Jenkinson impresses but Chambers left frustrated as England U21s beat Sweden



Carl Jenkinson delivered a hugely impressive performance as England U21s kept their hopes of reaching the latter stages of the European Championships alive with a 1-0 victory over Sweden today.

The win was secured courtesy of a sweet strike from Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard, who had been introduced as a substitute.

England’s performance was hugely frustrating at times, with Gareth Southgate’s side, who lost to Portugal in their opening group game, struggling to create many clear-cut chances despite playing some neat possession-based football. However, they eventually prevailed and looked a more dangerous outfit as a consequence of Southgate’s decision to introduce Danny Ings at the start of the second-half.

When the opportunities did arrive, Jenkinson was usually heavily involved. On one occasion the right-back, who spent last season at West Ham United, delivered an excellent cross, with Harry Kane unable to convert.

Jenkinson has been linked with a loan move to Sunderland in recent days and his attacking qualities were on display here as he produced several further crosses, whilst he also missed a chance to find the net himself in the second-half.

The jury is still out on Jenkinson’s defensive capabilities, but he must be commended for his attacking endeavours.

Whilst one Arsenal defender is enjoying the tournament, the same can’t be said for another member of the England squad, Calum Chambers, who was an un-used substitute in each of England’s first two games.

Chambers’ omission from Southgate’s starting line-up was a little surprising given that he already has three senior caps to his name, with the former Southampton player surely representing a better alternative to Leicester City’s Liam Moore at centre-back. Chambers has endured a frustrating 2015 so far having been edged out of the first-team picture at Arsenal as a consequence of the development of Hector Bellerin and the signing of Gabriel.

His inclusion in the England squad for this tournament will, despite his lack of involvement so far, impinge upon his pre-season plans with Arsenal, with the Gunners usually giving players a month off after international excursions, meaning Chambers could miss the club’s involvement in the Premier League Asia Trophy.

However, he is a player with much potential and will surely be afforded further opportunities to impress with Arsenal, preferably at centre-back, at a later date.

Both England and Sweden named an Arsenal academy graduate on their bench today in Benik Afobe and Kristoffer Olsson respectively.

Arsenal’s other representative at this tournament is Serge Gnabry, with the German youngster being introduced for the final ten minutes as his nation beat Denmark 3-0 yesterday.

Which Arsenal youngsters could go on loan next season?

It is common knowledge that Arsenal prefer to operate with an inexperienced squad at U21 level, with many players who would ordinarily play for the U18s instead being given an opportunity to test themselves on a bigger stage.

The departures of several members of the U21 squad, which were announced last week, will help to facilitate the process in terms of enabling younger players to play a key part for Steve Gatting’s side.

In addition, some spaces in the side will open up as a consequence of some of the slightly more experienced individuals going on loan. As ever, Arsenal are likely to send several youngsters out on temporary transfer next season, but which players will most probably experience loan spells during the 2015/16 campaign?

One of the most obvious candidates is Alex Iwobi, with the attacker having produced some tremendous performances for the U21s of late, particularly in the second half of last season. A hat-trick against Stoke City at Emirates Stadium, when he was operating as a central striker having previously been used primarily as a winger, outlined Iwobi’s attacking credentials and he could well benefit from a spell with a League One club next season.

Defensive-midfielder Glen Kamara, meanwhile, discussed the possibility of a loan move a couple of months ago, with the youngster stating that he would rather go abroad to ply his trade as opposed to staying in England. A Finland U21 international who was recently called up by his country at senior level, Kamara faces a considerably difficult task to break into the Arsenal first-team, particularly if the club purchase a star player in his position this summer. However, a stint elsewhere, perhaps in the Netherlands as he suggested, would be especially advantageous as far as his development is concerned.

