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Nketiah hits hat-trick as Arsenal U18s draw 3-3 with Tottenham in De Kat’s final game

U18 Premier League

Arsenal 3 Tottenham Hotspur 3

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Nathan Tella (Image: Tottenham Hotspur)

This was Frans De Kat’s final game in charge of Arsenal U18s before he takes up a position with the Dutch FA, and what unfolded really couldn’t have been a more accurate representation of his tenure as a whole.

Arsenal were hugely impressive going forwards, with forward Edward Nketiah scoring a hat-trick to take his tally for the campaign to 24 goals at this level, but the young Gunners struggled in a defensive sense, with Jordi Osei-Tutu and Kristopher Da Graca both scoring own goals, which, in addition to a Aramdie Oteh strike, ensured that the game finished 3-3.

This was chaotic, breathless stuff, but when the dust settles this campaign will be remembered primarily for the brilliance of Nketiah, who, it appears, will end the season top of the scoring charts in the U18 Premier League.

The forward put Arsenal into the lead on this occasion with an astute finish, but it wasn’t long before Tottenham equalised when Osei-Tutu, who has endured a difficult first season at the club, inadvertently turned the ball into his own net.

Arsenal seized control thereafter, with Nketiah scoring twice from difficult angles to put De Kat’s side in the ascendancy.

For a while it seemed that Arsenal would cruise to victory, but Tottenham didn’t give up easily and reduced the deficit through Oteh before Da Graca, on his final appearance at this level, scored an own goal with just eight minutes remaining.

The game finished 3-3, and the season is now over for Arsenal  U18s, with the focus switching to the U21s’ attempts to secure qualification for the top tier via the play-offs.

Goalkeeper Okonkwo earns call-up and Nketiah tops scoring charts as Arsenal U18s beat Sunderland

It wasn’t common knowledge at the time, but Arsenal U18s’ 4-1 victory over Sunderland last weekend was Frans De Kat’s final away game in charge of the young Gunners.

There have certainly been some mixed results during the Dutchman’s two seasons at the helm, and the triumph in the North East was perhaps a typical Arsenal youth display as it contained some woeful defending and some scintillating attacking moves.

De Kat made several changes from the previous fixture and gave a first call-up at this level to U15s goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo.

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Subs: Okonkwo, Mourgos, Nelson, J. Willock.

Sunderland took the lead in the 15th minute, with hesitant defending from Kristopher Da Graca providing Joel Asoro with too much time in the penalty area.

Arsenal sought to respond, with Joshua DaSilva doing well to find Edward Nketiah, who, operating in a slightly withdrawn position, could only find the side-netting.

The forward was back to his prolific best shortly afterwards when he latched onto Vlad Dragomir’s ball in and found the net for the 20th time this season.

Nketiah then found the net again to put Arsenal in the lead and also put himself in the lead with regards to the U18 Premier League goalscoring charts. On this occasion the forward applied the finishing touch to a neat move that also involved Donyell Malen and captain Aaron Eyoma.

Substitute Reiss Nelson, who according to reports was dropped from the starting line-up after his mobile phone rang in a pre-match meeting, made it 3-1 after being found by Joe Willock, with Malen then adding further gloss to the scoreline with an astute finish.

Arsenal conclude their campaign this weekend with a game at home to Tottenham Hotspur, and will be eager to exact revenge on their rivals after suffering a 4-0 defeat in February.

 

De Kat to leave but who will replace him as Arsenal’s U18 coach?

Frans De Kat will step down as coach of Arsenal U18s at the conclusion of the current campaign, with the 51-year-old poised to take up a position with the Dutch football association.

De Kat’s tenure hasn’t exactly been positive in terms of results- Arsenal finished bottom of the lowest section of the U18 Premier League last season- but he has helped to nurture some impressive prospects over the past couple of years.

Arsenal U18s, then, find themselves on the lookout for yet another coach, and here is an assessment of some of the potential candidates to fill the position.

KWAME AMPADU

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Perhaps the logical choice as De Kat’s successor, Ampadu is the current coach of Arsenal’s U16 side, so he inevitably is hugely familiar with the players who will make up the core of the club’s U18 squad next season.

Ampadu has a strong association with Arsenal having featured for the club at youth level as a player before making two senior appearances.

