Who will play for Arsenal in the FA Youth Cup this season?


It has been confirmed that Arsenal U18s will face Reading in the 3rd Round of the FA Youth Cup, with the tie to take place at Boreham Wood’s Meadow Park on Friday December 19th.

Last season Arsenal enjoyed their best run in this competition for several years as they reached the Semi-Finals, but they were unable to get the better of Chelsea in a two-legged encounter. Reading traditionally have a very strong academy, and they knocked Arsenal out of the U21 Premier League Cup last season, but this season their U18 team has struggled and they sit second bottom of the South Group.

Here’s a summary of who could play for Arsenal in each position in this competition this campaign.

Goalkeeper 

Ryan Huddart is the established first-choice goalkeeper for Arsenal U18s, with the tall shot-stopper having gained first-team recognition recently after he was named on the bench in the Champions League. Finnish goalkeeper Hugo Keto should receive his international clearance in time to be named amongst the substitutes against Reading. However, if he is unavailable, then schoolboy Brad House will be second in command, with George Phillips another option.

Right-back

Although he has often played as a left-back for England at youth level, Tafari Moore is most at home at right-back and should start in that position against Reading. Chiori Johnson, who has made a good start to the season, is an able deputy. Jonatas Centeno may have to wait until next season to get his chance in the Youth Cup.

Centre-back

Arsenal have several options at the heart of the defence. Julio Pleguezuelo has barely played this season because of injury, but the Spaniard is closing in on a return and should be available to face Reading. He should partner Stefan O’Connor, who is now a major part of Arsenal’s U21 team. There are back-up options, too, in Elliot Wright and George Dobson. Kristopher Da Graca is still out injured.

Left-back

Marc Bola has started the last two games for Arsenal U21s at left-back and the Hale End product is likely to fend off competition from summer signing Ilias Chatzitheodoridis to start in that position against Reading.

Defensive-midfield

Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been converted into a deep-lying midfielder this season and he seems set to continue in that position alongside Renny SmithSavvas Mourgos is still adapting to the English game and may not be considered for inclusion. Ben Sheaf may be named amongst the substitutes.

Right wing

Maitland-Niles’ move into central-midfield could see Chris Willock, who is usually deployed on the left flank, move over the right wing. Aaron Eyoma is an alternative option.

Central attacking-midfield

Kaylen Hinds is set to miss out through injury, so Gedion Zelalem could return to his preferred central attacking midfield position. Harry Donovan will hope to make the bench after an impressive start to the season.

Left wing

Dan Crowley has often been used on the left wing this season and could continue in that position against Reading. Tyrell Robinson will hope to feature at some stage.

Striker

Stephy Mavididi will be seeking to rediscover his scoring touch in the build-up to the Reading game. Schoolboy Joshua Da Silva should be involved next season.

In all, Arsenal should be able to field a rather strong side for this fixture. The starting line-up will effectively be Arsenal’s UEFA Youth League side, bar Alex Iwobi.

Possible Arsenal Youth Cup team:

Huddart

T. Moore-Pleguezuelo-O’Connor-M. Bola

Smith-Maitland Niles

Willock-Zelalem-Crowley

Mavididi

subs: Keto, Dobson, Sheaf, Johnson, Robinson. 

3 comments

  1. Pleguezuelo played in a freindly against Ipswich on saturday. Apparently Hinds got injury in that fixture. Jeorge, any reasons why it has taken so long for Da graca to receive international clearence compared to the other Greek guys especially considering he was signed much earlier than the other guys

  2. I just wanted to provide a Reading perspective for you.

    Last season we had a very strong side, mostly compose of second year scholars. The last time we had a team that strong, eight went on to play in the Championship (including three in the PL). Last season was stronger and I think they’ll have stronger careers. Three have played in the first team already.

    At the start of this season, we gave a lot of the new second year scholars a chance to shine. Whilst they are generally talented players, some of them didn’t seem to suit each other. We also had some trouble with injuries, and we don’t really have a left winger.

    Things have improved in the last few matches as we’ve brought in some more first years and found a bit of balance. Conor Davis has been a bit of a revelation as our third or fourth left winger of the season, and Harrison Bennett is a credible defensive midfielder and a better partner for Noor Husin than (arguably more talented) Amadu Waritay or Lewis Collins.

    Our strongest players are Husin, Harry Cardwell up front, Tennai Watson and Jake Sheppard at full back, and Lewis Ward in goal. Ward, Cardwell and Watson were starters last season and Husin would have been any other year. Sheppard has had two years out with injury and has already missed a month of this season, but he is an excellent and versatile footballer. If he can get over his injuries then the only thing I can see stopping him playing for Scotland would be an England call up.

    Our main weakness at all levels is a lack of pace at the back, we’re frequently caught on the counter. We have four strikers with good technique (Cardwell, Novakovich, Sam Smith and Josh Barrett), but none of them have been especially clinical this season. Cardwell is a very capable player but he should be on course for 20 goals this season, he’s not been too hot in front of goal. The left hand side has been an issue but it looks like the pairing of Sheppard and Davis has finally done the trick. We’re also not as good between the lines any more – Sheppard’s return to fitness has helped that to an extent.

    I’m not confident that we’ll do well against you but we’ve definitely improved since the draw, including beating Chelsea.

    Probable team:
    ——————————–Lewis Ward———————————
    Tennai Watson–Marc Ethelston–Gabriel Osho–Jake Sheppard
    Hammad Lawal—-Noor Husin—Harrison Bennett—Conor Davis
    —————–Andrea Novakovich—Harry Cardwell—————–

    Subs: Southwood (gk), Jules, Waritay/Collins, Smith, Barrett

    Smith, Urbancic or Barrett could come in for Lawal or Novakovich, and Zak Jules might play at centre back.

    I think you’re probably the favourites this year along with Man City, Middlesborough and Chelsea. I feel we have a fighting chance if we can get past you but we’d do well to. As with our U21 and senior sides, we’re better than the league suggests, but I really don’t know what to make of this side.

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