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Loan report- Campbell scores; Ryo receives rare run out

Joel Campbell scored his first goal for Villarreal, and his first goal of the season at any level, as his temporary side beat Elche 1-0. Campbell, who was deployed on the left wing, scored with a header from close range and also created an opportunity for his team-mate Mario before being substituted in the 54th minute.

Carl Jenkinson played the whole game as West Ham United lost 1-0 to Aston Villa. On Friday Arsene Wenger said that he intends to keep the right-back at the club.

Wellington played the full 90 minutes as struggling Almeria lost 2-1 to Malaga.

Lukas Podolski was introduced at the start of the second-half as Inter Milan beat Lazio 2-1.

Ryo was introduced as an 81st minute substitute as Twente beat Dordecht 3-0.

Jon Toral was an un-used substitute as Brentford were beaten 2-1 by Middlesbrough in the first leg of their Championship play-off fixture.

Yaya Sanogo wasn’t involved as Crystal Palace lost 2-1 to Manchester United, whilst Jack Jebb wasn’t part of the Stevenage side that faced Southend United in the League Two play-offs.

Report- Arsenal U18s finish bottom of the league after being thrashed by Fulham

U18 Premier League- Tier 3

Fulham 5 Arsenal 1 (Donovan)

By Jeorge Bird @Motspur Park

Arsenal U18s concluded what has been another torturous season in terms of results by suffering one final indignation today as they were thrashed 5-1 by Fulham at Motspur Park. The result means that Frans De Kat’s side will finish bottom of the third tier of the U18 Premier League having won just one out of their seven play-off fixtures.

The damage could have been even greater for Arsenal had goalkeeper Hugo Keto not made an impressive penalty save early on. The Gunners, you may be surprised to learn, actually took the lead through Harry Donovan, but they soon found themselves unable to cope with Fulham’s sustained attacking pressure.

There were three changes to the side that lost to Southampton last week, with Keto, Marc Bola and Chiori Johnson all coming into the side, the latter making his first appearance since January after recovering from injury. Once again De Kat fielded an inexperienced side in an attacking sense, with the entire front four being schoolboys.

Keto

Johnson-Wright-M. Bola-Chatzitheodoridis

Donovan-Mourgos

Tella-Nelson-Nketiah

Da Silva

Subs: Da Graca (for Johnson), Gilmour (for Donovan), Smith-Rowe (for Da Silva). Not used: Burton, Keto. 

Arsenal won 3-2 here earlier in the campaign, but today Fulham looked on top from the offset, with their tricky winger Ravin Shamsi causing some problems for the young Gunners’ defence early on.

Luca De La Torre then shot over as Fulham upped the ante, but Arsenal mounted something of a response, with Edward Nketiah shooting wide after he was found by Reiss Nelson, who was again deployed as a central attacking midfielder. Nketiah then returned the favour for Nelson, but the England U16 international could only shoot over.

Fulham were then presented with an inviting opportunity to take the lead when they were awarded a penalty following a foul by Ilias Chatzitheodoridis in the area. Keto was prepared, however, with the Finnish goalkeeper making an instinctive stop to keep the scores level.

That save appeared to provide Arsenal with a much-needed injection of confidence that they could take into their attacking endeavours. Nelson saw his free-kick tipped wide, with a long, searching pass from Bola then finding Savvas Mourgos, who was offside.

Johnson had to be alert at the other end to make an excellent recovery challenge to prevent Fulham from taking the lead and, not long afterwards, it was Arsenal who opened the scoring, with Donovan finding the net for the second game in succession after he pounced upon a weak clearance from Fulham goalkeeper Magnus Norman and finished from close range.

Arsenal were in buoyant mood, but the lead didn’t last very long at all, with Shamsi getting the better of Keto with a wonderfully struck free-kick to make it 1-1.

Arsenal looked to regain the lead imminently, with Mourgos seeing a free-kick saved, but matters quickly turned from bad to worse when Fulham were awarded another spot-kick following an incident involving Keto and Bola.