JAN VAN LOON

Another Dutch coach, van Loon joined Arsenal alongside De Kat and has shared U16 coaching duties with Ampadu.

Van Loon has previously worked for the Dutch Football Association and PSV Eindhoven.

THIERRY HENRY

The club’s record goalscorer has been a regular presence at U18 matches this season, helping to provide Arsenal’s youngsters with advice.

With his UEFA A Licence now obtained, Henry is permitted to coach at academy level, but it seems more likely that he will be an assistant coach for the U18s next season as opposed to taking on the main position. 

RYAN GARRY

Another former Arsenal player- indeed an academy product himself- Garry is the current coach of the club’s U13 side, while he also oversaw some U19 training sessions alongside Henry this campaign.

Perhaps stepping up to the U18s next season would be a step too soon for Garry, but he may well be under consideration for the position.

MIKEL ARTETA

Arsenal’s captain is out of contract at the conclusion of the current campaign and has been linked with coaching posts at Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. The 34-year-old has played for Arsenal’s U21 side and is familiar with the club’s youth setup, so could be tempted to remain with the Gunners in a coaching capacity.

CARL LARAMAN

Laraman previously coached Arsenal U18s before stepping up to assist Steve Gatting at U21 level. There is a possibility that he could revert back to his former position given his familiarity with the club’s youngsters.

 

Dragomir signs professional deal but best is yet to come 

Arsenal have confirmed that midfielder Vlad Dragomir has signed his first professional contract with the club. 

A Romanian youth international who joined the club last summer, Dragomir’s first campaign at Arsenal has been rather stop-start in nature, with the prospect having missed several games through injury. 

When he has been fit the 17-year-old has shown some tantalising glimpses of his ability- he is adept at playing long, sweeping passes. 

However, there is a feeling that the best is yet to come from Dragomir. He has featured exclusively at U18 level and is yet to make the step up to the U21s, and perhaps needs to become a little stronger physically in order to cope with the demands of second-string football. 

It is clear, though, that, despite his weaknesses, Dragomir is a very exciting talent for the future; indeed he has already trained with the first-team squad. 

Dragomir will hope to feature when Arsenal U18s conclude their campaign with a home game against rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. 

Loan report- Sanogo suffers injury; Zelalem lifts Scottish Championship trophy

  
Chuba Akpom started and was substituted in second half stoppage time as Hull City drew 2-2 with Leeds United. Isaac Hayden was an unused substitute. 

Gedion Zelalem played the whole game as Rangers drew 1-1 with Alloa. Rangers were presented with the Scottish Championship trophy after the game. 

Yaya Sanogo was introduced as a substitute in the 63rd minute of Charlton Athletic’s 3-1 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion, but had to be substituted in the 84th minute because of injury. 

Wojciech Szczesny is expected to feature when Roma face Napoli tomorrow. 

Emiliano Martinez was an unused substitute as Wolverhampton Wanderers drew 0-0 with Rotherham United.  

Glen Kamara was an unused substitute as Southend United lost 4-1 to Wigan Athletic. 

Wellington didn’t feature as Bolton Wanderers lost 2-1 to Cardiff City. 

Jon Toral missed out through injury as Birmingham City drew 1-1 with Huddersfield Town. 

Ainsley Maitland-Niles wasn’t involved as Ipswich Town drew 0-0 with Middlesbrough. 

Mathieu Debuchy’s Bordeaux weren’t in action this weekend. 

Wenger: Cazorla and Oxlade-Chamberlain could feature in U21 play-off

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed that first-team players Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could feature for the club’s U21 side in their upcoming play-off semi-final against Blackburn Rovers.

Cazorla and Oxlade-Chamberlain are closing in on their respective returns from injury, but time is running out for the pair to feature for the first-team before the conclusion of the campaign.

They could, however, be involved as overage players in the U21 game against Blackburn at Emirates Stadium on May 3rd as the youngsters seek to edge closer to the top tier of second string football.

Wenger told Arsenal.com: “They are not ready yet and I haven’t decided yet, but there are not many games left. We still have games in the under-21s, I can put them in the play-off games [if they are available].”

Several first-team players have featured for the U21s this season, with Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck, Calum Chambers, Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky, Serge Gnabry and Alex Iwobi all being called upon for Steve Gatting’s side.