Author: Jeorge Bird

From Crowley to Willock – What happened to the 11 youngsters that left Arsenal last summer?

As is usually the case each year, a host of youngsters left Arsenal last summer, with some having been released, whilst others elected to move on themselves.

Here’s an assessment of how each of them have got on since leaving the club.

Stefan O’Connor


The youngster joined Newcastle United after being released and has been heavily involved for the Magpies’ U23 side, whilst he has also played in the EFL Trophy.

Although he was usually deployed as a centre-back at Arsenal, O’Connor has demonstrated his versatility at Newcastle, featuring as a midfielder and at right-back on occasion.

Kostas Pileas

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Another defender who was let go, Pileas struggled to perform consistently for Arsenal at youth level, but he was snapped up by Anorthosis, who play in the top tier in his homeland of Cyprus.

Pileas has made five league appearances so far but has mostly been an unused substitute.

Kristopher Da Graca

Fotboll, Allsvenskan, IFK Gšteborg - …rebro

The Swedish centre-back also returned to his home country with IFK Goteborg, with whom he has made his first steps into senior football.

Da Graca was sent off on his debut against Malmo but made several appearances thereafter.

However, having struggled he lost his place in the side.

Chris Willock


Perhaps the most high-profile youngster to leave Arsenal last summer, Willock turned down a new contract with the Gunners to instead sign for Benfica.

Despite being involved with the first-team in pre-season, Willock has only featured for Benfica’s B side so far, although the winger has impressed, scoring three goals and providing two assists in 17 games.

Kaylen Hinds

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A player who frequently linked up with Willock when the pair were at Arsenal, Hinds left the club without having made a senior appearance.

The forward joined Wolfsburg and made his Bundesliga debut against Borussia Dortmund but became less involved with the first-team after former Arsenal academy chief Andries Jonker was sacked as the club’s manager.

Hinds subsequently joined second division side Greuther Furth on loan.

Glen Kamara


Kamara may have been unable to make the cut at Arsenal but the midfielder has thrived since leaving the club.

The Finnish youngster joined Dundee and has been a regular for the Scottish Premiership side, making 36 appearances across all competitions.

Dan Crowley


Once regarded as one of Arsenal’s standout youngsters, midfielder Crowley, having impressed on loan at Go Ahead Eagles, made the permanent switch to Dutch football with Willem II.

Crowley flitted between the first-team at the B team in the first half of the season prior to linking up with second division team Cambuur on loan.

Ismael Bennacer

The talented Algerian midfielder made it clear that he didn’t want to spend any more time playing U23 football and left Arsenal for Empoli.

Bennacer’s decision looks to have paid off so far as he has been a regular for the Serie B side and has impressed.

Savvas Mourgos


The midfielder was unable to really thrive at U23 level for Arsenal and ended up signing for Norwich City.

So far the Greek youngster has been a key figure for the Canaries in the second tier of Premier League 2, scoring twice in eight appearances.

Jon Toral


Strangely, given his quality, Toral left Arsenal without having made a competitive senior appearance.

Since then he has managed to hold down a regular starting berth for Hull City in the Championship, featuring as a right winger and, at times, an attacking midfielder.

Toral has scored once and provided three assists in the league for Hull as he looks to help the club avoid relegation.

Donyell Malen


A surprise departure right at the end of the summer transfer window, Malen returned to Holland with PSV Eindhoven.

The forward excelled for PSV’s U21 side in the first half of the season, scoring eight goals and providing two assists, and he has since stepped up to make two senior appearances in the Eredivisie.



Report – Dragomir scores but ten-man Arsenal U23s are outclassed by Leicester

Premier League 2

Leicester City 3 (Gordon 9, Eppiah 22, Barnes 60) Arsenal 1 (Dragomir 84)


Arsenal U23s’ hopes of winning Premier League 2 suffered a blow tonight as they were beaten 3-1 away by a spirited Leicester City side, with the young Gunners’ misery compounded by the dismissal of striker Tyreece John-Jules.

