Loan report- Crowley scores against Everton; Zelalem assists for Rangers

They are undoubtedly two of the most talented youngsters in Arsenal’s academy system and tonight Dan Crowley and Gedion Zelalem both had hugely positive experiences as they become accustomed to senior football.

Crowley started and scored as Barnsley lost 5-3 to Everton in the second round of the Capital One Cup. The midfielder scored Barnsely’s third goal with a neat strike on the hour mark, with the Premier League side eventually prevailing in extra-time.

Zelalem chalked up an assist on his debut for Rangers as his temporary side thrashed Airdrieonians 5-0 in the Scottish League Cup. The United States youth international was involved in the build-up to Rangers’ second goal as he found fellow Arsenal academy graduate Dean Shiels, who in turn played the ball through to Andy Halliday to score.

Zelalem himself was the provider for the third goal, with his ball finding Martyn Waghorn, who finished well. Zelalem was also involved in the build-up to Rangers’ fifth goal, which was scored by James Tavernier.

Chris Willock proves his worth for Arsenal U18s as Nelson impresses again

Arsenal U18s were outplayed for much of the first-half as they took on their Chelsea counterparts on Monday at London Colney, but they improved in the second period and eventually managed to salvage a point through Aaron Eyoma’s late header, which ensured that the game finished 1-1.

There were some elements of concern for coach Frans De Kat, with the central-defensive partnership of Kristopher Da Graca and Tolaji Bola not inspiring much in the way of confidence, but there were also some positives to take from the game, particularly in an attacking sense, with both Chris Willock and Reiss Nelson impressing.

Willock and Nelson are at different stages in their development. The latter has only just stepped up to full-time training at London Colney and is still a schoolboy, whilst Willock has already featured for the first-team, albeit only in non-competitive fixtures.

Against Chelsea, though, they were very much on the same wavelength, with both players dovetailing to excellent effect. Willock, operating primarily on the left flank, caused the opposition defence all manner of problems with his mazy dribbling, whilst his fellow Hale End product Nelson was dangerous throughout.

Nelson’s potential is such that he is starting U18 games ahead of both first year and second year scholars.

Willock can count himself a little unfortunate to be back in the U18 squad, albeit only on a temporary basis, but competition for places is strong for the attacking spots in the U21 side at present, with the likes of Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Alex Iwobi, Kaylen Hinds and Stephy Mavididi all heavily involved at that level.

Hugo Keto was impressive again in goal, although Yassin Fortune didn’t make much of an impact up front. The same couldn’t be said of substitute Eddie Nketiah, though, with the youngster emerging off the bench to rattle the woodwork with a fiercely struck effort.

Nketiah enjoyed an excellent pre-season and, despite being used as a substitute in the opening two league fixtures, looks to be full of confidence.

Arsenal, who were without Harry Donovan for this fixture, are still waiting to receive permission to field their new foreign signings- Ismael Bennacer, Kostas Pileas, Vlad Dragomir and Donyell Malen at this level.

The young Gunners take on Reading this weekend.

Gedion Zelalem- From Olney Rangers to Rangers

It was whilst he was playing for a club with Rangers in their name that Gedion Zelalem first came to Arsenal’s attention and now, having joined Scottish side Rangers on loan initially until January, he will be looking to make the club’s coaching staff take notice of his performances once more.

It has been quite a journey for Zelalem, who has developed well since joining Arsenal from Olney Rangers in 2012. There have been numerous ups and downs in the ensuing period, with the major highlights undoubtedly being his two senior appearances for the Arsenal first-team so far.

Now, having amassed considerable experience of U21 football, he will be seeking to prove that he is able to compete on a bigger stage. The Scottish Championship might not be the most high-profile league, but Rangers, with their renowned supporters, remain one of the most recognisable clubs in Europe.

Rangers manager Mark Warburton has a good track record of working with young players from his time at Brentford, and his preferred style of play should suit Zelalem perfectly.

The United States youth international midifelder sampled the Ibrox atmosphere for the first time yesterday as he attended Rangers’ game with Hibernian and he also trained with his new team-mates this morning. If all goes well, Zelalem could play a part when Rangers take on Airdrieonians on Wednesday.

It was clear during the opening U21 game of the season against Fulham that Zelalem is one of Arsenal’s brightest talents at that level and, although he has some improvements to make physically, he should learn much from his stint with Rangers.

