Author: Jeorge Bird

Maitland-Niles, Chris Willock and Zelalem feature as Arsenal beat Reading in EFL Cup


Arsenal secured their place in the fifth round of the EFL Cup with a 2-0 victory at home to Reading tonight, with several youngsters receiving run-outs.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles played the whole game in central midfield, whilst Chris Willock and Gedion Zelalem featured as substitutes, with Matt Macey, Krystian Bielik, Ben Sheaf and Marc Bola all being named on the bench, the latter receiving his first call-up.

This wasn’t a straightforward victory for Arsenal, with Reading causing problems at times, but the Gunners were able to prevail courtesy of a brace from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide showed some glimpses of his potential before being withdrawn in the second half, although Maitland-Niles wasn’t at his best.

Willock helped out defensively following his introduction before over-hitting a cross, while Zelalem played some neat passes in midfield, suggesting that he warrants further first-team game time.

Arsenal lacked cohesion at times tonight, which wasn’t entirely unexpected given that many of the players on show haven’t played regularly this season. Carl Jenkinson made his return at right-back, whilst Kieran Gibbs captained the side and Olivier Giroud featured as a substitute.




Report- Keto impresses but Arsenal U23s are beaten by Manchester United


A depleted Arsenal U23 side fell to a 1-0 defeat away to Manchester United tonight and the young Gunners had goalkeeper Hugo Keto to thank for preventing the hosts from inflicting further damage.

Many of the club’s best starlets trained with the first-team today, with Gedion Zelalem, Krystian Bielik, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Chris Willock, Reiss Nelson, Marc Bola, Ben Sheaf, Matt Macey and Stephy Mavididi all under consideration ahead of tomorrow night’s EFL Cup tie against Reading.

That meant that Steve Gatting had to make several alterations to his side, with Josh DaSilva filling in at left-back, whilst Keto, Savvas Mourgos, Kostas Pileas and Kaylen Hinds all starting, the latter making his first appearance at this level this season.

Meanwhile, Jordi Osei-Tutu was named on the bench for the U23s for the first time.


Johnso, n-Da Graca-Pileas-DaSilva




Subs: Eyoma, Robinson. Not used: Virginia, Osei-Tutu, T. Bola

United were expected to prevail tonight and they did just that, with the Red Devils opening the scoring with just seven minutes gone courtesy of a header from Ro-Shaun Williams.

Arsenal’s marking was disappointing, with Vlad Dragomir failing to pick up the run of Williams, and the young Gunners immediately found themselves at a disadvantage.

To Arsenal’s credit, they kept the ball well thereafter, but they weren’t able to carve out many clear cut chances and striker Edward Nketiah received little service.

In addition there was a lack of width in the Arsenal team, with both Mourgos and Dragomir more suited to playing centrally, while Gatting’s team were always vulnerable at the back.

Nketiah came close on one occasion, but most of the action came down the other end, particularly in the second half, when Keto had to make some impressive stops to keep the score down.

Hinds was working hard for Arsenal and he almost managed to weave his way through on one occasion, but United were able to cope with the pressure.

Arsenal then introduced Aaron Eyoma and Tyrell Robinson, who have been on the fringes of proceedings this season, as they went in search of an equaliser.

Ismael Bennacer sent an effort over but Arsenal were unable to find the net, with this result leaving them in eighth place in the table.

Next up is a home game against Sunderland on Sunday, for which Gatting should be able to call upon a significantly stronger squad.

Loan report- Campbell and Crowley score; Wilshere completes 90 minutes


Image: Daily Express

Joel Campbell entered the fray in the 75th minute and scored in second half stoppage time as Sporting Lisbon drew 1-1 with Tondela.

After scoring against Coventry City in midweek, Dan Crowley was given a starting berth for Oxford United against Port Vale and the midfielder scored again as he played the entirety of the 2-2 draw.

Jack Wilshere completed 90 minutes as Bournemouth drew 0-0 with Tottenham Hotspur. It was the first time the midfielder has played a whole Premier League game since September 2014.

Wojciech Szczesny played the whole game as Roma beat Palermo 4-1.

Takuma Asano started and played 71 minutes on the left wing as Stuttgart beat 1860 Munich 2-1.

Tafari Moore played the whole game as Utrecht II lost 2-1 to MVV Maastricht. Kelechi Nwakali was brought on in the 61st minute for the away time, whilst Stefan O’Connor was an unused substitute.

Ryan Huddart made a rare start as Eastleigh drew 0-0 with Lincoln City.

Glen Kamara was an un-used substitute as Colchester United drew 2-2 with Morecambe.

Jon Toral wasn’t involved as Granada drew 0-0 with Sporting Gijon.

Julio Pleguezuelo wasn’t involved as Mallorca beat Alcorcon 1-0.

Calum Chambers was ineligible to feature in Middlesbrough’s goalless draw with Arsenal.



Ainsley Maitland-Niles set to start for Arsenal against Reading in EFL Cup

Image: The Independent

Ainsley Maitland-Niles is set to receive his second start of the season when Arsenal host Reading in the EFL Cup on Tuesday night. 

The 19-year-old impressed at right-back in the victory over Nottingham Forest in the previous round, but, with Carl Jenkinson back in the fold, Maitland-Niles could be deployed in central-midfield against Reading. 

