Match report- Akpom helps Arsenal U21s end difficult season with victory over Newcastle


U21 Premier League- Game 21

Newcastle United 1 (Sakta 5) Arsenal 3 (Akpom 40, 62 (pen), Maitland-Niles 90)

Photo by Kieran Clarke.

Photo by Kieran Clarke.

Arsenal U21s concluded what has been a difficult season in terms of results with a deserved 2-1 victory away to Newcastle United this afternoon. Newcastle took the lead early on, but Chuba Akpom levelled just before the break, with the England U19 international later scoring the decisive goal from the penalty spot after he was fouled by Kevin Mbabu. Ainsley Maitland-Niles secured the win by finding the net in the dying moments.

Steve Gatting made four changes to the side that lost to Chelsea on Tuesday evening. Julio Pleguezuelo and Isaac Hayden missed out through injury, with Stefan O’Connor, Glen Kamara, Gedion Zelalem and Maitland-Niles all being restored to the starting line-up.

Macey

Bellerin-Ajayi-O’Connor-Ormonde Ottewill

Kamara-Zelalem

Maitland Niles-Olsson-Toral

Akpom

subs: Moore (for Bellerin, 72), Jebb (for Zelalem, 75). Not used: Huddart, Iwobi, Ansah.

Newcastle, who will join Arsenal in the second tier of the U21 Premier League next season, included England U20 international Gael Bigirimana in their line-up.

Arsenal were seeking to bounce back from their disappointing defeat to Chelsea, but found themselves undone by another set-piece in the opening exchanges. Michael Richardson delivered a corner and Lubomir Sakta was on hand to head the ball past Matt Macey, with Arsenal conceding their 41st goal of the campaign.

Arsenal’s response was a positive one, with O’Connor, Zelalem and Kristoffer Olsson all coming close to scoring. They tried their luck again with Zelalem threading the ball through to Akpom, but the striker’s effort lacked conviction and was repelled by Newcastle goalkeeper Freddie Woodman, who was making his debut at this level.

Newcastle were still a threat at the other end, though, with Bigirimana in particular causing numerous problems. The midfielder did well to find Richardson in space, with the latter then going for goal, but Macey was on hand to tip his effort over the crossbar.

Most of what Arsenal did well came courtesy of Zelalem, with the 17 year old finding Maitland-Niles, who failed to get the better of the inspired Woodman.

Bigirimana again provided a reminder of his quality when he latched onto Jonathyn Quinn’s cross and rattled a post with a powerful effort.

If Arsenal were shaken by that incident, they certainly didn’t show it as they were soon on the front foot again themselves. Maitland-Niles, who has made tremendous progress this season, found Akpom, who beat Woodman with a well-struck effort to send the two sides in level at the break.

Arsenal continued to improve after the interval, with Zelalem and Olsson particularly impressive. The young Gunners were eventually rewarded for their dominance when Akpom was brought down in the area by Mbabu. Akpom took the spot-kick himself and converted to make it 2-1 with his 14th goal of the campaign.

Akpom then came close to completing his hat-trick and putting the result beyond all doubt, but he was denied by the alert Woodman, who raced off his line to clear the danger.

Maitland-Niles scored Arsenal’s third goal in the closing stages, capping off a fine campaign with his second goal at this level after receiving the ball from Jon Toral

This was a positive performance from Arsenal, with Akpom providing yet another reminder of his attacking qualities, whilst Maitland-Niles and Zelalem also emerged with some credit. The trio are likely to have different destinations next season. Zelalem will be hopeful of more first-team involvement, Maitland-Niles will continue to develop with the U21 team and Akpom could well be heading to a Championship side on loan.

9 comments

  1. Phew. Nice to see a positive result.

    Any idea if the under 18 match will go ahead tomorrow, Jeorge.

    About 7 or 8 of those eligible played today, and under 16s have a tournament beginning soon (Sunday, I thought), so how will we get a team together?

    1. I think we could just about manage to field a team if the likes of Jebb, Moore and Iwobi play

      On Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 3:19 PM, Jeorge Bird's Arsenal Youth wrote:

      >

  2. Yeah, will be pushing it though I’d have thought. Maybe Mugabo, who’s either not recovered from injury or not been given a fair crack at all, will finally get a game at dm.

    Kind of hoped to see us put out a team for one of final 2 u18 games featuring most of youth cup team and a few of brightest hopes for next year-Dobson, Mavididi, Hinds. Would be a nice way to end year and,hopefully, give a boost after recent disappointments.

    Would like to see Crowley again when not up against the monster Loftus-Cheek!

    By the way, did you notice the ref who let the Chelsea player stay on the other night was same one who sent off Hayden at Tottenham? Keeper to beat is more of a clear goal-scoring opportunity than empty net in his book. Unbelievable.

  3. Hi Jeorge, any info on the rumour that 16 year old Bristol City Goalie Marcus Beauchamp has been on trial with Arsenal, and played a few youths games recently

      1. JB naughty naughty is nothing sacred anymore?

        They are listed as trialists and played behind closed doors so that the rumour mongers don’t get hold of this.stuff. I am sure your participation in secrecy would be welcomed by the club and will serve you better in the long run, than sharing gossip with bloggers.

  4. Well done Maitland-Niles, scoring and assisting at the age of 16, he has had a great season and has not had much recognition, but this young talent is really evolving into a quality young player and is a pleasure to watch

    1. Hell of a prospect. Like Gnabry, has a good rapport with Akpom as well.

      Once Theo’s back, the club have a bit of a pile-up of talent on that side, unlike on the left.

  5. atid you will find that the player himself tweeted about playing in the 4-1 win, so if secrecy broken it was by him and its fair game for us to mention it.

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