Keto, remarkably, again managed to prevent Fulham from scoring the penalty, but this time the goalkeeper was powerless to stop Isaac Pearce from scoring the re-bound.

Fulham went into the break in the ascendancy, and their cause for victory was strengthened further when Arsenal made a double change at the start of the second-half, with Kristopher Da Graca and Charlie Gilmour replacing Johnson and Donovan.

The changes had an adverse effect on Arsenal, with Da Graca appearing uncomfortable throughout and Gilmour not providing sufficient protection to the back four.

Keto had to do well to parry a teasing cross from Shamsi, with Pearce later sending a venomous effort over the crossbar as Fulham provided an indication of their attacking capabilities.

Fulham were, by now, playing with much confidence, but the way in which Arsenal’s defence was carved apart for the hosts’ third goal was alarming and, unfortunately, not too surprising given that many incidents of a similar ilk have occurred this season.

De La Torre slipped a neat pass into the path of striker Aaron Redford, who finished adroitly past Keto, but Arsenal’s newly-established central-defensive partnership of Da Graca and Bola had been culpable in the build-up to the goal.

Arsenal struggled to get most of their attacking players into the game, with wingers Nathan Tella and Nketiah often being crowded out and Josh Da Silva starved of service up front. When Arsenal did create chances, Mourgos and Nelson were usually involved and both players had efforts saved, with Nelson then seeing a penalty appeal turned down.

By this point there appeared to be no way back for Arsenal and so it proved as Fulham continued to attack at will. Keto had to make an intelligent save after a long ball over the top unlocked the Gunners’ defence, with Chatzitheodoridis then sending an effort over his own crossbar as he panicked when dealing with a cross.

Fulham’s fourth goal was calamitous from Arsenal’s perspective, with a lack of communication between Keto and Gilmour allowing the hosts to score with a simple strike.

Emile Smith-Rowe, a youngster who offers some hope for the future in these troubled times for the academy, was then introduced, but the pattern of the game had long since been established and the only question now was just how many goals Fulham would score.

In the end, it was Arsenal who would score Fulham’s fifth goal for them, with Bola inadvertently heading the ball past Keto to make it 5-1 and rather sum up yet another abject day for De Kat’s side.

Yes, development takes precedence over results at youth level, but how can Arsenal lay claim to having anything approaching the best academy in the country when scorelines such as this are hardly a freak occurrence?

The campaign started so well for Arsenal, with emphatic victories over Brighton & Hove Albion and Chelsea, but many of the results and indeed performances since then have been nothing short of abysmal.

Played 29, Won 7, Drawn 6, Lost 16- Arsenal’s overall record at U18 level this season hardly makes for good reading, even when it is taken into account that many of the older players have been pushed into the U21s. If you look at the team that played today, however, only two or three of them, even at this early stage, can be considered to have any realistic chance of becoming a regular for the first team.

Changes need to happen, but that said the situation now under Andries Jonker doesn’t look any better than it was before his arrival. He should be given time to make alterations, but right now there really isn’t much to be optimistic about with regards to the club’s academy.

U21s report- Iwobi scores and Gnabry features as Arsenal U21s beat Brighton

U21 Premier League- Division 2

Arsenal 1 (Iwobi) Brighton & Hove Albion 0

By Jeorge Bird @Meadow Park

Serge Gnabry played the whole game as Arsenal U21s ended their frustrating recent run of form with a hard-earned victory at home to Brighton & Hove Albion this afternoon. The win was secured courtesy of a goal from Alex Iwobi, his eighth strike at this level this season, with the youngster applying the finishing touch to an intricate team move.

Arsenal’s performance was notable for an improvement in their defensive work, with the back four defending competently as a unit, which hadn’t been the case in previous games. Brighton, whose own defence was marshalled by former Arsenal youngster Tom Dallison, put up a commendable fight in the first half, but Arsenal took the initiative in the second period and eventually ran out deserved winners.

