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Which youngsters could leave Arsenal this summer?

Image: Arsenal Mania

(Image: Arsenal Mania) Austin Lipman could leave Arsenal this summer.

There are still some key issues to be addressed for Arsenal at youth level this season, with the U21s seeking to earn promotion back to the top tier, whilst the U18s will hope to avoid the ignominy of finishing bottom of the lowest section for their age group.

Soon after the campaign is over, however, there will, as has become customary at this time of year, be an announcement regarding which of the club’s youngsters will be let go this summer.

As ever, there are some prominent candidates for departure. Semi Ajayi, for instance, has already been informed that he is set to leave when his contract expires at the end of June. The imposing centre-back is currently on loan at Cardiff City but is yet to represent the Championship side at first-team level and is likely to be on the lookout for a new club in the near future.

Another loanee who could find his Arsenal future under threat, but for rather different reasons, is goalkeeper Josh Vickers. The Hale End product has impressed on loan at non-league side Concord Rangers this season, adding to the valuable experience he gained at Canvey Island last campaign. However, with fellow shot-stopper Deyan Iliev having recently signed a new long-term contract with the club, Vickers’ chances of making the grade at Arsenal have been hurt somewhat, despite his considerable talent.

Perhaps the most high-profile young Gunner who is out of contract this summer is midfielder Jon Toral. The Spaniard, who has been an Arsenal player for nearly four years, has provided some tantalising glimpses of his undoubted potential whilst on loan at Brenford this season, but he hasn’t been a regular for the Championship side, and, at the age of 20, he will be looking for first-team opportunities as soon as possible.

The likely option is that Toral will be offered a new one-year deal ahead of another possible loan spell next season, but he will find it difficult to make it in the long term at Arsenal with several midfielders ahead of him.

That is a problem that also faces Jack Jebb, a player who clearly has talent but has seen his progress hampered by several injuries of late. Jebb, who once drew comparisons to Jack Wilshere, is currently on loan at League Two side Stevenage, but it remains to be seen whether he will be offered a new deal at Arsenal.

Austin Lipman, a player who progressed steadily through the ranks at the club’s Hale End academy, is likely to be let go. The hard-working striker spent time on loan at Boreham Wood earlier in the campaign but, despite a goalscoring return against Newcastle United, has recently lost his place in the U21 squad to first-year forward Stephy Mavididi and could see his time at the club come to an end. Lipman represented Charlton Athletic at U21 level this week in their game against Brentford.

Left-back Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, another who has struggled with injuries this campaign, also finds himself out of contract. However, despite persistent concerns about his positioning, the former England youth international should recieve a new short-term deal ahead of a maiden loan spell next season.

Finally, it appears that the club have already made up their minds regarding the two remaining second-year scholars- Renny Smith and Elliot Wright.

Smith, a versatile Austrian youth international, has been told that he is likely to leave and recently spent time on trial with Charlton, whilst defender Wright, who has been with the club for many years, is also set to be released.

In summary, it seems likely that Ajayi, Vickers, Lipman, Smith and Wright will all leave, with uncertainty over the future of Jebb, whilst Toral and Ormonde-Ottewill should be granted extended stays.

Wellington Silva, who finally received his Spanish passport this week, is set to return to the club this summer and link up, initially at least, with the first-team squad.

If all of the above changes take place, then Arsenal’s U21 squad could look something like this next season:

Macey

Iliev

Huddart

Keto

                          Moore- Hayden*– O’Connor-Ormonde Ottewill 

          Johnson-Pleguezuelo-Dobson-M. Bola

                                                                          Chatzitheodoridis

            Bielik*-Maitland Niles

Kamara-Sheaf

 Donovan

    Toral-Zelalem*-Crowley

Iwobi-Jebb-C. Willock

                Eyoma-Mourgos-Robinson

Akpom*

Mavididi

Hinds

*= already member of first-team squad

Players in italics are likely to go on loan at some point next season

Hector Bellerin, Calum Chambers and Serge Gnabry will still be classed as U21 players next season but are likely to be with the first-team squad.

