Assessing Andries Jonker’s Arsenal tenure: Positives outweigh negatives 

Andries Jonker has today left his position as Arsenal’s head of academy to become the head coach at Bundesliga side Wolfsburg. 

Having arrived at Arsenal in July 2014, Jonker went on to make a significant impact during his time at the club and oversaw the acquisitions of some extremely exciting young talents, including Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Donyell Malen and Vlad Dragomir. 

There were also some slight changes in playing style at youth level under Jonker’s guidance as the Dutchman encouraged the Arsenal prospects to move the ball quicker and be more direct in their approach. 

The progress of Alex Iwobi and Ainsley Maitland-Niles can be partly attributed to Jonker’s decision to play individuals in various different positions to enhance their overall game, while this season Ben Sheaf has benefitted from moving from defensive-midfield to centre-back. 

Another intriguing element of Jonker’s tenure was his choice this season to send several of Arsenal’s best prospects on loan to Dutch football, with the likes of Kelechi Nwakali and Dan Crowley benefiting from regular playing time. 

Meanwhile, having fallen into the second tier of second string football Arsenal have now seemingly stabilised themselves in the top division. 

There has also been progress off the pitch, with improvement works talking place at the club’s London Colney training ground and the Hale End academy. 

It hasn’t all been plain sailing for Jonker, however, with Arsenal’s lack of defensive resources at U18 level remaining a pertinent problem. 

Furthermore, Arsenal have struggled to make any sort of progress in the UEFA Youth League under his guidance and this season were eliminated from the competition in the group stages. 

An additional difficulty this season has been that there are several players that are clearly surplus to requirements, such as Glen Kamara, Kristopher Da Graca and Aaron Eyoma, who have remained at the club despite having no long- term future at Arsenal. 

Overall, the positive aspects of Jonker’s reign outweigh the negatives but now the search is on for his successor – a key decision that could have a significant bearing on the club’s future. 

Loan report – Crowley scores, Bielik impresses, Mavididi stretchered off



Dan Crowley played the whole game and scored his first goal for Go Ahead Eagles in the 3-1 loss to Vitesse.

Wojciech Szczesny played the entirety of Roma’s 3-1 win over Inter Milan.

Takuma Asano played 70 minutes of Stuttgart’s 2-0 victory over Kaiserslautern.

Jack Wilshere played 66 minutes as Bournemouth lost 2-1 to West Bromwich Albion.

Jon Toral was booked in the first half and substituted in second half stoppage time as Rangers lost 2-1 to Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Krystian Bielik was brought on in the 55th minute of Birmingham City’s 2-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers and produced an excellent display.

Chuba Akpom came on in the 82nd minute as Brighton & Hove Albion beat Reading 3-0.

Ismael Bennacer played the full game as Tours drew 0-0 with Troyes.

Stephy Mavididi was stretchered off in the closing moments as Charlton Athletic lost 1-0 to Bury.

Kelechi Nwakali played the full game as MVV Maastricht lost 4-0 to Cambuur. Stefan O’Connor wasn’t involved.

Marc Bola played the entirety of Notts County’s goalless draw with Yeovil Town.

Matt Macey featured as Luton Town drew 1-1 with Plymouth Argyle.

Gedion Zelalem came on in the 56th minute as VVV-Venlo beat Achilles ’29 4-0.

Joel Campbell returned from injury but was an un-used substitute in Sporting Lisbon’s 2-0 success against Estoril.

Kaylen Hinds was an un-used substitute as Stevenage lost 2-1 to Crewe Alexandra.

Calum Chambers missed out through injury as Middlesbrough lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace.

Injury meant that Tafari Moore didn’t feature in Utrecht II’s 1-1 draw with Helmond Sport.

Julio Pleguezuelo wasn’t involved as Mallorca were beaten 4-1 by Tenerife.

Aaron Eyoma wasn’t involved as Volendam lost 1-0 to NAC Breda.



Super-sub Omole hits late winner as Arsenal U18s beat Swansea

U18 Premier League

Arsenal 1 (Omole) Swansea 0

Arsenal U18s secured a late victory courtesy of a very unlikely source as substitute Tobi Omole found the net in the 89th minute in the 1-0 success against Swansea City today. 

The first-year scholar hasn’t been a major part of the U18 side this season but he hit the headlines at London Colney with his late intervention. 

Omole finished well after he was set up by Arsenal’s outstanding performer Emile Smith-Rowe. 

Arsenal’s place in the top group for the final section of the season was already secure going into this game but they initially found it difficult to break down a Swansea side that are bottom of the league. 

Eddie Nketiah, Dominic Thompson and Josh Benson came into the side for Marcus McGuane, Charlie Gilmour and Tolaji Bola. 

