Arsenal have been drawn at home to West Bromwich Albion in the 3rd Round of the FA Youth Cup, with the tie to take place at Meadow Park next month, with the young Gunners seeking to win the competition for the first time since 2009 .
The Gunners will be seeking to fare better in the competition this time around after they were eliminated at the 5th Round last season by Crewe Alexandra.
Ryan Huddart has been playing in goal for the U18s this season as an overage player, but isn’t permitted to feature in this competition, so Hugo Keto, who has impressed in the UEFA Youth League this campaign, is set to start in goal. Schoolboys George Phillips and Jordan Perrin are set to compete to be his back-up, with new arrival Joao Virginia yet to feature for the club.
With several players ahead of him in more advanced positions, Aaron Eyoma could be called upon at right-back. The Hale End product is more at ease playing as a winger, but has played at full-back on several occasions in the past. Alternatively, Jordi Osei-Tutu, who signed professional terms earlier in the season, could be called upon.
Chiori Johnson, who featured in this competition last season, is still out injured and is yet to play at any level this campaign.
Krystian Bielik made his Arsenal first-team debut earlier this season and is one of the most high-profile players available for the club in this competition. Although he seems to be more impressive in midfield, Bielik has been used almost exclusively as a centre-back this campaign.
It remains to be seen who will partner him in this competition. Kristopher Da Graca is the most experienced option, but he has struggled to convince so far. First-year scholars Tolaji Bola and Kostas Pileas are alternative choices.
Despite the fact that he is yet to be offered professional terms, Marc Bola has established himself as Arsenal’s first-choice left-back at U21 level and should feature prominently in this competition.
Ilias Chatzitheodoridis is one of the very few natural left-backs in Arsenal’s youth system at present, and the Greek youth international could make the bench, even though he has endured some difficult moments at U18 level. Tyrell Robinson is naturally a winger but could be used at left-back if required.
Ben Sheaf has developed well this season and made the bench for the first-team for the Capital One Cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday. Marcus Agyei-Tabi, who has also caught the eye this campaign, is set to make the squad in the Youth Cup this campaign.
Arsenal have several central-midfield options, but Ismael Bennacer, who featured against Sheffield Wednesday for the senior side, is most likely to be called upon. Savvas Mourgos is likely to make the bench, whilst Vlad Dragomir and Charlie Gilmour are also in contention.
One of Arsenal’s most highly-regarded talents, Jeff Reine-Adelaide starred for the first-team in the Emirates Cup, and will be looking to do likewise in this competition.
First-year scholar Nathan Tella is likely to have to wait until next season for his opportunity in this competition.
Central attacking midfield
Kaylen Hinds has featured prominently for Arsenal at U21 level this season and has delivered some impressive performances.
Joshua DaSilva has been involved for the club in the UEFA Youth League, but faces a battle just to make the bench given the strong competition for places.
Chris Willock has fared well for club and country this season and some impressive displays in this competition could help the youngster to cement a place as a regular in the U21 side.
Schoolboy Reiss Nelson could be rewarded with a place on the bench, but will face considerable competition in that regard from Yassin Fortune.
Chris Willock’s younger brother Joe Willock signed scholarship terms with the club earlier this season but needs to assert himself in the U18 league side first before being considered for this competition.
There is fierce competition for a starting berth in this side. Stephy Mavididi, the top scorer for the U21 so far this campaign, is likely to start, but the hugely promising Dutch striker Donyell Malen should make the bench. Meanwhile, Edward Nketiah, who has been in excellent form for the U18s this season, will hope to be included in the squad.
Eyoma-Da Graca-Bielik-M. Bola
Reine Adelaide-Hinds-C. Willock
Subs: Phillips, Osei-Tutu, Agyei-Tabi, Nelson, Malen.