Author: Jeorge Bird

Report: Dragomir impresses but Arsenal U19s suffer frustrating defeat against Basel

UEFA Youth League Arsenal 1 Basel 2

By Jeorge Bird @ Meadow

Park, Borehamwood 

Arsenal U19s are still seeking to kickstart their UEFA Youth League campaign after they suffered an agonising 2-1 defeat at home to Basel today. 

The young Gunners, wearing their away kit, fell behind to a spectacular long range strike from Eray Cumart before Vlad Dragomir equalised after the break. 
However, with Krystian Bielik having to be substituted at half time after clattering into the advertising hoardings, Arsenal had much defending giving in the second period. 

It appeared that they had done enough to secure a point but the referee gave Basel a controversial late penalty when Chiori Johnson was adjudged to have handled in the area. 

Basel’s Neftali Manzambi converted the spot kick and Arsenal now have just one point from their first two games. 

Andries Jonker fielded a strong side but Chris Willock and Jeff Reine-Adelaide were absent. 

Schoolboy Trae Coyle made the bench, as did Kaylen Hinds, who is over his latest injury setback. 

Basel were presented with an opportunity to take the lead early on following a mistake from Kristopher Da Graca but they were unable to take advantage. 

Arsenal then started to dominate proceedings and they kept the ball well without ever really threatening the Basel goal in the first half. 

Stephy Mavididi laid the ball off superbly for Donyell Malen, but the Dutchman couldn’t quite latch onto it. 

The young Gunners continued to lead the way in terms of possession but there was always a danger that they could get caught out on the break and Bielik had to make an impressive intervention to cut out the danger on one occasion. 

Hugo Keto then had to save with his feet after his goal kick went straight to a Basel player. 

Soon Keto was picking the ball out of the back of the net following a spectacular effort from Cumart from the halfway line that deceived the Finnish goalkeeper. 

In a half that wasn’t exactly incident packed this was a dramatic moment. 

Matters then turned from bad to worse for Arsenal as Bielik crashed into an advertising hoarding and suffered what appeared to be a serious injury. 

Bielik was replaced by Tolaji Bola for the start of the second half, and Arsenal seemed intent on equalising straight away. 

They signalled their intent when Dragomir saw his free-kick gathered and the Romanian found the net with his next attempt as he finished neatly following good work from Marc Bola. 

Despite equalising, Arsenal then found themselves under a significant amount of pressure from the Basel attack with the Swiss side being allowed through too easily on some occasions. 

Reiss Nelson had a rare effort saved for Arsenal but he, along with Josh DaSilva, was then withdrawn, with Hinds and Coyle entering the fray. 

Keto then made a good save to keep Basel at bay but the visitors continued to press for a winner and, somewhat fortuitously, they achieved their aim when a penalty was awarded and Manzambi scored.  

Arsenal had no time to respond and were left devastated at the final whistle. 

Jonker’s team didn’t play badly and Dragomir was particularly impressive, but Arsenal seemed to lack a spark going forwards, while the loss of Bielik proved costly. 

In order to progress to the knockout stages Arsenal need to start getting points on the board, starting against Ludogorets, who were thrashed 8-1 by PSG today. 
Arsenal: Keto; Johnson, Bielik, Da Graca, M. Bola; McGuane, DaSilva; Malen, Dragomir, Nelson; Mavididi. 

Subs: T. Bola, Hinds, Coyle. Not used: Virginia, Mourgos, Nketiah, Osei-Tutu. 

Talented Joe Willock looking to match his brother’s achievements at Arsenal


Joe Willock will undoubtedly have been extremely proud when his brother Chris made his competitive debut for the Arsenal first-team last week, but now the younger sibling is seeking to show that he can also be involved in the senior set-up.

A talented winger who has represented England at youth level, Joe Willock is skilful and direct while he also possesses a goal threat. His first season at U18 level was a little frustrating as, perhaps owing to the fact that he is the youngest player in his age group, he found game time limited.

Now, though, he is a fully-fledged member of Kwame Ampadu’s U18 team and has played a key part in the side’s impressive start to the season.

