Amani Richards facing waiting game for Arsenal U18s

Given the impact that he made in the closing stages of last season following his move from Chelsea, it was anticipated that Amani Richards would be one of the most prominent players for Arsenal U18s this campaign.

Last season Richards became the first schoolboy to play for Arsenal U23s since 2015, while he also featured in the FA Youth Cup and made an impact for the U18s in the league.

So far this season, however, Richards has been used sparingly.

There had been hope that the youngster, who usually plays up front but is also capable of operating behind the striker or out wide, would get further opportunities for the U23s in the early stages of this season.

As it has transpired, Richards has been restricted to just three appearances for the U18s, all of which have come as a substitute, totalling 53 minutes of action.

This may seem a rather bizarre situation for a player with such vast potential to be in, but there are some mitigating circumstances.

The main issue is that there are too many strikers at the club across all levels. Alexandre Lacazette and Gabriel Martinelli have been on the bench for the first-team, which means Folarin Balogun and Eddie Nketiah are usually left out of the matchday squad.

Balogun and Nketiah have been involved with the U23s at times, with Mika Biereth the usual striker at that level.

That, in turn, has meant that Khayon Edwards hasn’t been called upon for the U23s despite excelling for the U18s.

As a result, Richards has been the backup striker for the U18s so far, and has had to show much patience.

Furthermore, U18s coach Dan Micciche uses a system that doesn’t include wingers, so there aren’t many opportunities for Richards to play out wide.

If he is able to wait then chances will surely come for Richards. The 16-year-old has excellent technical ability and a superb tactical understanding of the game for a player his age.

Richards is enduring a frustrating situation right now but it will surely improve eventually and he will have to be ready to seize his chance when it comes.

Other first-year scholars find themselves in a similar situation, with the likes of Jimi Gower, Kaleel Green and Ismail Oulad M’Hand having all been on the fringes.

3 comments

  1. All these frustrations, imagine if we didn’t have 17 players out on loan?

    I hear people moaning about players out on loan. But can you imagine if the 7 first team players were still at the club? For example would Saliba, guendozi, Torreira be happy with bit part roles likes chambers, Elneny and Soares?

    Unfortunately, until the relevant leagues propose for an u21 team to be allowed into the pyramid, a player cap being introduced and a limit on loanees, there will continue to be frustrations, players leaving the club and others completely fading out of football.

    The premier League should be increased to 2 divisions of 16 and all leagues across the clobe should be reduced to 16 sixteen team divisions. Also Instead of League cups and trophies, their could be divisional cups as well as the the Football Associated Cups.

    Under 23 football should go back to under 21, with grade A academies being allowed to enter the pyramid system. All teams in the pyramid should have a player cap. 25 players plus 8 under 21s maximum.

    The winners of the Football Association Cups for the top 5 European leagues should qualify for a Champions League playoff final with the highest ranking team that does not qualify, or in England 4th v FA Cup winners this match could replace the community shod or super cup as it is known in other countries.

  2. Good point, Jeorge.
    Basically the the missed opportunity to send 1 (or maybe even 2) from Lacazette Balogun and Nketiah on loan led to serious underutilization of a string of talented young attackers (including Eddie and Folarin).

    Imagine if we bought Abraham Edouard or Vlahovic to add the existing 4-striker contingent…

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