Arsenal youngsters leave Qatar with their heads held high

Eddie Nketiah celebrates scoring against AC Milan in today's 3rd Place Play-off

Eddie Nketiah celebrates scoring against AC Milan in today’s 3rd Place Play-off

Arsenal U17s may not have been able to secure silverware at the Al Kass International Cup in Qatar, but they played some impressive football throughout the tournament and ended up finishing in third place after beating AC Milan 4-2 today.

Arsenal gave opportunities to some of the promising schoolboys who made the trip, with two of them, Eddie Nketiah and Josh Da Silva, hitting braces agains the Italian side.

Goalkeeper Hugo Keto, as he was in many of the previous games, was again impressive, but Arsenal’s stand-out performer was Chris Willock, who caught the eye with the sheer audaciousness of his array of trickery. The recently-signed professional has a tendency to operate on the periphery of games before suddenly bursting into life at crucial moments and can look forward to further involvement in the U21 squad upon his return.

As far as their prospects in this tournament were concerned, Arsenal were left to rue the fact that Willock was suspended for the Semi-Final defeat to Paris Saint-Germain as a consequence of his involvement in the brawl that ensued after the tempestuous fixture against River Plate.

Had Willock been available Arsenal may well have fared better against PSG, but the young Gunners can still look back on this tournament with fond memories.

Several Arsenal players enjoyed fine displays throughout, including Willock, Kaylen Hinds, Keto, Harry Donovan and Stephy Mavididi, with the latter finishing as the competition’s top goalscorer.

It was a good opportunity for the schoolboys, some of whom aren’t yet guaranteed scholarships with the club for next season, to catch the eye. Winger Nathan Tella has much raw potential, whilst central-defender Kostas Pileas was impressive until his costly mistake against PSG.

Reiss Nelson, an England youth international winger who will still be a schoolboy next season, also showed glimpses of his undoubted potential, and this trip certainly wasn’t a wasted one for Arsenal.

Now attention will turn to the U18s’ FA Youth Cup campaign, which continues with a home tie against Crewe Alexandra on Thursday.

Arsenal at the Al Kass International Cup

Group stages

Arsenal 3 (Mavididi 7, 57, 70) Vissel Kobe 2

Keto; Centeno, Da Graca (Nelson, 46), Pileas, T. Bola (O. Moore, 90); Sheaf (Da Silva, 82), Donovan; Tabi, Hinds (Musendo, 85), C. Willock (Mourgos, 67); Mavididi. Not used: House, Tella, Gilmour, Nketiah.

Aspire Qatar 0 Arsenal 3 (Mavididi 9, Donovan 14, Willock 25) 

Keto; Centeno, Musendo, Pileas (Gilmour, 77), T. Bola; Sheaf, Donovan; Tabi (Tella, 61), Hinds (Da Silva, 46), C. Willock (Mourgos, 46); Mavididi (Nketiah, 61). Not used: House, Da Graca, Nelson, O. Moore.


Arsenal 1 (Hinds 64) River Plate 0

Keto; Centeno, Da Graca (Mourgos, 64), Pileas, T. Bola; Sheaf (Nelson, 62), Donovan; Tabi, Hinds (Da Silva, 71), C. Willock; Mavididi. Not used: House, O. Moore, Tella, Musendo, Gilmour, Nketiah.


Arsenal 1 (Mavididi 65) PSG 2

Keto; Centeno (Nelson, 53), Da Graca (Nketiah, 77), Pileas, T. Bola; Sheaf, Donovan (Musendo, 69); Tabi (Tella, 68), Hinds (Da Silva, 53), Mourgos, Mavididi. Not used: House, O. Moore, Gilmour.

3rd place Play-off

AC Milan 2 Arsenal 4 (Nketiah 3, 47, Da Silva 8, 54)

Keto (House, 83); O. Moore, Da Graca, Musendo, Mourgos; Sheaf (Donovan, 46), Gilmour (Tabi, 69); Tella (Mavididi, 46), Da Silva, C. Willock; Nketiah (Nelson, 88). Not  used: Centeno, T. Bola, Pileas, Hinds.





  1. Reiss Nelson, born in december 1999, but already fast tracked to the u17-s. Pretty impressive. I checked his twitter and instagram accounts and saw some videos of him :

    He looks like England’s answer to Neymar in those videos lol. The boy is certainly very skillful and quick. Can’t wait to see how he progresses in the coming years.

  2. Well done to Chris Willock. Looking forward to watching him play. He’s a special player. The first time I will watch him in a full match will be at the Euro U17 in May because the Euro will be televised. The prospect of him and Chelsea’s LB Jay da Silva on the left flank must be frightening for the opposition defenders. They’ll tear the other national teams apart, I am sure.

    1. Euro is a different level to what these players are used to though. I also hope he does well. The ONE match I saw in al kass cup was without willock… so I don’t know how good he really is. I did like the look of Tabi and donavan. But only saw the first half vs PSG and was quite disappointed of the passing.

      1. ”Euro is a different level to what these players are used to though” – it will be the same for the other player of the other nations. Chris Willock has represented England U16 and U17 11 times in total and has impressed in most of those games. He’s a special player so I don’t see why he won’t do very well in the Euro U17. In his age-group, he’s one of the biggest talents in England (along with Edwards and Da Silva) and one of the biggest talents in Europe.

    2. Not sure if England will make, this age group is rubbish. They just finished the Algrave tournament and lost 7-0 to Holland, 2-0 to Germany and drew 1-1 to Portugal. They probably deserved to lose to Portugal as well from what I read. The good news is Willock enhanced his reputation by not being there.

      1. TBF, it was an experimental squad that did not include any Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool players (who will make up most of the 1st team at Euro).

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