The outcome of the game may not have been beneficial as far as Arsenal U21s’ quest for promotion is concerned, but there were still some positive signs as the young Gunners were beaten 1-0 away to Blackburn Rovers on Friday night, with Serge Gnabry and Dan Crowley both performing well.
Neither player has yet hit the heights they were expected to in terms of fulfilling their vast potential, but, in front of a small crowd at Leigh Sports Village, both Gnabry and Crowley demonstrated that it would be unwise to write them off just yet.
Gnabry, operating in the number ten position, drove forwards with regularity and linked play to good effect, while Crowley was his usual self as he constantly sought possession and looked to thread precise passes through to his team-mates.
Arsenal’s finishing was wayward on the night, with Donyell Malen and Gnabry both squandering inviting opportunities, but the overall team display was impressive, especially when it is taken into consideration that a large amount of players were rested ahead of tonight’s FA Youth Cup Semi-Final 2nd leg tie with Manchester City.
As fas as Gnabry and Crowley are concerned, the pair are unlikely to see any first-team action in the remainder of this campaign, but next season will be pivotal for both of them.
Both Gnabry and Crowley endured frustrating loan spells last season, but will be seeking to fare rather better should they head out on temporary transfer next campaign. As Alex Iwobi has demonstrated this season, it can sometimes be more beneficial for a player to remain with Arsenal rather than go out on loan in terms of receiving first-team opportunities, but both Gnabry and Crowley are in need of a major boost in terms of their respective careers.
They may be a couple of years apart in terms of age, with Gnabry slightly older at 20, but he and Crowley find themselves in a rather similar situation in that they are both talented players who have been thrown off course a little in recent seasons.
Playing in the U21s, in a low pressure environment, provides a useful opportunity for them to try and get back on track for the time being, but next season will be very important for both players.