U21s report- Wilshere impresses but Arsenal U21s lose to Reading

U21 Premier League

Arsenal 0 Reading 1 (Keown 8)

By Jeorge Bird @Emirates Stadium

Screen shot 2015-04-13 at 22.37.15

Under-21 games are supposed to showcase the future of Arsenal, but tonight it was a name from the club’s illustrious past that proved to be the undoing of the young Gunners.

Playing against a spirited Reading side, Arsenal fell behind to an eighth minute goal from Niall Keown- son of Arsenal legend Martin- and failed to stage a comeback despite creating numerous opportunities in the second-half.

Jack Wilshere, who played the majority of the game, was impressive and at the heart of many of Arsenal’s attacking moves, but fellow first-team players Abou Diaby and Serge Gnabry weren’t at their sharpest, whilst the Gunners’ defending left a lot to be desired at times, with full-backs Julio Pleguezuelo and Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill often caught out of position (the former, admittedly, is much more at home at the heart of the defence).

This result, against a Reading side that was already above them in the table going into the match, puts a dent in Arsenal’s hopes of earning promotion to the top tier of U21 football, but from a first-team perspective, Wilshere’s display was encouraging.

Mikel Arteta wasn’t involved on this occasion, with Wilshere operating in a deeper midfield position alongside Diaby. Ainsley Maitland-Niles was deployed further forwards but soon interchanged with Gnabry, who moved into the middle. Elsewhere, Matt Macey replaced Deyan Iliev in goal.

Macey

Pleguezuelo-O’Connor-Bielik-Ormonde Ottewill

Diaby-Wilshere

Maitland Niles-Gnabry-Crowley

Iwobi

Subs: Dobson (for Bielik, 54), Mavididi (for Diaby, 56), Kamara (for Wilshere, 88). Not used: Iliev, Zelalem.

Arsenal were impressive in their dispatch of Stoke City last week and they started confidently here, with Diaby playing a neat pass into the path of Ormonde-Ottewill, who in turn found Dan Crowley, but the diminutive youngster shot over.

Reading scored with their first attack, with Keown rising highest above the Arsenal defenders to direct his header beyond the reach of Macey. Crowley complained that the corner shouldn’t have been awarded in the first place, but the youngsters failed to deal with the set-piece and were made to pay in emphatic fashion.

Arsenal nearly mounted an instant response, with Crowley’s pass just eluding Gnabry, but, as the game started to open up, Reading also came close after Pleguezuelo lost his footing, but Macey was on hand to avert the danger.

Alex Iwobi, who was so impressive against Stoke, then tried to work an angle for himself but his effort lacked conviction, with Crowley’s pass subsequently teeing up Maitland-Niles, who could only find the side-netting.

Reading provided the occasional threat, but Arsenal were seeing more of the ball. The problem was that the Gunners weren’t effective enough when presented with shooting opportunities. Krystian Bielik dribbled forwards and found Gnabry with a superb pass, but the German blazed his effort over the crossbar, with Maitland-Niles, whose form has dipped a little of late, then squandering a presentable opportunity.

Gnabry then shot over again before coming a little closer with a more measured strike and Arsenal were unfortunate not to equalise before the break when Wilshere embarked on a mazy dribble through the Reading defence but saw his effort parried for a corner.

Arsenal created a greater number of chances in the second period, but their finishing still lacked conviction. Iwobi had a shot saved following an intelligent flick from Wilshere, but Arsenal were forced to re-group after Bielik suffered an injury and had to be replaced by George Dobson.

Stephy Mavididi, who scored against Stoke, then replaced Diaby, but the striker failed to make a good connection from a Crowley free-kick.

Wilshere sought to take the game by the scruff of the neck, with the 23-year-old exchanging passes with Crowley before being denied by a well-timed sliding challenge.

Crowley then caused consternation in the Reading defence with a run of his own which led to him finding Mavididi, but the latter’s effort again lacked conviction.

Crowley sent a fierce effort over as Arsenal upped the ante considerably, but still a goal continued to elude the young Gunners.