Gnabry’s return saw Iwobi move into the central striking position vacated by Stephy Mavididi, who is away at the U17 European Championships. Meanwhile, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who has been the subject of much media attention in the past week, started after recovering from injury.

Macey

Pleguezuelo-O’Connor-Dobson-Ormonde Ottewill

Bielik-Maitland Niles

Zelalem-Crowley-Gnabry

Iwobi

Subs: Kamara (for Pleguezuelo), Robinson (for Zelalem). Not used: M. Bola, Lipman, Huddart. 

This was a chance to start afresh for the young Gunners, after last week’s defeat away to West Bromwich Albion condemned them to another season of second-tier U21 football.

In that respect, the pressure was reduced somewhat, but this proved to be a much tougher test for Arsenal than the reverse fixture, when they ran out 4-0 winners earlier in the season.

It was Brighton, perhaps with revenge in mind, who started brightest, with Jesse Starkey shooting wide. At the other end Dallison did well to head away Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill’s teasing cross.

The opening stages lacked much in the way of fluency, with both sides struggling to carve out clear cut chances. When the opportunities did arrive, the finishing touch was often lacking. In one instance Iwobi played a precise ball through to Maitland-Niles but the ball was cleared against the midfielder and into the arms of Brighton goalkeeper Harry Doherty.

Arsenal, despite the array of creative talent that they had on show, took some time to get into the game and, mirroring a criticism that has often been levelled at the first-team, they could be accused of being a little over-elaborate in front of goal.

Krystian Bielik did well to control the ball, but Gnabry’s subsequent cross lacked conviction, with the German still some way from full sharpness.

Gnabry fared a little better with his next involvement in the game as he sent a fierce shot over the crossbar after he was located by Julio Pleguezuelo. With the game beginning to open up just a little, Gedion Zelalem then played a defence-splitting pass into the path of the on-rushing Maitland-Niles, whose effort was diverted for a corner by Doherty.

Arsenal began to create chances with greater regularity as the half wore on. First Stefan O’Connor, as he likes to do, drove forward from the back, with the defender finding Crowley, who shot over. Then Bielik had an effort saved from close range when he perhaps should have done a little better.

By now Brighton’s threat was more sporadic, but Daniel Akindayini still brought a comfortable save out of Macey, Just moments later the goalkeeper made a rare misjudgement when attempting to deal with Charlie Harris’ cross, but he was grateful not to be punished as Brighton failed to find the net.

A powerful shot from Crowley forced Doherty to concede a corner, with Iwobi later finding Gnabry, who shot wide. Brighton had the final opportunity of the half, with Dallison seeing his header cleared off the line by the alert Maitland-Niles but Arsenal raced out of the traps in the second half and were duly rewarded.

The goal wasn’t in keeping with much of what had gone before it. Rather than passing the ball around almost bewilderingly slowly, as they had done at times, on this occasion Arsenal were determined to pass very quickly. The neat move saw Gnabry and Zelalem heavily involved, with the ball eventually falling to Iwobi, who finished adroitly to continue his good recent form.

Brighton had a couple of half-chances thereafter, but Macey remained rather untroubled. On one occasion a lapse pass from Bielik led to a Brighton counter-attack, but Arsenal were quick to avert the danger.

Arsenal had a presentable chance to wrap up the game, with Crowley finding Ormonde-Ottewill, who delivered another excellent cross into the penalty area. However, on this occasion there was no recipient and the opportunity was wasted.

Steve Gatting, who made over 300 league appearances for Brighton as a player, then made a double change, with Glen Kamara and Tyrell Robinson entering the fray in place of Pleguezuelo and Zelalem.

Both players were called upon to aid Arsenal’s defensive effort in the closing stages as Brighton cranked up the pressure- with Jimmy Muitt, one of Brighton’s substitutes, shooting wide.

Gnabry squandered a good opportunity following more sterling work from Crowley, with Robinson then nearly reaching another splendid ball in from Ormonde-Ottewill.

