Loan report: Toral scores; O’Connor concedes penalty on York debut

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Jon Toral played the whole game and scored a header as Birmingham City lost 2-1 to Brighton & Hove Albion. The Spaniard has now found the net on four occasions this season.

Chuba Akpom was introduced as a substitute in the 75th minute of Hull City’s 2-0 defeat to Derby County, with the striker creating a chance for Mohamed Diame. Isaac Hayden was brought on in the 82nd minute.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles started and played 84 minutes as Ipswich Town beat Charlton Athletic 3-0.

Stefan O’Connor made his York City debut and conceded a penalty as his temporary side lost 5-1 to Accrington Stanley.

Carl Jenkinson played the whole game as West Ham United drew 1-1 with West Bromwich Albion. Serge Gnabry was once again left out of the squad for Tony Pulis’ side.

Gedion Zelalem played the whole game as Rangers thrashed St Mirren 4-0 in the Scottish Challenge Cup.

Yaya Sanogo was an un-used substitute as Ajax beat PEC Zwolle.

Wojciech Szczesny remained on the bench throughout as Roma lost 1-0 to Atalanta.

Emiliano Martinez missed out through injury as Wolverhampton Wanderers drew 0-0 with MK Dons.

Wellington is expected to be absent because of injury when Bolton Wanderers host Brentford tomorrow night.





Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sanchez fit, whilst four youngsters train with Arsenal first-team pre-Norwich

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was in full training today, with the winger, who has been out with a hamstring problem since last month, likely to be included in the squad for tomorrow’s Premier League game away to Norwich City.

Alexis Sanchez and Joel Campbell, who were considered slight doubts for the game at Carrow Road, both came through the session unscathed, whilst youngsters Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Alex Iwobi, Krystian Bielik and Chris Willock all trained with the squad.

Mikel Arteta is out with a slight calf problem, although a date is yet to be scheduled for his return.

Theo Walcott, meanwhile, could recover from his injury in time to feature against Sunderland next weekend, with Jack Wilshere likely to return at some point in December.

Tomas Rosicky and Danny Welbeck aren’t due to make their comebacks from serious knee problems until January, while Francis Coquelin will be out for three months with a knee ligament injury.

Possible team:






Subs: Ospina, Debuchy, Gabriel, Gibbs, Chambers, Campbell, Oxlade-Chamberlain. 

Nketiah hits brace and Tormey debuts as Arsenal U18s draw with West Ham


Striker Edward Nketiah continued his impressive form by scoring a brace as Arsenal U18s drew 2-2 away to their West Ham United counterparts this morning.

The first year scholar has now struck nine goals at U18 level this season and will be hopeful of receiving opportunities to impress for the older age groups as the campaign progresses.

Coach Frans De Kat left all of the players who featured in Tuesday’s UEFA Youth League defeat to Dinamo Zagreb out of his starting line-up for this fixture, with first-year scholar Joe Willock receiving his maiden start of the campaign.


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J. Willock-Dragomir-Fortune


West Ham established a two-goal lead early on courtesy of a brace from Jahmal Hector-Ingram, but Nketiah halved the deficit in the first-half before making it 2-2 just after the break after Willock’s initial effort was parried.

There was a significant moment in the second period as Arsenal introduced schoolboy winger Nathan Tormey for his debut at this level in place of Willock.

West Ham were the more dangerous side in the closing stages as they had a penalty claim turned down and Arsenal had goalkeeper Ryan Huddart to thank for making a superb save in stoppage time to keep out Grady Diangana’s header.

Arsenal’s next assignment at this level sees them take on West Bromwich Albion at home in the FA Youth Cup on Friday.

Info via ArsenalFixtureNews and Tommy Wathen


Arsenal’s Stefan O’Connor set to receive much-needed game time with York City loan



Young Arsenal defender Stefan O’Connor has joined League Two side York City on loan, with the deal set to run until January 6th, 2016.

The commanding centre-back made his first-team debut for Arsenal against Galatasaray in the Champions League last season but has been deprived of game time even at youth level this campaign, largely as a consequence of the club’s decision to move Krystian Bielik to centre-back.

O’Connor, who is confident on the ball, broke into the Arsenal U21 side as a first-year scholar and struck up an impressive partnership with Julio Pleguezuelo, with the youngster having now made over 30 appearances for the second-string.

York have the worst defensive record in League Two this season- they have conceded 37 goals- so there could be much work for O’Connor to attend to with his temporary side.

The decision to loan out the 18-year-old makes sense given that he is no longer eligible for the FA Youth Cup and he wouldn’t have received much playing time for the older age groups.



Emile Smith-Rowe exclusive interview: I’m more confident on the ball


Last season Emile Smith-Rowe had the honour of becoming the first player to represent Arsenal at U18 level who was born in the 21st century.

The youngster, who doesn’t turn 16 until July, is one of the latest players to come off the club’s Hale End production line, with the skilful left winger poised to be offered scholarship terms with the Gunners prior to the start of next season.

In an exclusive interview with Arsenal Youth, Smith-Rowe discussed playing for the U18s, his exploits with England at youth level and the Arsenal first-team players that he is most similar to in style.

Like many of his team-mates at Arsenal, Smith-Rowe has been part of the Hale End academy for several years, as he explains: “I started playing Sunday league at five and a half, I had a trial at Chelsea at nine years old before signing at Arsenal aged nine and a quarter.”


The youngster usually operates on the left flank, which he confirms is his preferred position. Blessed with excellent technical qualities, Smith-Rowe believes that his current form at U16 level, which has seen him find the net with regularity this season, is perhaps the best he has played for the club.

He says: “Yes, probably. I’m more confident on the ball and taking more chances.”
While many of his colleagues at U16 level face an anxious wait to see whether they will be offered scholarship contracts for next season, Smith-Rowe, such is his stellar reputation, seems very likely to be offered a deal to extend his stay at Arsenal.

The hard-working youngster gained some valuable experience of playing at U18 level last season as he featured in defeats against Newcastle United and Fulham towards the end of the campaign.

The step up in quality was considerable, but Smith-Rowe believes that he has benefitted from the experience. “(It was) a big step, it’s harder as the pace of the game was much faster. However I felt like I got more of the ball.”

An exciting player to watch, Smith-Rowe describes his best qualities as: “dribbling, crossing, passing, assists and being a team player.”

Smith-Rowe will soon link up with England at U16 level for the Nike Cup in Florida, as part of which the young Lions will face their counterparts from the United States, Brazil and the Netherlands early next month.

The 15-year-old is eagerly anticipating the experience and believes that playing against different sides will help to improve his game even further.

“For sure, the different styles of play and different formations help me identify the different jobs required.”

After the competition in Florida is over, Smith-Rowe will return to Arsenal and will hopefully feature again for the U18s before the season’s denouement.

The youngster, who identifies Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as the first-team players he is most similar to in style, has made some significant strides of late, but there is much more to come from a player who had the privilege of heralding a new era for Arsenal U18s.

Arsenal offer Aaron Eyoma professional contract

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Arsenal have offered young winger Aaron Eyoma a professional deal at the club.

The 18-year-old, who can also play at right-back, is in the final year of his scholarship contract and the club are keen to retain his services.

A product of Arsenal’s Hale End academy who was highly regarded as a schoolboy, Eyoma, a quick and powerful player, has mainly featured for the U18s this season, but has also been involved with the U21 and UEFA Youth League squads.

Marc Bola, who has established himself as the club’s first-choice left-back at U21 level, is also expected to be offered a professional contract.

Meanwhile, midfielder Savvas Mourgos faces a battle to prolong his Arsenal career, whilst left-back Ilias Chatzitheodoridis is in danger of being released when his contract expires at the end of June.

Report: Willock impresses again as Arsenal U19s are beaten in UEFA Youth League

UEFA Youth League

Arsenal 1 (Mavididi) Dinamo Zagreb 2

By Jeorge Bird at Meadow Park

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Arsenal U19s fell to their first defeat in the UEFA Youth League this season as they were beaten 2-1 by their Dinamo Zagreb counterparts at Meadow Park this afternoon.

Andries Jonker’s side were impressive in the opening period but were made to pay for some sluggish defending in the second half and finished the game empty handed despite substitute Stephy Mavididi reducing the deficit after he converted from Chris Willock’s cross.

There was further bad news for the young Gunners as Kaylen Hinds suffered an injury in the first-half which led to him leaving the ground on crutches.

However, Jonker’s team are still on course to qualify for the Last 16 stage of the competition going into their final group game away to Olympiacos.

Jonker shuffled his pack for this game. Deprived of the services of Jeff Reine-Adelaide (who is likely to be with the first-team again tonight) and Dan Crowley, the Dutchman named a much-changed line-up, with Ben Sheaf, Mavididi, Ismael Bennacer and Krystian Bielik all left on the bench.

First-years Marcus Agyei-Tabi and Donyell Malen were both given starts, whilst Alex Iwobi, rather strangely, was again deployed in a deep-lying midfield position.


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Agyei Tabi-Iwobi

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Subs: Robinson (for Hinds, 19), Bennacer (for Agyei-Tabi, 66), Mavididi (for Nelson, 73). Not used: Huddart, Bielik, Sheaf, Fortune.

Arsenal, who went into this fixture having taken ten points from their first four group games, started slowly, with Iwobi squandering possession, enabling Zagreb to have the first effort of the game, which saw a shot sail over Hugo Keto’s crossbar.

Arsenal responded with Willock, who was a threat all afternoon, shooting over himself, but it wasn’t long before Zagreb carved out another opportunity, with the young Gunners being caught out down their left flank, leading to the opposition sending a header over.

Eventually Arsenal started to assert themselves on proceedings and they really should have opened the scoring when a precise lofted through-ball from Agyei-Tabi found Malen, who shot wide when well placed.

Arsenal then lost Hinds to injury, with Tyrell Robinson entering the fray, but their attacking momentum remained very much intact.

Iwobi came close to scoring on three occasions in quick succession, but at the other end there was a nervous moment when Stefan O’Connor, on a rare start, mis-kicked the ball, although thankfully Keto was on hand to gather.

Reiss Nelson, the youngest player in the Arsenal side, was starting to become increasingly influential, with the England youth international finding Agyei-Tabi, who shot just wide from distance.

Robinson then sent an effort wide of the target, but it was Zagreb who ended the half in the ascendancy, with Josip Brekalo coming close to scoring.

Malen had Arsenal’s first opportunity of the second half as the Dutch forward did well to create space for himself before seeing his shot saved.

However, Zagreb had threatened on the counter-attack on several occasions earlier in the game and they finally got their reward when a neat move culminated in Brekalo sending the ball beyond the reach of Keto.

O’Connor then made an important block to prevent the visitors from inflicting further damage, but Zagreb continued to threaten, with Arsenal right-back Aaron Eyoma struggling to cope.

Further inept defending from Arsenal enabled Amer Gojak to double Zagreb’s advantage with a neat finish.

The introduction of Bennacer improved the tempo of Arsenal’s game, but it was another substitute, Mavididi, who would make a more telling contribution.

The striker showed impressive awareness to finish well after he was located in the penalty area by the ever-dangerous Willock.

Willock, who trained with the first-team yesterday, continued to threaten in the latter stages as Arsenal sought an equaliser that would have rubber-stamped their progression to the Last 16.

However, despite there being five minutes of added time and goalkeeper Keto joining the attacking movement, Arsenal were unable to find a second goal.

Arsenal’s place in the Last 16 is almost secure, and, given their superior goal difference, it would take something remarkable for them to fail to progress.

Today’s performance wasn’t entirely convincing, particularly in a defensive sense, but, as was the case in the U21 game against Stoke City on Friday, the performance of Willock stood out in adversity.