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Karl Hein signs new contract with Arsenal – will he be able to overtake Okonkwo?

Goalkeeper Karl Hein has signed a new long-term contract with Arsenal.

There has been some uncertainty regarding Hein’s future at the club, with his previous deal having been set to expire at the conclusion of the current campaign, but he will now be remaining with the Gunners.

It will be intriguing to see what lies in store for Hein as his long-running battle with fellow shot-stopper Arthur Okonkwo continues.

The pair have much respect for each other but ultimately, given that they are of a similar age, it is difficult to envisage both of them succeeding in the long-term at Arsenal.

Okonkwo signed a new deal in the summer and was promoted to the first-team squad but endured an error-strewn pre-season, while Hein, in contrast, largely asserted himself well.

Hein has also made excellent progress on the international stage for Estonia, especially impressing against Wales recently.

In previous seasons Hein has made many errors but there has always been a feeling that, given time, he could become a reliable goalkeeper.

So far this season Hein has played just one game at club level, for the U23s against Tottenham Hotspur. He is likely to be the first choice at that level but it is important for the club to also give playing time to two talented prospects in Ovie Ejeheri and Hubert Graczyk.

A loan move for Hein in January, even if it is abroad, could really help to take his game to the next level.

Okonkwo also has much potential and commands his area very well, so it will be interesting to see who ultimately succeeds in this tussle.

For now, it is a huge positive that Arsenal have tied Hein down to a new deal and the 19-year-old will hope that he can now edge even closer to being part of the senior squad.

Marcelo Flores trains with Arsenal first-team as he waits for U23s chance

Talented Arsenal youngster Marcelo Flores was involved in first-team training today.

The 17-year-old, who is usually deployed as an attacking midfielder, has had to be patient so far this season as he waits for chances at U23 level.

It was anticipated that the Mexico youth international, who is also eligible to represent Canada, would mainly be involved with the U23s this season but he has instead been featuring for the U18s.

Flores has produced some encouraging performances for the younger age group, scoring three goals in four games, while he has also impressed with his link up play.

Given that he is already tied to a professional contract and also that he is one of the standout prospects at the club, it seems inevitable that he will be fully integrated into the U23 squad at some stage.

The prospect made his debut for the U23s against West Ham United in the final game of last season and also featured for the second-string in pre-season.

However, there is a concern that Flores doesn’t fit neatly into the 5-2-3 formation that is preferred by coach Kevin Betsy.

In such a system Flores would probably occupy one of the three attacking positions as he wouldn’t be able to be used in his preferred role as an attacking midfielder.

Flores will be willing to adapt, though, and he has played up front at times in the past while the prospect of him cutting inside from the right flank is intriguing. It is also possible that Betsy could look to alter his formation at some stage.

For now Flores will look to continue to impress for the U18s and also in first-team training sessions when he is afforded the opportunity.

Reuell Walters relishing opportunity to impress for Arsenal U23s

Early last season Brooke Norton-Cuffy, a first-year scholar at the time, benefitted from injuries to others as he was drafted into the U23 squad unexpectedly early.

Rather ironically, Norton-Cuffy has now suffered an injury himself, which has opened the door for a current first-year, Reuell Walters, to receive some opportunities for the U23s.

Walters, who signed for Arsenal last season, has already gained plenty of experience playing for the U18s, where he is usually deployed as a right wing-back, and he has previously captained the team at that level.

The 16-year-old was called upon for the U23s for the Premier League Cup game against Southampton B and also featured against Swindon Town in the Papa John’s Trophy before coming on as a substitute against Manchester United last weekend to make his Premier League 2 debut.

Walters has adapted well to the step up, demonstrating his impressive technique and tactical awareness, while he also enjoys pushing forward to support the attack.

The return to action of Ryan Alebiosu, whose proposed loan move to Sunderland didn’t materialise, could mean that Walters may soon find himself back in the U18s, especially with Norton-Cuffy also due to return from injury soon.

However, Walters will certainly have benefitted from the experience and will be well equipped when he inevitably has to make the step up again to the U23s.

Previously at Tottenham Hotspur, the youngster was set to join Manchester United before an administrative error prevented the deal from going ahead and he eventually ended up at Arsenal. He is eligible to represent England, Germany or Jamaica at international level.

