Author: Jeorge Bird

Video + report- Zelalem assists + scores as Arsenal U19s beat Celtic

An Arsenal U19 side beat Celtic 4-2 today in their first group stage fixture of the Durban Under 19 International Football Tournament in South Africa, with Gedion Zelalem playing a major part in proceedings.

The midfielder set up Arsenal’s opening goal for Tyrell Robinson with a neat pass and also scored the winner from the penalty spot. In the interim, Ben Sheaf had made it 2-0 to Arsenal only for Celtic to restore parity. However, Zelalem’s late spot-kick ensured that Arsenal took all three points, with a strike from Kaylen Hinds adding further gloss to the scoreline.

Zimbio.com

Zimbio.com

Arsenal, who were without Dan Crowley and Krystian Bielik, took the lead early on when a superb through-ball from Gedion Zelalem found Tyrell Robinson, who finished confidently.

It was soon 2-0 courtesy of a superb strike from Ben Sheaf, but Celtic reduced the deficit following a mistake from Arsenal goalkeeper Hugo Keto.

Arsenal were playing some entertaining football at times, but Celtic were becoming increasingly dominant and the Scottish side equalised in the 57th minute with a goal from Regan Hendry.

The Gunners then introduced summer signing Kostas Pileas in place of Stefan O’Connor. Arsenal desperately sought to regain the lead, with Sheaf having a shot tipped over.

Josh Da Silva then replaced Aaron Eyoma as Arsenal sought to up the ante and they were eventually rewarded when Zelalem made it 3-2 from the penalty spot.

Arsenal’s victory was confirmed when Hinds made it 4-2 late on following an error by the Celtic goalkeeper.

Two of the main positives from the game from an Arsenal perspective were the performances of Zelalem and Sheaf. Zelalem was left out of Arsenal’s squad for the Emirates Cup last weekend and his task in terms of breaking through into the first-team is complicated by the presence of several established central-midfielders. However, the United States U20 international remains very talented and will be hoping to impress further in this tournament.

Sheaf, meanwhile, will hope to break into Arsenal’s U21 side on a regular basis this campaign.

On the contrary some of Arsenal’s defending was questionable today and is something which the young Gunners will inevitably want to improve upon as the tournament progresses.

Arsenal’s next assignment is against a KSN Academy XI on Friday, before they take on PSV Eindhoven on Sunday in what is sure to be an entertaining fixture.

Keto

Osei Tutu-O’Connor-Pleguezuelo-M. Bola

Zelalem-Sheaf

Eyoma-C. Willock-Robinson

Hinds

Subs: Huddart, Pileas, Da Silva, T. Bola, Chatzitheodoridis, Mourgos, Donovan.

Arsenal tipped for Bennacer deal as Malen signing is confirmed

It has already been a very busy Summer for Arsenal at youth level in terms of acquisitions, and it appears that the recruitment drive might not be over yet, with the Gunners being heavily linked this morning with a move for attacking midfielder Ismael Bennacer.

The 17-year-old French youth international previously seemed set for a move to Manchester City, but L’Equipe claim that Arsenal are set to offer the player a five-year contract to move from Arles-Avingon.

Meanwhile, the signing of Dutch youngster Donyell Malen has been formalised after he was pictured putting pen to paper on his scholarship contract. The striker joins from Ajax’s esteemed academy.

Arsenal U19s face their Celtic counterparts in a tournament in South Africa later today.

Members’ Day 2015 report + photos- Reine-Adelaide and Iwobi train with first-team

Arsenal held their annual Members’ Day at Emirates Stadium today, with promising youngsters Jeff Reine- Adelaide and Alex Iwobi joining the first- team squad for training. 
  
Serge Gnabry and Chuba Akpom were also present, as was Mathieu Flamini, but Tomas Rosicky was absent because of injury and Danny Welbeck, despite being in attendance at the stadium, also didn’t partake in the session. 

   
    
 Regarding youngsters, Isaac Hayden, Krystian Bielik, Dan Crowley and Gedion Zelalem weren’t called upon, although the latter trio may well represent the U19s at a tournament in South Africa this week. 

Wojciech Szczesny is currently in Italy as his loan move to Roma edges closer to completion, whilst David Ospina was back in training today but may be short of sharpness ahead of Sunday’s Community Shield fixture against Chelsea. 

Reine-Adelaide, who enjoyed an excellent Emirates Cup, was impressive in training again and there is a chance that he could make the bench on Sunday. 