Maitland-Niles, who was on the bench for the Premier League game against Middlesbrough yesterday, is poised to add to his four senior appearances for the Gunners. 

Manager Arsene Wenger is set to make several alterations to his team for the Reading game, with Gabriel, Rob Holding, Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lucas Perez and, depending on his fitness, Olivier Giroud, amongst those pushing for starts. 

Some talented youngsters, including Krystian Bielik, Gedion Zelalem and Chris Willock are likely to be named amongst the substitutes. 

Coyle scores but Arsenal U18s are thrashed 5-1 by Reading

Trae Coyle scored but Arsenal U18s suffered their heaviest defeat of the season today as they were thrashed 5-1 away to Reading. 
Trialist Zech Medley received another start but was again disappointing. 
The young Gunners, who were without several key players including Donyell Malen, Josh DaSilva and Marcus McGuane, saw their misery compounded when Joe Willock was sent off. 

Their next game is at home to Norwich City next weekend.  

Arsenal: Virginia; Osei-Tutu, Medley, Olowu, T. Bola; Benson, Ballard; Tella, Burton, Coyle; J. Willock 

Via Andy’s Arsenal U18s

Report- Nketiah hits brace as Arsenal U19s thrash Ludogorets

UEFA Youth League

Arsenal 3 (Nelson, Nketiah (2)) Ludogorets 0


Arsenal U19s kick-started their UEFA Youth League campaign with an emphatic 3-0 victory at home to Ludogorets today, with Edward Nketiah hitting a brace and Reiss Nelson also getting on the scoresheet.

After drawing with Paris Saint-Germain and suffering an agonising late defeat to Basel, Arsenal were in need of a victory on this occasion and they achieved their aim, with Nelson scoring an early goal with a neat finish before Nketiah made it 2-0 from the penalty spot and later added further gloss to the scoreline.

Joao Virginia was given a start in goal, while Nketiah was also involved from the outset having impressed at U23 level of late. With Tolaji Bola not involved, first-year scholar Joseph Olowu was named on the bench.


Johnson-Bielik-Da Graca-M. Bola




Subs: McGuane (for DaSilva, 46), Hinds (for Dragomir, 57), Coyle (for Malen, 76). Not used: Keto, Olowu, Osei-Tutu, Mourgos.

Arsenal were eager to make an early impact and Ludogorets were unable to cope when a brisk move up-field culminated in Nketiah playing the ball into the path of Nelson, who finished well to open the scoring.

Chances were limited for much of the rest of the first-half, but it seemed clear that Arsenal’s quality would eventually shine through and that was what transpired when Nketiah scored from the penalty spot after being brought down in the area.

That was the forward’s first goal above U18 level and he got his second shortly afterwards when he headed home to cap off an impressive all-round display.

Positional changes aplenty- assessing Arsenal’s new look U23 side

After a challenging start to the season that encompassed some dismal results, Arsenal U23s appear to have turned a corner and have performed with a significantly greater amount of cohesion during their last two fixtures.

Perhaps that improvement is partly down to the coaching staff’s decision to try out certain players in different positions. It is commonplace for youngsters to frequently alter their role on the pitch as they progress through the ranks, and these four young Gunners have experienced such changes recently.

Ben Sheaf- Central-midfield to centre-back

Sheaf is used to playing in different positions having previously been used at right-back and on the right-wing, but nobody could have foreseen the 18-year-old excelling at centre-back this season.

The former West Ham United player had never played at the heart of the defence prior to this campaign but, despite some initial teething problems, he has settled in very well and was excellent in the goalless draw with Southampton as he made some fine interceptions and clearances.

What started out as a temporary experiment when Krystian Bielik was with the first-team has now turned into something more long-lasting, and Sheaf appears to offer Arsenal U23s much greater defensive security than Kristopher Da Graca, despite the latter being a natural centre-back.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles- right-wing to defensive-midfield

A comparatively subtle change, but a significant one nonetheless, Maitland-Niles has been anchoring the midfield for Arsenal U23s of late.

The prospect, who spent last season on loan at Ipswich Town, has been used in numerous positions for Arsenal and featured for the first-team at right-back against Nottingham Forest in the EFL Cup.

In the 2014/15 campaign Maitland-Niles thrived as a central-midfielder for the Arsenal second-string and he is now playing in a slightly deeper position. Although not a natural defender, he is still capable of breaking up play, while his midfield partner Gedion Zelalem occasionally drops deeper to allow Maitland-Niles to push forwards.

Ismael Bennacer- defensive midfield to right-wing


Bennacer delivered some impressive performances at the base of the midfield in his first season at Arsenal as the Algeria international showcased his ability to make a significant contribution both defensively and going forwards.

The youngster started the season slowly, however, and frequently found himself overrun in midfield, which prompted the coaching staff to move him out to the right-wing.

Of all the recent positional changes, this one seems the least successful so far as Bennacer doesn’t possess the pace and crossing ability required of wingers. He is, however, capable of linking play extremely well and can drift inside to good effect.

Stephy Mavididi- striker to number ten

A powerful, hard-working player, Mavididi has made a significant impact for Arsenal at youth level in recent years and has been a regular on the scoresheet.

Perhaps in a bid to improve the starlet’s link-up play, Mavididi has often played as a number ten this season and he has performed well, playing some slick passes, whilst still getting into dangerous attacking areas himself.