Vlad Dragomir, who had been pushed up front following John-Jules’ sending off, scored a late consolation but Arsenal missed out on the chance to go top of the table and produced a woeful performance that was sorely lacking in terms of cohesion and the creation of clear cut chances.

There were some positives to take from proceedings, with Josh Dasilva, who captained the side, performing very well in midfield, whilst left-back Tolaji Bola was rewarded for his persistence as he provided the assist for Dragomir’s goal.

However, Arsenal were very disappointing, with goalkeeper Deyan Iliev especially culpable as he frequently gave the ball away on account of his inaccurate distribution.

There were some mitigating circumstances, with Arsenal deprived of the services of Reiss Nelson, Matt Macey, Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock, who are all expected to be involved in some capacity in the Europa League encounter against Ostersunds on Thursday.

Still, though, this was an abject Arsenal performance, quite possibly the worst of the season so far.

Coach Steve Gatting made four alterations to the side that beat Everton last time out, with Dasilva, Zech Medley, John-Jules and the lesser spotted Yassin Fortune all coming into the side.

Meanwhile, scholars Daniel Ballard and Vontae Daley-Campbell, who have caught the eye for the U18s this season, received their first call-ups at this level.


Osei Tutu-Mavropanos-Medley-T. Bola

Smith Rowe-Dasilva


John Jules

Subs: Eyoma (for Fortune, 82). Not used: Keto, Gilmour, Ballard, Daley-Campbell.

Arsenal are used to starting games in the ascendancy, but, providing an indication of what was to come, that wasn’t the case on this occasion.

Leicester were impressive from the outset and signalled their attacking intent almost immediately as Harvey Barnes sent an effort wide.

With just nine minutes gone Leicester were in front and Arsenal goalkeeper Deyan Iliev should have done better than to flap at a corner, with Josh Gordon slotting home from close range to open the scoring after George Thomas sent the ball back into the area.

Leicester, who are in contention to win the title themselves, could have made it 2-0 shortly afterwards but Iliev partially redeemed himself by stopping Barnes’ effort.

Arsenal usually revel in dominating games with their slick, passing football but they struggled to muster any sort of momentum for much of the game.

They did manage to create one half chance when Dasilva prodded the ball into the path of John-Jules, but the latter’s effort was deflected over.

Leicester were utterly dominant and it was of little surprise when they made it 2-0 in the 22nd minute, with Josh Eppiah sending a fine strike beyond the reach of Iliev.

The pressure was unrelenting, with Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s free-kick whistling just wide, and Arsenal at times found it very difficult to cope with the situation they found themselves in.

As the first half drew to a close Arsenal started to grow in confidence and saw slightly more of the ball.

Xavier Amaechi, who will take some time to adapt to this level after stepping up from the U18s, found Dasilva, whose effort rattled the post, and then Dragomir and Konstantinos Mavropanos came close with further attempts.

There was, however, always something to fear at the other end of the pitch, with a Leicester cross deflecting off Mavropanos and hitting the crossbar and then Iliev made a good reaction stop to tip over from a header.

Arsenal, undoubtedly having received some stern words at half-time, emerged for the second half in determined mood and started to keep the ball a little better.

Dragomir shot wide from distance when he perhaps should have elected to pass and then Dasilva found the Romanian, who turned expertly but again couldn’t find the net.

Arsenal were made to pay for their lack of ruthlessness as, following an impressive move, Barnes rounded Iliev and scored to put Leicester 3-0 up and effectively end the game as a contest.

Their hopes of getting back into the game may have been all but over, but there was still more misery to come for Arsenal as, almost immediately, John-Jules was sent off for a reckless challenge on Barnes.

The young striker, who is a very exciting talent, lost his composure and will surely learn from this experience.

Dragomir then moved up front but much of the action was occurring down the other end of the pitch, with Leicester looking to make the most of their numerical advantage.

Iliev made a good stop but then, as he has a habit of doing, the goalkeeper squandered possession with a woeful ball out, and he was fortunate that Leicester didn’t take advantage, with Gordon hitting the post and Eppiah shooting wide.

