Arsenal sent a host of youngsters out on loan before last night’s transfer deadline, with eight players heading out on temporary transfers over the past few days.
Those departures will inevitably open up some gaps in the U23 squad, which will allow some of the club’s younger prospects an opportunity to impress at that level. Here’s a look at which starlets could benefit.
Matt Macey will spend the rest of the season with Luton Town, meaning that Ryan Huddart, who has returned from his frustrating spell at Eastleigh, should be the first-choice goalkeeper for the U23s. The talented Hugo Keto should also receive some game time, with Joao Virginia next in line.
Krystian Bielik’s loan switch to Birmingham City leaves the U23s rather light at centre-back, especially when it is taken into consideration that Kristopher Da Graca has been out of favour of late. First-year scholar Joseph Olowu, who has already made his debut for the second-string, could step up to partner Ben Sheaf, while Josh DaSilva can also play at the heart of the defence and Kostas Pileas is an alternative choice.
At left-back, Marc Bola’s switch to Notts County should mean that January signing Cohen Bramall will receive a run of games for the U23s, with Tolaji Bola providing back up.
Moving into midfield, Gedion Zelalem and Ismael Bennacer have both gone on loan, to VVV-Venlo and Tours respectively. When he is not needed for the first-team, Ainsley Maitland-Niles can still feature for the U23s, while Marcus McGuane, DaSilva and Vlad Dragomir should benefit from additional playing time. Savvas Mourgos will also hope to feature more often and it remains to be seen what will happen with Glen Kamara after his proposed loan to Twente didn’t come to fruition.
Attackers Chuba Akpom (Brighton & Hove Albion), Kaylen Hinds (Stevenage) and Stephy Mavididi (Charlton Athletic) have all gone on loan. That should enable the prolific Eddie Nketiah, who has already proven himself for the U23s, to become the club’s first-choice striker at that level. Donyell Malen and Yassin Fortune will also be aiming to fully establish themselves in the side.
With the above information taken into account, here’s how Arsenal’s U23 team could now look
(Deyan Iliev remains injured)
JOHNSON OLOWU SHEAF BRAMALL
Osei-Tutu Da Graca Pileas T. Bola
NELSON DRAGOMIR C. WILLOCK
Eyoma Mourgos Robinson
- Jeff Reine-Adelaide could also feature despite being part of the first-team squad