FA Youth Cup 5th Round
Charlton Athletic v Arsenal
Stonebridge Road, 21.02.14, 7pm kick-off
Arsenal have made rather serene progress in this season’s FA Youth Cup so far, with Carl Laraman’s side dispatching of Torquay United and Peterborough United with relative ease, scoring a combined eleven goals across the two fixtures and conceding just one.
Now, though, things are going to become a little harder for them as Arsenal attempt to win the prestigious competition for the first time in five years. For tomorrow night’s visit to take on Charlton Athletic they will have to cope without the supreme talent of Dan Crowley, who is still recovering from an injury suffered whilst playing for the U21s last month.
Crowley has been Arsenal’s star performer in this competition so far, with his virtuoso performance against Peterborough, during which he played a key part in all six of his side’s goals, earning him widespread acclaim. His absence means that Jack Jebb, who has been called upon from the bench in the two previous rounds, is likely to be elevated into the starting line-up.
First-choice right-back Tafari Moore, who was stretchered off after suffering a dead leg whilst playing for the U21s against Reading on Monday, but the England U17 international is expected to be available. If he doesn’t make it then a defensive re-shuffle will be required, with Leander Siemann ready to start, whilst Julio Pleguezuelo could also fill in at right-back if needed.
Chuba Akpom will start, with the striker eligible to feature under the terms of his youth loan at Coventry City, meaning Austin Lipman will most likely have to settle for a place on the bench.
This is an exciting Arsenal side, possessing plenty of pace and power and, as evidenced against Torquay and Peterborough, a genuine goal threat, with wingers Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Alex Iwobi particularly dangerous. Glen Kamara adds resilience in midfield, whilst Gedion Zelalem should also feature.
Charlton dispatched of Nottingham Forest and Southampton to reach this stage, and this fixture will hold an extra sense of importance for two members of their squad. Right-back Aaron Barnes and midfielder Regan Charles-Cook both featured fleetingly for Arsenal’s U18 side in the first half of last season before being released. Both players have settled in well at Charlton and will be determined to prove a point against their former employers in what is sure to be an engaging encounter.
Initially scheduled to take place at The Valley last week, the game was postponed and will now be played at Ebbsfleet United’s Stonebridge Road ground.
The winners will host Everton in the Quarter-Finals, with the opportunity to play at Emirates Stadium a particularly inviting one for the young Gunners. First, though, they must negotiate their way past what is likely to be a tricky obstacle in Charlton.
Possible Arsenal team:
subs: Huddart, Mugabo, Dawkins, Siemann, Lipman.