News round-up: Nordtveit in international action

Arsenal Reserves captain Havard Nordtveit played 90 minutes for his country Norway last night as they lost 3-2 to Iceland in an under-19 international. Havard could be in action again tomorrow, when Norway take on Bulgaria and on Friday when they face Israel. Havard’s involvement means that he will miss tomorrow’s reserve game against Aston Villa. A full preview of that match to come prior to kick off.

In other news, Arsenal under-18s manager Steve Bould has spoken about his side’s defeat to Aston Villa in the play-off semi-final on Saturday. He stated his frustration at the lack of chances created by his side

“I think we only had one or two shots all afternoon. For all the possession we had, it wasn’t really enough. For the possession Villa had, I think they could have had one or two more goals. Wojceich has made some top saves. When we reflect I think the fact we didn’t chances will be looked at next week. I must say though, I thought first 20 minutes we looked really bright but we didn’t create a lot of chances. That is what didn’t happen today.”

The Gunners were dealt a blow prior to kick off, when Gavin Hoyte picked up an injury in the warm-up.

“At that point we had to change the team. I would have liked Gavin there at the back because he provides that little bit of experience but on a general night it didn’t affect us too much.”

Many of the youngsters are feeling depressed after the defeat, but Bould admits they will learn from it and for some of the players there will be the chance to try all over again next season

“The major thing we spoke about was giving the young kids that have got us this far, their big chance. We could have gone for a couple of the older boys and maybe won the game but on the development level that is not what we wanted to do. It was a big test today, but one that most of them came through. They will all learn from it.”

Despite the defeat, Bould acknowledges that the season was not a failure

“We have had a great year, got some great kids playing in the Reserve level and some lads being involved in the first-team. So overall it has been a good year for the Club. The result today was disappointing but the overall season has been fabulous for us. I have basically reminded the boys how well they have played for most of the year. In general I think that we have had a terrific year.”

Quotes from arsenal.com


Aston Villa under-18s 1 Arsenal under-18s 0

A strike from Villa striker Nathan Delfouneso just after half-time was enough to give Villa a 1-0 victory at Villa Park and end Arsenal’s ambitions of winning the Premier Academy League trophy.

Arsenal were dealt a blow before the game had even started after an injury to centre-back Gavin Hoyte. With Hoyte’s absence, Bould opted to hand a start to Rui Fonte alongside Rhys Murphy up front.

The starting line-up looked like this.


–Eastmond—Ayling————-Cruise——-Thomas (c)



subs: Shea, Evina, Henderson, Barazite.

Arsenal started the game brightly and an Emmanuel Frimpong free-kick forced the Villa ‘keeper into a smart save six minutes in.

The Gunners continued to pile on the pressure in the early stages of the game. First, Rui Fonte made an embarking run on goal but was denied by a well-timed challenge from Villa’s Barry Bannan.

Villa then were denied a penalty after Jay Thomas commited a foul in the box, but the referee waved play on.

Steve Bould’s side had further chances, but failed to take advantage of them. Rhys Murphy should have done better when he met Craig Eastmond’s whipped cross from the right, but instead headed wide. It looked as if it was going to be that kind of day for Arsenal.

The home side were beginning to grow into the game and the tricky Barry Bannan was causing the Arsenal defence all sorts of problems, especially from set-pieces. First, he hit a left-footed effort across goal, but Szczesny was equal to it.

Collins hit a shot wide, before Szczesny showed his class by coming off his line to deny Nathan Delfouneso. It was an excellent save from Wojciech and it is what we have come to expect from the Polish stopper this season.

Bannan had another effort from a free-kick just before the interval, but it was cleared away.

It was a tight opening half, but the two sides went into the break still deadlocked at 0-0.

Half time- Aston Villa 0 Arsenal 0

Delfouneso: Goal

Villa burst out of the traps in the second half, and after a decent cross from Albrington, poor marking from the Arsenal defence enabled Nathan Delfouneso to control the ball and fire in a low shot past Wojciech Szczesny. It was a nightmare start to the second period for the young gunners and Steve Bould was especially disappointed with his side’s defending leading up to the goal.

