Author: Jeorge Bird

Nelson travels to Moscow as five other youngsters train with Arsenal first-team

Arsenal held their final training session today before tomorrow’s Europa League quarter-final, second leg clash away to CSKA Moscow, with several youngsters in attendance.

Reiss Nelson, who made his first Premier League start last weekend, trained with the squad and travelled to Moscow along with goalkeeper Matt Macey.

Eddie Nketiah, Robbie Burton, Trae Coyle and Matt Smith also trained with the first-team.

As far as senior players are concerned, Granit Xhaka wasn’t involved in the session, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, David Ospina and Santi Cazorla remain injured. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang isn’t eligible to feature in the Europa League.

Defender Per Mertesacker, who hasn’t played since January, made the trip to Moscow.


Report – Medley and Iliev redeem themselves in dramatic fashion as Arsenal beat Villarreal on penalties to reach Premier League International Cup final

Premier League International Cup – Semi-final

Arsenal 2 (John-Jules 8, Gilmour (pen) 19) Villarreal 2 (Dalmau 21, Franquesa 40) (a.e.t., Arsenal win 5-4 on penalties)

By Jeorge Bird @Emirates Stadium


For so long in this titanic tussle, it appeared that Deyan Iliev and Zech Medley were going to be the players to cost Arsenal.

Having established a two-goal lead courtesy of a strike from the prolific Tyreece John-Jules and a penalty from the impressive Charlie Gilmour, Arsenal’s advantage was erased, with goalkeeper Iliev making a major mistake for Villarreal’s first goal before Medley then turned the ball into his own net.

The game went on and on, into extra-time, and then the first ever penalty shoot out at Emirates Stadium. Then villains became heroes, with Iliev saving Ruben Mesa’s spot-kick before Medley confidently slotted home the decisive penalty to send Arsenal through to the final of the Premier League International Cup, where they will face either Newcastle United or Porto.

Arsenal were still without Reiss Nelson, Matt Macey and Eddie Nketiah, who will train with the first-team tomorrow, but they could call upon Konstantinos Mavropanos and Joe Willock, who returned to the side at the expense of Joe Olowu and Vontae Daley-Campbell, with the latter dropping out of the squad entirely. Iliev, meanwhile, replaced Joao Virginia in goal, with the young Gunners reverting to a back four.


Osei Tutu-Mavropanos-Medley-T. Bola



John Jules 

Subs: Olowu (for Mavropanos, 51), Fortune (for Amaechi, 71), Balogun (for Dragomir, 90). Not used: Virginia, Coyle, Burton.

In front of a crowd of 1,561 at Emirates, Arsenal started well and they looked to cause problems for the Villarreal defence early on.

They managed to make the breakthrough in the tenth minute, with Tolaji Bola’s effort being blocked and the ball falling to John-Jules, who found the net with a clinical finish.

Arsenal quickly set about attempting to add to their lead, with Xavier Amaechi’s free-kick stinging the fingertips of Villarreal goalkeeper Jose Antonio Martinez.

Medley had to be alert to make an important intervention at the other end when Mavropanos was caught out, but Arsenal were in control and were presented with an opportunity to add to their lead when Gilmour was brought down in the area.

Gilmour is known for his penalty-taking exploits – he scored three in one game for the U18s last season – and he made no mistake on this occasion as he made it 2-0 to Arsenal.

Game over? Not quite. Villarreal were spirited in their response but the goal that saw them reduce the deficit was a gift as Iliev, in calamitous fashion, failed to control a Medley backpass and Adrian Dalmau took full advantage.

Arsenal were determined to restore their two-goal cushion, but Dragomir’s teasing cross went without a recipient and then John-Jules shot over.

Just before the break Villarreal, somewhat remarkably, were level, with Medley turning the ball into his own net under pressure.

Villarreal were buoyed by their equaliser and started the second half in positive fashion, with Mavropanos making a superb block to prevent a goal.

The Greek defender hurt himself in the process, however, which caused him to be replaced by Olowu in the early stages of the second period.

Arsenal made a tactical switch, with Vlad Dragomir coming across to the right wing and Amaechi switching to the left, but it made little difference, with neither player able to have much of an impact on proceedings.

Joe Willock was constantly seeking to create an opening for Arsenal and on one occasion the midfielder showed good skill before shooting over from long range.

Yassin Fortune was then introduced in place of Amaechi, but the Frenchman, who has fallen well down the pecking order, was completely out of sorts as he appeared to be lacking fitness and was unable to make any kind of impact.