Iwobi saw a shot deflected over in the dying stages and that proved to be the final meaningful action in a game that had been rather short of incident.

Arsenal certainly won’t mind, though, and they will merely be delighted to have returned to winning ways. Zelalem showed some encouraging signs, despite being deployed predominantly on the right flank, whilst the defence was impressive, with centre-backs O’Connor and George Dobson redeeming themselves following some indifferent performances recently.

The young Gunners have two games remaining this season, against Bolton Wanderers and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Loan report- Martinez concludes Rotherham spell with high praise

Image: Rotherham Examiner

Image: Rotherham Examiner

Emiliano Martinez made some impressive saves as his loan spell with Rotherham United came to a conclusion with a goalless draw against Leeds United. Martinez, who kept goal as Rotherham secured their Championship survival with a victory over Reading in midweek, was in fine form against Leeds, with the Argentinean doing well to keep out Liam Cooper’s header before later thwarting Rodolph Austin.

Martinez, who spent part of last season on loan at Sheffield Wednesday, will now return to Arsenal and Rotherham manager Steve Evans recently tipped the goalkeeper to have an incredibly bright future.

Evans said: “I think he’s been great for us. We’re going to be watching Emi on Match of the Day in six to eight months and then for a number of years as Arsenal’s number one. I know for a fact he has a couple of clubs in the top division in Spain wanting to take him on season-long loans. It wouldn’t surprise me then that if we’re not seeing him in the Premier League we’ll be seeing him against Barcelona and Real Madrid. That’s how well he’s regarded.”

Chuba Akpom was introduced as a second-half substitute as Nottingham Forest lost 2-1 to Cardiff City. Akpom missed a chance shortly after being brought on, with the striker later creating an opportunity for Jamie Paterson, which was squandered. Akpom is still looking for his first senior goal despite having now completed his third loan spell. Semi Ajayi was an un-used substitute for Cardiff.

Joel Campbell played the whole game up front as Villarreal drew 1-1 with Deportivo La Coruna.

Carl Jenkinson played the entirety of West Ham United’s 1-0 win over Burnley. The right-back provided some dangerous crosses.

Lukas Podolski was brought on in the 53rd minute of Inter Milan’s goalless draw with Chievo and was later booked.

Yaya Sanogo was introduced for the final 19 minutes as Crystal Palace lost 1-0 to Chelsea in the match that saw Jose Mourinho’s side crowned Premier League champions.

Jack Jebb played the whole game as Stevenage lost 2-0 to Luton Town. The midfielder will remain with Graham Westley’s side for their play-off fixtures against Southend United.

Ryo wasn’t involved as Twente lost 2-0 to AZ. However, the winger played the whole game for Jong FC Twente against Eindhoven on Friday.

Jon Toral was an un-used substitute as Brentford beat Wigan Athletic 3-0, a result that helped Mark Warburton’s team to secure their place in the play-offs, where they’ll face Middlesbrough.

Wellington‘s Almeria are in action against Celta Vigo tomorrow night.

Former Gunners inflict misery as Arsenal U18s lose to Southampton

U18 Premier League

Arsenal 1 (Donovan) Southampton 2 (Willard (2))

Zimbio.com Ryan Huddart, who kept goal for the U18s today, could be on the bench for the U21s against Brighton & Hove Albion on Monday, with Deyan Iliev suspended.

Zimbio.com
Ryan Huddart, who kept goal for the U18s today, could be on the bench for the U21s against Brighton & Hove Albion on Monday, with Deyan Iliev suspended.

Arsenal U18s fell to their third loss in succession as they were beaten by Southampton at London Colney today, with the disappointing nature of the defeat compounded by the fact that both of the visitors’ goals were scored by a Hale End Academy product in Harley Willard.

Arsenal were playing their first game at this level since the 6-0 defeat to Newcastle United a fortnight ago. There were several changes to the starting line-up, with Elliot Wright, who is set to be released when his scholarship deal expires next month, replacing Toby Omole at centre-back, whilst Harry Donovan, Savvas Mourgos and Nathan Tella also returned to the team.

