Arsenal U18s face important decision between Okonkwo and Hein for FA Youth Cup clash against Northampton


Arsenal U18s commence their FA Youth Cup campaign tonight with a home game against Northampton Town and there will be one aspect of Ken Gillard’s team selection that will be especially interesting.

Unless players are required for first-team involvement, it is often the case that Arsenal name their strongest possible side in this competition as they seek to go all the way.

Players such as James Olayinka and Trae Coyle, who have featured heavily for the U23s this season, are likely to drop back down to the U18s for this competition.

It remains to be seen, though, who Gillard will select in goal as he has two stand-out options to choose from.

Both Arthur Okonkwo and Karl Hein have made the bench for Arsenal U23s this season, and they have also received a considerable amount of playing time at U18 level.

Okonkwo certainly seems to be the outstanding candidate out of the pair, as, although he has a tendency to make mistakes at times, the Hale End product possesses outstanding reflexes and he also has prior experience of featuring in the Youth Cup from last season.

Hein, meanwhile, hasn’t been especially convincing for the U18s so far, not least with his footwork, but the Estonian is highly regarded by the Arsenal coaching staff and is already fluent in English, allowing him to communicate with his defenders effectively.

The decision between Okonkwo and Hein may not have too much bearing on tonight’s game, but it could prove rather important if Arsenal enjoy a run in this competition, and selecting Okonkwo could give Gillard’s side a greater chance of going all the way.

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