U18 Premier League
Leicester City 0 Arsenal 5 (John-Jules 4, 14, 44, Balogun 22, Coyle 77)
They may have been knocked out of the FA Youth Cup and are without their two main goalkeepers due to injury, but Arsenal U18s went top of the table today with an impressive 5-0 victory away to Leicester City.
Tyreece John-Jules, who made a rare appearance at this level as he continues to build up his fitness, hit a first-half hat-trick, while Folarin Balogun and Trae Coyle also got on the scoresheet.
Leicester’s cause, admittedly, wasn’t helped by the fact that they had to play 86 minutes with ten men following the early dismissal of right-back Connor Barrett.
Arsenal were missing goalkeepers Arthur Okonkwo and Karl Hein, so Tom Smith, who featured for the U23s last week, stepped in, with recent loan signing James Hillson on the bench.
With Bayli Spencer-Adams still out injured, the versatile Zak Swanson moved across to centre-back, while Ben Cottrell started in a deep midfield position behind a fearsome attacking quartet of Sam Greenwood, John-Jules, Coyle and Balogun.
Subs: Dennis (for John-Jules, 63), Clarke (for McGuinness, 70), Alebiousu (for Balogun, 78). Not used: Hillson, Flaherty.
The pattern of the game was established early on when Barrett was dismissed and John-Jules stepped up to put Arsenal ahead from the penalty spot in the fourth minute.
John-Jules, who has featured prominently at U23 level, is clearly above the U18 stage, but this was still a useful exercise for the striker as he seeks to return to full sharpness.
In the 14th minute John-Jules doubled his tally, this time after being located by the impressive Ben Cottrell.
Arsenal’s third goal arrived in the 22nd minute and Cottrell was the provider again, this time teeing up Balogun, who scored his 12th goal in eleven U18s league games this campaign.
There was still time for Arsenal to get another goal before half-time as John-Jules completed his hat-trick following impressive work from Balogun.
In the second half Arsenal weren’t able to find the net with such regularity, but they still managed to add to the scoreline when Trae Coyle found the net.
John-Jules completed 63 minutes before being replaced by Matthew Dennis, while there was another positive to take from proceedings as Harry Clarke made his return from injury, replacing Mark McGuinness with 20 minutes remaining.
Arsenal are now one point clear at the top of the table but they have played a game more than their closest challengers, rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Next up for Ken Gillard’s side is another away game as they face Southampton on Saturday.