This week Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been strongly linked with a loan move to Championship side Ipswich Town. The Hale End product has already featured in three different competitions for Arsenal’s first-team and just for him to be linked with a loan move to the second tier at the age of 17 provides an indication as to how highly he is regarded. Maitland-Niles spent much of last season operating as a central-midfielder, but, although he had some encouraging performances there, his qualities of pace and power seem better suited to the right wing, and it is in that position that he will hope to receive a significant chunk of senior game time elsewhere next season.

Jon Toral already has one loan spell under his belt, with the technically-talented Spaniard having featured for Brentford last season, although he was primarily used as a substitute at Griffin Park. With a host of more established central-midfielders ahead of him, not to mention the emerging talents of Dan Crowley and Gedion Zelalem, it is difficult to see at present where Toral fits in to the first-team picture at Arsenal, despite his obvious ability. Another loan spell, therefore, could be a necessary option and would help the club to decide whether to retain him any longer.

Whilst Toral enjoyed some excellent moments at Brentford, another Arsenal youngster, Matt Macey, had a torrid time at League Two team Accrington Stanley last season, with the goalkeeper conceding several goals and his temporary club opting not to extend his stay.

Next season will be pivotal for Macey as, despite the fact that he has already been named on the bench for the first-team in the Premier League, the shot-stopper will be aware that, from the 2016/17 season, he will be classed a senior player and therefore would have to be named in the club’s 25-man squad. As a result Macey could go on loan once more next season and he will be hoping to enjoy a more fruitful spell this time around as he looks to earn a prolonged stay at Emirates Stadium.

Will Wellington finally get a chance at Arsenal?

Patience is a virtue but Wellington Silva has been waiting an awfully long time for an opportunity to make the breakthrough at Arsenal and now, despite him being 22 and finally eligible to play competitively in England, we are no closer to knowing whether he will get his chance to shine in North London.

The Brazilian U21 international has officially been on Arsenal’s books since 2011 but his association with the club predates that as he previously impressed for the Gunners’ U16 side during several trial stints. Since his move from Fluminense, Arsenal have farmed Wellington out on loan to five different Spanish clubs and he has scored a combined total of nine league goals during those spells.

During his most recent loan spell, however, at Almeria last season, Wellington demonstrated some signs of maturity despite his limited goal output. Mainly deployed on the right flank, although also capable of operating on the left, he provided six assists in La Liga and impressed with his dazzling trickery.

Whether that will be sufficient to earn him a place in the Arsenal first-team squad for next season, though, remains to be seen. One thing that is for certain is that this is a pivotal year for Wellington’s future at the club. He is reportedly open to an extension to his current contract, which expires next June, but, from this season, he will have to be named in the club’s Premier League and Champions League squads as a senior player if he is to feature in those competitions.

Of course, if he was sent out on loan again then those stipulations wouldn’t have to be taken into account, but, after waiting for so long, Wellington is desperate to finally feature for Arsenal at senior level. He hasn’t pulled on the red and white shirt since the summer of 2013, when he represented the U21s in pre-season, but now he can’t be classed as a youth player and he deserves to be playing senior football somewhere having been given an indication as to where his future lies.

At Arsenal he will certainly have his work cut out to even be a squad player, with Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck being genuine options out wide, whilst Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky have all been used on the flanks in recent times.

Pre-season is likely to be pivotal for Wellington as he seeks to stake his claim and the fact that Sanchez will be absent for the majority or perhaps all of the preparation matches, due to his participation in the Copa America, may present him with a window of opportunity.

It has been mooted in some quarters that Wellington could be sent out on loan to another Premier League side to help him to adjust to the English game. That would be a wise move, but it would only be worth going ahead with if the winger is a genuine part of Arsenal’s future plans.

Having seen Ryo Miyaichi discarded after failing to make the step up and with Joel Campbell having received limited game time off the back of some impressive performances at the World Cup, it is difficult, at this stage, to be optimistic about Wellington’s long-term future at the club.

There is much to admire about his game, though, including his varied skill-set, his pace and his recently-improved decision making. Wellington has waited a very long time to be given a chance at Arsenal but now he will have to wait just a little longer to find out his fate.