Arsenal conclude their regular set of fixtures with a home game against rivals Tottenham Hotspur next weekend. 

Arsenal: Virginia; Osei-Tutu, Ballard, Pileas, T. Bola; J. Willock, Benson (Gilmour, 61); Smith-Rowe, Fortune, Thompson (Omole, 74) Nketiah (Coyle, 61). Not used: Barden, Olayinka. 

Maitland-Niles stars as five first-team players feature in Arsenal U23s’ victory over Chelsea

Premier League 2

Arsenal 4 (Holding, Malen, Nelson, Welbeck (pen)) Chelsea 1



Rob Holding and Danny Welbeck were amongst the scorers as a very strong Arsenal U23 side prevailed past Chelsea with a 4-1 victory at London Colney today.

With the first-team not in action this weekend, manager Arsene Wenger allowed several members of his squad to feature for the second string, with Emiliano Martinez, Carl Jenkinson and Jeff Reine-Adelaide also involved.

Some of the U23 regulars made a significant contribution, too, with Donyell Malen and the hugely talented Reiss Nelson amongst the scorers in a comprehensive win.



Maitland Niles-Reine Adelaide

Malen-Nelson-C. Willock


Subs not used: Huddart, Johnson, Dasilva, Dragomir, Nketiah.

Given the quality of the side they fielded, it was of little surprise that Arsenal fared well early on and they came close to scoring through Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who shot just wide following impressive link-up play from Nelson and Malen.

Nelson is often at the hub of much of Arsenal’s best work at this level and it was from his corner that Holding headed home to open the scoring in the 23rd minute.

Arsenal proceeded to double their tally before the break, with Malen continuing his encouraging start to the calendar year by finishing well after Holding had embarked upon a run deep into the Chelsea half.

Malen then forced a save from Jared Thompson after he was located by marauding left-back Cohen Bramall as Arsenal finished the opening period strongly.

Chelsea had threatened intermittently in the first half but they were significantly more dangerous just after the interval, with Martinez pressed into action to keep out Mason Mount’s effort.

Arsenal’s victory seemed secure when Nelson finished cleverly but Chelsea were eager to at least remain in contention, with Ike Ugbo reducing the deficit to 3-1.

There was still time, however, for Arsenal to restore their three-goal advantage, with Welbeck doing just that by converting from the penalty spot after the sprightly Malen had been brought down in the area.

Overall, this was a hugely encouraging workout for Arsenal, with the first-team players involved receiving some valuable game time, while some of the youngsters on show, especially Maitland-Niles, Nelson, Malen and Chris Willock, enhanced their respective claims for first-team involvement in front of the watching Arsene Wenger.

Maitland-Niles, who has been on the cusp of the senior squad all season, was particularly impressive as he played some excellent passes, provided an attacking threat and also protected the defence well.

Arsenal academy graduates seeking to cause FA Cup upset with Sutton


Tonight, as they face non-league Sutton United away in the FA Cup fifth round, it will be a very unfamiliar experience for Arsenal. There will, though, be some familiar names on the opposing side at Gander Green Lane, with no fewer than four Arsenal academy graduates part of the Sutton squad.

Midfielder Jack Jebb is cup-tied and winger Jeffrey Monakana has been struggling with injury, but it is anticipated that Craig Eastmond and Roarie Deacon will be involved, with both players determined to help Sutton cause an upset against their former club.

Eastmond broke into the Arsenal reserves side as a schoolboy and played a prominent part at right-back as the club’s U18s won the FA Youth Cup and league double under the guidance of Steve Bould in 2008/09.

Possessing some prior experience of playing as a defensive-midfielder, Eastmond then moved into that position on a permanent basis and enjoyed a spell in and around the first-team as he played in all four major competitions.

Eastmond was unable to impose himself fully, however, and, after a succession of loan spells, joined Colchester United on a permanent basis before moving on to Yeovil Town and subsequently Sutton.


Deacon, meanwhile, featured regularly for Arsenal’s youth sides but was unable to break into the senior squad.

A sprightly winger, he signed scholarship terms in 2008 before eventually earning a professional deal. Although he broke into the reserve team and impressed at the Dallas Cup, a lack of end product remained a flaw in Deacon’s game and he was let go in 2011 and was picked up by Sunderland.

Having not made a senior appearance for Sunderland, Deacon joined Stevenage, with a switch to Crawley Town following before he signed for Sutton.



Loan report – Marc Bola assists; Asano and Crowley feature


Image: Nottingham Post

Marc Bola has produced some impressive displays for Notts County and the left-back’s good form continued as he set up the winner for Jon Stead in the 3-2 win over Leyton Orient. Bola played the full game.

