There has been something of a recurring theme in Arsenal’s FA Youth Cup run this season, with the young Gunners coming up against some familiar faces.
In the 3rd round victory over West Bromwich Albion, goalkeeper Brad House, a product of the club’s Hale End academy, was an un-used substitute for the Baggies.
Then in the 5th round, another former Arsenal shot-stopper, Corey Addai, attempted to keep the young Gunners at bay whilst representing Coventry City and even scored in a dramatic penalty shootout.
On Friday, when Arsenal face Liverpool in an eagerly anticipated Quarter-Final tie at Emirates Stadium, there are likely to be two Hale End alumni on the opposing side, with Ovie Ejaria and Mich’el Parker now looking to inflict misery upon the side they once played for.
Both players featured fleetingly for Arsenal at U18 level when they were schoolboys, but left for different reasons. Ejaria felt that he would be better served by continuing his development on Merseyside, whilst Parker earned a deal at Liverpool after being told that his future lied away from North London.
Ejaria, a highly regarded attacking midfielder with a good passing range, has featured for Liverpool at U21 level and in the UEFA Youth League this campaign, and Arsenal can ill afford to let the 18-year-old to have much time on the ball on Friday, otherwise he is capable of punishing them in an instant.
Parker, meanwhile, usually operates at centre-back, although he is capable of playing as a defensive-midfielder if required. A physically imposing player who is also comfortable on the ball, he will be seeking to stop Arsenal’s talented attackers in their tracks.
The involvement of Ejaria and Parker, if indeed they do feature, should provide the encounter with an extra edge, as the pair seek to triumph over their former side.