Author: Jeorge Bird

Which other Arsenal youngsters could go on loan as Bielik closes in on Charlton move?

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Arsenal may not be able to sign any more players this summer, but there could still be some departures from the club before the end of the month.

There are several members of the club’s U23 squad that are candidates to go out on loan, including defender Krystian Bielik, who is reportedly close to signing for League One side Charlton Athletic on a temporary basis.

Bielik, who has endured much misfortune with injuries in recent seasons, gained experience while on loan at Birmingham City in the 2016/17 campaign but didn’t feature at all for Walsall in the second half of last season as he was sidelined.

The centre-back, who is also capable of playing in midfield, was watched by scouts from several clubs as he scored for Arsenal U23s against Manchester City last weekend, and it appears that Charlton will be his destination.

Another player who could go out on loan is Bielik’s central-defensive partner Julio Pleguezuelo.

The Spaniard is in the final year of his contract at Arsenal and, with his chances of making it seemingly over, it would perhaps be best to give some of the club’s younger centre-backs, such as Danny Ballard, Zech Medley and Joseph Olowu, an opportunity to establish themselves at U23 level.

Pleguezuelo spent last season on loan with Gimnastic de Tarragona in his homeland and previously had a spell with Mallorca, so it seems likely that the 21-year-old will go to a Spanish club if he does head out on temporary transfer.

Cohen Bramall is also into the last year of his deal and wasn’t involved for the U23s against Manchester City.

Last season the left-back endured a hugely frustrating spell at Birmingham City and it seems very unlikely now that he will be able to get back into the first-team picture at Arsenal, with a loan move capable of providing him with the platform to impress potential suitors.

Stephy Mavididi, meanwhile, was on the scoresheet in that enthralling encounter against City but still finds himself behind Eddie Nketiah in the pecking order. Another who is no stranger to a loan spell, Mavididi has had two stints with Charlton and also a rather less successful spell with Preston North End.

Given that Arsenal don’t have any other established goalkeepers at U23 level, it seems as if there is no scope for Deyan Iliev to go out on loan in this transfer window, even though he is perhaps in need of a spell elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Ben Sheaf and Gedion Zelalem aren’t currently fully fit, which makes it unlikely that they will be sent out on loan.

 

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Arsenal confirm Josh Dasilva departure

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Arsenal have confirmed in the official matchday programme that Josh Dasilva has left the club.

Dasilva, a product of Arsenal’s Hale End academy, made three appearances for the first-team, all of which came in the Carabao Cup last season.

The 19-year-old was offered a new contract by Arsenal but decided against signing it and has been a free agent since the start of last month.

Given that he has yet to join a new club, there remains a possibility that Dasilva could rejoin Arsenal, but the expectation is that he will instead go elsewhere, with Birmingham City a possible destination.

Having initially been deployed as a striker, Dasilva made the transition into being a central midfielder and produced some excellent performances for Arsenal at youth level, impressing with his strength and passing.

Last season Dasilva also demonstrated that he is capable of filling in on the left side of the defence if required and he has also played at centre-back.

McEneff and Clarke sign first professional contracts with Arsenal

Second-year scholars Jordan McEneff and Harry Clarke have signed their first professional contracts with the club.

Both players featured for the U18s last season and are expected to be an important part of Kwame Ampadu’s squad this campaign.

McEneff, who is usually deployed as an attacking midfielder, joined Arsenal last year and is an Irish youth international who is highly rated.

Meanwhile, Clarke, who can play at centre-back or right-back, joined Arsenal as a schoolboy from Ipswich Town. He made the bench for the U23s last season.

The pair join Xavier Amaechi, Trae Coyle and Tyreece John-Jules in having signed professional terms from last year’s intake of scholars.

Folarin Balogun, Daniel Barden, Vontae Daley-Campbell, Mark McGuiness, James Olayinka, Matt Smith, Bayli Spencer-Adams and Zak Swanson are the remaining second year scholars.

Report – Smith Rowe hits brace as Arsenal U23s lose 6-5 to Manchester City

Premier League 2

Manchester City 6 (Zoubdi 7, 50, 88, Bernabe 45, Richards (pen) 62, Matondo 73) Arsenal 5 (Smith Rowe 20, 53, Bielik 36, Amaechi 41, Mavididi 86)

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If this is what Arsenal U23s will be like under Freddie Ljungberg then it promises to be a very entertaining season indeed.

The young Gunners started their defence of the Premier League 2 title with a 6-5 defeat away to Manchester City in a remarkable contest and missed some notable chances to add to their tally, including when Eddie Nketiah shot wide from the penalty spot and Stephy Mavididi rattled a post.

