Author: Jeorge Bird

Barden impresses but Arsenal U18s are held by Fulham

Arsenal U18s were held to a 1-1 draw by their Fulham counterparts on Saturday in a closely-fought encounter at London Colney.

Both goals came in the closing stages, with Josh DaSilva scoring a superb free-kick for Arsenal only for the visitors to equalise from the penalty spot after a clumsy foul by Zech Medley.

Medley, a former Chelsea defender on trial with the Gunners, wasn’t the only player making his first appearance at this level for Arsenal this season, with schoolboy goalkeeper Daniel Barden also featuring.

Barden isn’t guaranteed a scholarship for next season, especially after the recent signing of Alex Crean, but the youngster did his chances of getting a deal no harm at all as he produced a superb performance that saw him make several spectacular saves.

At the other end Trae Coyle, another schoolboy, continued to impress and is already one of the standout players in this team despite the fact that he is playing with a lot of individuals who are older than him.

Emile Smith-Rowe also caught the eye, but Arsenal’s overall link-up play was a little too slow at times, with coach Kwame Ampadu bemoaning the fact that his side didn’t carve out chances with their usual regularity.

Arsenal were, as is often the case at this level, vulnerable defensively, with Medley and Jordi Osei-Tutu both struggling, but Barden often came to his side’s rescue.

There was some good news for Arsenal, with Yassin Fortune named on the bench for the first time this season after recovering from injury.

Arsenal’s next U18 game is away to Reading, but prior to that many of these players will be involved when the U19s take on Ludogorets Razgrad in the UEFA Youth League.

Arsenal: Barden; Osei-Tutu, Olowu, Medley, Pileas; McGuane, DaSilva; J. Willock, Coyle, Smith-Rowe; Malen. Subs: Keto, Ballard, Fortune, Burton, Tella.


Arsenal take former Chelsea defender Zech Medley on trial


Chelsea FC

Arsenal have given a trial to former Chelsea centre-back Zech Medley.

The 16-year-old, who has been capped by England at schoolboy level, recently left Chelsea and played the full game for Arsenal U18s against Fulham at London Colney on Saturday.

However, Medley didn’t make the best first impression as he conceded a penalty in the closing stages that enabled Fulham to draw 1-1.

Arsenal are certainly in need of defensive reinforcements at U18 level, with the club having failed to strengthen in that position during the summer, but it remains to be seen whether Medley will be offered a contract.


Loan report-Asano, Nwakali and Pleguezuelo feature


Jack Wilshere played 79 minutes as Bournemouth trounced Hull City 6-1.

Wojciech Szczesny played the whole game as Roma beat Napoli 3-1.

Calum Chambers played the full game as Middlesbrough lost 1-0 to Watford. The 21-year-old started off at centre-back but later switched to right-back.

Takuma Asano was brought on in the 46th minute as Stuttgart were thrashed 5-0 by Dynamo Dresden.

Julio Pleguezuelo was introduced at the start of the second half as Mallorca lost 2-1 to Levante.

Kelechi Nwakali was brought on in the 82nd minute as Maastricht beat Dordrecht 2-1. Stefan O’Connor was an un-used substitute.

Glen Kamara was an un-used substitute as Colchester United lost 1-0 to Doncaster Rovers.

Dan Crowley was an un-used substitute as Oxford United beat Bradford City 1-0.

Ryan Huddart was an un-used substitute as Eastleigh beat Northleigh 6-0 to make it through to the first round of the FA Cup.

Jon Toral wasn’t involved as Granada were beaten 7-1 by Atletico Madrid.

Tafari Moore wasn’t involved as Utrecht beat Go Ahead Eagles 3-0.

Joel Campbell‘s Sporting Lisbon didn’t have a fixture this weekend.



Report- Jenkinson returns and Sheaf impresses as Arsenal U23s draw with Southampton


U23 Premier League

Arsenal 0 Southampton 0

Carl Jenkinson made his return to action as Arsenal U23s drew 0-0 with their Southampton counterparts in a hard-fought encounter.

Both sides created inviting opportunities but were unable to make the most of those chances on a night when defences and goalkeepers came out on top.

Krystian Bielik and Ben Sheaf were hugely impressive at the heart of the Arsenal defence, with the latter looking increasingly assured at centre-back. Meanwhile, Southampton had goalkeeper Alex McCarthy- a rather experienced individual in comparison to the other players on show- to thank for making some hugely impressive stops.