Loan report – Ballard scores; Torreira makes Fiorentina debut

Lucas Torreira made his debut for Fiorentina, playing 90 minutes in the 2-1 win against Atalanta.

Daniel Ballard scored and played the full 90 minutes in Millwall’s 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion.

William Saliba and Matteo Guendouzi both played the full game as Marseille beat Monaco 2-0.

Deyan Iliev kept a clean sheet as Sered won 2-0 against Liptovsky Mikulas.

Tyreece John-Jules played 87 minutes in Blackpool’s 1-0 win against Fulham.

Matt Smith played 80 minutes and was booked as Doncaster Rovers lost 2-1 to Wigan Athletic.

Tom Smith was in goal as Welling United took on Hanwell Town in the London Senior Cup. The game finished 1-1 and went to penalties, with Welling prevailing 4-3 and Arsenal youth product Kaylen Hinds scoring the decisive spot-kick.

Harry Clarke played the entirety of Ross County’s 3-0 loss to Celtic.

Alex Runarsson wasn’t involved as OH Leuven beat Kortrijk 2-1.

Hector Bellerin’s Real Betis face Granada away tonight.

Konstantinos Mavropanos played the whole game as Stuttgart drew 1-1 with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Miguel Azeez was an unused substitute as Portsmouth lost 1-0 to MK Dons.

Jonathan Dinzeyi wasn’t involved as Carlisle United lost 2-1 to Crawley Town.

Nikolaj Moller missed out through injury as Viktoria Koln drew 0-0 with Saarbrucken.

Injury meant that Jordi Osei-Tutu didn’t feature for Nottingham Forest against Cardiff City.

Reiss Nelson‘s Feyenoord weren’t in action this weekend.

Report – Edwards and Cozier-Duberry impress again but Arsenal U18s are held by Southampton

U18 Premier League

Southampton 3 (Morgan 28, Pearce 58, Higgs 90 (pen)) Arsenal 3 (Cozier-Duberry 33, Edwards 41, 47)

Arsenal U18s suffered frustration as they conceded a late equaliser in an enthralling 3-3 draw with Southampton.

Hubert Graczyk started as an overage goalkeeper, while Bradley Ibrahim was drafted into the defence and Jack Henry-Francis was deployed in midfield.

Graczyk

Foran-Ibrahim-Jeffcott

Sweet-Bandeira-Henry Francis-Cozier Duberry

Flores-Sagoe Jr

Edwards

Subs: Quesada-Thorn (for Cozier-Duberry, 52), Robinson (for Ibrahim, 65), Richards (for Flores, 76). Not used: Kovacevic, Roberts.

Jimmy Morgan opened the scoring for Southampton in the 28th minute but Arsenal were in front by half time with regular scorers Amario Cozier-Duberry and Khayon Edwards both on target.

Cozier-Duberry set up Edwards to make it 3-1 just after the break, with the striker having now scored six goals in just four league games this season.

Arsenal made a change in the 52nd minute, with Elian Quesada-Thorn coming on for Ibrahim, and Southampton managed to reduce the deficit as Luke Pearce scored.

It looked as if the young Gunners were going to hold for a win but Southampton were awarded a penalty in the second minute of stoppage time and substitute Tommy-Lee Higgs, who had just entered the fray, managed to convert it.

It was disappointing for Dan Micciche’s team, but they remain unbeaten this season.

Report – Balogun hits brace and Patino scores as Arsenal U23s beat Manchester United

Premier League 2

Arsenal 3 (Balogun 1, 40, Patino 90) Manchester United 1 (Shoretire 63)

Image: Arsenal FC

Folarin Balogun scored a brace as Arsenal U23s made it three league victories in succession with a 3-1 win at home to Manchester United today.

Balogun featured in the first two Premier League games of the season but found himself back in the U23s to get playing time and took the opportunity to remind everybody of the quality that he possesses.

Two other members of the first-team squad were involved, with Arthur Okonkwo and Eddie Nketiah featuring, the latter captaining the side.

Ryan Alebiosu, Tim Akinola and Salah-Eddine were all given starts and James Olayinka was back on the bench but Arsenal had to cope without Kido Taylor-Hart and Omari Hutchinson.