What next for the released youngsters and Arsenal’s U21 team?

Yesterday was another difficult day for the Arsenal youth set-up, with seven young players being let go, five of whom were long-serving Hale End products.

They will all now attempt to re-build their respective careers elsewhere with one player, Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, having already secured a two-year deal with Swindon Town.

Such culls of academy players have become commonplace in recent years, but the most striking thing about this year’s discarded list is that none of the young players included made a competitive appearance for the Arsenal first-team, with Semi Ajayi the only one who came close to doing so.

Jack Jebb, Josh Vickers and Austin Lipman all experienced loan spells with varying degrees of success, but they, along with the two remaining second-year scholars, Renny Smith and Elliot Wright, were let go without having got anywhere near the senior set-up.

That emphasises just how difficult it is for youngsters to make it at the highest level, but, even though there was a sense of inevitability about some of the departures, it is always chastening when players who have grown up at the club are informed that they are no longer needed.

Jebb, with his superb free-kick taking abilities and precise passing, should have no shortage of suitors. Injuries, and the presence of several hugely promising central-midfielders, hampered his progress at Arsenal, but he already has some experience of competitive football with Stevenage and may well return to League Two next season.

Vickers, meanwhile, has done very well on loan at Concord Rangers and Canvey Island in recent years and seems ready to play at a higher level. However, it can be difficult for young goalkeepers to make the breakthrough at high profile clubs unless they are an exceptional talent, with a lot of managers in the lower leagues preferring to field experienced shot-stoppers. Vickers may well have to follow the path of fellow academy graduate James Shea, who worked his way back up from non-league football before being signed by League Two side AFC Wimbledon.

Lipman had two separate loan spells with Boreham Wood and, like Vickers, may find himself playing for a non-league club next season. The hard-working striker will be seeking to prove that he is capable of playing in higher divisions.

Smith, as previously documented, may head to Italy with Carpi, although he has also received offers from several other sides. Wright has yet to play U21 football and may look to gain experience at that level with another academy.

The Arsenal U21 set-up won’t be too heavily affected by the aforementioned departures, with many of the players in question not having featured regularly at that level in the second half of the campaign.

With Vickers out of the picture, Ryan Huddart will look to compete with fellow goalkeepers Matt Macey and Deyan Iliev, whilst Ormonde-Ottewill’s departure could open the door for Marc Bola to establish himself as the first-choice left-back for the second-string.

Lipman had already been overtaken by Stephy Mavididi in the striking pecking order, with the latter set to sign his first professional contract at some point in the next twelve months. Ajayi lost his place in the U21 team to Stefan O’Connor and Jebb found his chances limited due to the presence of Gedion Zelalem and Dan Crowley.

Some of the decisions that were revealed yesterday were rather surprising, but that is the harsh nature of football and will serve as a warning to the current academy youngsters that it is all too easy to go from being the next big thing to being no longer needed.




Ormonde-Ottewill signs for Swindon following Arsenal departure

Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill’s surprise departure from Arsenal was announced today and the left-back has already secured a deal for next season after signing for League One side Swindon Town.

The Hale End product featured 13 times for Arsenal’s U21 team last season during an injury-ravaged campaign, but he did score two goals, the second of which came on what turned out to be his final appearance for the club away to Bolton Wanderers.

For several years it seemed that Ormonde-Ottewill, a player who is good on the ball and capable of delivering excellent crosses, would be a future first-team talent for Arsenal, with manager Arsene Wenger frequently inviting the youngster to train with the senior squad.

However, over the past couple of seasons it has become apparent that there are some flaws in Ormonde-Ottewill’s game, most notably his positioning, which has seen him caught out on several occasions to the detriment of the team.

Nonetheless, his departure is still a little disappointing given that he had been at the club for many years. Several other long-serving youngsters- Jack Jebb, Austin Lipman, Josh Vickers and Elliot Wright- have also been let go and are currently on the lookout for new clubs, along with Semi Ajayi and Renny Smith.