Arsenal’s approach play was encouraging at times, with the likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Gedion Zelalem seeing plenty of the ball, while Stephy Mavididi and Edward Nketiah caused numerous problems for the Southampton defence, but the young Gunners were unable to make the breakthrough.

Nketiah was given a start ahead of Vlad Dragomir and Donyell Malen, while Chiori Johnson was named amongst the substitutes as a consequence of Jenkinson’s involvement, with the latter making his first Arsenal appearance in over two years.


Jenkinson-Bielik-Sheaf-M. Bola

M Niles-Zelalem

Bennacer-Mavididi-C. Willock


Subs: Johnson (for Jenkinson, 68), Malen (for Bennacer, 71). Not used: Keto, Dragomir, DaSilva.

Both of these clubs have a pass and move philosophy, but neither team was able to create many opportunities of note in the early exchanges, with passages of play frequently breaking down at the final hurdle.

Maitland-Niles and Zelalem were at the hub of much of what was good about Arsenal’s approach play, but Southampton’s defence initially prevented Mavididi and Nketiah from being able to have much influence.

Southampton, who boast an impressive academy, started to pose a threat at the other end but Arsenal were able to deal with everything that Radhi Jaidi’s side threw at them.

As the half wore on Arsenal gradually started to have more of an influence on proceedings and they embarked upon one swift counter-attacking move but Southampton were able to clear before Nketiah could get his shot away.

Jenkinson then made his first forward foray of the game, with the right-back’s cross finding Chris Willock, who shot straight at McCarthy.

Mavididi then sent a powerful effort wide as Arsenal upped the ante, and, although Southampton had one chance at the other end, it was the young Gunners who were the dominant force as the first-half drew to a close.

Arsenal continued to pour forwards with regularity, and the pressure very nearly paid off, with Ismael Bennacer’s fierce effort rattling the woodwork before McCarthy made an impressive stop to thwart Willock.

The second half was slightly more even, with Southampton posing an increased attacking threat, and Macey did well to keep out Harrison Reed’s free-kick.

Arsenal, though, continued to carve out chances with regularity, with Nketiah having an effort saved from close range before Maitland-Niles blasted wide.

There were further chances to come, with Mavididi driving forwards only to see his attempt stopped by McCarthy, who was perhaps the game’s outstanding performer.

Jenkinson played 68 minutes before being replaced by Johnson, with Donyell Malen then entering the fray as Arsenal went in search of a late winner.

A goal proved elusive, however, and in the end Arsenal were perhaps pleased to settle for a point as Southampton missed some inviting late chances.

Overall, however, this wasn’t a bad result for Arsenal, whose build-up play was rather impressive at times.

There are certainly some impressive talents in this team and the decision to deploy Sheaf at centre-back ahead of Kristopher Da Graca has provided the side with greater defensive assurance.

Arsenal lacked ruthlessness at times and it was evident that several players in this side are still adapting to new positions, with Maitland-Niles playing deeper than usual, Bennacer deployed on the right wing and Mavididi operating as the number ten.

There are certainly positives to build upon, though, going into the next game, which sees Gatting’s team face Manchester United away.

As far as Jenkinson is concerned, the 24-year-old was largely impressive, and, although he was caught too far up-field on a couple of occasions, that can be attributed to an element of rustiness as he has been out for so long.

Highly rated Joao Virginia signs professional terms with Arsenal

Talented young Arsenal goalkeeper Joao Virginia today signed professional terms with the club, becoming the first member of this season’s batch of scholars to secure his short-term future. 

The 17-year-old joined Arsenal from Benfica in 2015 and possesses excellent reflexes, although his distribution is in need of improvement. 

A Portugal youth international, Virginia was part of his nation’s squad at the Olympic Games in Rio. 

Virginia is currently Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper at U18 level, whilst he has also been named on the bench for the U23s and in the UEFA Youth League. 

Arsenal’s Kaylen Hinds eager to make an impact after injury frustration


Kaylen Hinds has always been very highly regarded at Arsenal, with the youngster having featured in the NextGen Series when he was still a schoolboy, but a succession of injuries have so far prevented him from edging closer to the first-team squad.

The 18-year-old has been used as a striker in the past but now seems more at home as an attacking midfielder, where he can link play to excellent effect and make driving runs forward.

