Author: Jeorge Bird

Holding, Willock and Zelalem make Arsenal squad for United States tour


Arsenal have named their preliminary squad for their pre-season fixtures in the United States, with several youngsters, including Gedion Zelalem, making the cut.

Krystian Bielik and Chris Willock are also in the squad, but there is no place for Matt Macey, who was impressive against Lens last night.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Chuba Akpom stay with the squad, but Serge Gnabry hasn’t been named as he is set to represent Germany at the Olympics.

Several additional first-team players are involved, including Rob Holding, who signed from Bolton Wanderers yesterday. Granit Xhaka, Petr Cech, David Ospina, Jack Wilshere and Hector Bellerin are included, as is Gabriel, who missed the Lens game. Wojciech Szczesny isn’t named amidst rumours he’s set to re-join Roma on loan.

Yaya Sanogo isn’t part of the squad, with the striker having also missed out against Lens. However, Santi Cazorla has been included, suggesting that he is back from injury.

There are some notable absentees, with Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Alexis Sanchez not yet back following their international commitments. Takuma Asano, meanwhile, is with the Japan team ahead of the Olympics.

Danny Welbeck and Carl Jenkinson remain out injured.

Arsenal face MLS All-Stars next Friday before taking on Chivas de Guadalajara three days later.

Arsenal preliminary squad for United States tour










Oxlade Chamberlain-Reine Adelaide-Campbell

Zelalem-C. Willock


Gnabry assists and Zelalem features as Arsenal start pre-season with Lens draw


Arsenal came from behind to draw 1-1 away to Lens in their first friendly of pre-season tonight, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain finding the net with a superb lofted finish following good work from Serge Gnabry, who was deployed as a centre forward in the latter stages of the game.

Despite many senior players being absent, Arsene Wenger still named a very strong starting line-up, with the likes of Per Mertesacker, Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny and Theo Walcott featuring from the outset.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide, meanwhile, started against his former club, with Chuba Akpom deployed up front in his first appearance since returning from his loan spell at Hull City.




Walcott-Reine Adelaide-Iwobi


Arsenal, as expected, took some time to find their rhythm, but much of the good work that they did in the first-half involved Reine-Adelaide and Alex Iwobi. Akpom, in contrast, missed a good opportunity early on and struggled to have much of an impact on proceedings.

Theo Walcott was far from at his best, although Mathieu Debuchy made some impressive forays forward from right-back.

Lens went into the break in the lead after disappointing defending from Calum Chambers enabled the French side to score.

Wenger made six alterations at the start of the second-half, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joel Campbell, Kieran Gibbs, Gnabry, Krystian Bielik and Matt Macey all entering the fray, the latter making his first senior appearance for the club.

Macey had to be alert to make a fine save, but Arsenal were more impressive in the second period and started to play with an increased amount of cohesiveness.

Bielik, deployed at centre-back, played some neat passes, although he was caught out on a couple of occasions.

Gnabry struggled to get into the game initially but the German youngster, who has endured such misfortune with injuries in recent seasons, gradually started to make more of an impact and appeared to relish moving up front when the disappointing Walcott was withdrawn.

Arsenal made two further substitutions, with Gedion Zelalem and Chris Willock both coming on. The pair impressed, especially Zelalem, who demonstrated that his ability to play precise through passes is still very much intact.

It was Oxlade-Chamberlain who would score Arsenal’s goal after intelligent link-up play from Gnabry, with the strike ensuring that the Gunners didn’t suffer a defeat in their opening pre-season fixture.

Attention will now turn towards Arsenal’s trip to the United States, with Zelalem particularly eager to be involved. It will be interesting to see which youngsters remain with the squad as the first-team players who were on international duty this summer gradually report back.

Defender Daniel Ballard signs Arsenal scholarship


Young defender Daniel Ballard has signed scholarship terms with Arsenal despite initially being told that he was going to be released by the club.

The 16-year-old centre-back, a product of Arsenal’s Hale End academy, was offered an opportunity to prove himself as a trialist in the recent friendly with Bayern Munich and was subsequently awarded with a two-year scholarship deal.