Huddart

Eyoma-Da Graca-Wright-Chatzitheodoridis

Donovan-Mourgos

Tella-Nelson-Nketiah

Da Silva

Subs: Keto, Omole, Gilmour, J. Willock.

Southampton, who, in addition to Willard, also named fellow former Gunners Chris Regis and Olufela Olomola in their starting line-up, began the game brightly, with Callum Slattery and Stuart Wilkin both missing chances.

Their dominance was soon rewarded, with Willard opening the scoring with a fine strike that Arsenal goalkeeper Ryan Huddart was unable to keep out.

Arsenal, to their credit, fought hard to equalise and they did just that when Donovan did well to finish for his third goal of the season.

However, Southampton were back in front before the break after Regis’ pass found Willard, who scored his second goal of the game.

Arsenal showed some determination in the second-half, with Southampton thankful that their goalkeeper Jake Hallett was able to make two impressive saves in quick succession to deny the young Gunners.

Despite their best efforts, Frans De Kat’s side still fell to their 15th defeat in 28 league matches this season.

Arsenal conclude their season with a trip to face Fulham next week as they seek to avoid the ignominy of finishing bottom of the third tier of the U18 Premier League.

* via @AFCFixtureNews + @tje93

Arsenal U21s analysis- No case for the defence as youngsters suffer disappointing defeat

Zimbio.com Stefan O'Connor has represented the Arsenal first-team but struggled yesterday.

Zimbio.com
Stefan O’Connor has represented the Arsenal first-team but struggled yesterday.

Defending has often been a major problem for Arsenal at youth level in recent years, but yesterday, as the young Gunners suffered a defeat to their West Bromwich Albion counterparts that condemned them to another season in the second tier of second string football, some of the errors made were scarcely believable.

Right from the very start the young Gunners were rattled by a West Brom side that seemed to be considerably more determined to win the game. Arsenal included some promising talents in their starting line-up, such as Dan Crowley, Gedion Zelalem and Krystian Bielik.

The latter didn’t disgrace himself with his overall performance, although he did concede a penalty in the second-half from which West Brom made it 3-0 to secure their emphatic victory. Crowley and Zelalem, though, weren’t able to have a major influence on the game, with coach Steve Gatting afterwards remarking that his side struggled to cope with the elements (it was a particularly windy day at West Brom’s training ground) as well as the opposition’s physical approach.

That, however, is no excuse for the overall inept nature of Arsenal’s display and, although Bielik and Glen Kamara failed to offer much protection to the back four, it is the defence themselves who should receive the majority of the criticism for yesterday’s performance.

Stefan O’Connor has played for the first-team in the Champions League and his playing style is admired by Arsene Wenger, but yesterday the centre-back struggled to deal with West Brom’s strike partnership of Adil Nabi and on-trial Newcastle United striker Adam Campbell.

O’Connor’s central-defensive partner George Dobson would perhaps be better utilised in midfield, whilst Julio Pleguezuelo has been used at right-back since recovering from injury, a position that clearly doesn’t suit him nearly as much as the centre of defence.

Add to that Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, whose positioning, or lack thereof, is still a major source of concern, and you can begin to gather an understanding as to just why the young Gunners were so ruthlessly picked apart yesterday afternoon.

There are still three games remaining at U21 level this season, starting with a home game against Brighton & Hove Albion next week, but, with promotion now out of the question and further first-team involvement highly unlikely for any of these players this season, they probably won’t be intense affairs.

It should be said that Arsenal’s starting line-up yesterday contained seven players who are still eligible for U18 football, whilst all of the outfield substitutes also fell into that category. It has long been Arsenal’s policy to play players above their age groups, but that has backfired in terms of results at youth level in recent years.

Winning doesn’t always breed success. None of the players who helped the club to win the Academy League title five years ago are still at Arsenal, whilst only Francis Coquelin and Jack Wilshere remain from the side that won the FA Youth Cup and league double a year previously.