   
   
Alexis Sanchez is due to return to training on Monday, whilst Joel Campbell has been given a period of extended leave following his exploits with Costa Rica this summer. 

The players initially did some light stretches, before splitting into two groups, with Iwobi and Akpom amongst those who participated in a small-sided keep-ball session. 

The goalkeepers trained separately, with summer signing Petr Cech receiving a good reception from the club’s supporters. 

Over the next few days the training sessions will increase in intensity in the build- up to the Chelsea fixture, with Reine-Adelaide, Iwobi and Akpom all striving to convince Arsene Wenger that they should be in the squad at Wembley. 

Players in training: Debuchy, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Koscielny, Arteta, Wilshere, Ozil, Giroud, Ospina, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Monreal, Cazorla, Flamini, Chambers, Bellerin, Martinez, Gnabry, Akpom, Cech, Coquelin, Iwobi, Reine-Adelaide. 

West Ham complete deal for Arsenal youngster Dobson

West Ham United have today completed the signing of Arsenal youngster George Dobson on a permanent deal.

The 17-year-old, who progressed through the Gunners’ Hale End system, informed the Arsenal coaching staff at the end of last season that he was intent on leaving the club. He spent time training with the West Ham first-team earlier this summer and, following some protracted negotiations, the deal has now been concluded, much to the delight of Dobson, who is a lifelong West Ham supporter.

Capable of playing at centre-back or as a defensive-midfielder and possessing good leadership qualities, Dobson broke into Arsenal’s U18 team as a schoolboy and went on to make 45 appearances in total at that level. He also featured in the UEFA Youth League and last season made inroads into Arsenal’s U21 side, featuring on nine occasions for the second-string.

Dobson is the second Arsenal youngster to defect to West Ham in recent years, with striker Jordan Brown having done likewise in 2013. The Gunners did, however, sign midfielder Ben Sheaf from the East London club last year.

Dobson is a player with considerable potential, but his decision to leave appears to have centred on his future first-team prospects. With players such as Isaac Hayden and Krystian Bielik blocking his path at Arsenal, he has decided to move on to pastures new.

Emirates Cup omissions emphasise considerable task facing Crowley and Zelalem

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It says something about Arsenal’s wealth of central-midfield options that, even in the absence of the injured Tomas Rosicky, two players as talented as Dan Crowley and Gedion Zelalem were unable to command a place in the squad for the Emirates Cup over the weekend.

Crowley and Zelalem, given their age, positions and playing style, have been bracketed together since they both signed scholarship terms with the club in 2013, but their involvement with the first-team this pre-season was restricted to a short run-out for both of them against a Singapore Select XI.

Their omission from the Emirates Cup team wasn’t too surprising, with manager Arsene Wenger able to call upon Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere. Indeed, the latter two have often had to operate out wide in recent times just so they can fit into the team.

The Emirates Cup has a history of showcasing young talent, with Kieran Gibbs and Jack Wilshere amongst the players to have announced themselves at the tournament, and the weekend was a particularly memorable one for prodigious wingers Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Alex Iwobi, who claimed an assist and a goal respectively as Arsenal won the trophy for the first time since 2010.

For Crowley and Zelalem, though, the wait for them to impose themselves on the senior set-up goes on. Crowley is yet to represent the senior side competitively, whilst Zelalem, despite some stellar showings in past pre-season fixtures, has only made two substitute appearances.

Both players progressed well last season, making particularly good use of the UEFA Youth League, but their omissions from the squad this weekend will have served as a reminder as to just how difficult it will be for them to make a sustained breakthrough.

Crowley and Zelalem are undoubtedly two of the most talented youngsters currently in Arsenal’s youth system. The latter has attracted criticism at times for some anonymous performances, but he was more heavily involved last season and is also starting to become stronger physically and more tactically aware.

Crowley also has some aspects of his game to improve on, but appears to be the more rounded of the pair at present, which is perhaps why he is already being linked with a loan move for this campaign, with League One side Peterborough United mooted as a possible destination.

That should come as little surprise, with Crowley’s virtuoso performance against Peterborough in the FA Youth Cup in 2013/14 still instantly recallable. The midfielder, who was often used on the left wing last season, is a superb passer of the ball, and a loan spell, playing against experienced players on a regular basis, would help him to develop further and would perhaps precede a senior breakthrough during the 2016/17 campaign.