Not disheartened by conceding the opener, Arsenal looked for an immediate response. First, James Dunne hit a powerful effort straight at the Villa ‘keeper, then man of the moment Jack Wilshere hit a smart effort on goal which forced a fingertip save out of Villa goalie Parish.

Villa were desperate to double their advantage but Harry Forester failed to make anything of Bannan’s ball in.

Arsenal introduced Nacer Barazite for Sanchez Watt on 58 minutes, looking to change the game.

However, it was the hosts who continued to impress and if it wasn’t for good defending from Luke Ayling to stop Bannan’s cross, the Gunners could have been two goals down.

Collins was getting a lot of opportunities to double the lead and had two good opportunities to make it 2-0. However, on both occasions he shot low and hard at Szczesny.

Moments later, Collins hit a better effort just wide of the far post and Delfouneso came close once more, but Szczesny was equal to it once again.

The tall Pole was having an excellent game between the sticks, but Delfouneso’s strike just after half-time was still the difference between the two sides.

Baker had a further chance for Villa, who introduced Weimann in place of Forester with six minutes remaining in an attempt to run down the clock.

Time was running out for the Gunners. Steve Bould then brought on Cedric Evina for Jack Wilshere, but the change had little effect on proceedings.

The final whistle blew, and with it went Arsenal’s hopes of winning the Academy League. If they had won today, then the Gunners would have faced either Man.City or Sunderland in the final at Emirates Stadium. However, they went out at the semi-final stage for the second season in succession.

Villa had played the better football for the majority of the match and were deserved winners in the end.

Full time- Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 0

MAN OF THE MATCH- Wojciech Szczesny

Some fantastic saves kept Arsenal in it at times- he has been a revelation this season.

Barazite and Freeman on fire as u-18s stuff the Saints

A hat-trick from Nacer Barazite and a brace from Luke Freeman was enough for Arsenal u-18s to secure a 5-2 win over Southampton at London Colney on Saturday morning.

   Having not won previously in 2008, Steve Bould selected a strong side for the visit of Southampton. Abu Ogogo, Paul Rodgers and Rene Steer all started in defence, along with Kyle Bartley, fresh from action at the Algarve tournament. Luke Freeman was only on the bench as he made way for the returning Sanchez Watt and Craig Eastmond began the game on the right side of midfield, with Jonas Rasmussen, who had started the previous two games, dropping to the bench.

   The game started off in a lively state, with Arsenal making some good attacking moves. They only had to wait nine minutes to score the first goal, when Craig Eastmond and Emmanuel Frimpong exchanged passes before the ball found it’s way to Nacer Barazite, who was one-on-one with the ‘keeper and never looked likely to miss.

     With a one-goal advantage under their belt early on, Arsenal went off in search of a second. They were denied a couple of times by the Southampton ‘keeper after some weak efforts on goal, but the next clear cut chance fell to Southampton, when their number 6 headed the ball just over the bar.

      Arsenal responded and this time they did get their second goal. James Dunne found Emmanuel Frimpong who threaded the ball through to Barazite who smashed a ferocious effort past the Saints keeper. Nacer was certainly back in the goals after his injury heartbreak in the Carling Cup against Blackburn in December.

      The Gunners should have gone three up on 33 minutes, but Sanchez Watt missed an open goal after a decent cross from Thomas on the left-hand side. It was to be the England u-17 international’s last contribution of the game as, ten minutes later, he was substituted after being concussed as a result of a collision with Southampton’s number six. He was replaced by Luke Freeman just before the interval and Luke, still looking for his first Arsenal goal was to have a telling contribution on the game.

       The second half began at a rapid pace, as Southampton recieved a penalty just two minutes into the half after a controversial decision from the referee. Rodgers appeared to get some of the ball, but the referee thought otherwise. Steve Bould was dismissed from his position in the dugout after his reaction to the decision. Up stepped the Saints no.9 who sent Szczesny the wrong way and tucked the ball into the net.

