It was announced yesterday that all academy football in England for the 2019-20 season has finished early due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Arsenal U23s had just four league games remaining and couldn’t win the title, but they were through to the semi-finals of the Premier League International Cup, with a decision to be made shortly regarding the outcomes of both competitions.
With the season officially over, we can now reflect on the campaign.
There was much change in pre-season, with Steve Bould taking charge of the U23s after swapping jobs with Freddie Ljungberg.
In addition, the promotion of a host of players to the first-team squad meant that a lot of players in the U23 side were rather new to that level.
There were some mixed results for Bould’s side, who won six, drew seven and lost five of their 18 games.
Scoring goals wasn’t a problem for Arsenal as they found the net on 32 occasions, but they let in the same amount and kept just one clean sheet in the league.
It appeared that Arsenal saved their best performances for the Premier League International Cup, and they finished the league season with a disappointing run of six games without a victory.
Folarin Balogun was the standout performer for the U23s this season, with the striker scoring ten goals in 15 league games.
Zak Swanson also performed well at right-back, while Tyreece John-Jules impressed prior to joining Lincoln City on loan. Matt Smith and Harry Clarke deserve honourable mentions, too, for some impressive displays.
There were some excellent strikes from the young Gunners, but John-Jules’ flick against Everton early in the campaign was outstanding.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Karl Hein was the first choice goalkeeper for the U23s this season but many of his performances left a lot to be desired as he made some costly errors.
The Estonia youth international does have much potential, however, and has only just turned 18 so has plenty of time on his side to improve.
Next season should see some of the current U18s gain more experience at U23 level, with the likes of Miguel Azeez, Daniel Oyegoke and Catalin Cirjan likely to become key figures for Bould’s team.
STATISTICS (league only) (red = first-team player) (blue = player left permanently during season) (green = player left on loan during season)
Karl Hein – 11 appearances
Matt Macey – five appearances
James Hillson – two appearances
Harry Clarke – 15 appearances
Zak Swanson – 14 appearances
Tolaji Bola – 12 appearances
Zech Medley – nine appearances, one goal
Joseph Olowu – nine appearances, one goal
Konstantinos Mavropanos – eight appearances
Tobi Omole – seven appearances
Rob Holding – five appearances
Mark McGuinness – three appearances
Hector Bellerin – two appearances
Pablo Mari – two appearances
Mazeed Ogungbo – two appearances
Joel Lopez – one appearance
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – one appearance
Kieran Tierney – one appearance
Nathan Tormey – 15 appearances, four goals
Trae Coyle – 15 appearances, two goals
Jordan McEneff – 14 appearances
Robbie Burton – 13 appearances, three goals
Ben Cottrell – 10 appearances, one goal
Matt Smith – 12 appearances
Ben Cottrell – 10 appearances
James Olayinka – six appearances, one goal
Emile Smith Rowe – six appearances, one goal
Reiss Nelson – two appearances
Miguel Azeez – one appearance
Ryan Alebiosu – one appearance
Matthew Dennis – one appearance
Bukayo Saka – one appearance
Folarin Balogun – 15 appearances, ten goals
Tyreece John-Jules – 12 appearances, five goals
Sam Greenwood – Five appearances, one goal