As for Zelalem, perhaps the United States youth international isn’t ready for a loan spell just yet, on account of his lack of strength. It would probably be better for him to remain with Arsenal’s U21 side for the first half of the season at least, which would enable him to train with the first-team and also possibly feature in the Capital One Cup. A loan spell could follow thereafter.

The long-term question as to how Crowley and Zelalem will fit into the Arsenal first-team picture is very complicated and is not easily answerable at present, with Ramsey and Wilshere also likely to be around for many years to come. This season should provide us with some clues as to how astute Crowley and Zelalem are at adapting to first-team football.

My name is Jeff: Reine-Adelaide announces himself with assist as Arsenal win Emirates Cup

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Jeff Reine-Adelaide enhanced his growing reputation further still with an impressive performance today as Arsenal beat Wolfsburg 1-0 to win the Emirates Cup for the first time since 2010.

The French youngster, whose move from Lens was only formalised this month, created the game’s only goal with a precise pass for Theo Walcott and also produced some impressive glimpses of his technique.

Chuba Akpom and Isaac Hayden were introduced in the second-half, with the latter looking assured. Petr Cech, meanwhile, kept a clean sheet on his first appearance in an Arsenal shirt at Emirates Stadium.

Cech

Bellerin-Chambers-Gabriel-Monreal

Arteta-Cazorla

Wilshere-Ozil-Reine Adelaide

Walcott

Subs: Akpom, Giroud, Ramsey, Hayden, Oxlade-Chamberlain. Not used: Martinez, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Debuchy, Coquelin, Iwobi. 

Arsene Wenger made ten changes from the side that comfortably dispatched of Lyon yesterday, with Mesut Ozil the only player to retain his place in the starting line-up.

Arsenal, initially at least, struggled to perform at anything approaching the intensity of yesterday’s performance, but there were some encouraging signs from Reine-Adelaide early on, with the France U17 international doing very well to keep the ball under pressure.

Kevin De Bruyne was undoubtedly Wolfsburg’s star turn and the former Chelsea player was involved in most of the German side’s early moves. Firstly he saw his cross gathered by Cech, before former Arsenal scholar Nicklas Bendtner was unable to connect with a neat ball from his team-mate.

De Bruyne then sent a shot well over, with Christian Trasch then coming close to scoring from a corner. Arsenal then created their first chance of note, with Ozil unsurprisingly the architect. His neat pass found Walcott, but the England international was denied by Diego Benaglio.

Jack Wilshere, stationed on the right flank, then did well to find Reine-Adelaide, who forced a corner after once again demonstrating his impeccable close control.

Walcott then had the ball in the net following a neat move, but his strike was ruled out by the offside flag, with Bendtner subsequently seeing a weak shot gathered by Cech at the other end.

Wolfsburg were the dominant side in the first half, with Arsenal looking comparatively rusty, but the two teams went into the break goalless.

Akpom replaced Ozil at the start of the second period but it was soon Reine-Adelaide’s turn to take centre-stage as he prised open the Wolfsburg defence with a superb pass that found Walcott, who finished confidently to open the scoring.

Wenger’s plans for Reine-Adelaide this season are currently unclear but the youngster, who it mustn’t be forgotten is still eligible for the U18s, will have done his first-team chances no harm at all this weekend.

There was a moment of concern when Mikel Arteta lost the ball in midfield, but De Bruyne couldn’t capitalise on the opportunity.

Reine-Adelaide then almost found Walcott again with another pass, but this time Benaglio was quick off his line to clear the danger.

Joshua Guilavogui’s shot was well saved by Cech, but the majority of the chances thereafter fell to Arsenal, with Akpom, Cazorla and Hayden all having opportunities.

Of all the youngsters who featured this weekend, Akpom will probably be the most disappointed with his performances, with the forward failing to play in Aaron Ramsey when well placed late on. However, this pre-season as a whole has still been a positive one for the England U20 international when his showing against a Singapore Select XI is taken into account.

Alex Iwobi didn’t feature today but was mightily impressive yesterday. It was also good to see Hayden back playing again, with the youngster enjoying an impressive cameo in midfield.

It is Reine-Adelaide, though, who emerges from the weekend with the most credit. The French youngster’s start to his Arsenal career has been hugely encouraging and it will be interesting to see how he is used throughout the campaign.

