Report- Wilshere scores but Arsenal U21s’ title dreams are over

U21 Premier League- Division 2

Arsenal 1 West Bromwich Albion 2

By Jeorge Bird@Meadow Park

Screen shot 2016-04-08 at 22.45.41

Jack Wilshere scored his first goal in almost a year, but it wasn’t sufficient to prevent Arsenal U21s from seeing their title hopes go up in flames as they were beaten 2-1 by a spirited West Bromwich Albion side at Meadow Park this evening.

A victory would have seen Steve Gatting’s side gain automatic promotion to the top tier of second-string football, but now Arsenal must go through the play-offs if they are to get out of this division.

The sight of Wilshere completing 90 minutes was one positive to take from proceedings, with the midfielder catching the eye in the second period after struggling to have much of an influence in the first-half.

Both of West Brom’s goals stemmed from errors from Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Macey, who failed to stop efforts from Joe Ward and Samir Nabi.

Arsenal fielded a strong side but their cause wasn’t helped by Gatting’s rather bizarre decision to deploy Serge Gnabry as a central striker. The German youth international has impressed in that position in the past but on this occasion he struggled to exert much of an influence on proceedings.




Reine Adelaide-Wilshere-Crowley


Subs: Huddart, O’Connor, Malen, Hinds, Nelson.

Arsenal, knowing that a victory would secure the title, adopted an attack minded approach from the outset, with full-backs Chiori Johnson and Tafari Moore pushing forwards with regularity.

Moore had Arsenal’s first attempt of the game as his effort was deflected for a corner and then Wilshere played a slick pass into the path of Gnabry, whose finish lacked conviction.

Despite Arsenal’s dominance, it was West Brom, rather against the run of play, who would take the lead, with Joe Ward tucking home after Macey struggled to hold an earlier attempt.

That setback caused Arsenal to push forwards even more, with Gnabry, Johnson and Moore all shooting wide.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide was starting to have a major impact on proceedings as he drifted infield to good effect, but Arsenal still lacked conviction in an attacking sense.

Wilshere played a neat backheel into the path of Reine-Adelaide, but the Frenchman couldn’t find the net. Reine-Adelaide was then dragged down in the area but, much to his frustration, the referee waved play on.

West Brom had a chance to extend their advantage just prior to the break when Krystian Bielik needlessly squandered possession, but the prospect quickly atoned for his error by recovering well to win the ball back.

West Brom started the second half very well, with Bielik forced into making a goal-line clearance, but Arsenal soon managed to gain a foothold in the game.

It was Wilshere, the most experienced player on the field, who would prove to be the young Gunners’ source of inspiration as he finished expertly to level the scoreline.

Arsenal then went for the jugular, with Sheaf shooting over and Dan Crowley, who was growing into the game, then seeing his attempt deflect wide.

Sheaf and Gnabry had further efforts, but, try as they might, a second goal continued to elude Arsenal.

Gatting brought on Donyell Malen for Marcus McGuane in an attack-minded change, but, crucially, it was West Brom who would score the decisive goal, with Samir Nabi finishing adroitly and Macey’s actions once again questionable.

Arsenal threw on Reiss Nelson and Kaylen Hinds, but there was a feeling that their chance to secure the title had already passed, and so it proved as West Brom held on for victory.

The play-offs now await and it cannot be stressed enough how crucial those fixtures are for Arsenal as it would be extremely beneficial for these youngsters to test themselves against a higher calibre of opposition.

Wilshere’s return, however, provided a silver lining on a dark night.



  1. The whole club is full of chokers, it’s like a cancer ripping through our club and needs to be cut out this summer, if not before.

    Both are academy league sides are in danger of playing once again in the most bottom divisions, whilst both the first team and u19s are in real danger of missing out on their relevant champions league due to the first team choking once again, but this time possibly their biggest fall from grace in 20 plus years.

    Kroenke,gazidis, wenger, jonker and all the players coaches and medical staff need to take a serious look at themselves and consider their performances and futures at the club, just like it seems many of our supporters and fans are doing.

    Lower levels football are no good for Arsenal fc, what will it take? Europa league? No European football at all? Perhaps relegation next season will wake them up?

