Assessing Arsenal’s young goalkeepers


With Petr Cech and David Ospina out injured, suddenly there is much focus on the goalkeeping situation at Arsenal.

Emiliano Martinez started last night’s Premier League victory over West Ham United, with Matt Macey, who was re-called from his loan spell at Luton Town, on the bench.

Here’s an assessment of the young goalkeepers at the Gunners’ disposal.

MATT MACEY  (Age 22)

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Macey, who joined Arsenal from Bristol Rovers in 2013, is the closest young goalkeeper to the first-team squad, although he is classed as a senior player by Premier League rules.

The tall shot-stopper struggled during a loan spell with Accrington Stanley in the 2014/15 campaign but has improved considerably since then and impressed for Luton before his loan was cut short.

Macey will remain with Arsenal until the end of the season, while his current deal runs until the summer of 2018. He featured for the first-team in a friendly against Lens last summer.

DEYAN ILIEV (Age 22)

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A Macedonian youngster who signed for Arsenal in 2012, Iliev has been hugely unfortunate with injuries in recent seasons and has been sidelined since August 2015.

It isn’t currently clear when he will be fit enough to play again, but once he fully recovers Iliev could be sent out on loan to gain further experience.

A long term future at Arsenal, however, is looking rather unlikely, especially as he previously performed inconsistently when given a chance at second-string level.

RYAN HUDDART (Age 20)

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Having arrived at Arsenal from Charlton Athletic as a schoolboy, Huddart made the bench for the Gunners in both Champions League games against Anderlecht in 2014 when he was just 17.

However, he hasn’t earned another senior call-up since then and, although he has trained with the first-team recently, Huddart will surely be frustrated with the club’s decision to re-call Macey rather than give him a chance to be on the bench against West Ham.

Huddart produced some encouraging displays on loan at non-league Eastleigh earlier in the campaign but was re-called due to a lack of regular playing time.

HUGO KETO (Age 19)

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Approaching the end of his third season at Arsenal, the Finland youth international has been involved for the club at various age groups this campaign, featuring for the U23s, the U19s and the U18s.

Although his distribution still requires improvement, Keto has stellar reflexes and is highly regarded within the club.

It is anticipated that the youngster could fully establish himself as Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper at U23 level next campaign.

JOAO VIRGINIA (Age 17)

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Formerly with Benfica, Virginia has been heavily involved for Arsenal U18s this season and also played in the UEFA Youth League.

Short in stature but not short of ability, the Portugal youth international was part of the Arsenal side that won the Future Cup in Holland last year, while he was also included in his country’s squad for the Olympics in Rio.

Next season Virginia will gain plenty more experience of playing at youth level and will also be looking to make his debut for Arsenal U23s.

ALEX CREAN (Age 17)

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Previously with Celtic and Crystal Palace, Crean joined Arsenal on a professional contract earlier this season.

The prospect has played for the U18s, making some encouraging stops in the process, and should be involved for Kwame Ampadu’s team again next season.

SCHOOLBOYS

In addition, talented schoolboys Daniel Barden and Arthur Okonkwo have both been part of the U18 squad this season.

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3 comments

  1. Jeorge, saw U16’s won youth tournament the other day and just wondering if any updates on scholar intake for next year.

    Particularly keen for a spot of reassurance that Coyle is likely to sign up. From glimpses, he looks a great talent and I’ve noticed he hasn’t played for a month or more. Like what I saw of the tall lad Mcguinness last year,too.

    Think they’ll (u17?) be defending their title from future cup in Holland over Easter and with a bit of luck there’ll be a stream of the games again.

    Pretty sure u15’s have made final of floodlit cup as well, so seems some good players at those levels.

    While I’m bugging you for any news, really hope to hear C Willock will be staying. I got a bad feeling on that but I’m a pessimist

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