Calum Chambers played the whole game at right-back and was booked as Middlesbrough beat Oxford United 3-2 in the FA Cup.

Wojciech Szczesny played the entirety of Roma’s 4-1 victory over Torino.

Matt Macey played the whole game as Luton Town drew 1-1 with Doncaster Rovers.

Ismael Bennacer played the full game as Tours lost 3-2 to Bourg en Bresse.

Dan Crowley played the whole game and was booked as Go Ahead Eagles lost 1-0 to Roda JC.

Kelechi Nwakali played the entirety of MVV Maastricht’s goalless draw with Eindhoven. Stefan O’Connor wasn’t in the squad.

Takuma Asano played 57 minutes an attacking midfielder in Stuttgart’s 2-1 success against Heidenheim.

Stephy Mavididi came on in the 64th minute as Charlton Athletic drew 3-3 with Rochdale. The forward embarked upon a mazy run as he beat several players but couldn’t find the net.

Kaylen Hinds was brought on in the 87th minute of Stevenage’s 1-1 draw with Exeter City.

Chuba Akpom came on in the 88th minute as Brighton & Hove Albion beat Barnsley 2-0.

Tafari Moore played the whole game as Utrecht II lost 4-1 to Fortuna Sittard.

Krystian Bielik was an unused substitute as Birmingham City lost 4-1 to Queens Park Rangers.

Gedion Zelalem was an unused substitute for VVV-Venlo in their 1-1 draw with Volendam. Aaron Eyoma didn’t feature for the latter side.

Joel Campbell missed out through injury as Sporting Lisbon beat Rio Ave 1-0.

Jon Toral wasn’t involved as Rangers were beaten 2-1 by Dundee.

Julio Pleguezuelo wasn’t in the squad as Mallorca lost 1-0 to Girona.

Jack Wilshere‘s Bournemouth didn’t have a fixture this weekend.


Report – Welbeck features as Arsenal U23s lose to Leicester


Leicester City FC

Premier League 2

Leicester City 2 (Moore 18, Ndukwu 52) Arsenal 1 (Sheaf 87)

Danny Welbeck played 70 minutes but wasn’t able to prevent Arsenal U23s from falling to their second successive defeat with a 2-1 loss away to Leicester City today.

Arsenal made the decision to include Welbeck in the squad for today’s game as they didn’t want to risk the England international, who is just back from a serious knee injury, on Sutton United’s 3G pitch in the FA Cup fifth round tie tomorrow night.

Leicester may be bottom of the table but they gave an impressive account of themselves on this occasion, with goals from Elliott Moore and Layton Ndukwu putting them in the ascendancy before Ben Sheaf scored what proved to be a late consolation for Arsenal.

Welbeck came in for Savvas Mourgos, with the other changes to the Arsenal starting line-up from the defeat to Everton seeing Hugo Keto and Chiori Johnson regain their places as Emiliano Martinez and Carl Jenkinson were back with the first-team squad. Eddie Nketiah recovered from injury to make the bench where he was joined by Ryan Huddart and Glen Kamara, who recently returned from frustrating loan spells.




Malen-Dragomir-C. Willock


Subs: Nketiah (for Welbeck, 70). Not used: Huddart, Kamara, Mourgos, Da Graca.

Leicester started impressively, with Ndukwu causing all manner of problems for the Arsenal defence with his incisive runs.

It was the 18-year-old who would tee up the first goal, with Ndukwu’s corner being headed in emphatically by Moore.

Arsenal improved a little thereafter, with Moore having to make a precisely-timed interception to thwart Welbeck before Vlad Dragomir shot over from Reiss Nelson’s corner.

January signing Cohen Bramall then made an encouraging burst down the left flank but Josh Knight cut out his cross before it could reach the waiting Welbeck.

Arsenal had an inviting chance to equalise just after the break with Donyell Malen, deployed on the right flank, skipping past a couple of challenges, but the Dutchman’s subsequent effort was saved by Daniel Iversen.

Leicester would double their advantage, however, and it came as little surprise that the scorer was Ndukwu, who sent a fine effort beyond the reach of Keto.

Keto then had to make a stop from Admiral Muskwe to prevent Leicester from inflicting further damage upon a vulnerable Arsenal side.

Raul Uche was the next to test Keto but the Finnish goalkeeper was on hand to respond to the task.

Welbeck was then replaced by Nketiah, and the prolific young forward very nearly had an instant impact but saw his effort kept out by the alert Iversen.

Arsenal continued to battle on and eventually managed to reduce the deficit through a rare goal from Sheaf but Steve Gatting’s side were unable to find a second strike.

Next up for Arsenal is a home game against Chelsea on Friday.