Arsenal then brought on Aaron Eyoma, who was recently on trial at Queens Park Rangers, in place of the ineffective Fortune.

There was at last something for Arsenal to celebrate as Tolaji Bola pushed forwards and found Dragomir, who sent a sweet strike into the top corner to reduce the deficit.

Bola now has three assists in Premier League 2 this season, while Dragomir has six goals, but it was too late to spark a comeback.

Mavropanos, who didn’t disgrace himself despite the scoreline, saw an effort deflected wide and then had to make an impressive defensive intervention at the other end.

Leicester, though, fully merited their victory and outclassed Arsenal tonight, with Gatting’s side lacking dynamism.

The absence of Nelson, Nketiah and Willock, as well as those who left on loan in January, was certainly felt, as a run of six league games unbeaten came to an end.

Arsenal are back in action on Saturday when they host Dinamo Zagreb in the Premier League International Cup but they will certainly have to perform much better in that game if they are to avoid being eliminated.

Loan report – Akpom scores; Reine-Adelaide and Nwakali feature


Chuba Akpom scored his first goal for Sint-Truiden as he found the net with a fine strike in the 1-0 victory over Anderlecht.

The forward played 80 minutes and also missed a penalty.

Lucas Perez played the whole game as Deportivo La Coruna lost 1-0 to Alaves.

Carl Jenkinson played the full game and Cohen Bramall was an unused substitute as Birmingham City lost 1-0 to Millwall.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide was brought on in the 72nd minute as Angers lost 1-0 to Saint-Etienne.

Julio Pleguezuelo played the whole game as Gimnastic de Tarragona lost 2-0 to Real Zaragoza.

Marc Bola played the entirety of Bristol Rovers’ 1-0 defeat to AFC Wimbledon.

Tafari Moore played the full game as Wycombe Wanderers beat Cheltenham Town 2-0.

Kelechi Nwakali played 86 minutes as MVV Maastricht won 4-1 against NEC Nijmegen.

Takuma Asano wasn’t involved for Stuttgart against Augsburg. 

Stephy Mavididi was absent due to injury as Charlton Athletic beat MK Dons 2-1.

Krystian Bielik missed out through injury as Walsall drew 0-0 with Gillingham.

Injury also meant that Ben Sheaf didn’t feature for Stevenage in their 4-1 win over Yeovil Town.

Joel Campbell is set to miss out when Real Betis face Real Madrid tonight as he isn’t fully fit.

Emiliano Martinez is likely to be an unused substitute when Getafe host Celta Vigo tomorrow night.



Balogun strike not enough as Arsenal U18s are thrashed by Tottenham in Premier League Cup

U18 Premier League Cup semi-final

Tottenham 4 Arsenal 1 (Balogun)

Arsenal U18s saw their unbeaten run come to an end today as they were knocked out of the Premier League Cup at the semi-finals stage with a 4-1 defeat away to rivals Tottenham Hotspur. 

Folarin Balogun opened the scoring for the young Gunners, but Tottenham assumed control of proceedings thereafter, with Arsenal’s run of 13 games without defeat across all competitions being brought to a halt. 

Coach Kwame Ampadu made three alterations to his side, with Joseph Olowu returning from injury, while Dominic Thompson and Trae Coyle also started, with Zech Medley, Daniel Ballard and Tobi Omole all not involved. 

Meanwhile, schoolboy Alfie Matthews received his first call up at this level and was on the bench. 



M. Smith-Benson



Subs: Barden, Saka, Spencer-Adams, Beckford, Matthews. 

Arsenal started in positive fashion as Balogun opened the scoring with a neat finish with just three minutes gone. 

However, Tottenham managed to equalise through a header from Paris Maghoma following a spell of sustained pressure. 

Arsenal tried their utmost to restore their lead before the break, with Balogun and substitute Bukayo Saka coming close, but Tottenham stood firm. 

Tottenham took the lead in the second half as Reo Griffiths headed in following good work from J’Neil Bennetts. 

The ever-lively Saka struck the crossbar for Arsenal but Tottenham were in the ascendancy and made it 3-1 when Griffiths scored again. 