Emile Smith Rowe, who enjoyed an excellent pre-season with the first-team, enhanced his reputation further with a brace, but Arsenal’s defending left a lot to be desired against an impressive City side.

Arsenal named a strong side, but they were without some notable names including Reiss Nelson, who is with the first-team, and Ben Sheaf, who remains injured. Gedion Zelalem, meanwhile, isn’t yet fit enough to feature despite playing a part in the friendly against Bournemouth last weekend.

First-year scholars Arthur Okonkwo and Bukayo Saka received their first league call-ups at this level as they made the bench.

Iliev

Osei Tutu-Bielik-Pleguezuelo-Bola

Gilmour-Willock

Amaechi-Smith Rowe-Nketiah

Mavididi

Subs: Saka (for Nketiah, 77), Olayinka (for Gilmour, 83). Not used: Okonkwo, Medley, Olowu.

An entertaining encounter was expected and that was exactly what unfolded, with both sides possessing plenty in the way of attacking firepower.

City took the lead with just seven minutes gone when Zoubdi found the net but Arsenal clawed their way back into the game, with Smith Rowe, full of confidence, levelling after being teed up by Xavier Amaechi.

Arsenal then took the lead when Krystian Bielik, who is delighted to be back playing after injury, headed home from Charlie Gilmour’s corner, and then it was 3-1 as Amaechi finished adroitly following good work from Tolaji Bola.

City were far from out of the game, however, and they provided a reminder of their quality deep into stoppage time at the end of the first half when Adrian Bernabe slotted home.

In the second half City continued to push forwards and they levelled when Zoubdi got his second goal of the game, but Arsenal were soon back in front courtesy of Smith Rowe.

More drama was to come as City made it 4-4 when Taylor Richards scored a penalty before substitute Rabbi Matondo put the hosts in front.

Nketiah missed a golden chance to score with a penalty but Mavididi made it 5-5 when he was teed up by Saka, who had just been brought on.

It was City, though, who would end up taking all three points as Zoubdi struck again to complete his hat-trick and Mavididi squandered an excellent opportunity.

There were certainly positives for Arsenal to take from this game, not least the performance of Smith Rowe, but there is much work to do, especially defensively.

Report – Balogun hits brace and Taylor-Hart makes instant impact as Arsenal U18s beat Aston Villa

U18 Premier League

Arsenal 4 (Balogun 4, 90 Musah 26, Taylor-Hart 86) Aston Villa 2 (Tait 76, Odutayo 86)

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Folarin Balogun hit a brace as Kwame Ampadu’s Arsenal U18s side survived a late scare to beat Aston Villa 4-2 at London Colney on the opening day of the new season.

Ampadu named a starting lineup that included schoolboys Remy Mitchell (who made his debut in goal), Mazeed Ogungbo and Yunus Musah. Meanwhile, on the bench Pedro Virginia, brother of the recently departed Joao, was named in the squad at this level for the first time.

There were some notable absentees with Tyreece John-Jules, Trae Coyle, Harry Clarke, Daniel Barden, Mark McGuinness, Ryan Alebiosu, Stan Flaherty, Josh Martin and Tom Smith all not involved, while new signing Sam Greenwood isn’t yet registered to play.

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Daley Campbell-Spencer Adams-Ogungbo-Swanson

M. Smith-McEneff

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Balogun

Subs: Oyegoke (for Dennis, 39), Taylor-Hart (for Cottrell, 80). Not used: Virginia, Matthews, Patino.

Arsenal got off to an excellent start with Balogun, who already possesses plenty of experience at this level, opening the scoring in the fourth minute after he was teed up by the highly rated Musah.

Musah then got on the scoresheet himself in the 26th minute as Arsenal doubled their advantage, but there was a blow for Ampadu’s side when Matthew Dennis had to be substituted towards the end of the first half, with schoolboy Daniel Ogyeoke replacing him.

Villa came into the game more in the second period and eventually reduced the deficit through Michael Tait, with substitute Colin Odutayo then equalising.

Arsenal were unperturbed, however, and regained the lead through a substitute of their own, with schoolboy Kido Taylor-Hart finding the net in the 86th minute before Balogun struck again to add further gloss to the scoreline.

Next weekend Arsenal are back in action when they travel to face Brighton & Hove Albion.

Arsenal U23s season preview – Will Ljungberg’s team retain the title?

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Last season saw Arsenal U23s win the league title for the first time in 28 years and, although the main aim at youth level is to develop players rather than win matches, it was still a significant achievement for the club.

On Saturday the young Gunners get their new campaign underway with a challenging trip to face Manchester City and there have been some notable changes during the summer, not least in the coaching department, where Freddie Ljungberg is now in charge with Ryan Garry as his assistant, replacing Steve Gatting and Carl Laraman.