Okonkwo

Monlouis-Rekik-Ogungbo

Walters-Patino-Akinola-Lopez

Salah Eddine-Nketiah-Balogun

Subs: Walters (for Alebiosu, 61), Biereth (for Nketiah, 61), Olayinka (for Monlouis, 75). Not used: Ejeheri, Ideho.

It was a strong United side that included Dean Henderson and Phil Jones, who have both been capped by England.

However, Arsenal started very brightly and took the lead in the first minute as Balogun scored having been set up by Alebiosu.

In truth maybe both players should have gone on loan in the summer transfer window, but this was a chance for them to make an impact at U23 level.

Balogun added another goal five minutes before half time as he was found by Salah-Eddine and Arsenal made a double change just after the hour, with Reuell Walters and Mika Biereth coming on for Alebiosu and Nketiah, with the latter having made his return from injury.

United got a goal back through the talented Shola Shoretire, but Arsenal managed to prevail and added to the scoreline late on courtesy of an impressive goal from Charlie Patino.

Arsenal name 63 youngsters in Premier League squad including Biereth

Arsenal have submitted their Premier League squad for the first half of this season.

There are 21 players on the senior list, with all of the club’s new signings having been included.

Six homegrown players were named on the senior list – Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Eddie Nketiah, Aaron Ramsdale and Ben White.

63 players were included on the club’s U21 list, including first-team players Folarin Balogun, Arthur Okonkwo, Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Nuno Tavares and Gabriel Martinelli.

All of the club’s new scholars have been named along with recent acquisition Mika Biereth.

The only players who have been left out are the senior players who are on loan, namely Daniel Ballard, Hector Bellerin, Jonathan Dinzeyi, Matteo Guendouzi, Deyan Iliev, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Reiss Nelson, Jordi Osei-Tutu, Alex Runarsson and Lucas Torreira.

Players under 21 who are on loan have been included, with William Saliba (who is spending the season with Marseille) to be classed as homegrown from next season, although he won’t have to be included in the senior squad until 2023.

Senior list – bold = homegrown

U21 list – red = first-team, green = on loan, blue = final year of being an U21 player

Karl Hein excels against Wales but what does his Arsenal future hold?

Karl Hein made his tenth senior appearance for Estonia last night and it was a memorable one for the talented young goalkeeper as he produced an excellent display against Wales.

Hein managed to keep a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw in Cardiff and made some fantastic stops, including one to deny Gareth Bale.

The 19-year-old finds himself in a somewhat unusual situation where he is the first-choice goalkeeper for his country yet the fourth-choice shot-stopper for his club.

Arthur Okonkwo was promoted to the first-team squad as third-choice this summer, although it was Hein who produced the better performances for the senior team in pre-season.

Hein managed to get on the bench against Brentford in the opening Premier League game of the season, but since then Okonkwo has managed to reclaim his position as third-choice, although he hasn’t played at any level so far this season.

Meanwhile, Hein has played just once for the U23s. With the transfer window closed, he will remain at the club until January but given that his contract expires next summer there is a risk that Hein could end up leaving.

Given that Okonkwo and Hein are of a similar age, it seemed rather inevitable that one of them would leave at some stage.

Okonkwo is an excellent prospect despite his pre-season showings, but it would be a shame to lose Hein given the quality and potential that he possesses.

This situation will reach its conclusion soon enough but if a goalkeeper is good enough to thrive against Wales he should be playing senior football of some description.

Hein bounced back from conceding five against Belgium and has learned a lot during this international break facing some high-quality players.

Now there will be more focus on his club career. Given that he is fourth-choice it may prove difficult for Arsenal to convince Hein to stay but they will hope that the situation can be resolved somehow.

Charlie Patino relishing responsibility as he edges closer to competitive first-team debut

For some prospects their ascent towards the first-team squad seems rather inevitable, and that certainly appears to be the case as far as Charlie Patino is concerned.

The 17-year-old hasn’t even reached ten appearances for the U23s yet but the clamour for him to make his debut against AFC Wimbledon in the Carabao Cup at Emirates Stadium later this month is growing ever stronger.

