Arsenal Youth season review- Part 4- Attackers

The season review concludes with an assessment of the club’s young wingers and strikers.

Starting with the strikers, Benik Afobe returns to Arsenal following the conclusion of his latest loan spell with a year remaining on his contract, but, with the likes of Yaya Sanogo and Chuba Akpom ahead of him, it seems highly unlikely that the 21 year old will be granted an extended stay. Despite now being over his injury problems, Afobe failed to establish himself on loan at Sheffield Wednesday, as was the case during his previous stints at Reading, Bolton Wanderers and Millwall. A permanent departure appears to be on the cards this Summer, which would mean that the striker would leave the club without having made a competitive appearance for the first-team.

Akpom, in contrast, has much more time on his side. The youngster has already made his Premier League and Capital One Cup debuts, as well as gaining experience during loan spells at League One sides Brentford and Coventry City. All the while, he has continued to find the net with regularity for Arsenal at youth level. Next season he will seek to add to his experience of the professional game, which could eventually see him head to a Championship side on loan.

Zak Ansah, another young striker who has suffered with injuries in recent seasons, could well depart. The Hale End product marked his return to action with a sweet strike for the U21s against West Ham United but has failed to find the net since. Although technically talented, Ansah is far from clinical in front of goal and is out of contract this summer.

Austin Lipman has continued to work hard and has developed well as a consequence of his loan spell at Boreham Wood. Whilst the likes of Akpom and Ansah were unavailable through loan spells and injuries, Lipman gained some experience of U21 football, and could become a regular at that level next season.

Alex Iwobi, meanwhile, has progressed extremely well this campaign, signing his first professional contract and also making the bench for the first-team in the Capital One Cup. Now ineligible for U18 football, the winger should establish himself as a regular for the second-string next season, although he may have to wait a while before he is considered for first-team action again.

Tarum Dawkins has struggled with injury throughout the campaign, but the winger has demonstrated glimpses of his quality, especially during his cameo appearance away to Charlton Athletic in the FA Youth Cup. Possessing great speed, he is a considerable threat to opposition defences but, as yet, is not guaranteed of a professional contract at the club.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles has, like Iwobi, impressed greatly this season at various levels. The dangerous winger stepped up to the U21 team with ease and was also particularly impressive in the Youth Cup run to the Semi-Finals. His progression caught the eye of Arsene Wenger, too, with Maitland-Niles being asked to train with the first-team earlier this year. Should he continue to develop as he has done, that may well become a regular occurrence in the not too distant future.




  1. A good season for our youth strikers. I feel Afobe and Ansah, maybe Dawkins, would be allowed to leave. I see Akpom having more than one senior cap next season.

  2. Thks George for your site:
    20 Players to keep from current squad (age as at 15/8/14)
    Keepers: (1): Szczesny (24)
    Defenders (7): Mertesacker (29), Vermaelen (28), Koscielny (28), Monreal (28), Jenkinson (22), Gibbs (24)
    Midfielders (5): Arteta (32), Wilshire (22), Ramsey (23), Flamini (30), Diaby (28)
    Attacking players (7): Rosicky (33), Podolski (29), Ozil (25), Giroud (27), Walcott (25), Oxlade Chamberlain (21), Carzola (29)
    11 Players to review from current squad/loan
    Viviano (28) need two more keepers but no indication he will be one
    Ryo (21) Squad needs another forward/winger but he has not impressed and is too injury prone
    Zalalem (17) Performances at U21 does not indicate ready for squad.
    Campbell (22) Squad needs another forward, did nothing wrong on loan, but for some reason still not certain to come in.
    Coquelin (23) Has not had a good loan. Squad midfield is ok and if there is an injury eg. Diaby suggest can buy/loan in Jan. Possible future as a right back which is needed?
    Djourou (27) Loan spell was solid but no more, squad could do with a centre back even if Vermaaelen stays.
    Wellington (21) Like with Campbell squad needs another forward. Loan has improved towards end of season but probably behind Campbell.
    Park (29) Not playing even in Championship.
    Kallstrom (31) Has done nothing wrong in his appearances but not the type of player needed.
    Sanogo (21) Looks raw- needs a season on loan as it is expected a top striker will be bought.
    Gnabry (19) Looks good but faces competition in squad for his position and it is hoped a top winger/forward will come in, so should go on a high level loan to develop further.
    Youth players on loan?
    Youth players who need games to prove themselves as being ready to play in the Premier league when places in squad open up at the start of 2015/16 season (6 players will be 30+) Akpom (18), Bellerin (19), Hayden (19), Olsson (19) and Toral (19). Martinez (21) did not have the best loan spell and needs another loan but if Fabianski and Vivano leave will need to stay. Miquel (21) loan was not a success so remains unproven.
    Wegner needs to replace Fabianski, Viviano and Sagna. This leaves space for two more players which should be a striker and forward/winger. The most new players Wegner will buy is three plus a keeper. Assuming this happens, and he promotes Martinez (third keeper) I doubt there will or should be any promotions from loans/youth. Best chance will be Campbell or Gnabry (if a top forward/striker cannot be bought). Possibly Miquel if Vermalen goes and no replacement is found. Micah Richards, Rhys Williams would be good buys.
    Players to leave (17)
    Fabianski, Bendtner and Sagna are out of contract and likely to go. Sanogo and Gnabry should be loaned. I think of the reviewed players Viviano, Park, Ryo, Wellington, Djourou, Kallstroom will go and the following experienced youth players who are not at squad standard and need to progress their careers at other clubs: Afobe (21), Aneke (21), Eisfeld (21), Boateng (21), Ansah (20), Fagan (19), Galindo (22). The problems for most of these players is each year new youth players are coming through who will overtake them.

    1. Gnabry has been consistently causing opponents trouble right now at Premiership level so really he is ready to play regularly at Arsenal. Only injury held him back. I wouldnt loan him.

      Sanogo loan probably depends on type of senior forward bought. But if loaned really he needs to be at a premiership team. Championship is not his level.

      Akpom the same. Really should be at a premiership team or at worst a competitive championship team eg Fulham.

      Afobe I would keep here and give him his shot using cups and lesser premiership games.

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