An impressive goalscorer himself, Hinds featured prominently for Arsenal at U21 level last season and produced some encouraging performances, but his start to this season was hampered by yet another injury.

Having made his comeback in the recent UEFA Youth League defeat to Basel, Hinds is now raring to go and will be looking to re-establish himself as a key player in the Arsenal U23 side despite facing stern competition for a starting berth from the likes of Gedion Zelalem and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

No longer eligible for the U18s, Hinds’ playing time is likely to be split between the U23s and the UEFA Youth League and, as he is still working his way back to full sharpness, it appears that a first-team debut in the EFL Cup will have to wait until next season.

However, Arsene Wenger is certainly aware of Hinds’ vast potential, with the youngster having trained with the senior squad on several occasions last season, and, if he impresses sufficiently between now and the end of the campaign, it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that the starlet could earn a place in the squad for the first-team’s pre-season tour next summer.

For now, having endured so many injury setbacks in recent seasons, Hinds will simply be relishing playing again and in the long term will be seeking to prove that he is still capable of making the grade at Arsenal.

Why is it going so right for Kwame Ampadu and Arsenal U18s?


Over the past six years Arsenal have often struggled for results at U18 level, and, while development certainly takes precedence over victories, it surely can’t be positive for a youngster to be losing every week.

Now, though, matters appear to have taken a turn for the better, with new coach Kwame Amapdu having got his tenure off to a stellar start.

With seven rounds of fixtures played, Arsenal U18s are top of their section, having won five, drawn one and lost one of their games. They have also scored more goals, 22, than any other major academy across the country, but why is it going so right for Ampadu’s side?

A glance at the team sheet for most games this season offers an insight into matters. Arsenal were previously renowned for fielding inexperienced sides at U18 level, but while some younger players, such as the outstanding Trae Coyle, have been involved this season, the side has often mainly been comprised of second-year scholars.


The likes of Edward Nketiah (who has continued to score with regularity this season), Josh DaSilva, Marcus McGuane, Donyell Malen, Vlad Dragomir, Tolaji Bola and Jordi Osei-Tutu are all vastly experienced at U18 level and have featured prominently for Ampadu’s side in the early weeks of this campaign.

DaSilva is still only 17 but he has been playing U18 football since the latter stages of the 2013/14 season and is a strong physical presence in midfield, while McGuane made several appearances for the second string last campaign but has been forced to drop back down to the U18s with the likes of Gedion Zelalem and Ainsley Maitland-Niles having returned from loan spells.

Nketiah’s prolific nature in front of goal (he has scored seven times in as many games) has been a huge help, but other players have also made significant contributions, and it is abundantly clear that Arsenal have a lot of talented wide players at their disposal.


The likes of Joe Willock (who is striving to earn his first professional contract at the club), Emile Smith-Rowe and Coyle have all impressed, while Nathan Tella marked his return from injury with a spectacular goal in the victory over Tottenham Hotspur last weekend and Reiss Nelson has also been involved in several games for Ampadu’s side.

Arsenal have excellent squad depth at this level, which is set to increase further when Charlie Gilmour and Yassin Fortune return from injuries. In fact, the young Gunners have so many players available that some of the new first-year scholars- namely Dominic Thompson and Jay Beckford- haven’t played a single game for the U18s yet this season.

There are still some matters to improve upon. Despite the fact that they have only conceded seven goals this season, Arsenal remain vulnerable at the back, with the club again struggling to produce defensive talents with the same regularity with which they bring through flair players.


Full-backs Jordi Osei-Tutu and Tolaji Bola have done well enough for the U18s, but there is a concern that they could find matters difficult in the older age groups, with Bola having already had some disappointing performances for the U23s and U19s.

Overall, though, matters are going very well for Arsenal and for Ampadu, with the coach having managed to get his side playing as a cohesive unit. The signs suggest that Arsenal could make an impact in the FA Youth Cup this season, while they will also seek to challenge for the league title.

In addition, many members of the U18 squad have been involved in the UEFA Youth League this season, which will inevitably be hugely beneficial for their development. At the moment, however, it is difficult for players to break through to the U23s given that Steve Gatting has an established group to work with at that level.

For now, though, it could hardly be any better for Arsenal or Ampadu with regards to the U18s, and the coach will hope that his side will be able to continue their winning momentum after the international break.