Author: Jeorge Bird

Dragomir signs professional deal but best is yet to come 

Arsenal have confirmed that midfielder Vlad Dragomir has signed his first professional contract with the club. 

A Romanian youth international who joined the club last summer, Dragomir’s first campaign at Arsenal has been rather stop-start in nature, with the prospect having missed several games through injury. 

When he has been fit the 17-year-old has shown some tantalising glimpses of his ability- he is adept at playing long, sweeping passes. 

However, there is a feeling that the best is yet to come from Dragomir. He has featured exclusively at U18 level and is yet to make the step up to the U21s, and perhaps needs to become a little stronger physically in order to cope with the demands of second-string football. 

It is clear, though, that, despite his weaknesses, Dragomir is a very exciting talent for the future; indeed he has already trained with the first-team squad. 

Dragomir will hope to feature when Arsenal U18s conclude their campaign with a home game against rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. 

Loan report- Sanogo suffers injury; Zelalem lifts Scottish Championship trophy

  
Chuba Akpom started and was substituted in second half stoppage time as Hull City drew 2-2 with Leeds United. Isaac Hayden was an unused substitute. 

Gedion Zelalem played the whole game as Rangers drew 1-1 with Alloa. Rangers were presented with the Scottish Championship trophy after the game. 

Yaya Sanogo was introduced as a substitute in the 63rd minute of Charlton Athletic’s 3-1 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion, but had to be substituted in the 84th minute because of injury. 

Wojciech Szczesny is expected to feature when Roma face Napoli tomorrow. 

Emiliano Martinez was an unused substitute as Wolverhampton Wanderers drew 0-0 with Rotherham United.  

Glen Kamara was an unused substitute as Southend United lost 4-1 to Wigan Athletic. 

Wellington didn’t feature as Bolton Wanderers lost 2-1 to Cardiff City. 

Jon Toral missed out through injury as Birmingham City drew 1-1 with Huddersfield Town. 

Ainsley Maitland-Niles wasn’t involved as Ipswich Town drew 0-0 with Middlesbrough. 

Mathieu Debuchy’s Bordeaux weren’t in action this weekend. 

Wenger: Cazorla and Oxlade-Chamberlain could feature in U21 play-off

cazorla

Getty Images

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed that first-team players Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could feature for the club’s U21 side in their upcoming play-off semi-final against Blackburn Rovers.

Cazorla and Oxlade-Chamberlain are closing in on their respective returns from injury, but time is running out for the pair to feature for the first-team before the conclusion of the campaign.

They could, however, be involved as overage players in the U21 game against Blackburn at Emirates Stadium on May 3rd as the youngsters seek to edge closer to the top tier of second string football.

Wenger told Arsenal.com: “They are not ready yet and I haven’t decided yet, but there are not many games left. We still have games in the under-21s, I can put them in the play-off games [if they are available].”

Several first-team players have featured for the U21s this season, with Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck, Calum Chambers, Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky, Serge Gnabry and Alex Iwobi all being called upon for Steve Gatting’s side.

Arsenal’s Chatzitheodoridis on trial at Norwich 

Arsenal left-back Ilias Chatzitheodoridis is on trial at Norwich City, with the youngster featuring for the Canaries’ U18 side against Manchester United today. 

Chatzitheodoridis, who has struggled since joining Arsenal last season, will be released when his contract expires at the end of June. 

Arsenal U18s, meanwhile, take on Sunderland away tomorrow in their penultimate fixture of the campaign. 

Arsenal’s Chiori Johnson eager to build on impressive progress

johnson

Zimbio.com

Having spent much of the season on the sidelines, Chiori Johnson had plenty of time to contemplate his situation at Arsenal and motivate himself to make a sizeable impact upon his return to action.

He has certainly succeeded in that regard, with the right-back having delivered some hugely encouraging performances at youth level in recent weeks after finally putting his injury nightmare behind him.

Johnson broke into the U18s as a schoolboy and featured for the U21s in the first year of his scholarship, but the prospect has reached new heights since returning from injury.

Quick, skilful and a good reader of the game, Johnson’s positioning was previously a little suspect, but he has made significant strides in that regard and, against West Bromwich Albion for the U21s on Monday night, demonstrated that he can be effective going forwards as he frequently combined well with Jack Wilshere.