Ballard becomes Arsenal’s eleventh new scholar, joining Reiss Nelson, Emile Smith-Rowe, Nathan Tormey, Josh Benson, Robbie Burton, Joseph Olowu, Toby Omole. Jay Beckford, Dominic Thompson and Joao Virginia.

Pleguezuelo amongst 11 youngsters to train with Arsenal first-team ahead of Lens game


Arsenal held their final training session today ahead of tomorrow night’s opening pre-season friendly away to Lens.

A host of youngsters were in attendance, with Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Matt Macey, Krystian Bielik, Reiss Nelson, Marcus McGuane, Ben Sheaf, Julio Pleguezuelo, Stephy Mavididi, Matt Macey, Chris Willock and Gedion Zelalem all training with the senior squad.

The game against Lens will be a particularly significant occasion for Reine-Adelaide, who joined the Gunners from the French side last year. Pleguezuelo’s involvement in training, meanwhile, represents the first time he has linked up with the senior squad this pre-season.

Several of the aforementioned players are likely to be involved in tomorrow’s game, where they will be joined by the first-team players that have played a full part in pre-season training so far, namely Emiliano Martinez, Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker, Gabriel, Calum Chambers, Nacho Monreal, Kieran Gibbs, Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alex Iwobi, Serge Gnabry, Yaya Sanogo and Chuba Akpom.

Joel Campbell could also be involved in tomorrow’s fixture. Petr Cech, Jack Wilshere and Granit Xhaka are all at London Colney after their international exertions but aren’t yet ready to play.

Hector Bellerin, David Ospina, Alexis Sanchez and Wojciech Szczesny are due back at the training ground soon, although Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny and Aaron Ramsey won’t return for a little longer.

Danny Welbeck, Carl Jenkinson and Santi Cazorla are all out injured.

Wellington returns to Fluminense- the story of a strange Arsenal career


Wellington’s Arsenal career is officially over after the winger tonight completed a return to Brazilian side Fluminense.

The move is of no surprise and has been in the offing for several weeks, but, upon reflection, the winger’s Arsenal career will go down as being rather bizarre, with Wellington failing to make a single first-team appearance, competitive or otherwise, during his six years at the club.

When details first emerged about Arsenal being interested in Wellington, way back in late 2008, the talk was of a Brazilian starlet who was destined for the big time, with the prospect boasting an enviable array of skills whilst also being able to take on opponents with ease.

He appeared to confirm his potential with some excellent performances whilst on trial with the Gunners, including in one game against Norwich City.

Eventually it emerged that Wellington had signed for Arsenal, although it took the club some time to ratify the deal. Then came the work permit issues, with the prospect having to spend time on loan at various clubs before he could be allowed to play competitively in England.

He barely featured during a spell with Levante before showing glimpses of his talent at Alcoyano, Ponferradina, Murcia and Almeria. Eventually he was granted permission to play in England, but, rather than feature for Arsenal in cup competitions, Wellington was dispatched on loan again, this time to Bolton Wanderers in the Championship.

Again he showcased his potential, but only in patches, and it was hoped that this summer he would finally get the opportunity to prove himself in the Arsenal first-team in pre-season.

As it has transpired, however, he has gone back to Brazil, and, at the age of 23, a concrete decision on his future had been long overdue. He joins the likes of Samuel Galindo and Pedro Botelho in having never represented competitively the club he signed for.

The only glimpses we saw of Wellington at Arsenal were in friendly fixtures. At one game, against Sutton United in 2013, he appeared delighted to be playing for the Gunners and took time before the match to interact with supporters.

Many fans, however, will never get to see Wellington play for the club. A rather strange Arsenal career has reached its conclusion.



Report- Tella impresses but Arsenal XI are thrashed by Boreham Wood

Pre-season friendly

Boreham Wood 3 Arsenal 0

By Jeorge Bird @ Meadow Park


An Arsenal U21 side that was deprived of many key players suffered a disappointing 3-0 defeat in a friendly against Boreham Wood today.

The young Gunners lacked cohesion and fell behind in the first-half before the hosts inflicted further punishment after the interval.

There were some plus points for Arsenal, with Donyell Malen catching the eye up front and substitutes Jordi Osei-Tutu and Nathan Tella impressing, but overall this was a hugely frustrating afternoon against a well-organised Boreham Wood side.

