Maitland-Niles strike not enough as Arsenal U21s lose to Everton

U21 Premier League- Game 17

Everton 2 (Gueye 5, 48) Arsenal 1 (Maitland-Niles 67)

Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ first goal at U21 level was not enough to prevent Steve Gatting’s side from suffering their third defeat in a week as they lost 2-1 away to Everton this evening. Maitland-Niles, back from international duty, scored with a fine strike in the second-half, but only after Magaye Gueye had struck twice to put Everton in control. This result follows recent defeats to Tottenham Hotspur and Bolton Wanderers.

Chuba Akpom and Kristoffer Olsson returned from injury and illness respectively to start in place of Zak Ansah and Gedion Zelalem. Maitland-Niles, meanwhile, replaced Glen Kamara.


Bellerin-Ajayi-Siemann-Ormonde Ottewill


Maitland Niles-Olsson-Eisfeld-Toral


subs: Ansah (for Maitland-Niles, 84) Not used: Huddart, Kamara, Zelalem, Iwobi.

Everton were on top early on, with Christopher Long shooting just over. They were ahead with just five minutes on the clock when Gueye, who has 24 Premier League appearances to his name, beat Matt Macey with an excellent free-kick.

It could very easily have been 2-0 just moments later, with Long coming close again before Conor McAleny, who made his Everton first-team debut against Arsenal in 2011, shot wide after capitalising on yet another slack pass from Semi Ajayi.

Arsenal began to gather some momentum in an attacking sense as the half progressed. Hector Bellerin was a constant threat against Bolton Wanderers on Monday, and the right-back won a corner after linking well with his compatriot Jon Toral.

Isaac Hayden shot wide just before the interval, but Everton soon re-affirmed their dominance after the break, with Gueye making it 2-0 with a well-struck effort that left Macey stranded.

Calum Dyson then came close with a header from Luke Garbutt’s corner, but Arsenal gave themselves a lifeline with 67 minutes on the clock when Hayden and Olsson exchanged passes, before the latter found Maitland-Niles in space on the right flank. The England U17 international wasted no time in finding the net and making it 2-1.

Maitland-Niles, boosted by that goal, then played in Thomas Eisfeld, but the German, usually so clinical in front of goal, couldn’t find the target. Toral then shot over after yet more good work from Bellerin, but Everton provided a reminder of their attacking threat when Conor Grant’s shot struck the side-netting.

On the day that he learnt that he will continue as Arsenal’s U21 coach next season, working alongside Carl Laraman, Gatting couldn’t prevent Arsenal’s youngsters from suffering yet another defeat. Since Christmas, they have won just one league game out of nine, something they will be looking to address when Manchester City visit Borehamwood on Monday night.



  1. Whilst I accept that the number 1 aim at this level is progression of players, a winning mentality also needs to be instilled. Tonight’s latest defeat means only 5 wins in 17 games and 1 was against a Championship U21 team bottom of the table and another against a League One U21 team……………..just not good enough on so many levels.

    1. International call ups and players going out on loan don’t help continuity, but doesn’t explain a combined win total of 11 out of 44 league fixtures for the U21/U18. The excellent cup runs have ‘papered over the cracks’. Just how have Gatting & Laraman kept any job whatsoever for next season !!!!!!!!!!

  2. Have to agree with all of the above, I was (and still am) expecting a real clean sweep) not just in the academy, but in the first team we are clearly lacking tactically.

    I would still like to see wenger given a role similar to that of jonker, for the first team then bring in some fresh talented coaches, with a mixture of legends thrown in. For me primovic, banfield and peyton should be moved on and considering some of our awful defensive displays conceding 17 in 3 against the 3 above us Steve bould also has to take a good look at himself. My ideal set up would be wenger, with Vieira, Bergkamp, Henry, lehmann, bould. Then in the academy jonker with overmars, the 2 new Dutch fellas gatting roberts and ampadu, who were good u16s and u14s coaches.

    1. Vieira is doing a fine job at City academy. I can see him moving to our first team with Bergkamp but the quality of the academy has been really poor lately. You can talk about tactics all day long but when lots of the decision making has been such poor the tactics wont help alot. From the highlights you see so many mistakes from the players now a days. compared to 2007-2011 intakes, which had 20 min highlights. That tells you how poor the scholars are. I don’t understand how the quality has dropped so much.

      Maybe because we move players to the U21 faster now a days and those who had to play U18 wouldn’t play U18 so much otherwise.

  3. Would love to see roberto martinez take over from wenger. That isnt knee jerk or from the popular media sentiment he has been receiving lately. I was a fan back when he was at swansea. To think he and brendan rodgers both came from swansea, they have been and will continue to be successful. It will be great if one of bergkamp,viera and henry became our own guardiola; someone steeped in the arsenal-wenger way but with their own fresh impetus. Would like to see us implement a system or formula similar to the unbeatables template but with a mixture of our current style.

  4. If a 16 year old scores in a game like this why do have so much negativity about the youth system when the competition has a pro scoring twice who has mad 24 premiership appearances? I don’t understand some of your opinions at all please explain?

      1. I agree something has got to change but I’m actually satisfied with the talent at our disposal and our local scouting seems improved going by the next batch of scholars.

        Where I think we are lacking is in fitness and coaching. Technically our players are right up their with the best but they don’t come close to rivals when competing athletically and ,though not the same extent tactically.

        Regardless fact of the matter is Jonker has retained Gatting and Laraman for the foreseeable future and I wouldn’t mind giving them more time. Yes they haven’t met expectations but they’ve also been in an environment of instability and constant chopping and changing. I’ll reserve judgment (not that it matters!) based on next season when Jonker has imposed his ethos on the academy. I actually quite like the fact that he hasn’t gone for a compete overhaul. Shows he wants to try and maintain a sense of familiarity.

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