Report- Pleguezuelo the hero and Sheaf impresses as Arsenal U19s beat Olympiacos

UEFA Youth League 

Arsenal 3 (Pleguezuelo (2), Sheaf) Olympiacos 2

Arsenal U19s recorded their second win in succession in the UEFA Youth League, with captain Julio Pleguezuelo proving the unlikely goalscoring hero as the young Gunners prevailed past Olympiacos with a 3-2 victory at Meadow Park today.

Pleguezuelo scored twice, with his second goal proving decisive, but that doesn’t begin to tell the tale of what was a rather entertaining encounter.

Olympiacos took the lead early on, only for Pleguezuelo to equalise following a good free-kick from Ben Sheaf. With both sides having numerous chances in an open game, Arsenal went in front from the penalty spot at the start of the second-half through Sheaf, only for Olympiacos to make it 2-2 shortly afterwards. Pleguezuelo would have the final say, though, with the centre-back finishing well to score Arsenal’s third and leave them top of the group.

Arsenal were impressive in their victory over Dinamo Zagreb in their opening group stage game, but they were forced into a change for this fixture with Reiss Nelson away on international duty with England U17s. In his place Savvas Mourgos came into the starting line-up. Donyell Malen and Marcus Agyei-Tabi, meanwhile, were introduced in the second-half for their Youth League debuts.


Moore-Pleguezuelo-Bielik-M. Bola


Iwobi-Hinds-C. Willock


Subs: O’Connor (for Bielik), Malen (for Mavididi), Agyei-Tabi (for Mourgos). Not used: Huddart, Chatzitheodoridis, DaSilva, Eyoma.

Olympiacos had underlined their credentials with an unexpected victory over Bayern Munich on matchday one, so Arsenal knew that their opponents would be no pushovers this afternoon.

Indeed, it was the visitors who started the brighter of the two sides as they struck the post early on before taking the lead through Giorgos Manthatis, who was given far too much time to manoeuvre his way past the Arsenal defenders.

Olympiacos were certainly in the ascendancy, and Arsenal goalkeeper Hugo Keto had to make a smart save shortly afterwards to prevent the Greek side from inflicting further damage.

Arsenal had got off to a sluggish start, but they slowly began to assert themselves on proceedings, with Krystian Bielik firing over from close range from Sheaf’s free-kick.

Sheaf’s pinpoint set-pieces would become a feature of the game and it was from one such delivery that Pleguezuelo equalised, with the diminutive Spaniard showing good composure to find the net from close range.

It was a very open game, with both sides having plenty of opportunities. On one occasion Keto squandered possession needlessly but made amends by making a good save from the subsequent shot.

At the other end, Stephy Mavididi, who wasn’t heavily involved in proceedings, saw a shot saved, with Mourgos also being denied.

Although Chris Willock was impressing in patches, Arsenal were struggling to get Mavididi, Kaylen Hinds and Alex Iwobi into the game. The latter did, though, send a shot over in the closing stages of the opening period.

Arsenal came perilously close to taking the lead on the stroke of half-time, with Bielik striking the post from yet another Sheaf free-kick, but Andries Jonker’s team would eventually go in front just after the break.

The Gunners’ second goal came from the penalty spot, with Hinds being fouled in the area and Sheaf stepping up to confidently dispatch the spot-kick.

The lead didn’t last very long, however, with Olympiacos soon restoring parity through a skilful effort from Thanasis Androustos, which Keto could do nothing about.

Conceding that goal seemed to spark Arsenal back into life and, after much probing, they eventually made it 3-2 when Pleguezuelo did well to finish again, with Sheaf the provider once more.

Iwobi, who wasn’t at his sharpest, saw an effort deflected wide after good work from Mourgos, before the Gunners made a double change, with Stefan O’Connor replacing Bielik and Malen making his debut in place of Mavididi.

It was O’Connor who was the busiest of the pair, with the defender having to make several interventions as Olympiacos upped the ante.

Arsenal still had some attacks of their own, with Sheaf shooting over and Malen sending a header wide, but the Gunners had to be resolute defensively, with Olympiacos coming close to scoring on a couple of occasions in the closing stages.