Griffiths proceeded to complete his hat-trick and inflict further misery upon Arsenal as he sent an effort beyond the reach of Joao Virginia in the closing stages.

Arsenal will be extremely disappointed to have been eliminated at this stage, especially given that they thrashed Tottenham 6-0 earlier in the campaign, but the hosts were deserved winners on this occasion. 

There is still much for Arsenal to focus on, though, as they look to win the league and the FA Youth Cup. 

(Team via @AFCFixtureNews)

Tyreece John-Jules set to sign first professional contract with Arsenal


Arsenal forward Tyreece John-Jules is set to sign his first professional contract with the club.

The Hale End product, who turns 17 today, has broken into Arsenal’s U23 squad this season, scoring three goals in four games at that level, while he has also caught the eye for the U18s and has particularly impressed in the FA Youth Cup.

Although he is capable of playing up front or behind the striker, John-Jules is most frequently deployed on the left flank and has trained with the first-team this season.

John-Jules is just back from international duty where he scored for England U17s in a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands, with his Arsenal team-mate Xavier Amaechi also getting on the scoresheet.

Loan report – Nwakali gets assist; Reine-Adelaide makes Angers debut


Kelechi Nwakali provided an assist and was substituted in stoppage time at the end of the second half as MVV Maastricht beat Cambuur 2-0.

Carl Jenkinson played the whole game and was booked as Birmingham City lost 2-0 to Aston Villa. Cohen Bramall was an unused substitute.

Tafari Moore played the full game as Wycombe Wanderers drew 1-1 with Exeter City.

Julio Pleguezuelo played the whole game and was booked as Gimnastic de Tarragona beat Albacete 1-0.

Chuba Akpom started and played 78 minutes as Sint-Truiden lost 3-0 to Gent.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide made his debut for Angers, entering the fray in the 72nd minute of the 4-0 defeat to Monaco.

Emiliano Martinez was an unused substitute as Getafe drew 0-0 with Barcelona.

Takuma Asano wasn’t involved as Stuttgart beat Borussia Monchendgladbach 1-0.

Marc Bola wasn’t involved as Bristol Rovers beat Oxford United 2-1.

Krystian Bielik missed out through injury as Walsall drew 2-2 with Blackpool.

Injury also meant that Ben Sheaf didn’t feature for Stevenage in their 1-1 draw with Luton Town.

Stephy Mavididi is expected to be out for up to eight weeks with a hamstring injury, and, as a consequence, wasn’t involved as Charlton Athletic drew 1-1 with Doncaster Rovers.

Lucas Perez is expected to feature when Deportivo La Coruna host Real Betis tomorrow night, although Joel Campbell still isn’t fully fit for the visitors.


Report – Swanson and Balogun hit braces as Arsenal U18s score six in win over Reading

U18 Premier League

Reading 2 Arsenal 6 (Swanson (2), Balogun (2), Benson, Burton)


Arsenal U18s extended their unbeaten run across all competitions to 13 games with an emphatic 6-2 victory away to Reading in the league today, with Zak Swanson and Folarin Balogun both hitting braces.

The young Gunners will soon face Reading in the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup and this game will give Kwame Ampadu’s side much confidence going into that fixture.

Ampadu was without Vontae Daley-Campbell, Trae Coyle, Bukayo Saka and Tyreece John-Jules, who are on international duty with England U17s, but the Arsenal coach still fielded a strong side.



M. Smith-Benson



Subs: Burton (for McEneff, 68), Spencer-Adams (for Ballard, 79). Not used: Barden, Thompson, Beckford.

Swanson opened the scoring in the eighth minute after being teed up by Jordan McEneff, with Balogun getting his first goal of the game shortly afterwards.

Josh Benson then struck to give Arsenal a three-goal advantage with just 16 minutes gone, but Reading reduced the deficit through Thierry Nevers.

In the second half Arsenal continued to impress as Swanson and Balogun both scored again and Robbie Burton then added further gloss to the scoreline.

Reading got a consolation goal when Tommy Stevens found the net, but Arsenal fully deserved to take all three points.