Arsenal U18s analysis- Mixed fortunes for Chatzitheodoridis


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It is fair to say that Ilias Chatzitheodoridis has struggled at times defensively since joining Arsenal last summer.

The Greek youngster, who is usually deployed at left-back, has frequently found himself caught out of position when representing the U18s campaign, and on Saturday those tendencies were again in evidence during a 2-1 defeat to Bolton Wanderers.

It should be noted, however, that Chatzitheodoridis was operating on the other side of defence on this occasion and, whilst he has much to work in a defensive sense, he was perhaps Arsenal’s most significant threat going forwards.

Arsenal started the game in the ascendancy, with Chris Willock doing well to win possession before embarking on a mazy run that culminated in him hitting the post.

It was Bolton, though, who would take the lead, with disappointing defending from Chatzitheodoridis enabling the hosts to work an opening and Tyrell Palmer finding the net to make it 1-0.

Bolton made it 2-0 shortly afterwards. Ennock Likoy-Elumba was the creator-in-chief on this occasion, with his cross finding Ryan White, who scored with the aid of a deflection.

The game could have effectively been over just moments later, but on this occasion Likoy-Elumba’s effort struck the crossbar as Arsenal’s defenders again demonstrated their inability to deal with dangerous crosses.

Chatzitheodoridis, however, went some way towards making amends in an attacking sense as he cut inside cleverly before sending a sublime effort into the far corner of the net.

The second-half was less eventful, but two good saves from Hugo Keto to deny substitute Tyler Garratt kept Arsenal in with a chance of snatching a draw late on.

They very nearly took full advantage of the opportunity, with Chatzitheodoridis seeing his effort clip the crossbar in the last meaningful action of the game.

Afterwards coach Frans De Kat, a little worryingly, expressed his concerns with the players failing to follow his tactical instructions.

Gedion Zelalem captained the side but, despite his relative seniority in comparison to most of the other players on show, the midfielder failed to have much influence on proceedings.

Arsenal’s inconsistent set of results at this level continues. De Kat’s side have three games remaining this campaign- against Newcastle United, Southampton and Fulham.

One comment

  1. A while ago, I stated that the graft of Dutch football had not taken. That unless the Dutch coaches adapted their training methods the graft was doomed to fail. Cultural differences and education level between Dutch middle class footballer and English inner city footballers means that the same message would be gibberish to the others.
    It looks like that despite what some wrote I was right. The U18 coach is now admitting as much. He is not sure that he successfully transmit his message and instructions to the kids.
    British kids need to be coached in a less analytical way, but more practical way with immediate effect. Talk less, but show more. Instead of talking of triangles and angles to kids who don’t know geometry, the coaches may be better off showing some computer game simulations to teach good tactical positioning.

    The saving grace is that the coaches have started to adapt their game plan and team selection to the more robust approach to football. Be ready to play long rather than only short pass from the back. Accept that English referes are much more lenient (in some cases criminally so) than on the continent.

    I see that Zelalem has finally been demoted to the U18 team. I am afraid that over hyping him and training with the first team has had a detrimental effect on his development. When played in the Cazorla role (tri quarterista) he has shown a complete lack of awareness of potential danger. He has repeatedly been bullied off the ball (in some case by player smaller than him!) causing issues to his team. It is also clear that the rest of the teams do not trust him the same way they trust Dan Crawley. He may have better vision going forward than the English midfielder, but defensively he is a liability to his team and his teammates know it. He need to bulk up, even Özil hit the gym and got some upper body strength. Defense starts by not losing the ball in danger zone.

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