     Arsenal needed to respond, and they did. Just ten minutes after conceding the penalty, Luke Freeman latched onto a loose ball following a poor clearance from Southampton from a corner. The former Gillingham youngster managed to swivel past a player and dispatch a low stinging drive into the right hand corner of the net off the post. It was his first goal in Arsenal colours, but he wasn’t done just yet.

        Southampton weren’t disheartened and managed to get themselves back in the game once again. Rene Steer committed a foul inside the area and was booked as the referee pointed to the spot once more. This time, however, Arsenal could have no complaints as he certainly brought him down. The Saints no.9 did exactly what he did before and scored to close the gap to 3-2.

     Arsenal put the game beyond doubt with two late goals. First, Barazite smashed an effort into the back of the net for his hat-trick, and then Luke Freeman got on the scoresheet again two minutes later as he latched on to Rene Steer’s ball and headed it home into the back of the net. It was job done for Arsenal and a memorable day for Luke.

           The result meant that Arsenal closed the gap at the top of the table and they now face two consecutive away games, against Crystal Palce and Norwich.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Ogogo, Bartley, Rodgers(c), Steer, Eastmond, Frimpong, Dunne, Thomas, Watt, Barazite.

Subs: Freeman (for Watt, 44), Cruise (for Eastmond, 83). Not used Rasmussen, Ayling.






                         U-16s NEWS

     The u-16s were also in action against Southampton and enjoyed a convincing 4-0 victory.

                        INJURY NEWS

In terms of injury news, Sanchez Watt ended up with concussion but should be back for the Crystal Palace game next week. He looked a little dazed, but it’s nothing serious. Also, Jeorge Bird’s Arsenal Youth blog can exclusively reveal that Rui Fonte  is just one week away from a recovery after suffering an allergic reaction in addition to his broken nose against Birmingham. He was back in training today. 

So, the u-18s are back to winning ways and another three points against Crystal Palace next week would see them step up the chase for the title.


Time for the u-18s to turn their season around

They started off so well, with only one defeat until January. Now, the Arsenal under-18s have lost three successive games, all of which have been played at London Colney. So, what is going wrong? Well, it’s clear that the absence of the likes of Lansbury and Wilshere are key because they are the players that can turn a game around, as Lansbury showed against Burnley. Arsenal often come up against teams physically stronger than them, that knock them off the ball. Only a couple of players like Nacer Barazite and Emmanuel Frimpong have shown that they can sustain the pressure, whilst others just go flying too easily. In goal, Wojciech Szczesny can make some stunning saves but his communication with the rest of the team is poor and they don’t seem to work in tandem. Teams have found out ways to get around Arsenal, by exploiting the full-backs and by attacking from set-pieces. The next game is against Southampton on Saturday. Maybe I’m being too harsh, as the lads put in some excellent performances earlier on in the season. But now it is time to turn their season around, and that starts on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Mark Randall has said that he is impressed with Burnley’s style. It remains to be seen what will happen to him come the end of the season, but if he puts in a few decent performances in the Championship, then he might just force his way into Wenger’s thinking. He also had some interesting views on playing in the Reserves, saying

“I definitely wanted to come out on loan because playing too much in the reserves is not good, especially in the English league. I don’t think the reserve set-up is strong enough for the players.”

Thanks for reading and there’ll be more tomorrow.

Big test ahead for Vela

Well, today Carlos Vela’s Osasuna take on Barcelona in La Liga and it should be a cracking game to watch. Hopefully Carlos will be involved and if he were to get on the scoresheet then it would underline his potential as a future superstar. He has done really well so far in Spain, his work-rate and technical ability are second to none, whilst he certainly knows where the goal is. It should be intresting as there’s an added incentive for Barca seeing as Real Madrid lost to Almeria yesterday, so they will be up for it but Carlos should be up for the task. A couple of other loanees; Pedro Silva and Fran Merida may also be in action today and of course we will keep you informed of how they get on.