Today’s exits mean that just three members of Arsenal’s 2012 scholarship intake remain at the club in Chuba Akpom, Glen Kamara and Alex Iwobi, with the nine other members of that group having departed.

Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill Arsenal statistics

U21 apps- 34 (3 goals)

U19 apps- 12

U18 apps- 34 (2 goals)

Diaby could leave as Arsenal release Miyaichi and several youngsters



Abou Diaby’s nine-year association with Arsenal is set to come to an end this month with the club having not yet offered him a new contract.

The midfielder has been restricted to just one senior appearance in each of the last two seasons and, as things stand, will be free to join a new club from July 1st.

Signed as a youngster from Auxerre in January 2006, Diaby has made just 180 appearances during his Arsenal career following a succession of injuries, the onset of which appeared to be a challenge by Sunderland’s Dan Smith just a few months after the Frenchman had joined the club.

His potential departure will be a shame for many supporters, with Diaby having initially been dubbed the new Patrick Vieira upon his arrival at Arsenal. However, with the midfielder now at the age of 29, and, it is best for all parties for him to leave, especially as he was unable to prove his fitness this season.

Update- Reports suggest that Diaby is in talks regarding a new contract, but, as things stand, he will still be released on June 30th.

Ryo Miyaichi will definitely leave Arsenal at the end of the month after a disappointing loan spell with FC Twente. The winger had  a year remaining on his deal, but the club have allowed him to depart after he failed to impress since joining the club.

Miyaichi showed much promise during a loan spell with Feyenoord shortly after joining but injuries have hampered his progress in recent years, to the extent that he featured more frequently for Twente’s reserve team last season than their senior side.

Youngsters Semi Ajayi, Jack Jebb, Austin Lipman, Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, Josh Vickers, Renny Smith and Elliot Wright have also been let go.

Ajayi’s departure was inevitable, with the centre-back having fallen out of favour last season following the progress of Stefan O’Connor.

It is also best for Jebb, Lipman, Smith and Wright to move on to attempt to further their careers. The departures of Vickers and Ormonde-Ottewill are a little more surprising, however.

The club’s decision to offer Deyan Iliev a new contract ahead of Vickers is rather bewildering, with the latter having impressed during loan stints with non-league sides Canvey Island and Concord Rangers over the past two seasons, in addition to his exploits with Arsenal in the FA Youth Cup during the 2013/14 season.

Ormonde-Ottewill had long been earmarked as a potential first-team player, but the left-back struggled with injuries last season and has now been let go.

Which players make the Arsenal youth dream team?

Nearly 200 players have signed scholarship deals with Arsenal since the Academy’s reformation late last century. Some of those players have gone on to enjoy hugely successful careers, whether at Arsenal or elsewhere, whilst many others have established themselves at lower levels and some have drifted out of the game completely.

Here, we assess the best products of the Arsenal youth system since the Academy was reformed, with players selected more for their overall career trajectory as opposed to their performances for the club at youth level.


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Stuart Taylor received a league winners medal with Arsenal but has endured a rather nomadic career since and has barely played at all in recent years, so Wojciech Szczesny appears to be the club’s most successful graduate goalkeeper. Signed nine years ago from Legia Warsaw, the Polish stopper, via a hugely productive loan spell at Brentford, went on to establish himself as Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper. Szczesny may have lost his place last season to David Ospina, but he still played a major part in the FA Cup success and is an established international for his country.


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Justin Hoyte once threatened to make the breakthrough, but has seen his stock fall considerably since leaving Arsenal, whilst Moritz Volz enjoyed a successful stint in the top flight with Fulham. However, it is one of the more recent academy acquisitions, Hector Bellerin, who takes his place in the Academy dream-team. Bellerin started last season on the fringes of the first-team but concluded the campaign as a regular in the side and, like Szczesny, was involved in the FA Cup triumph. The young Spaniard still has some things to learn defensively but he looks well equipped for a sustained career at the top level.


