Author: Jeorge Bird

Loan report- Rangers hopeful of extending Zelalem deal

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Chuba Akpom played 82 minutes and sent a header wide as Hull City drew 1-1 with Bristol City. Isaac Hayden was an un-used substitute.

Jon Toral played the whole game and had a shot saved as Birmingham City lost 1-0 to Charlton Athletic.

Gedion Zelalem played the entirety of Rangers’ 1-1 draw with Livingston. Rangers manager Mark Warburton suggested this week that the midfielder will remain with the Scottish side for the rest of the season.

Zelalem’s loan deal is set to expire early in the New Year. However, Warburton said: “The current deal is until January, but, as long as everyone is happy, we will extend that.

“I have been delighted with his contribution and the last game he played for Rangers was his best so far.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles was introduced as a substitute in the 69th minute, and came close to scoring with a header as Ipswich Town drew 2-2 with Wolverhampton Wanderers. Emiliano Martinez didn’t feature for Wolves because of injury.

Wojciech Szczesny featured as Roma drew 2-2 with Bologna.

Yaya Sanogo returned to the Ajax squad, but the striker was an un-used substitute as his temporary side thrashed Cambuur 5-1.

Carl Jenkinson is expected to feature for West Ham United away to Tottenham Hotspur later today.

Wellington missed Bolton Wanderers’ 2-1 defeat to Reading because of injury.

Serge Gnabry wasn’t involved for West Bromwich Albion again this weekend, but at least there was a genuine reason for his absence on this occasion as the winger wasn’t permitted to feature against his parent club Arsenal.


Report: Chris Willock impresses as Arsenal U21s suffer frustrating defeat to Stoke

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By Jeorge Bird at Meadow Park. 

Arsenal U21s fell to their first defeat of the season as they were beaten 1-0 by a well-organised Stoke City side at Meadow Park this evening.

The young Gunners, who were in action at this level for the first time in almost two months, continued to probe throughout, with wide players Chris Willock and Dan Crowley providing the most significant threats to the Stoke goal.

In the end, however, it was a Stoke side containing an Arsenal youth graduate of their own in 32-year-old Steve Sidwell who prevailed on a bitterly cold evening. The goal came after Stoke capitalised on a rare error from Arsenal captain Julio Pleguezuelo, with the highly regarded Oliver Shenton providing the finishing touch.

One of the most notable aspects of the game was the teamsheet. Firstly it contained the name of Alex Iwobi, who has been heavily involved with the first-team in recent weeks, whilst fellow winger Jeff Reine-Adelaide wasn’t involved, suggesting he may be on the bench for Arsene Wenger’s side against West Bromwich Albion tomorrow.

Coach Steve Gatting made some rather strange selection decisions. With Tafari Moore out injured, Ben Sheaf was deployed at right-back, whilst Iwobi started in a deep-lying midfield position with Crowley out wide.

It hardly helped the cohesiveness of the side, although there was a positive moment in the second-half when promising striker Donyell Malen was introduced for his U21 debut.


Sheaf-Pleguezuelo-Bielik-M. Bola


C. Willock-Hinds-Crowley


Subs: Bennacer (for Iwobi, 46), Malen (for Hinds, 73). Not used: Huddart, O’Connor, Eyoma.  

Stoke winger Mohamed El Ouiraichi was immediately identified as the away side’s biggest threat, with the former Barcelona player regularly attempting to get the better of Sheaf.

Arsenal were reliant on resilient defending from Pleguezuelo and Krystian Bielik in the early stages, whilst Macey had to be alert to gather a free-kick as Stoke started the game in impressive fashion.

Arsenal were rampant in the corresponding fixture last season, with Iwobi striking a hat-trick in a memorable victory at Emirates Stadium.

On this occasion Arsenal looked to Willock and Crowley as their primary sources of inspiration, with the England youth internationals providing a reminder of their undoubted quality.

Crowley, for instance, cut inside and had an effort saved after Glen Kamara did well to win the ball back, with Willock then teeing up a chance for Stephy Mavididi, who shot wide.

Willock and Crowley then both came close to scoring with efforts of their own, with Stoke left-back Joel Taylor then making an immaculately timed challenge to prevent Arsenal from edging closer to goal.