A terrible kick from Iliev almost led to Villarreal taking the lead but, as the game wore on, Arsenal finally began to have more of an impact again.

Dasilva sent an ambitious effort over the crossbar before Dragomir flicked a header just wide.

Then, in stoppage time, Dasilva came close with a curling effort, but it ended level after 90 minutes, with extra-time following.

Arsenal had one remaining substitution and they elected to use it straight away, with Folarin Balogun, who hit a late equaliser in the league against Liverpool last week, entering the fray in place of Dragomir.

Extra-time was rather uneventful for the most part, although Arsenal did controversially have a penalty claim turned down in the latter stages when Willock was seemingly fouled in the area.

It then went to penalties and Arsenal were assured from the spot, with Gilmour, Dasilva and Fortune all scoring before Iliev reacted well to deny Ruben Mesa.

The responsibility, and the opportunity for redemption, then fell to Medley, who stepped up confidently and finished well, sparking jubilant scenes.

This was far from a vintage performance from Arsenal, with only Gilmour, who was hugely impressive, really standing out, but the important aspect is that they are through to the final.

There is still the opportunity for league glory too, although several players were understandably tired at the end, which could lead to several changes for the game against Swansea City on Friday.

For now, though, it is time to reflect on a dramatic night, one which saw two potential villains become heroes.

Arsenal winger Eyoma assists and almost scores own goal against Tottenham U23s during Derby trial


Arsenal winger Aaron Eyoma has headed out on trial again as he looks to find a new club, with Derby County his destination on this occasion.

Eyoma, who can also play at right-back or up front, previously spent time on trial with Queens Park Rangers, but, after that move failed to work out, he was subsequently approached by Derby, whose U23 side play in the top tier of Premier League 2.

The 20-year-old completed 85 minutes as Derby lost 4-2 away to Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend, with Eyoma facing his brother TJ, who is on the books of Arsenal’s north London rivals.

It was an eventful game for Eyoma as he hit his own post in the first half when Joe Pritchard’s effort deflected off him before the Hale End product proceeded to set up a goal for Cameron Cresswell.

Eyoma continued to impress as he delivered some dangerous crosses, and he will hope that he has done enough to earn a deal at Derby. Coincidentally, Eyoma’s most recent appearance for Arsenal U23s also came against Tottenham, in a defeat last month.

It is anticipated that Eyoma, along with Chiori Johnson, who is on trial at Bolton Wanderers, will be released by Arsenal this summer.

Loan report – Akpom and Perez score; Nwakali and Mavididi feature


Chuba Akpom scored and played 81 minutes as Sint-Truiden beat Antwerp 4-0.

Lucas Perez scored a penalty and played the full game as Deportivo La Coruna beat Malaga 3-2.

Kelechi Nwakali played the whole game and was booked as MVV Maastricht beat Helmond Sport 3-2.

Ben Sheaf played 82 minutes and was booked as Stevenage beat Newport County 1-0.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide played 68 minutes as Angers drew 1-1 with Strasbourg.

Stephy Mavididi was brought on in the 64th minute as Charlton Athletic drew 1-1 with Bristol Rovers, for whom Marc Bola wasn’t involved.

Emiliano Martinez was an unused substitute as Getafe lost 2-0 to Alaves.

Joel Campbell was an unused substitute as Real Betis beat Eibar 2-0.

Krystian Bielik missed out through injury as Walsall beat Bury 1-0.

Tafari Moore’s Wycombe Wanderers didn’t have a game this weekend.

Carl Jenkinson and Cohen Bramall weren’t involved as Birmingham City drew 1-1 with Burton Albion.

Takuma Asano wasn’t involved as Stuttgart lost 3-0 to Borussia Dortmund.

Julio Pleguezuelo wasn’t involved as Gimnastic Tarragona beat Real Valladolid 1-0.

Arsenal defender Chiori Johnson concedes penalty while on trial at Bolton

Arsenal defender Chiori Johnson featured for Bolton Wanderers’ U23 side while on trial last week.

The right-back was involved as Bolton drew 1-1 at home to Watford in the Professional Development League but he conceded a penalty.

Johnson, a product of Arsenal’s Hale End academy, is set to be released when his contract expires this summer and previously spent time on trial with Blackburn Rovers.