From this crop there are high hopes for Zelalem, Crowley, Pleguezuelo and Bielik in particular. The worrying thing is, though, that all of those players were brought in from elsewhere prior to signing deals with Arsenal. The likes of Chris Willock, Kaylen Hinds (who has been unlucky with injuries lately), Tyrell Robinson and Reiss Nelson provide hope that another Hale End graduate will be able to follow Wilshere’s path into the first-team, but these are all primarily attack-minded talents, with a severe lack of quality defenders being produced.

The Arsenal youth system can be said to be in yet another transitional phase, but, almost a year on since Andries Jonker started work as the club’s new Academy manager, many of the problems that existed from the previous regime show little sign of relenting any time soon.

Report- Arsenal U21s lose to West Brom as promotion hopes end

U21 Premier League Division 2

West Bromwich Albion 3 (Fitzwater 18, A. Nabi 61, 66 (pen)) Arsenal 0

Arsenal U21s saw their already slim hopes of securing promotion to the top tier of second-string football dissipate this afternoon as the young Gunners sunk to their fourth defeat in succession away to West Bromwich Albion.

Coach Steve Gatting made just two alterations from the team that lost to Aston Villa on Friday, with Matt Macey replacing Deyan Iliev in goal and Krystian Bielik returning from injury to partner Glen Kamara in the absence of Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

Macey

Pleguezuelo-O’Connor-Dobson-Ormonde Ottewill

Kamara-Bielik

Iwobi-Crowley-Zelalem

Mavididi

Subs: Robinson (for Kamara, 64), Eyoma (for Pleguezuelo, 81). Not used: Iliev, Smith, M. Bola.

Exactly eight months ago an Arsenal U21 side containing players such as Hector Bellerin, Francis Coquelin, Abou Diaby and Joel Campbell had beaten West Brom 4-2 at Emirates Stadium, but this was a considerably less experienced Gunners’ side and they struggled defensively throughout against the hosts’ intelligent attackers.

Adil Nabi would go on to score two goals in the second half and he provided an early indication of his threat when he darted into the penalty area before shooting just wide.

Arsenal attempted to respond, but they struggled to find fluency in their attacking movements. On one occasion George Dobson, who has established himself as something of a regular in the team in recent weeks, did well to find Kamara, but the midfielder’s cross just eluded the waiting Alex Iwobi.

West Brom, when presented with the opportunity to attack, were much more ruthless in terms of getting attempts on target and, from their next set-piece, they scored, with centre-back Jack Fitzwater heading home from a corner.

Arsenal did at least manage to create a couple of openings of note before the break. Dan Crowley, who scored a memorable free-kick in the reverse fixture between these sides earlier in the season, received the ball from Bielik before shooting over, with Iwobi then marauding forwards down the right flank to find Stephy Mavididi, whose usual clinical nature in front of goal deserted him on this occasion.

West Brom had the final chance of the first-half, with Joe Ward shooting over and The Baggies proceeded to dominate throughout the second period.

The pressure on the Arsenal defence was relentless and, for the most part, they struggled to cope. Adam Campbell forced a good save from Macey, with Nabi shooting wide shortly afterwards.

There was a brief period of respite for Arsenal, with Bielik shooting over, but normal service was soon resumed as Nabi doubled West Brom’s advantage by finishing adroitly after he was located by Campbell’s pass.

Nabi was celebrating again just five minutes later, with his penalty putting West Brom three goals to the good and, in turn, inflicting further misery on the Arsenal defenders, who have conceded nine goals in their last three games.

Nabi was prevented from scoring a hat-trick by an impressive save from Macey, but, although Gedion Zelalem and Crowley both tried their luck for Arsenal in the closing stages, neither could find the net on what was another disappointing day all round.

The defeat was frustrating but the wider repercussions of this and other setbacks will be felt next season when Arsenal’s youngsters will again take their place in the second tier of U21 football, thus depriving them of the opportunity to play against the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool.