Arsenal U18s season review – Sweet and Sagoe Jr make impressive progress

Arsenal U18s must wait to discover whether they will finish in fourth or fifth place in the league, but, as has been the case with the U23s, there has been a lot of progression this campaign.

Dan Micciche took charge of the U18s this season although he had previously worked with many of these players at younger age groups.

Unlike in many previous campaigns, the core of the side consisted of second year scholars, which meant that there was a rather experienced feel to the team on most occasions.

Some players, such as Charlie Patino and Omari Hutchinson, weren’t involved at all in the league as they had already progressed beyond this level, while others like Reuell Walters, Marcelo Flores and Jack Henry-Francis stepped up to the U23s as the campaign went on.

Perhaps the biggest success of this season is Brooke Norton-Cuffy. The defender was eligible to play for the U18s this season but featured just once in the FA Youth Cup and spent the second half of the campaign excelling in League One with Lincoln City.

The Youth Cup exit against Colchester United was a major source of frustration, especially given that this crop of players is considered to be one of Arsenal’s best intakes in recent years.

However, in the league Arsenal often fared rather better despite still lacking consistency at times.

Striker Khayon Edwards was the star of the show with 16 goals and he also developed his all-round game by operating in midfield at times.

Bradley Ibrahim flitted between playing at centre-back and in midfield, although the suspicion remains that he is better in the latter position. It was a positive year of development for the 17-year-old.

Amario Cozier-Duberry, who can play as a winger or a wing-back, frequently excelled with his flair and Charles Sagoe Jr also made a name for himself with some consistent performances after he barely featured during the previous season. This time around he ended up at the top of the appearance charts. Capable of playing up front or out wide, he was also used as a striker towards the end of the season.

James Sweet made terrific progress and weighed in with nine assists. The Welsh youth international finished the season very strongly and can play as a wing-back or in central midfield.

Billy Vigar also made a significant contribution in the second half of the season and looks to have done enough to have earned a professional contract.

Midfielder Mauro Bandeira was a mainstay of the side and often impressed as he pushed forward with greater regularity.

Defender Taylor Foran was a regular again, with Henry Jeffcott also often called upon when fit.

First-year scholar Josh Robinson developed very well as he showed his strength and technique.

Like many of the first years, Mathaeus Roberts had to be patient for opportunities in the first half of the campaign but he often seized his chances later in the season. Elian Quesada-Thorn impressed at left wing-back before an injury brought his campaign to an early end.

Arsenal may well regret the departure of Amani Richards, who left for Leicester City in January after growing frustrated at his lack of playing time. Richards has impressed for Leicester and Arsenal will have to be wary that others could follow suit by leaving.

Forwards Kaleel Green and Henry Timi Davies, for example, didn’t get many chances, with midfielder Jimi Gower also used sparingly. Ismail Oulad M’Hand was also on the periphery of proceedings before a strong end to the season. Arsenal did introduce the U17 games programmes to give some of these players chances but it was still a rather frustrating situation for them.

One of the most exciting aspects of the season was seeing schoolboys Ethan Nwaneri and Myles Lewis-Skelly continue to impress when given chances for the U18s. Lewis-Skelly had an injury that kept him out of action for some time but he looked at home on the couple of occasions he was called upon, while Nwaneri played with a swagger and assurance that suggests he has a very bright future.

Next season there will be a significant amount of changes and it will be interesting to see how the new scholars adapt to this level.

Arsenal U18s appearances – 2021/22

Charles Sagoe Jr – 26

Taylor Foran – 23

Josh Robinson – 23

Mauro Bandeira – 22

James Sweet – 22

Amario Cozier-Duberry – 20

Bradley Ibrahim – 20

Remy Mitchell – 19

Tino Quamina – 19

Khayon Edwards – 16

Henry Jeffcott – 16

Billy Vigar – 16

Mathaeus Roberts – 15

Marcelo Flores – 11

Jimi Gower – 8

Elian Quesada-Thorn – 8

Reuell Walters – 8

Luigi Gaspar – 7

Zach Awe – 6

Jack Henry-Francis – 6

Ismail Oulad M’Hand – 6

Amani Richards – 6

Lino Sousa – 6

Alex Kovacevic – 5

Ethan Nwaneri – 5

Kaleel Green – 4

Henry Timi Davies – 1

Ovie Ejeheri – 1*

Hubert Graczyk – 1*

Myles Lewis-Skelly – 1

Zane Monlouis – 1

Michal Rosiak – 1

* – overage goalkeeper.

Arsenal U18s goalscorers

Khayon Edwards – 16

Charles Sagoe Jr – 9

Marcelo Flores – 6

Amario Cozier-Duberry- 4

Bradley Ibrahim – 3

Mathaeus Roberts – 3

Mauro Bandeira – 2

Taylor Foran – 2

Jack Henry-Francis – 2

Ethan Nwaneri – 2

Ismail Oulad M’Hand – 2

Kaleel Green – 1

Josh Robinson – 1

James Sweet – 1

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