promising in some games, but less so in others. We will know for sure by the end of next season whether he will have a future at the club. O’Connor has done very well and Pleguezuelo has been impressive as well, but they’re both still first-years so will probably not be considered for the first-team for quite a while.

      1. Interesting. It also looks like Hayden is being developed exclusively as a DM these days. Also just read your post on Pleguezuelo. Worth noting that we are so blessed at all levels with the quality of fullbacks but not as much at central defence. Wonder if that’s something we’re looking to change.

  2. Sounds like a real thriller! Do like a clean sheet though. I’m sure O’Connor/ Ajayi had a nice run of them at the start of season, and would be interested to know in how many of the games which went pear-shaped in last couple of months they were paired.

    Interesting to note Akpom might be coming back. Very smart move I think : youth teams need some extra fire power, two big cup matches this month. Winning both would create real excitement, one would keep the season well alive, losing both would surely leave things very flat. And that’s without the u21 semi, whose date I don’t know. This could yet be a terrific season for the youth teams and I’d like to see that taken into account for any loan decisions.

    Much better to have him here than on loan, right now, unless he’s virtually guaranteed a lot of minutes. Plus, while I may be wrong, I think loans to lower leagues can be arranged right throughout season, meaning you could bring him home for this important month and take it from there. The loss of both him and Crowley from the fa youth and UCL teams leaves us a tiny bit short for me.

  3. It’s good to see Ryo up his game. There’s maybe not much time left for him to make a career at Arsenal but if he improve his game, he still can make a fine career in Premier league or elsewhere.
    I think his performance is regressed compared to when he made a debut at Feynoord. When he was in Feynoord, he not hesitate to drive at defenders dribble past them despite their rough challenge.
    However after, some serious injury, he seems to be mentally scarred, shirk off challenges and reluctant to dribble. That is probably why Feynoord fan was in love with him and Arsenal fan finds him so unimpressed.

    1. I don’t know what games you have been watching but he go on and try to go past defenders and midfielders all the time. That exactly what he shouldn’t do. Just pass the ball and move on. He try to go past them with the same trick which is kick the ball and run. It is not working well. Vision and intelligence on the ball seems to lack because of that. Do you see how Gnabry, chamberlain and Sterling is playing? Those players are fast and very tricky similar to Ryo but they don’t try to do the same trick over and over during a match. They can actually pass the ball too… something Ryo is bad at. His movement off the ball is very poor too. 100% sure Maitland-Niles have a better chance to make it at Arsenal. Just keep an eye on him instead. Look very similar to Sterling in style but still unique. Our very own Neymar in the makings.

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