Having seen Dan Crowley and Ainsley Maitland-Niles get off to flying starts with their loan spells this season, Zelalem will be seeking to do likewise. He has come in for some criticism for failing to be heavily involved in matches, but the youngster, who is still only 18, is renowned for his penchant of unlocking defences with precise through-balls.

Of late Zelalem also seems to have started to pay greater attention to the defensive side of the game. He now closes players down much more readily than he did previously, whilst his tactical awareness has always been superior to most of his colleagues at youth level.

Zelalem reportedly turned down offers from several Championship clubs to join Rangers, and he will be seeking to prove that he made the right decision in linking up with Warburton’s team. His journey so far has been intriguing to watch as he has developed physically, whilst continuing to make good use of his undoubted technical gifts.

Now the hope is that he can impress sufficiently at Rangers to earn a chance of receiving even greater opportunities in the future.

Eyoma’s late goal rescues point for Arsenal U18s against Chelsea

Eyoma has enjoyed an excellent start to the season. (

Eyoma has enjoyed an excellent start to the season. (

U18 Premier League

Arsenal 1 (Eyoma) Chelsea 1

Arsenal U18s showed determination to come from behind and eventually draw 1-1 with their Chelsea at London Colney this morning.

The Gunners prevailed with a 5-1 victory in the corresponding fixture last campaign, but Chelsea were dominant early on today and eventually took the lead early in the second-half through Charlie Wakefield. Arsenal, however, rallied in the closing stages and scored a late equaliser courtesy of a diving header from Aaron Eyoma.

Chelsea started brightly, with Ike Ugbo coming close to scoring, but Arsenal responded with Chris Willock shooting just wide.

The visitors, though, soon started to click into gear, with Ruben Sammut twice being denied. Miro Muheim then had a shot saved as Chelsea upped the ante further.

Their dominance was rewarded four minutes into the second period, with Muheim crossing for Wakefield to finish.

Arsenal started to get back into the game in the second-half, but Chelsea were still creating plenty of chances, with Ali Suljic striking the crossbar with a header.

Arsenal looked more lively following the introduction of Edward Nketiah as a substitute, and the Hale End product, who scored last week against Norwich City, struck the post, before Chelsea came close to doubling their advantage through Mukhtar Ali.

To their credit, Frans de Kat’s side refused to give up and they eventually equalised late on through Eyoma. Chelsea had a claim for a penalty turned down just prior to the goal, but the young Gunners won’t be worrying about that as they remain unbeaten so far this season.

As far as Eyoma is concerned, the youngster has enjoyed an excellent start to the season and is the only player to feature in all of the U21s and U18s games so far this campaign.

Arsenal’s next game at this level is away to Reading on Saturday.


Osei Tutu-Da Graca-T. Bola-Robinson

Agyei Tabi-Da Silva

Eyoma-C. Willock-Nelson


Subs: Huddart, Mourgos, Tella, Nketiah, Chatzitheodoridis.

Info via @ChelseaFC and @AFCFixtureNews

Loan report- Jenkinson sent off; Szczesny, Gnabry and Wellington make debuts

Carl Jenkinson endured a difficult day as West Ham United were beaten 4-3 by Bournemouth, with the right-back struggling throughout against the dangerous Max Gradel before receiving a red card for committing a foul against the winger in the penalty area.

Wellington, at long last, made his first competitive appearance in English football, with the winger impressing as Bolton Wanderers drew 1-1 with Nottingham Forest. Deployed on the left wing, Wellington was particularly effective in the early stages before being replaced by Emile Heskey in the 84th minute.

Serge Gnabry was introduced for his West Bromwich Albion debut in the 78th minute as they lost 3-2 to Chelsea.

Wojciech Szczesny made his competitive debut for Roma as his temporary side drew 1-1 away to Hellas Verona.

Chuba Akpom played 64 minutes before being substituted as Hull City lost 2-1 against Charlton Athletic. Akpom had a shot saved, whilst Hull’s other Arsenal loanee, Isaac Hayden, was introduced in the 58th minute and came close to scoring as his effort hit a post late on.

Jon Toral retained his place in the starting line-up and played 67 minutes as Birmingham City drew 1-1 with Derby County. The Spaniard, who has already found the net twice for his loan club, missed an inviting opportunity to score early in the second-half.