Report – Olayinka scores and five schoolboys feature as Arsenal U18s lose to Leicester

U18 Premier League

Arsenal 1 (Olayinka 60) Leicester 3 (Tee 36, Shade 57, Leshabela (pen) 71)

James Olayinka was on the scoresheet but a depleted Arsenal U18s side were beaten 3-1 at home by Leicester City today.

The young Gunners were without several players who featured for the U23s in their draw against Liverpool yesterday.

Coach Kwame Ampadu gave starts to schoolboys Armstrong Okoflex and Miguel Azeez, while Josh Martin, Matthew Dennis and Alfie Matthews were all on the bench.


Clarke-Spencer Adams-McGuinness-Thompson




Subs: M. Smith (for Swanson, 40), Martin (for Olayinka, 74), Dennis (for Saka, 83). Not used: Okonkwo, Matthews.

Leicester were the better side in the first half and took the lead in the 36th minute courtesy of Jacob Tee.

Arsenal sought to respond, throwing on Matthew Smith, who trained with the first-team earlier in the day, but Leicester continued to impress and doubled their advantage in the second period, with Tyrese Shade’s effort getting the better of Daniel Barden.

Ampadu’s team eventually mustered a response, with Bukayo Saka finding Olayinka, who finished well, but Leicester went on to make it 3-1 when Thakgalo Leshabela scored a penalty.

Arsenal’s slim title hopes are effectively over, given that they are twelve points behind leaders Chelsea even though they do have a game in hand.

Report – Substitute Balogun scores late in Liverpool draw to boost Arsenal U23s’ title chances

Premier League 2 

Liverpool 1 (Gallacher 63) Arsenal 1 (Balogun 90)


If Arsenal U23s are crowned Premier League 2 champions at the conclusion of the campaign then substitute Folarin Balogun’s dramatic intervention against Liverpool tonight will be looked back upon as a key moment.

Arsenal, missing several of their most important players, looked to be heading for defeat as they trailed to Tony Gallacher’s effort but Balogun, not long after entering the fray, pounced to score his first competitive goal at this level and secure a potentially priceless point for Steve Gatting’s side.

The young Gunners’ situation is not entirely under control, but they are now level with league leaders Leicester City, whom they trail on goal difference. Liverpool and Swansea City, who Arsenal are up against next, are just two points behind and it promises to be an enthralling end to the season.

To say that Arsenal were depleted would be an understatement. They were without Reiss Nelson, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah, as well as goalkeepers Matt Macey and Deyan Iliev, who are needed for first-team training.

Defender Danny Ballard missed out through injury, with Arsenal switching to a back three as Vontae Daley-Campbell was drafted in at right wing-back to start his first game at this level.

There was something of a surprise selection in goal, with Joao Virginia chosen to start at the expense of the more experienced Hugo Keto.


Osei Tutu-Olowu-Medley-

Daley Campbell-Dasilva-Gilmour- T. Bola


John Jules

Subs: Fortune (for Daley-Campbell, 70), Balogun (for Amaechi, 90). Not used: Keto, Burton, Coyle. 

Vlad Dragomir, one of the more experienced players in this Arsenal side, was a threat in the early stages, with the Romanian having an effort blocked by the alert Gallacher.

It was Liverpool, though, who created the standout opening of the first half, with Neco Williams finding Yan Dhanda, but the latter’s effort went just over.

Tyreece John-Jules had a header saved but Arsenal still had to be alert at the other end, with Virginia reacting well to keep out Dhanda’s latest attempt.

Arsenal ended the half strongly and came close to taking the lead but a powerful strike from the impressive Xavier Amaechi was thwarted by Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher.

Dhanda was at the hub of much of what was good about Liverpool’s play and early in the second half the creative talent did well to shake off the attentions of Jordi Osei-Tutu, but his subsequent shot lacked conviction.

Soon, however, Liverpool did take the lead, and Dhanda played a part in proceedings as he threaded the ball through to Gallacher, who sent the ball beyond the reach of Virginia.

Arsenal threw on Yassin Fortune as they went in search of an equaliser and they almost pulled level through Josh Dasilva’s strike.

There was a scare for Arsenal as Liverpool almost added to their lead in the closing moments, with the young Gunners having to react quickly to scramble the ball to safety when Toni Gomes went for goal.

Arsenal then sent on Balogun in place of Amaechi and it initially seemed as if the change had been made too late for the striker to have any sort of impact.

There was just enough time, though, for Balogun to react well and finish after Osei-Tutu’s effort was blocked, and his late goal could well have significant consequences as far as the title is concerned.