Hinds had a shot deflected late on following good work from Iwobi, but there was a worrying moment in the dying embers when O’Connor conceded an unnecessary foul on the edge of the area.

Manolis Saliakas stepped up to take the free-kick, with his effort going narrowly wide of Keto’s near post. It was a close call, but Arsenal just about managed to hold on and they have now taken maximum points from their first two fixtures going into the double header against Bayern Munich, who, in contrast, are yet to earn a single point so far.

It was far from a vintage performance from Arsenal, who lacked their usual incisiveness in possession, whilst there were a couple of errors defensively. Pleguezuelo, though, can be pleased with his performance, as can Sheaf, who appears to be growing in authority this season.

Kamara on standby for Olympiacos game as Malen and Agyei-Tabi train with first-team

Glen Kamara is on standby to be included in the squad for Arsenal’s game against Olympiacos tomorrow after Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta were ruled out through injury.

Francis Coquelin trained with the squad at London Colney today but isn’t a certainty to start. If the Frenchman doesn’t make it, then Aaron Ramsey may be deployed as the deepest-lying defensive-midfielder, with Kamara on the bench. Krystian Bielik, another alternative in that position, isn’t eligible to play in the Champions League.

As well as Kamara, fellow youngsters Donyell Malen and Marcus Agyei-Tabi also trained with the first-team today.

Dutch striker Malen received international clearance on Friday enabling him to play for Arsenal and could be on the bench for the U19s against Olympiacos in the UEFA Youth League tomorrow afternoon, whilst Agyei-Tabi is also in contention to make the squad for that fixture.

As far as the first-team is concerned, Gabriel is available again, but Olivier Giroud is suspended following his red card against Dinamo Zagreb. Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Danny Welbeck are all still out injured.


Loan report- Maitland-Niles named Ipswich player of the month; Zelalem assists

Ainsley Maitland-Niles delivered a lively performance before being replaced with 71 minutes gone as Ipswich Town drew 2-2 with Bristol City. Maitland-Niles’ impressive displays saw him named the club’s player of the month for September.

Chuba Akpom played the whole game and came close to scoring as Hull City drew 1-1 with Blackburn Rovers. Isaac Hayden was an un-used substitute.

Carl Jenkinson played the whole game as West Ham United drew 2-2 with Norwich City.

Gedion Zelalem played 62 minutes before being replaced by fellow Arsenal academy product Dean Shiels as Rangers beat Greenock Morton 4-0. The midfielder set up a goal for James Tavernier with a neat pass.

Emiliano Martinez played the entirety of Wolverhampton Wanderers’ 1-1 draw with Preston North End.

Jon Toral played 62 minutes as Birmingham City lost 2-0 to Rotherham United. The Spanish midfielder had a powerful effort saved by Lee Camp.

Wellington started and had a couple of attempts saved before being replaced in the 71st minute as Bolton Wanderers drew 2-2 with Brighton & Hove Albion.

Dan Crowley was introduced in the 71st minute and was booked for a late challenge as Barnsley beat Gillingham 2-0.

Serge Gnabry will be hoping to feature when West Bromwich Albion play Everton tomorrow.

Yaya Sanogo wasn’t involved as Ajax beat Groningen 2-0.

Wojciech Szczesny missed Roma’s 5-1 win over Carpi through injury.

Iwobi strikes winner as Arsenal U21s hold on to beat Wolves

U21 Premier League

Wolverhampton Wanderers2  Arsenal 3 (C. Willock, Mavididi, Iwobi)

Arsenal U21s maintained their perfect start to the campaign as they beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-2 away tonight to secure their fifth victory in succession.

Arsenal fell behind early on but gained control courtesy of goals from Chris Willock and the in-form Stephy Mavididi and proceeded to dominate the game, with Alex Iwobi’s strike adding further gloss to the scoreline.

A strike from Jordan Graham ensured a nervous finish, but Arsenal held on to claim all three points.

As expected Willock came into the side in place of the injured Jeff Reine-Adelaide, whilst Deyan Iliev, Stefan O’Connor and Chiori Johnson also missed out.