It is also worth considering the promising talents that weren’t involved this weekend. Wellington’s future remains uncertain, whilst Dan Crowley and Jon Toral could head out on loan at some point this season.

In all, it has been a hugely positive pre-season for Arsenal, especially when the performances of the young players are taken into consideration.

Emirates Cup report- Iwobi scores as Arsenal are kings of Lyon

Fresh from winning the Barclays Asia Trophy, Arsenal closed in on further pre-season silverware as they thrashed Lyon 6-0 in their opening Emirates Cup fixture this afternoon.

The headline event from a youth perspective was the performance of Alex Iwobi, with the Hale End product joining Olivier Giroud, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla on the scoresheet, whilst also demonstrating some neat link-up play and having another effort ruled out for offside.

Chuba Akpom, on as a substitute, came perilously close to finding the net himself, with the youngster’s effort hitting the outside of the post. There were further positives, too, with French prospect Jeff Reine-Adelaide being introduced, along with Isaac Hayden, who made a welcome return to first-team action after his injury problems.

Martinez

Debuchy-Mertesacker-Koscielny-Gibbs

Ramsey-Coquelin

Oxlade Chamberlain-Ozil-Iwobi

Giroud

Subs: Arteta, Cazorla, Akpom, Walcott, Hayden, Reine-Adelaide. Not used: Cech, Bellerin, Gabriel, Chambers, Monreal. 

It was an excellent performance from Arsenal, and one that called to mind their triumph over Benfica this time last year, but both sides were a little slow to get going in the opening exchanges.

Iwobi, stationed on the left flank, looked bright early on, but the first opportunity of note fell to Lyon, with Clinton Njie forcing a save from Emiliano Martinez.

It wasn’t long, though, until Arsenal started to get into their groove, with Ramsey and Giroud both having chances before Lyon suffered a major disappointment when Clement Grenier had to be substituted because of injury.

Grenier’s withdrawal certainly had an adverse effect on the French side, with Arsenal proceeding to dominate thereafter. The Gunners nearly took the lead when Ramsey’s long pass found Ozil, but the German was unable to find the net.

Shortly afterwards, however, Ozil created the first goal of the game as his free-kick was headed in by Olivier Giroud, who opened the scoring.

From there Lyon were simply unable to withstand the waves of Arsenal pressure. The second goal was an excellent free-flowing team move, with Ramsey and Giroud combining to find Oxlade-Chamberlain, who finished adroitly.

Arsenal were determined to inflict as much damage upon Lyon as possible and the third goal followed very quickly. Ramsey was again involved in the build-up, with Iwobi this time providing the finishing touch and doing his first-team prospects no harm at all.

Iwobi then had the ball in the net again and it seemed almost too good to be true. Indeed it was, with the youngster’s effort being correctly ruled out for offside, but his earlier goal had clearly provided the 19-year-old with a huge confidence boost.

Arsenal continued to dominate, with Ozil playing a clever pass through to Ramsey, who made it 4-0.

At the other end Martinez then had to make a rare save to deny the much talked about Alexandre Lacazette. You could say that there was certainly a lack of zest about Lyon’s performance today.

Somewhat inevitably, the intensity levels dropped a little after the interval, but Oxlade-Chamberlain was still lively and the England international had a shot deflected wide.

Giroud and Debuchy then came close to scoring, with the fifth goal eventually being scored by Ozil, who applied the finishing touch to another intricate move involving Ramsey and Giroud.

Arsenal then made a triple substitution, with Akpom, Mikel Arteta and Cazorla all being introduced. Akpom, deployed on the left flank, was eager to make an impression, but failed to get his shot away properly following a good run.

As the game wore on Arsene Wenger made further changes, with Reine-Adelaide, Theo Walcott and eventually Hayden all being brought on. Reine-Adelaide made the biggest impression of the trio with some neat skill, but it was one of the more experienced players, Cazorla, who concluded the scoring with a clever free-kick that was sent underneath the jumping wall.

There was still time for Akpom to strike the outside of the post at the conclusion of a highly eventful game, but this was a hugely positive outing for Arsenal as they won their third pre-season fixture in succession.

They will aim to continue this momentum against Wolfsburg tomorrow, with Wenger set to make numerous changes to his side.

To reflect on today’s proceedings, Iwobi will be delighted with his first appearance at Emirates Stadium for the first-team, whilst Reine-Adelaide, on this evidence, could be set for involvement in the Capital One Cup this season.