Last night Patino provided another reminder of his qualities in Arsenal U21s’ 2-1 defeat to Swindon Town in the Papa John’s Trophy, and it was a significant occasion for the youngster as he was given the captain’s armband.

Patino appeared to relish the extra responsibility he was afforded and he also seems to have benefitted somewhat from Miguel Azeez’s loan move to Portsmouth.

While Azeez is a very good player, he is somewhat similar in style to Patino, who is now the key man in midfield for the U23s. In addition, if Azeez was still at the club this season then he would have been ahead of Patino in the pecking order for first-team opportunities.

Now Patino will be in pole position if Mikel Arteta elects to delve into the U23s squad for the game against AFC Wimbledon. In the previous round against West Bromwich Albion, Arteta named a very strong team and was rewarded with a 6-0 win, but it remains to be seen which players he will call upon for the fourth round fixture.

Patino will hope to impress again for the U23s against Manchester United on Saturday and while he still has to be more switched on defensively at times, he is progressing at a rapid rate. His passing range is excellent and he already possesses some first-team experience having featured in a friendly against Brentford last week. It just appears to be a matter of time before he makes his competitive debut.

Report – Joel Ideho scores but Arsenal U21s lose to Swindon Town in Papa John’s Trophy

Papa John’s Trophy

Swindon Town 2 (Dabre 16, Conroy 69) Arsenal U21s 1 (Ideho 33)

Arsenal U21s’ Papa John’s Trophy campaign commenced with a 2-1 defeat away to Swindon Town tonight despite Joel Ideho’s strike.

The young Gunners fell behind to a goal from Mohammad Dabre before Ideho equalised with his first goal for the club above U18 level. However, Swindon ultimately prevailed as Dion Conroy scored with a header that deflected in off Kido Taylor-Hart.

Charlie Patino, who has trained with the first-team during the international break, started and captained the side, while first-year scholar Reuell Walters was called upon again in the absence of the injured Brooke Norton-Cuffy. Jack Henry-Francis started in midfield, with Ovie Ejeheri replacing Hubert Graczyk in goal.

Four members of the U18 squad made the bench, with Khayon Edwards, Amario Cozier-Duberry, Taylor Foran and Mauro Bandeira all called upon.

There were a host of absentees, including midfielder Tim Akinola, who trained with the first-team yesterday and Omari Hutchinson. Ryan Alebiosu, Ben Cottrell and Zak Swanson were also missing along with the injured Catalin Cirjan and George Lewis.

Ejeheri

Walters-Monlouis-Kirk-Ogungbo-Lopez

Patino-Henry Francis

Ideho-Biereth-Taylor Hart

Subs: Salah-Eddine (for Henry-Francis, 46), Cozier-Duberry (for Taylor-Hart, 70), Butler-Oyedeji (for Ideho, 71).

Not used: Graczyk, Foran, Bandeira, Edwards.

Swindon threatened early on, with Ellis Iandolo forcing a save from Ejeheri.

In the 14th minute Arsenal carved out their first meaningful opportunity of the game, and it fell to striker Mika Biereth, whose effort struck the post.

Two minutes later Swindon took the lead as debutant Dabre managed to steer the ball into the back of the net.

Biereth continued to try his luck for Arsenal and had an effort deflected over, but Swindon were creating more chances, with Ejeheri called into action on several occasions.

Arsenal eventually managed to equalise, however, and it was a composed finish from Ideho, who had received the ball from Joel Lopez.

It was 1-1 at half time and Arsenal made an alteration ahead of the second half as Salah-Eddine replaced Henry-Francis.

Swindon had several opportunities in the early stages of the second half, with Jaydon Mitchell-Lawson, who previously impressed against the Gunners while playing for Derby County at youth level, causing problems.

In the 69th minute Swindon restored their lead as Conroy won a header from a corner and it struck Taylor-Hart before going in.

Arsenal responded by sending on Amario Cozier-Duberry and Nathan Butler-Oyedeji for Taylor-Hart and Ideho.

Although Arsenal were seeking an equaliser, the chances kept falling to Swindon and Ejeheri had to make more stops to prevent further damage.

Arsenal will face Newport County and Plymouth Argyle in their other two group games.