Johnson was invited to train with the first-team recently after catching the eye in the FA Youth Cup exit to Manchester City, and the 18-year-old will hope to edge closer to the senior squad next season.

With Tafari Moore, another player who has had injury troubles, likely to go on loan next season, there is set to be an opening for Johnson to establish himself as Arsenal’s first-choice right-back at U21 level.

He will no longer be eligible for the U18s, but Johnson will still be permitted to feature in the UEFA Youth League and should be heavily involved in the latter competition.

With Hector Bellerin ahead of him, making the leap into the first-team squad won’t be an easy task for Johnson, but his recent development has been very encouraging indeed, and, perhaps most importantly, his injury problems have seemingly been consigned to the past.

 

 

Report- Wilshere scores but Arsenal U21s’ title dreams are over

U21 Premier League- Division 2

Arsenal 1 West Bromwich Albion 2

By Jeorge Bird@Meadow Park

Screen shot 2016-04-08 at 22.45.41

Jack Wilshere scored his first goal in almost a year, but it wasn’t sufficient to prevent Arsenal U21s from seeing their title hopes go up in flames as they were beaten 2-1 by a spirited West Bromwich Albion side at Meadow Park this evening.

A victory would have seen Steve Gatting’s side gain automatic promotion to the top tier of second-string football, but now Arsenal must go through the play-offs if they are to get out of this division.

The sight of Wilshere completing 90 minutes was one positive to take from proceedings, with the midfielder catching the eye in the second period after struggling to have much of an influence in the first-half.

Both of West Brom’s goals stemmed from errors from Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Macey, who failed to stop efforts from Joe Ward and Samir Nabi.

Arsenal fielded a strong side but their cause wasn’t helped by Gatting’s rather bizarre decision to deploy Serge Gnabry as a central striker. The German youth international has impressed in that position in the past but on this occasion he struggled to exert much of an influence on proceedings.

Macey

Johnson-Bielik-Pleguezuelo-Moore

McGuane-Sheaf

Reine Adelaide-Wilshere-Crowley

Gnabry

Subs: Huddart, O’Connor, Malen, Hinds, Nelson.

Arsenal, knowing that a victory would secure the title, adopted an attack minded approach from the outset, with full-backs Chiori Johnson and Tafari Moore pushing forwards with regularity.

Moore had Arsenal’s first attempt of the game as his effort was deflected for a corner and then Wilshere played a slick pass into the path of Gnabry, whose finish lacked conviction.

Despite Arsenal’s dominance, it was West Brom, rather against the run of play, who would take the lead, with Joe Ward tucking home after Macey struggled to hold an earlier attempt.

That setback caused Arsenal to push forwards even more, with Gnabry, Johnson and Moore all shooting wide.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide was starting to have a major impact on proceedings as he drifted infield to good effect, but Arsenal still lacked conviction in an attacking sense.

Wilshere played a neat backheel into the path of Reine-Adelaide, but the Frenchman couldn’t find the net. Reine-Adelaide was then dragged down in the area but, much to his frustration, the referee waved play on.

West Brom had a chance to extend their advantage just prior to the break when Krystian Bielik needlessly squandered possession, but the prospect quickly atoned for his error by recovering well to win the ball back.

West Brom started the second half very well, with Bielik forced into making a goal-line clearance, but Arsenal soon managed to gain a foothold in the game.

It was Wilshere, the most experienced player on the field, who would prove to be the young Gunners’ source of inspiration as he finished expertly to level the scoreline.

Arsenal then went for the jugular, with Sheaf shooting over and Dan Crowley, who was growing into the game, then seeing his attempt deflect wide.

Sheaf and Gnabry had further efforts, but, try as they might, a second goal continued to elude Arsenal.

Gatting brought on Donyell Malen for Marcus McGuane in an attack-minded change, but, crucially, it was West Brom who would score the decisive goal, with Samir Nabi finishing adroitly and Macey’s actions once again questionable.

Arsenal threw on Reiss Nelson and Kaylen Hinds, but there was a feeling that their chance to secure the title had already passed, and so it proved as West Brom held on for victory.

The play-offs now await and it cannot be stressed enough how crucial those fixtures are for Arsenal as it would be extremely beneficial for these youngsters to test themselves against a higher calibre of opposition.

Wilshere’s return, however, provided a silver lining on a dark night.