Kyle Bartley and Sanchez Watt were both in action for England u-17s yesterday in the Algarve tournament as they helped the Three Lions beat Denmark 3-0. Bartley played the whole game, whilst Watt was substituted at half-time. They take on France today, with the squad likely to be rotated to avoid tiredness.

The pair’s international commitments meant that they were absent for the 2-0 home defeat to West Ham in the Academy League yesterday morning at London Colney, here’s the West Ham report.

There’s more on Luke Freeman, as Arséne Wenger talks about the qualities he will bring to the club, whilst West Ham u-18s coach Tony Carr talks about how his Hammers side kept him Luke quiet yesterday.

Thanks for reading and there’ll be more tomorrow.

Three defeats on the spin for the u-18s

Arsenal u-18s lost their third successive League game this morning as they went down 2-0 to West Ham at London Colney. Wojciech Sczczesny started in goal, whilst Jonas Rasmussen played on the right flank, with Luke Freeman partnering Nacer Barazite up front. It was an icy cold day at London Colney as Luke Freeman went close with a couple of efforts but the ‘keeper was equal to them. Nacer Barazite looked in impressive form as well, making some decent touches and dictating play as he often dropped back to support the midfield. It was also good to see Havard Nordtveit in the u-18s again after so long out; he looked a little rusty but gave a composed performance nonetheless. West Ham’s physical power was too much for Arsenal as on more than one occasion, Arsenal players were sent flying by outstretched elbows. Emmanuel Frimpong wasn’t allowed to dictate things up front and Arsenal’s passing game just didn’t seem to be working. Jay Thomas, playing on the left-wing, was getting increasingly frustrated with goalie Wojciech Szczesny’s inability to pick him out with his goal kicks and was calling for the tall Pole to stay on his line. In truth, it would be harsh on Szczesny to say that he was at fault for the first goal. West Ham played some neat passes before firing a low shot underneath the ‘keeper, but in truth there wasn’t much that ‘Tech 9’ could do. Arsenal were seeing a lot of the ball on the right-hand side but struggled to create chances; on the rare occasions that a chance did occur, Arsenal fluffed their lines. Nacer Barazite was unlucky as the bounce of the ball decieved him at the crucial moment, and Rasmussen fired a weak shot at goal. However, West Ham held on and as Arsenal came forward in the second half, piled on the pressure and ended up doubling their advantage. Steve Bould will be disspointed with the result, but knows that it was a very young team out their today, and that they were missing the creative influence of the likes of Lansbury, Fonte, Murphy and Wilshere. The Gunners are at home to Southampton next weekend and will hoping to end their run of three straight defeats. One other piece of news, it appears that Liam O’Brien, who was on trial from QPR, has not been offered a permanent deal by Arsenal as he didn’t start the game and James Shea was on the bench.

Arsenal: Szczesny; Eastmond, Nordtveit, Hoyte (c), Cruise; Rasmussen, Frimpong, Dunne, Emmanuel-Thomas, Barazite, Freeman. Subs: Shea, Evina, Blackwood, Ayling.

Next three games:

Sat Feb 9- Southampton (h)

Sat Feb 16- Crystal Palace (a)

Sat Mar 1- Norwich City (a)

Luke Freeman scouting report

Having watched him for 45 minutes this morning, I can honestly say that Luke Freeman has the potential to live up to the hype. Arséne Wenger worked so hard to bring him to the club and you could see why. Despite being only fifteen years of age and having a slight frame, he often went into challenges with West Ham players twice his size. He showed strength in the tackle and worked hard to bring the ball down. The fact that he is playing alongside quality players such as Nacer Barazite is sure to do him the world of good too. He had a couple of opportunities to score; one time he hit a powerful low drive down to the ‘keepers right and the goalie pulled off a good save. It was a decent strike though and he was unlucky not to score. He also worked hard for the team, tracking back and picking passes, it seems like he was born to play for Arsenal. He still has an awful lot of developing to do first though. As I mentioned he needs to beef up a bit but that shouldn’t be too hard. He displayed immense confidence in trapping the ball and releasing a shot immediately. It looks like there will be more to come from Luke Freeman