Report- Disappointing Arsenal crash out of the Youth Cup against Crewe

FA Youth Cup

Arsenal 2 (Mavididi 66, M. Bola 83) Crewe Alexandra 3 (O’Neill 7, O’Connor (o.g.) 48, Brown 67)

By Jeorge Bird @The Hive

Arsenal’s hopes of winning the FA Youth Cup are over for another year after they were beaten by a determined Crewe Alexandra at The Hive this evening.

Arsenal’s performance was deeply disappointing, with the young Gunners struggling to muster much rhythm in an attacking sense, whilst the defensive side of their game was underpinned by some alarming individual errors, some of which led to Crewe’s goals.

Renny Smith, admittedly a player who prefers to be used further forwards, struggled at right-back, Stefan O’Connor scored an own goal after he failed to get out of the way of Ryan Huddart’s attempt to parry the ball and a loss of concentration from George Dobson enabled Crewe to score their third goal.

Somewhat remarkably, despite the feeble nature of their overall performance, Arsenal still had a fighting chance of at least forcing extra-time following goals from Stephy Mavididi and substitute Marc Bola, but Crewe held on for a deserved victory and will face Manchester City in the next round.

Krystian Bielik was unable to make his debut for the club because of a registration issue, whilst Kaylen Hinds, Chiori Johnson, Tafari Moore and Julio Pleguezuelo were all absent through injury. Coach Frans De Kat was short of attacking options on the bench.

Dan Crowley, somewhat bizarrely, spent most of the evening operating in a deeper-lying position that usual, with Gedion Zelalem deployed further forwards.



Maitland Niles-Crowley

Eyoma-Zelalem-C. Willock


subs: M. Bola (for Eyoma). Not used: Keto, Donovan, Sheaf, Wright.

This fixture had been postponed on two occasions and from the offset it was clear that Crewe, whose successful academy is renowned throughout football, were determined to seal their progression to the Quarter-Finals.

The visitors, backed by a small contingent of travelling supporters, immediately set about making life difficult for Arsenal and came close to finding the net early on before George Cooper did well to find Liam O’Neill, who directed his effort past Ryan Huddart to open the scoring.

Huddart had to make a good save shortly afterwards to prevent Crewe from doubling their advantage as the young Gunners were quickly made aware that they would have to be at their very best to avoid elimination this evening.

Arsenal struggled to keep hold of the ball in the early stages, with Crewe coming close again after the Arsenal defence failed to clear properly.

Smith was booked for a shameful dive in the penalty area, before Arsenal nearly created their first chance of note but Crowley’s through ball was just beyond the reach of Mavididi.

Crewe quickly established that the most effective way to breach the Arsenal defence was to play balls in behind Smith, who struggled to cope with the threat that the opposition provided.

Arsenal certainly weren’t helping themselves, with Zelalem playing a careless pass straight to an opposition player, whose effort was wayward.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles gradually grew into the game and the 17-year-old did well to win possession before sending a fierce effort just over the crossbar.

Crowley sent a first-time effort straight at the goalkeeper as Arsenal began to play with a little more intensity.

Aaron Eyoma then delivered a dangerous cross from the right flank that just eluded both Mavididi and Chris Willock as Arsenal ended the first half well.

They were shot back down to earth soon after the interval, however, when Crewe went two goals up. Huddart attempted to deal with a dangerous cross, but the goalkeeper succeeded only in palming the ball against O’Connor, who couldn’t prevent himself from scoring an own goal.

That incident rather summed up Arsenal’s ineptitude and, at that point, it seemed as if any chance of a comeback was fanciful.

To their credit, though, Arsenal did respond, with Maitland-Niles sending an intelligent pass into the path of Mavididi, who shot over.

Dobson had to make a crucial intervention at the other end, however, to prevent Crewe from scoring another goal.

Arsenal gave themselves a glimmer of hope of salvaging the tie when Mavididi finished well after Zelalem latched onto Eyoma’s cross.

The momentum was very short-lived indeed, however, as just moments later a careless mistake by Dobson enabled Andre Brown to score.

The drama wasn’t yet over, though. Far from it. Arsenal pushed on in search of a goal, with Willock’s cross just eluding Mavididi before Bola, who had impressed following his introduction as a substitute, saw a header saved.