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One of the places certainly has to go to Johan Djourou, who, despite not always being convincing, did have some good performances during his lengthy Arsenal career. Now 28, the Switzerland international plays for Hamburg in the Bundesliga. Choosing who should fill the other centre-back position is an altogether more difficult task, with Ignasi Miquel and Kyle Bartley possible options, but Matthew Connolly has achieved the unique feat of being promoted to the Premier League with four different clubs (Queens Park Rangers, Reading, Cardiff City and Watford). He will hope that next season he will finally be afforded an opportunity to play regularly in the top division.


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This certainly has to be one of the easiest choices to make out of the whole team. At the age of 34, Ashley Cole may be showing some signs of decline following a difficult first season at Roma, but for several years he was widely considered the best left-back in world football. An Invincible (amongst several other successes) with Arsenal, he left in hugely controversial circumstances to join Chelsea in 2006, where he went on to win further trophies, including the Champions League, whilst also winning the FA Cup for the seventh time. An honourable mention should, of course, go to Kieran Gibbs, who is closing in on 200 first-team appearances for Arsenal.

Deep-lying midfield

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Francis Coquelin doesn’t count as an Arsenal youth product, given that he was signed at the age of 17, so an alternative will have to be chosen. Steven Sidwell won the FA Youth Cup twice with Arsenal and has spent the vast majority of his career in the Premier League with various clubs. Fabrice Muamba saw his career cruelly come to an end in 2012, but he also established himself as a top flight regular before his early retirement.


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Cesc Fabregas can be classed as an Arsenal youth product having arrived at the club from Barcelona as a 16 year old. He had many memorable moments in his 303 appearances for the Gunners before his return to Spain, prior to his surprising return to the Premier League with Chelsea last year.

Jack Wilshere also has to be included. Despite the fact that he isn’t guaranteed a regular place in Arsenal’s starting line-up, the England international remains one of the country’s most promising talents and can still reach great heights in his career if he receives better luck on the injury front.

Oguzhan Ozyakup, meanwhile, has done very well since leaving for Besiktas and was recently linked with a high-profile move to Inter Milan.

Right wing

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This position conjures up two stories of players who didn’t quite hit the heights that they threatened to as talented youngsters. David Bentley retired last year after falling out of love with the game, whilst Jermaine Pennant hasn’t had as successful career as many predicted when he first joined Arsenal. However, Pennant has still had some good moments, featuring in a Champions League Final for Liverpool no less, so he gets a place in the team.

Left wing

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Luke Freeman enjoyed an impressive season with Stevenage, but he tends to operate more as an attacking midfielder these days. Jerome Thomas is currently without a club after leaving Crystal Palace, but he has featured prominently in the Premier League throughout his career and will hope to remain in the top division next season.


It has been well documented that Arsenal haven’t produced a first-choice striker from their Academy since the reformation of the club’s youth set-up. Several players (Jay Simpson, Rhys Murphy and Marc Elston to name just three) have scored many goals at youth level but haven’t managed to translate that to the senior stage at the highest level.

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas was perhaps Arsenal’s most consistent performer at youth level since the Academy reformed, but he has struggled to hold down a regular starting place for Bristol City.

Last season Benik Afobe enjoyed a stellar campaign as, first with MK Dons and then Wolverhampton Wanderers, he scored goals galore, ending up as the joint highest goalscorer in the top four English divisions alongside Sergio Aguero.

However, for longevity and the fact that, despite his considerable faults, he is an established international and a player who made over 100 league appearances for Arsenal, Nicklas Bendtner gets a place in the side. The tall Dane isn’t exactly somebody who you would associate with greatness, but it can’t be denied that he has enjoyed a more successful career than many other Academy graduates.

So, this is the Arsenal Academy all-star XI that has been selected:






Do you agree with the team and, if not, which players would you select instead? Remember you can view a list of all the Academy graduates here.