Despite Arsenal’s attacking threat, however, it was Stoke who would score what would prove to be the game’s only goal. Pleguezuelo, who was otherwise excellent, misplaced an attempted pass and Stoke were quick to seize upon the error, with the ball eventually being worked to Shenton, whose effort was beyond the reach of Macey.

Arsenal attempted to stage an immediate response, with Mavididi having an effort saved after he was found by Iwobi and Willock subsequently shooting over, but the young Gunners went into the break a goal down.

Arsenal made an alteration at the start of the second period, with Ismael Bennacer replacing Iwobi.

Arsenal continued to carve out chances with regularity, with Pleguezuelo seeking to make amends with a header only for his effort to go just over the target.

Willock and Crowley were both denied once more as Arsenal struggled to make a breakthrough, with Stoke soon resorting to physical challenges in an attempt to stop Gatting’s side from mustering any sort of momentum.

Malen was brought on in place of Hinds, with the young Dutchman taking up a position on the right flank, enabling Crowley and Willock to alternate in the attacking midfield position. El Ouiraichi, meanwhile, continued to provide a threat for Stoke.

Sheaf, perhaps understandably, struggled at right-back, but he still provided a set from set-pieces, with his free-kick finding Mavididi, whose header went wide.

Macey had to make a good stop at the other end, but Arsenal were running out of time to preserve their immaculate start to the season.

Malen saw a couple of crosses gathered, then Crowley attempted to go for individual glory with a lofted effort, but Stoke goalkeeper Daniel Gyollai claimed the ball.

It was a night of frustration for Arsenal, with several players struggling to perform at their usual level. The situation wasn’t helped, however, by Gatting’s bizarre selection.

Jordi Osei-Tutu, the regular right-back for the U18s, surely could have filled in there tonight, whilst Iwobi would have been more effective out wide and Crowley should have been used centrally.

The performance of Willock, though, was rather encouraging, as he showcased his uncanny ability to find space in difficult situations, whilst Macey, perhaps provided with a confidence boost following his first-team exertions, was impressive in goal. Crowley, meanwhile, was impressive at times but also squandered possession too easily on occasion.

Other than that there weren’t too many positives to take from the game from an Arsenal perspective, and it is hoped that the young Gunners will fare rather better in their next fixture away to Brighton & Hove Albion later this month.

Dragomir amongst four youngsters to train with Arsenal first-team pre-West Brom

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Image: David Rogers

Arsenal held their final first-team training session this morning ahead of tomorrow’s Premier League game away to West Bromwich Albion, with four youngsters in attendance.

Alex Iwobi, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Vlad Dragomir and Joshua DaSilva all trained with the senior squad at London Colney, with Iwobi in contention to make the bench against The Baggies.

Hector Bellerin trained after recovering from a groin injury and is expected to start at The Hawthorns.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey are still out with hamstring problems but should return to training on Monday in time to feature against Dinamo Zagreb the following evening.

Theo Walcott’s calf strain, meanwhile, is expected to keep him out until early December, with Jack Wilshere possibly returning late next month.

Tomas Rosicky and Danny Welbeck, who are yet to feature this season, are likely to be back in January.

With several players still out, Iwobi could again make the bench, with one defender, possibly Calum Chambers, likely to be left out of the 18-man squad.

Possible team:






Subs: Ospina, Debuchy, Gabriel, Gibbs, Flamini, Arteta, Iwobi. 

Meanwhile, Arsenal U21s take on their Stoke counterparts at home tonight, with Steve Gatting’s side seeking to continue their excellent start to the season.

Arsenal haven’t played at this level since September 25th, but they have won all five of their fixtures so far, scoring 14 goals in the process.

Dan Crowley is in line to feature, whilst first-year scholar Donyell Malen will be on the bench, with the striker having earned his maiden call-up at this level. Reine-Adelaide is unlikely to be involved due to his involvement with the first-team squad this morning.

Tafari Moore is doubtful, so 17-year-old Jordi Osei-Tutu may be drafted in at right-back. Deyan Iliev and Chiori Johnson are expected to miss out again through injury.

Possible team: 


Osei-Tutu-Pleguezuelo-Bielik-M. Bola


Crowley-Bennacer-C. Willock


Subs: Huddart, O’Connor, Eyoma, Mavididi, Malen. 

Arsenal take young Scottish goalkeeper Donaldson on trial

Arsenal have taken young Scottish goalkeeper Josh Donaldson on trial.

The 15-year-old, who currently plays for Dundee United, has been linked with several high-profile clubs and is currently training with Arsenal’s youngsters at the Hale End academy.

Arsenal already have several promising goalkeepers on their books at youth level. Finnish shot-stopper Hugo Keto has featured for the club in the UEFA Youth League this season, whilst Ryan Huddart has been heavily involved with the U18s.

In addition, schoolboys George Phillips and Jordan Perrin have both been called up to the U18 squad this campaign, with Joao Virginia, a highly-regarded Portuguese goalkeeper, currently training with Frans De Kat’s side after arriving at the club in the summer.

Matt Macey, meanwhile, is the current first choice for the U21s, with the former Bristol Rovers youngster having been heavily involved of the first-team squad of late. Deyan Iliev, however, hasn’t featured at all this season because of injury.

Nelson scores brace and is sent off as England U17s lose to Germany U17s

England v Belgium: International U16 Fixture

BURTON-UPON-TRENT, ENGLAND – AUGUST 20: Reiss Nelson of England U16’s in action during the International U16 fixture between England and Belgium at St George’s Park on August 20, 2014 in Burton-Upon-Trent, England. (Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images)

Arsenal youngster Reiss Nelson endured a bizarre three minutes as England U17s lost 5-3 to their Germany counterparts in a fixture that was played behind closed doors today at St. George’s Park.

In a remarkable game Germany established a five-goal lead before Nelson reduced the deficit slightly with a neat finish shortly after being brought on as a substitute. The schoolboy then scored his second of the game from the penalty spot but was then sent off just a minute later.

England scored a third goal through Jonathan Leko, with Arsenal youngsters Marcus Agyei-Tabi and Tolaji Bola having earlier entered the fray as substitutes.

The main story, however, involved Nelson, who experienced delight and frustration in quick succession.

England face Germany again on Friday.

Pass master DaSilva relishes midfield position as Arsenal U18s beat Brighton


Defensive frailties are usually taken as a given when it comes to Arsenal U18s, but at least this season those long-standing problems have been counteracted somewhat by some excellent attacking play.

The young Gunners notched up their third victory in succession on Saturday as they prevailed past their Brighton & Hove Albion counterparts with a 3-1 win at London Colney.

The goals came courtesy of a brace from Tyrell Robinson and a strike from Yassin Fortune, but the real hero was Joshua DaSilva, who impressed operating in a deep-lying midfield position.

It wasn’t the first time that the Hale End product has been used there and, given that he is naturally an attack-minded player, it isn’t exactly ideal, but against Brighton he relished the opportunity to initiate attacks from the middle of the pitch.

That was none more so in evidence that for the opening goal, with DaSilva playing a stunning long-range pass directly into the path of Robinson, who finished superbly.

DaSilva made several bursts from deep throughout the game and impressed with his passing. Perhaps such a tactic wouldn’t be quite so effective against better organised sides, but on this occasion it worked perfectly.

Previously a prolific goalscorer for Arsenal at U16 level, DaSilva scored just twice for the U18s last season and has found the net just once this time around, and that was a heavily deflected effort.

DaSilva has admitted that he needs to find the net with greater regularity, but his all-round performance against Brighton demonstrated that other aspects of the 17-year-old’s game are rather impressive.

Arsenal: Huddart; Eyoma, Da Graca, Pileas, Chatzitheodoridis; Mourgos, DaSilva; Robinson (J. Willock, 75), Nelson (Dragomir, 46), Fortune; Malen (Nketiah, 57). Not used: Perrin, T. Bola.

Crowley scores excellent goal and Maitland-Niles features as England U19s beat Japan

Arsenal midfielder Dan Crowley scored his first ever goal in an England shirt as the Three Lions beat Japan at U19 level today.

Crowley, who recently returned to the Gunners following a loan spell at League One side Barnsley, entered the fray as a substitute and proceeded to score an excellent goal as he drove forwards from the halfway line before finishing excellently.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who has caught the eye on loan at Ipswich Town this season, started the game.