It was Bola who would then find the net with an emphatic strike- his first goal at this level- but despite some sustained late pressure, which saw O’Connor pushed up front and Mavididi come close with a header, Arsenal were unable to get the third goal and Crewe managed to hang on.



  1. Who the f*ck are Crewe ? How can we lose against them ? We had Crowley, Maitland-Niles, Zelalem, Willock, Mavididi, O’Connor on the pitch !! Doesn’t make sense. Crowley as a deep-lying playmaker ? What a big mistake !

    1. They played bad. Thats the answer. These are kids and they make a lot of errors all the time on the pitch. sometimes you get punished for it.

    2. Who are crewe? Only one of the finest academies around for the last 30 years.

      One major factor is that crewe youngsters realise there is still a long hard road to the top, even if they are playing u21 or even first team football. Unfortunately a lot of arsenals u18s and players even younger, have an attitude that they have already made it.

      Another hard lesson for these lads and I hope the club make them realise it. They should be taking nothing for granted, this team was as strong as we could field, with 4 players that have been in the first team 18 this season and another 4 professionals also in the starting x1. Seems lack desire, passion and humility.

    3. Who the f*ck are Crewe ? How can we lose against them ?, it is this type of arrogance that is what’s wrong with this club, because our youth system has been going down hill for a long time. Because the in terms of talent we are light years behind the likes of Chelsea, and even Spurs have better prospects coming through there ranks than we currently do, and whatever has gone wrong needs fixing real quick

  2. Yes, Crewe have always had an excellent reputation. Makes you wonder how they can do it with a fraction of our prestige and resources.

    Brave of us to say no to Beckham. But, blimey, he must be really terrible if he’s not being given a chance among this lot. Is it attitude – lack of humility, lack of desire, lack of work? – really the main problem with this group or are they just less talented than we believed? Seems weird given the hype about Zelalem and the fact that some of them have even played a few minutes in the CL and didn’t look at all bad.

    I’d love to know if those who watch the kids more than I do see any hopeful signs. Are things different since Jonker arrived? Has any progress been made?

  3. I’d add that if the kids’ attitude is poor – passionless, arrogant, lazy, etc. – doesn’t this reflect badly on the coaches, in particular on their tolerance for disappointing results? Perhaps there’s been so much emphasis on development being more important than scorelines this ‘it’s not really important to win’ viewpoint has filtered down to the players?

    I remember watching our kids v. Barca last season and I thought they looked very good and very eager to win, just tactically inept and without a clue how to do it. Surely instilling a winning mentality and the ability to adapt your game so as to outwit your opponents should also be a part of their training? Constantly losing key games can’t be good for the morale of the academy and may explain why the best local talents have been opting to go to other clubs.

    1. The thing is. The coaches keep doing the same thing even though the results aren’t there. a few years back we was one of the best academy in the world, producing top talent in the academy. But now a days we actually lose talent to other english clubs. Chelsea and smaller clubs have catched up and up their coaching. Some of our brightest talent from U14-U16 are going somewhere else. Remember Jack Jebb? He wasn’t playing because we had Olsson and Zelalem in the team, then Crawley came too. Olsson has left us, Crawley and Zelalem are still here but even when they are not performing too well they keep getting those chances ahead for no reason at all. This is how we develop our kids superstar, lazy attitude.

      Do you know how they do it in Barca? if you score 30 goals in 20 games, they will put you as right back or midfield to develop other attributes and makes you adopt. Making you a more complete player and better understanding of the game.

      The few times you get to see how our kids play, I get really really disappointed most of the time. I always compare them to the Wilshere and Conor Henderson generation. Because those were the best of our academy by far. Their career show it too. Most of them are playing senior football in at least league 1-2.

  4. To be perfectly honest, I can’t see why everyone is surprised. Have kept a close eye on Arsenal u18s over the pAst 2 seasons & this years group are nowhere near the level of previous seasons. Added to that the supposed big names Zelalem & Crowley are in fact very ordinary & have very little impact on games. Best of the current crop is Ainsley Maitland-Niles & Stephy Mavididi. Chatzitheodoridis I believe has a future as well, but rest are no way near the levels of Kamara, Hayden, Iwobi, Vickers from previous years.
    The players have the raw ability, but the coaching isn’t developing it as it should.

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