Last week Toral reflected on his impressive start to the campaign. He said: “I have to thank the team and the gaffer for giving me the confidence. It’s been a great start for me and I need to keep it going.”

Ainsley Maitland-Niles was brought on as a substitute in the 62nd minute as Ipswich Town beat Preston North End 2-1. The youngster, who claimed an assist in the midweek game against Burnley, was the subject of a rash challenge from Bailey Wright.

Dan Crowley played the whole game and was booked as Barnsley drew 0-0 with Bradford City.

Emiliano Martinez was an un-used substitute as Wolverhampton Wanderers were beaten 2-0 by Cardiff City.

Yaya Sanogo wasn’t part of the Ajax squad for their game against NEC.


O’Connor, Reine-Adelaide, Macey and Pleguezuelo train with Arsenal first-team ahead of Liverpool game

The Arsenal first-team participated in their final training session this morning ahead of tomorrow’s Premier League game against Liverpool at Emirates Stadium.

Young defender Stefan O’Connor, who made his first-team debut in the Champions League last season, trained with the squad today, with winger Jeff Reine-Adelaide also called upon along with centre-back Julio Pleguezuelo and goalkeeper Matt Macey.

Joel Campbell continued to train with the group, with manager Arsene Wenger having recently remarked that he would like to retain the services of the Costa Rican winger. However, Jack Wilshere (ankle) missed the session as did Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky, who are both still struggling with knee problems.

Wenger is unlikely to make too many alterations to his starting line-up for tomorrow’s game, with Olivier Giroud hopeful of keeping his place in the team after scoring against Crystal Palace. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, meanwhile, may count himself a little unlucky not to have started against Palace, but it seems unlikely that Wenger will leave Aaron Ramsey out of the side.

Calum Chambers and Mathieu Flamini are likely to be left out of the squad again, along with Campbell.






Subs: Ospina, Debuchy, Gabriel, Gibbs, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott. 

Captain fantastic- Arsenal’s Julio Pleguezuelo asserts his credentials

Some youngsters take a considerable amount of time to adapt to English football, but, from the very moment that he arrived in London after joining Arsenal from Barcelona in the summer of 2013, Julio Pleguezuelo has looked very much at home.

The Spaniard quickly established himself as a regular at centre-back for Arsenal’s U21s during his first year at the club and, although his 2014/15 campaign was heavily disrupted by injury, he is now back to being a regular for Steve Gatting’s side.

In addition, Pleguezuelo has captained Arsenal’s youngsters as they have made an impressive start to the new season with victories over Fulham and Derby County. The 18-year-old was outstanding in both fixtures, but probably more so against Derby last night as he organised the defence and made several crucial interceptions.

It was clear in the few matches that he played there last season that Pleguezuelo is nowhere near as comfortable at right-back as he is at the heart of the defence. Quick and possessing good ball control, as you would expect from a La Masia graduate, the Spanish youth international has done very little wrong in an Arsenal shirt when deployed at centre-back.

The next logical step, inevitably, is for him to become increasingly involved in the first-team squad, but such a task would appear rather difficult at present when comparatively experienced players in his position, such as Gabriel and Calum Chambers, are yet to feature for the senior side this season.

Pleguezuelo, if he continues his stellar start to the season, may well find himself called upon in the Capital One Cup, but barring a considerable injury crisis, it is difficult to envisage him receiving many first-team minutes this season.

A loan spell, therefore, could be an option in the second half of the season and Pleguezuelo appears to be the sort of strong-minded character who wouldn’t be fazed by the physical nature of a division such as the Championship or League One, despite him being rather short in stature.

Pleguezuelo will also be aware that even if he did manage to rack up some first-team minutes in the near future, it wouldn’t be a guarantor of success in terms of carving out a long-term career at the club. His compatriot Ignasi Miquel, for example, made five Premier League appearances for Arsenal but now finds himself at Ponferradina, having failed to establish himself at Norwich City.

Pleguezuelo, though, appears a far more composed figure than the occasionally erratic Miquel. Breaking into the Arsenal first-team squad will be a very difficult challenge, with Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel and Chambers all ahead of him, but the youngster is certainly giving himself the very best chance of reaching the top with his recent performances.