Reading, organised by the excellent Aaron Kuhl, continued to hold firm despite the incessant Arsenal pressure. Maitland-Niles and Wilshere both came close to scoring in the closing stages, but it was Reading, despite the strength of Arsenal’s side, who emerged victorious.

This was something of a coming back down to earth moment for Arsenal’s U21s after the euphoria of last week’s win over Stoke. Although they enjoyed much possession, there was a severe lack of movement on many occasions, with the requisite runs into space often not being made.

Wilshere’s display, as he linked play effectively, was encouraging, but not too many of the youngsters stood out. Crowley tried his utmost, but at times Reading found it far too simple to exploit Arsenal’s defence.

Quite how many first-team players will remain with the U21 squad for next week’s trip to face Middlesbrough remains to be seen, but Arsenal’s youngsters can’t afford too many more results like this if they want to test themselves against the elite academy sides next season.

Arsenal U18s analysis- Mixed fortunes for Chatzitheodoridis

Screen shot 2015-04-13 at 13.44.19

It is fair to say that Ilias Chatzitheodoridis has struggled at times defensively since joining Arsenal last summer.

The Greek youngster, who is usually deployed at left-back, has frequently found himself caught out of position when representing the U18s campaign, and on Saturday those tendencies were again in evidence during a 2-1 defeat to Bolton Wanderers.

It should be noted, however, that Chatzitheodoridis was operating on the other side of defence on this occasion and, whilst he has much to work in a defensive sense, he was perhaps Arsenal’s most significant threat going forwards.

Arsenal started the game in the ascendancy, with Chris Willock doing well to win possession before embarking on a mazy run that culminated in him hitting the post.

It was Bolton, though, who would take the lead, with disappointing defending from Chatzitheodoridis enabling the hosts to work an opening and Tyrell Palmer finding the net to make it 1-0.

Bolton made it 2-0 shortly afterwards. Ennock Likoy-Elumba was the creator-in-chief on this occasion, with his cross finding Ryan White, who scored with the aid of a deflection.

The game could have effectively been over just moments later, but on this occasion Likoy-Elumba’s effort struck the crossbar as Arsenal’s defenders again demonstrated their inability to deal with dangerous crosses.

Chatzitheodoridis, however, went some way towards making amends in an attacking sense as he cut inside cleverly before sending a sublime effort into the far corner of the net.

The second-half was less eventful, but two good saves from Hugo Keto to deny substitute Tyler Garratt kept Arsenal in with a chance of snatching a draw late on.

They very nearly took full advantage of the opportunity, with Chatzitheodoridis seeing his effort clip the crossbar in the last meaningful action of the game.

Afterwards coach Frans De Kat, a little worryingly, expressed his concerns with the players failing to follow his tactical instructions.

Gedion Zelalem captained the side but, despite his relative seniority in comparison to most of the other players on show, the midfielder failed to have much influence on proceedings.

Arsenal’s inconsistent set of results at this level continues. De Kat’s side have three games remaining this campaign- against Newcastle United, Southampton and Fulham.

Loan report- Wellington impresses; Akpom’s goal search goes on

Chuba Akpom‘s search for his first professional goal continued, with the striker failing to find the net in Nottingham Forest’s 1-0 defeat to Huddersfield Town. The England U20 international missed a couple of chances. Wellington played the whole game as Almeria were given hope in their battle to beat the drop by beating Granada 3-0. The Brazilian came close to scoring twice in quick succession as he impressed on the right wing.

Carl Jenkinson played the entirety of West Ham United’s 1-1 draw with Stoke City. Victor Moses almost scored for the visitors with a shot that deflected off the right-back.

Yaya Sanogo replaced hat-trick hero Yannick Bolasie for the final 19 minutes of Crystal Palace’s 4-1 victory over Sunderland.

Emiliano Martinez couldn’t prevent Rotherham United from losing 2-0 to Middlesbrough, but the Argentinean did save Patrick Bamford’s penalty late on.

Jon Toral was introduced for the final four minutes as Brentford conceded a late goal and eventually drew 1-1 with Derby County.

Josh Vickers kept a clean sheet as Concord Rangers beat Staines Town 2-0.

Lukas Podolski was an un-used substitute as Inter Milan beat Hellas Verona 3-0.

Joel Campbell was an un-used substitute as Villarreal drew 1-1 with Getafe.

Ryo wasn’t involved in Twente’s 3-1 thrashing of Go Ahead Eagles.

Jack Jebb missed Stevenage’s 2-1 win over Northampton because of injury.

Semi Ajayi wasn’t part of the Cardiff City side that drew 1-1 with Leeds United.

Zelalem features as Arsenal U18s lose to Bolton

U18 Premier League- Play-offs

Bolton Wanderers 2 Arsenal 1

Gedion Zelalem dropped down to U18 level, but the midfielder was unable to prevent Arsenal’s youngsters from suffering a 2-1 defeat away to Bolton Wanderers this morning as their inconsistent set of performances continued.

Ilias Chatzitheodoridis scored his first goal for the club, but it proved to be in vain as Frans De Kat’s team fell to their second defeat in this play-off section.

Zelalem was an un-used substitute for the U21s last week and his inclusion in this game indicates that he won’t be involved from the offset for the second-string against Reading on Monday, suggesting that Mikel Arteta and Abou Diaby could again be called upon for the game at Emirates Stadium.

Jonatas Centeno’s departure has left Arsenal short of right-backs at youth level, with Chatzitheodoridis, who normally operates on the other side of defence, filling in there today. Other changes saw Hugo Keto, Marc Bola, Tyrell Robinson and Chris Willock all come into the side, along with Zelalem.

Keto

Chatzitheodoridis-Da Graca-M. Bola-Robinson

Sheaf-Donovan

Mourgos-Zelalem-C. Willock

Da Silva

 subs: Phillips, T. Bola, Gilmour, Nketiah.

Arsenal’s next U18 fixture is away to Newcastle United next week.

Info via @AFCFixtureNews

What next for Alex Iwobi?

If any Arsenal supporters hadn’t previously heard of Alex Iwobi, his name would have been difficult to avoid this morning after the youngster’s hat-trick for the U21s against Stoke City served to enhance his reputation.

It wasn’t just the fact that Iwobi scored a hat-trick, but the manner in which he took all three of his goals was hugely impressive and lent credence to the claim that, despite being deployed mainly on the flanks during his formative years at the club, the 18-year-old could have a future as a central striker.

Following last night’s events, Iwobi now has six goals in 12 U21 games this season, which is a marked improvement on the previous campaign, when he failed to score in 11 appearances at that level.

A quick and skilful player, thoughts will now turn towards Iwobi’s future and, ultimately, his chances of making the grade in the long term at Arsenal. The latter question isn’t easily answerable, but we should have a much clearer picture of events once Iwobi embarks on his first loan spell, perhaps with a League One side, which will probably take place at some point next season.

Before then Iwobi will be seeking to continue his excellent form at U21 level. Chuba Akpom’s loan departure to Nottingham Forest has seen Iwobi ushered into a centre forward position and he has relished the chance that he has been given.

Iwobi could also make his first-team debut in the near future. The Hale End product has previously made the bench for the senior side in the Champions League and the Capital One Cup and has trained regularly with Arsene Wenger’s squad this campaign, which perhaps provides an explanation for why he was so at ease when playing with a selection of first-team players last night.

Having seen the likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Stefan O’Connor feature, albeit fleetingly, for the first-team, Iwobi will look to follow suit as soon as possible and, if he continues to perform like he did last night, he won’t have to wait too long for his opportunity.

Report- Iwobi hits hat-trick and Diaby impresses as Arsenal U21s beat Stoke

SkySports

SkySports

U21 Premier League 

Arsenal 4 (Iwobi 24, 42, 90, Mavididi 73) Stoke City 1 (Shenton 8)

By Jeorge Bird @Emirates Stadium

For a night that started so negatively for Arsenal U21s, with a mistake by goalkeeper Deyan Iliev allowing Ollie Shenton to open the scoring for Stoke City, by the end of the night’s events there were a multitude of positives to take away for the club as a whole.

