Mehmet Ali faces striker decision ahead of Arsenal U21s’ season opener against Manchester United

Arsenal U21s commence their new Premier League 2 campaign on Saturday against Manchester United at Meadow Park, but their preparations for the fixture haven’t exactly been ideal with regards to their attacking options.

Khayon Edwards, who is expected to be the main striker at this level this season, suffered an injury in the pre-season friendly against Boreham Wood, with Billy Vigar having done likewise against Bromley.

Therefore, Mehmet Ali’s side could be without a natural striker when they take on United.

If Edwards and Vigar are both unavailable then it seems likely that Nathan Butler-Oyedeji could be deployed up front on Saturday. The 19-year-old possesses some experience of playing up front but the suspicion remains that he is more effective as a winger.

Kido Taylor-Hart played up front against St Albans City last night but again he is more of a creative player than a forward, and Arsenal could certainly do with his qualities out wide.

George Lewis is perhaps another option as a striker but Joel Ideho could well be the best choice.

Ideho scored a spectacular goal from 40 yards out against St Albans and has the technique to drift past defenders.

Charles Sagoe Jr also possesses some experience of playing as a striker.

With regards to U18s attackers, Henry Timi Davies is just back from injury, while Kaleel Green is an option but he may continue to play for the younger age group for now.

Therefore it appears that Ali could turn to Butler-Oyedeji up front against United.

It is hoped though that Edwards and Vigar won’t be out for too long as Butler-Oyedeji is needed out wide.


  1. Hi Jeorge,
    Do you think Balogun could play against united assuming he will still be with Arsenal at the weekend?
    Or maybe even Nketiah could have a game or two with the U21 team – until Vigar or Edwards becomes available – and to get some match readiness?

  2. It’s the chance you take when you loan out multiple youngsters in the hope that they’ll develop elsewhere, it’s a risk and Arsenal could struggle in certain areas of it’s squads this season whilst Moller, John Jules, Flores and Biereth learn their trades and mature hopefully in their loanee teams. It reminds me a tad of two years ago when the squad was left light in numbers, quality and experience, I guess that Lewis, Butler, Timi Davies and even Green will need to pick up the slack.

  3. They could play a 4-6-0 formation. With no recognized striker, but just false nine and bunch of attacking midfielders swarming everywhere. Like Spain at Euro 2012 or Man city last year. The available players don’t lack the technical skills for that.

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