    1. Problem is Wenger and kroanke. How the fuck Arsenal is able to spend like 10M the whole fucking summer and only on a goalkeeper is beyond stupid. Then offer 120+k every week for Walcott after doing NOTHING for this club in the 10 years time…. Not only that. Rocisky, flamini and Arteta all still here who is not pushing the club further…

      Then we have the ZERO signing of an real world class outfield player. We manage to get ONE signing in January.


      The club is not choking. Its down to the management of this club. Wenger do not adopt at all and is too fucking stubborn to change. Next year we have to deal with another disappointment if every single one of them are still at the club.

  2. told you gatting need to be sacked lol cant get the players in to the top under 21 league even with two game advantage useless! get henry in to inject some passion into the players and winning mentality.

  3. Promotion has to a big priority for the club, in the play-offs all the first team players who weren’t in that weekends squad should play. For example Campbell should have played last night. Perhaps the team could be something like Ospina – Moore – Pleguzelo – Chambers (is he still eligible?) -Bola – Bielik – Rosicky – Reine Aderlaide – Crowley – Gnabry – Giroud

  4. Maybe some people should go to hale end so they can moan about the U5s as well, seriously get a grip this is developmental football.
    As for the match review I thought Matt done well to keep the first shot out and the fact it went straight back to Joe ward was pure fortune. The second one he could have been stronger but their were other mistakes in the build up and I can’t see how he can singled out.
    Also their was no mention of Dan hitting the post or the amount of saves their keeper made sometimes without even knowing much about them.
    The ref was also extremely lenient even at this level as it was a typical pullis fowl at every opportunity display and the elbow in the face of Ben Sheaf was close enough to the lino for him to inform the ref.
    On Jacks performance I can’t see how you think his first half wasn’t influential, his first about five touches were all clever flicks and tricks that all came off and as you eluded to yourself he set of two good chances.
    Overall this was a good performance but bad result its football sometimes it happens

    1. Do u think players of 22 years old on £10k a week should be exempt from losing bcos they are developing? Personally, speaking as a Coach of young players, I look to instill a winning mentality from a young age. Once a player joins an academy of a premier league team and is getting paid to do his job, he should be open to fair constructive critiscism.

      But my target here is not the players, it is the coaches, managers and directors of this once great club. I believe they are sucking that winning mentality out of the players. Not just I’m the first team but right through the club, I mean they are still playing tippy tappy football. Arsenal’s last title-win wasn’t won with tippy tappy football, it was won with power, pace and direct football.

      Fact is tippy tappy has never won the premier league and never will. Tippy tappy also doesn’t stand well in academy football. Sure it might work in Spain and toa lesser extent in Italy. But like it or not the thrill of watching Leicester and though it sticks in my throat spurs, go at teams this season as been far more enjoyable than the frustrating pile of possession crap the wenger and all hos coaches throughout the various age groups are churning out.

      Football for me is about winning not bloody turning up with an ipad, monster size bag of popcorn and 3 litres of coke and cheering bcos my team looks pleasing on the eye. I don’t care for 72% possession and 26 chances created, but only 1 goal. When the opposition has 28% possession, 1 chance and 1 goal and walk away with exactly the same points I feel like I have lost, especially when we are the home team.

  5. Primary and most important objective: Develop players that can fit into First team.
    Yes, this team need to play in top level next season, and they will. In football, you can have great performance but a bad result. it happens.
    Look at this squad how many do you see playing for The first team next 2-3 years “at top level” (like Iwobi, Wilshere, Sorry to say Harry Kane)? That is far more important.

    1. You are right. Iwobi never played in first division on U21 but yet made it to the first team. But not being able to move up when you have the chance and is suppose to be very very gifted… The step up shouldn´t be any problem.

    2. Do young think a winning mentality is important at the top level? Or do you think finishing 4th is the top level?

      Unfortunately, at the club at the moment there seems to be able acceptance that development and underachievement, is far more important than winning. That is now even creeping into the deluded brainwashed fanbase. Our once great club had a motto “Victoria Concordia Crescit” or Victory grows through Harmony” now we may aswell change it to “Victory is not as important as development and making lots of cash”

      Apologies for the lack of translation in the new motto my Latin isn’t up to much, lol!

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