Although he isn’t the strongest physically, Willock is adept at beating players, while he possesses the ability to play killer passes for his team-mates to latch on to. A good crosser and a sublime dribbler, Willock is a very direct player and has been one of the standout performers for the U18s this season.

If he continues to progress at this rate then Willock should be able to earn a professional contract this season, with involvement in the UEFA Youth League and the U23s the next step in his development.

He is still some way off matching the achievements of his brother, who is on the cusp of the first-team squad, but the prospect of there being more than one Willock representing the Arsenal senior side in the future can’t be discounted.

Arsenal take former Celtic goalkeeper Alex Crean on trial


Oasis Shirley Park

Arsenal have given a trial to talented young goalkeeper Alex Crean, who previously played for Celtic and Crystal Palace.

The 16-year-old currently represents Bromley, for whom he was an unused substitute in the National League on several occasions last season.

Crean, who was born on New Years’ Day 2000, was on the bench for Arsenal U18s against Leicester at the weekend, with the Gunners set to make a decision over whether to sign him.

If he did join then Crean would provide back-up to Joao Virginia, who is Arsenal’s first-choice shot-stopper at U18 level.


Loan report- Chambers debuts, Wilshere hits crossbar, Nwakali and Asano feature


Jack Wilshere played 76 minutes and hit the crossbar as Bournemouth beat Everton 1-0.

Calum Chambers made his Middlesbrough debut, playing the whole game as his loan side lost 2-1 to Tottenham Hotspur.

Wojciech Szczesny played the whole game as Roma lost 3-1 to Torino.

Takuma Asano played 74 minutes on the right wing as Stuttgart drew 1-1 with Bochum.

Kelechi Nwakali was brought on in the 77th minute as Maastricht beat Almere City. Stefan O’Connor was an un-used substitute.

Jon Toral has been included in the Granada squad for tomorrow’s game against Alaves.

Joel Campbell was an un-used substitute as Sporting Lisbon beat Estoril 4-2.

Julio Pleguezuelo was an un-used substitute as Mallorca drew 0-0 with UCAM Murcia.

Glen Kamara was an un-used substitute as Colchester United lost 2-1 to Accrington Stanley.

Ryan Huddart was an un-used substitute as Eastleigh beat Sutton United 2-1.

Tafari Moore was an un-used substitute as Utrecht beat Sparta Rotterdam 2-0.

Dan Crowley wasn’t in the squad as Oxford United drew 1-1 with Charlton Athletic.


Nketiah hits hat-trick as Arsenal U18s thrash Leicester

Arsenal U18s bounced back from last weekend’s defeat to Chelsea with an emphatic 5-0 victory at home to Leicester City today. 

The prolific Edward Nketiah scored a hat-trick to take his tally for the season to seven goals in five games. 

Marcus McGuane was also on the scoresheet after the ball hit him on the back and bounced in and Leicester’s  goalkeeper scored an own goal on a good day for Kwame Ampadu’s side. 

Arsenal: Virginia; Osei-Tutu, Olowu, Pileas, T. Bola; McGuane, DaSilva; J. Willock, Dragomir, Coyle; Nketiah. 

Subs: Crean, Ballard, Burton, Benson, Omole. 

Via AfcFixtureNews

Report: Arsenal U23s beat Chelsea- Mavididi the hero, Zelalem and M-Niles impress


Premier League 2

Chelsea 1 (Wakefield) Arsenal 2 (Nelson, Mavididi)

By Jeorge Bird @ Stamford Bridge

Arsenal U23s returned to winning ways in impressive fashion tonight as they overcame their Chelsea counterparts with a 2-1 victory in a hard-fought encounter at Stamford Bridge.

Stephy Mavididi was the hero, with the forward finishing well in the closing stages of the game to secure what is just Arsenal’s second win of the season as a much-changed side responded to the humiliating 5-0 defeat to Everton.

Arsenal played some slick passes at times and one such move culminated in the lively Reiss Nelson opening the scoring. The England youth international spurned an inviting opportunity to make it 2-0 in the second-half and Arsenal were punished for their lack of ruthlessness, with Chelsea substitute Charlie Wakefield equalising.

