Arsenal U18s learnt last night that their opponents in the Semi-Finals of the FA Youth Cup will be London rivals Chelsea, who beat Newcastle United 3-2.
There will be two legs, most probably played at Emirates Stadium and Stamford Bridge, the first of which will take place later this month. Arsenal have already knocked Chelsea out of the U21 Premier League Cup this season and could yet face them in the latter stages of the UEFA Youth League, but Chelsea were successful when these two sides last met in the Youth Cup back in 2011.
Arsenal will hope to have Dan Crowley and Stefan O’Connor, who missed the Quarter-Final victory over Everton, available again in time for this encounter. There were plenty of positives to glean from Monday’s night’s success at Emirates Stadium, not least the standout performances of goalscorers Jack Jebb and Chuba Akpom, whilst wingers Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Alex Iwobi, despite not getting on the scoresheet on this occasion, still impressed with their pace and trickery.
Gedion Zelalem demonstrated glimpses of his talent but once again was not at his most effective, but his midfield partner Glen Kamara was imperious in breaking up opposition attacks and helping to set Arsenal on the front foot. Arsenal also defended well for the most part, with centre-backs Julio Pleguezuelo and Leander Siemann making some crucial interventions, although left-back Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, usually so reliable, was caught out on several occasions.
Attention now turns to Saturday’s U21 Premier League Cup Semi-Final against Reading at Boreham Wood, with next week’s UEFA Youth League encounter away to Barcelona also creeping into view.
The situation that saw Ryo Miyaichi travel to Munich for last night’s Champions League tie only for the club to belatedly realise that he was ineligible to feature in the competition was rather ridiculous and left Arsenal with just six substitutes at the Allianz Arena. Arsenal submitted their updated Champions League squad to UEFA early last month, with Ryo being left out to accommodate January signing Kim Kallstrom. That the club were unaware of this seems rather unprofessional, particularly when this situation has occurred before involving Martin Angha and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, who both travelled to Champions League games when they were ineligible. Hopefully Arsenal will learn from their mistake and ensure that this situation does not occur again in the future.
Two Arsenal loanees were in action last night, with Chuks Aneke finding the net again for Crewe Alexandra during their 1-1 draw away to Walsall. It was the midfielder’s 15th goal of an increasingly impressive season. Centre-back Zach Fagan, meanwhile, has joined Boreham Wood on loan until April 26th, and featured in their victory over Maidenhead United last night. Fagan, who missed the first half of the campaign through injury, has featured just once for Arsenal’s U21 side this year and is out of contract at the end of June.