Alex Iwobi enhanced his rapidly-growing reputation with a well-taken hat-trick that emphasised his key attributes of pace and skill, substitute Stephy Mavdidi struck his first goal at this level, Jack Wilshere and Serge Gnabry both completed 90 minutes, with the former more heavily involved in proceedings, club captain Mikel Arteta played an hour, Krystian Bielik was composed on his first appearance at Emirates Stadium and Julio Pleguezuelo returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines to play the last 18 minutes.

Above all that, though, perhaps the most significant aspect of the game was the performance of Abou Diaby, who was Arsenal’s best player for the 72 minutes that he was on the field. It isn’t currently clear whether Diaby, the club’s longest-serving player, will be offered a new deal, with his current contract expiring at the end of June.

The Frenchman’s performance this evening demonstrated just why so many Arsenal supporters yearn for him to be granted an extended stay. Diaby set up Iwobi’s second goal with a precise pass, but his all-round game was hugely impressive.

Whether he can replicate that at first-team level, and, crucially, whether he can stay fit for a lengthy period of time, is still questionable, but tonight Diaby showed that, for all the setbacks he has endured over the past few years, he can’t be discounted just yet.

As soon as it was announced that Diaby, Wilshere and Arteta would be starting the game, an Arsenal win was expected. Gnabry and Bielik were also involved from the offset, with the latter being deployed at centre-back. Ainsley Maitland-Niles started at right-back in the absence of Glen Kamara.

Iliev

Maitland Niles-O’Connor-Bielik-Ormonde Ottewill

Arteta-Diaby

Gnabry-Wilshere-Crowley

Iwobi

subs: Mavididi (for Arteta, 59). Pleguezuelo (for Diaby, 72). Not used: Zelalem, Dobson, Huddart.

Arsenal had the first opportunity of the game, with Diaby shooting over, but it was a moment of carelessness from Iliev that led to the young Gunners falling behind in the eight minute.

The Macedonian goalkeeper made a save but pushed the ball straight into the path of Shenton, who found the net from close range.

Arsenal immediately set about mounting a response, with Crowley seeing his audacious effort diverted for a corner. Wilshere was gradually beginning to assert himself on proceedings, with the England international coming close with a free-kick before producing a sublime piece of skill to work his way towards goal only for Daniel Gyollai to be equal to his effort.

An enterprising run from Diaby culminated in the midfielder being brought down in the area, but there were no claims for a penalty and, in truth, the award of a spot-kick would have been rather harsh on Stoke.

During last week’s friendly victory over Brentford Wilshere and Crowley exchanged some neat passes and the pair repeated the feat here, with their intricate move preceding an effort by Gnabry, who couldn’t get the better of Gyollai.

Arsenal were soon level, though, and, just as Stoke’s goal stemmed from an opposition mistake, so too did the Gunners’ first strike of the evening, with Iwobi capitalising on a slack pass before finishing well.

Wilshere and Gnabry continued to threaten thereafter, with Diaby then playing an intelligent pass into the path of Iwobi, whose powerful effort went just wide of the target.

The same two players combined as Arsenal went ahead just before the break, with Diaby’s precise ball being latched onto by Iwobi, who continued his excellent form with a fine finish.

Stoke had battled well, but never looked likely to recover once they were behind. Diaby’s showcase of his ability continued into the second-half, with a powerful surge down the right flank almost resulting in another goalscoring opportunity.

Iliev did well to keep out Charlie Ward’s free-kick at the other end, before Mavididi was introduced in place of Arteta. It was a good run-out for the Spaniard, but, despite the fact that he played some clever passes, he was beaten for pace a little too easily on some occasions.

Mavididi wasted little time in making it 3-0, with the striker, who was preferred to Austin Lipman for a place on the bench, lashing home after Crowley and Wilshere’s efforts were repelled.

Iwobi missed a chance to add further gloss to the scoreline when he shot wide following Gnabry’s astute dragback, but he made amends not long afterwards when he raced past the stranded Stoke defence and finished with aplomb.

There was still time for Mavididi to come close to adding another, but the damage had long since been done and, despite a shaky start, it turned out to be a very good night indeed for Arsenal.