There have also been a host of departures, with players including Vlad Dragomir, Hugo Keto and Yassin Fortune having moved on, although there are some talented youngsters ready to step up who were in the U18 squad last season.

Here’s a look at what to expect from Arsenal’s U23 squad this campaign.

Goalkeepers

This is an area where Arsenal are rather short at present, especially following the shock departure of Joao Virginia to Everton. Deyan Iliev is the only main option, although U18 shot-stoppers Karl Jakob Hein and Arthur Okonkwo are likely to compete to make the bench.

Defence

Jordi Osei-Tutu was hugely impressive for the U23s last season and will undoubtedly have benefitted hugely from being involved with the first-team in pre-season. Vontae Daley-Campbell is capable of providing cover at right-back.

As far as the centre of the defence is concerned, Ljungberg has a host of options available to him, including the experienced Julio Pleguezuelo, although the Spaniard could still go on loan. Ben Sheaf, who is currently injured, is also part of the squad, along with Krystian Bielik, who could also be used in midfield. Furthermore, Danny Ballard, Zech Medley, Joseph Olowu and Tobi Omole are competing for game time.

At left-back Dominic Thompson, having signed his first professional contract, will aim to be a regular starter, although Tolaji Bola will hope to retain his place in the side. Cohen Bramall can also play there but may now been seen as a left-back.

Midfield

In midfield, Joe Willock will be looking to become increasingly involved with the first-team squad but should still feature frequently for the U23s, where he is likely to be partnered by the ever-improving Charlie Gilmour. Gedion Zelalem is back fit and should also play a part. As the season progresses, the tenacious Matt Smith should emerge as a useful member of the squad if he steps up from the U18s. James Olayinka is also highly rated within the club.

Regarding the attacking midfield berth, Emile Smith Rowe, despite now being on the fringes of the senior set up, should still play for the U23s quite often, although Robbie Burton is waiting in the wings for his chance. Trae Coyle will start the season with the U18s but the prospect, who possesses much in the way of quality, should become a key player for the U23s.

Out wide, Reiss Nelson is another with a considerable amount of first-team experience but Xavier Amaechi is also a player who has much potential. Amaechi is the main player to look out for in the U23s this season, with his pace and directness often leading to him tormenting his opponents. Bukayo Saka is only a first-year scholar but is very highly regarded and featured for the U23s in pre-season.

Attack

Up front, Eddie Nketiah’s ability is well-documented, and Stephy Mavididi also remains at the club. Beyond that, Tyreece John-Jules impressed after breaking into the U23 side last season and Folarin Balogun is another exciting prospect.

Furthermore, some first-team players are likely to be involved at various points, with centre-back Konstantinos Mavropanos the most likely candidate to feature.

It is likely to be another exciting season for Arsenal U23s, although results could suffer in January with players likely to head out on loan.

The bulk of this side will also be involved in the Checkatrade Trophy and it is hoped that as well as the youngsters who are already close to the first-team, others, including Amaechi, will take significant strides forward in their quest to make the breakthrough.

Possible first-choice team:

Iliev

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Bielik-Willock

Nelson-Smith Rowe-Mavididi

Nketiah

Subs: Hein, Ballard, Bramall, Gilmour, Zelalem.

Tormey ready to impress for Arsenal U23s after injury nightmare

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The majority of Arsenal’s U23 squad possess a considerable amount of experience of playing at that level, but that certainly doesn’t apply to Nathan Tormey.

Tormey, a talented winger, is looking forward to the new season perhaps more than any of his team-mates as he aims to finally make an impact having spent most of his scholarship on the sidelines owing to injury.

The Hale End product, who is extremely quick, was restricted to just 32 minutes of action for Arsenal’s U18 side over the past two seasons, but, having returned to training towards the end of last campaign, he is now fully fit and determined to make an impact for the U23s.

Competition for places will certainly be fierce, especially with Xavier Amaechi, one of the club’s standout prospects, currently ahead of him in the pecking order.

However, Tormey possesses a lot of potential himself and produced some encouraging performances during pre-season.

It will certainly take some time for Tormey to both build up his match fitness and to adapt to the demands of playing U23 football, but he could go on to enjoy a productive season, one which hopefully won’t be ruined by injuries.

A fine dribbler, Tormey isn’t especially strong physically and his shooting can be a little wayward at times, but he is excellent at bursting past opponents and could prove to be a very useful member of the squad for the U23s as they look to retain the title.

Arsenal get their campaign underway on Saturday when they travel to face Manchester City and Tormey will be aiming to be involved in some capacity in that fixture as, at long last, he looks to demonstrate his quality.