Moore-Bielik-Pleguezuelo-M. Bola


Iwobi-Hinds-C. Willock


Subs: Huddart, Mourgos (for C. Willock), Chatzitheodoridis, Robinson, Eyoma.

Arsenal started brightly, with Ben Sheaf seeing a volleyed effort saved, but Wolves responded through Eusebio Bancessi, whose effort was more Helder Postiga than Eusebio.

His next attempt, however, would put Wolves ahead after good work down the left flank from Tommy Rowe.

The comparatively experienced Rowe was causing considerable problems for the Arsenal defence and Matt Macey, who was on the bench for the first-team at White Hart Lane on Wednesday, was forced to make an excellent save to prevent the young Gunners from falling further behind.

That stop appeared to inject the entire Arsenal side with confidence and they duly equalised through Willock, who finished well to make it 1-1 with his first goal at this level.

Bancessi continued to pose an intermittent threat to the Arsenal goal, but Steve Gatting’s side were in front before the interval when Mavididi finished from close range to score his fifth goal in as many games at this level this season.

Kaylen Hinds has been impressive going forwards for Arsenal this season but the youngster was an unlikely hero defensively when he made a spectacular overhead clearance to keep out Bancessi’s latest effort in the dying embers of the first half.

Arsenal had chances to extend their lead after the break, with Iwobi and Sheaf both coming close before an intelligent intervention from Rowe denied Mavididi.

Iwobi then tried his luck again after good work from Kamara, but the youngster, who was called up to the senior Nigeria squad for the first time this week, couldn’t find the net.

The momentum was clearly in Arsenal’s favour, with Hinds then seeing a shot saved and Willock shooting over.

Hinds came perilously close to making it 3-1 when he struck the crossbar following good work in the build-up from Iwobi. It was Iwobi himself who would eventually get the third after taking advantage of some hesitant Wolves defending.

There would be another twist in the tale, however, with Wolves quickly reducing the deficit through Graham.

Former Aston Villa winger Graham sent a free-kick just wide as Wolves cranked up the pressure.

Arsenal, though, managed to hold on, with the introduction of Savvas Mourgos for his U21 debut helping the Gunners to run down the clock.

Agyei-Tabi trains with Arsenal first-team as Coquelin misses out

First-year scholar Marcus Agyei-Tabi was selected to train with the Arsenal first-team squad this morning ahead of tomorrow’s Premier League game against Leicester City. 

The central-midfielder has been in impressive form for the club’s U18 side this season and was drafted in for the session as the U21s were preparing to take on Wolverhampton Wanderers. 

Francis Coquelin was absent through injury, whilst Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Danny Welbeck are still out.

Santi Cazorla is available tomorrow after suspension but Gabriel will serve a one-game ban. 

Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi earns senior Nigeria squad call-up

Arsenal winger Alex Iwobi has been called up to the Nigeria senior squad for the first time for the upcoming friendlies against Congo and Cameroon.

The Hale End product, who could make his competitive debut for the Arsenal first-team against Tottenham Hotspur in the Capital One Cup tonight, trained with the Nigeria U23 side last season and previously represented England at youth level.

Robinson hits brace as Arsenal U18s come from behind to beat Tottenham 5-3

Arsenal U18s staged an impressive comeback to eventually beat their Tottenham Hotspur counterparts 5-3 at London Colney today.

The young Gunners found themselves two goals down after just seven minutes after Marcus Edwards and Kaziah Sterling found the net, but Yassin Fortune’s header from Nathan Tella’s cross reduced the deficit.

In an enthralling encounter Edwards then scored his second goal of the game to make it 3-1 to Tottenham, but Arsenal subsequently found the net again from the penalty spot through Reiss Nelson.

Tottenham had goalkeeper Thomas McDermott to thank for preventing Arsenal from inflicting further damage late in the first-half, but he was powerless to prevent the dangerous Tyrell Robinson from scoring a brace in the second period, which swung the game in Arsenal’s favour.

Arsenal weren’t finished there, however, with Edward Nketiah continuing his excellent start to the season as he made it 5-3 late on.