Krystian Bielik, Chris Willock, Stephy Mavididi, Matt Macey, Marcus McGuane, Gedion Zelalem, Reiss Nelson and Chiori Johnson have been training with the first-team during pre-season and they were all absent today, along with Kaylen Hinds, Ben Sheaf and Marc Bola.

As a consequence, Arsenal fielded a youthful and unbalanced line-up, with 16-year-old Joao Virginia starting in goal, Aaron Eyoma and Kostas Pileas deployed as full-backs and Savvas Mourgos and Joshua DaSilva fielded as wingers.


Eyoma-Da Graca-Pleguezuelo-Pileas


Mourgos-Malen- DaSilva


Subs: Robinson (for DaSilva, 62), Dragomir (for Nketiah, 64), Osei-Tutu (for Eyoma, 75), Tella (for Mourgos, 75). Not used: Keto, T. Bola, Smith-Rowe. 

The system certainly didn’t work, with Arsenal struggling to muster any sort of attacking momentum for much of the game. The ball frequently went out of play, passes went astray and tackles were mis-timed, although such occurrences are perhaps to be expected at this early stage of pre-season.

Neither side managed to create much in the early exchanges, although Arsenal did come close to carving out an opening when Malen, playing in the number ten position, prodded the ball forward, but Edward Nketiah couldn’t reach it.

It was Boreham Wood, however, who would take the lead, with Joe Devera alert to head the ball beyond the reach of the stranded Virginia.

Conceding the goal did at least wake Arsenal from their slumber a little as they started to become slightly more composed on the ball. Ismael Bennacer, who impressed in his first season at the club, did well to regain possession and found Mourgos, who saw his attempt saved.

Arsenal’s attacking forays were sporadic, with Boreham Wood proving well organised for the most part. Nketiah, who scored in the friendly against Bournemouth last week, appeared Arsenal’s most likely source of a goal when opportunities did arrive, but he spurned two chances to find the net before the break.

Coach Steve Gatting opted against making any alterations at the interval, and the same pattern of play continued, with Boreham Wood dominating proceedings.

Virginia had to be alert to claim well from a free-kick, and then Gatting gradually started to ring the changes, with Tyrell Robinson and Vlad Dragomir entering the fray.

Those switches saw Malen moved up front following Nketiah’s withdrawal, and the Dutchman seemed far more suited to leading the line, as demonstrated by a memorable incident in which he turned astutely before forcing a good save from Sam Beasant.

Substitutes Jordi Osei-Tutu and Nathan Tella, who forged an encouraging partnership down the right flank, appeared lively and took the game to the opposition.

However, any hope that Arsenal had of securing a draw was eradicated as Boreham Wood doubled their advantage when Shaun Jeffers capitalised upon some dismal defending to slot home.

Worse was still to come for Arsenal, with Virginia and Pileas committing terrible errors in the build-up to a penalty being awarded, with Kenny Davis slotting home the spot-kick in what was the last meaningful action of the game.

This was a very disappointing performance, but perhaps the outcome wasn’t all that surprising given that such a large amount of players were missing.

Perhaps the most concerning aspect of the game was the performances of the two most experienced members of the side- Julio Pleguezuelo and Glen Kamara- who both struggled, with the latter appearing disinterested at times.

Neither player has trained with the first-team this summer, and they are both in need of loan spells to enhance their development.

It should also be taken into consideration that some of the players involved today featured in a friendly against Bayern Munich in Germany just two days ago, which may have contributed to their fatigue levels.

Furthermore, several of the players that started today can’t be considered to be amongst Arsenal’s best prospects, particularly with regards to the defenders.

Hopefully matters will improve from here, with Arsenal seeking to retain the Durban International Cup in South Africa.


Arsenal midfielder Charlie Gilmour signs professional contract


Arsenal midfielder Charlie Gilmour has signed his first professional contract with the club.

Gilmour, who progressed through Arsenal’s Hale End academy system to sign scholarship terms last summer, has represented both England and Scotland at youth level.

A neat passer of the ball, Gilmour featured prominently for Arsenal U18s last season but is yet to make the step up to the U21 team. He is currently out injured.

Gilmour’s progression to professional terms leaves Nathan Tella, Kostas Pileas, Edward Nketiah and Joe Willock as the club’s remaining second-year scholars.