However, Mavididi, who was on the bench for the first-team against Nottingham Forest this week, proceeded to score the decisive goal of the game.

Coach Steve Gatting was able to name a significantly stronger line-up than the one he fielded against Everton on Monday, with the likes of Chris Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Gedion Zelalem all returning to the fray. Ben Sheaf, meanwhile, filled in at centre-back with Kristopher Da Graca dropping to the bench.


Johnson-Bielik-Sheaf-M. Bola

Maitland Niles-Zelalem

Nelson-C. Willock-Bennacer


Subs: Dragomir (for Bennacer). Not used: DaSilva, Nketiah, Da Graca, Keto.

Arsenal started very brightly, with the lively Nelson coming close to scoring early on.

However, Chelsea soon provided an indication of their attacking intent, with Matt Macey having to be alert to gather the ball from a cross before Krystian Bielik did well to cut out the danger shortly afterwards.

Arsenal’s defending was woeful against Everton but they were considerably more resilient here and that provided the foundation for them to push forwards and attack when the opportunity arose.

On one such occasion they managed to take the lead. Nelson was typically operating on the right flank but at the culmination of one free-flowing passing move he ended up on the left wing and finished well to open the scoring.

Arsenal were buoyed by that goal and pushed forwards in search of a second before the break, with Zelalem and Maitland-Niles both having attempts saved.

The young Gunners could be pleased with their first-half performance, with Bielik and Sheaf having defended particularly well, lending credence to claims that Arsenal’s defence is more reliable without the error prone Da Graca.

Arsenal started the second period well with Nelson, who was at the hub of much of what was good about his side’s play, sending a free-kick over the crossbar.

Chelsea’s threat couldn’t be dismissed, however, with the Blues striking the post before a dangerous cross flashed across the face of Macey’s goal.

Arsenal had to be resilient at the back, but they still managed to create a notable opportunity when Willock, operating in the number ten position, played an inch-perfect pass into the path of Nelson, but the latter’s effort lacked conviction.

Chelsea were let off the hook and they seemed determined to make Arsenal pay for spurning that chance. Macey tried his utmost to keep the Blues at bay and he made a spectacular save to temporarily preserve Arsenal’s lead, but he was powerless to prevent Wakefield from equalising following a rapid Chelsea break downfield.

Macey then had to make several important stops to prevent the hosts from taking the lead as Chelsea started to dominate proceedings.

Arsenal remained unflustered, however, with Bielik continuing to make clearance after clearance.

Chelsea continued to pressurise Arsenal but suddenly the young Gunners found a new lease of life, with Maitland-Niles helping to drive the team forwards.

It was Mavididi, though, who was the match-winner to cap off a memorable week for him and a rather eventful five days for the academy as a whole, which, having started so miserably with that loss to Everton, have ended in euphoria.

Willock debuts whilst Akpom and Reine-Adelaide impress as Arsenal thrash Forest

Arsenal commenced their EFL Cup campaign in fine fashion as they thrashed Nottingham Forest 4-0 at the City Ground.

Granit Xhaka opened the scoring with a long range strike, with Lucas Perez hitting a brace before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain added further gloss to the scoreline. 

As far as The Gunners’ youngsters are concerned, this was a very good evening against a Forest side containing two players from Arsenal’s League Cup teams of yore in Nicklas Bendtner and Henri Lansbury. 

Ainsley Maitland-Niles coped well at right-back on his first senior start for the club and won his fair share of aerial duels, while Jeff Reine-Adelaide, who was also involved from the outset for the first time, linked play intelligently and came close to scoring what would have been a fine goal. 

Meanwhile, Chuba Akpom was excellent on the left flank and tormented the Forest defence, suggesting he may have found his best position. 

There was more good news for the Arsenal academy, with Chris Willock making his competitive senior debut late on, whilst Gedion Zelalem and Krysitan Bielik gained further experience with late run-outs. 

Stephy Mavididi and Josh DaSilva were rewarded for their progress at youth level as they made the bench for the first time, where they were joined by Matt Macey and Ben Sheaf.