Akpom set for Championship loan

It is looking increasingly likely that Arsenal striker Chuba Akpom will complete a temporary move to a Championship club before Thursday’s loan transfer deadline.

Akpom reportedly met with Norwich City officials on Saturday to discuss a potential move, but it is believed that Nottingham Forest also harbour hopes of signing the 19-year-old.

The Hale End product, who had spells with Brentford and Coventry City in League One last season, has featured seven times for Arsene Wenger’s team since being promoted to the senior squad earlier this campaign.

The youngster has yet to score a senior goal in 19 appearances, but the majority of those outings, particularly in an Arsenal shirt, have been late cameos as a substitute.

Another Arsenal youngster who could go on loan this week is midfielder Jack Jebb, who recently returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines. Jebb has a loan spell with Stevenage earlier in the campaign and could return to the League Two side in the next few days if an arrangement can be agreed.

Loan report- Eventful debut for Martinez; frustration for Campbell and Podolski

Emiliano Martinez had an eventful debut for Rotherham United yesterday.

The Argentinean goalkeeper joined the Championship side on an emergency loan deal on Friday which is set to run until the end of the season, and was thrown straight into the action against Sheffield Wednesday, with whom he had a successful loan spell last campaign. Martinez made a couple of excellent saves in the first-half.

However, he conceded three late goals, including two in injury time, as Sheffield Wednesday eventually prevailed with a 3-2 victory.

Carl Jenkinson played the entirety of West Ham United’s 1-0 victory over Sunderland.

Lukas Podolski started on the right wing but was substituted in the 87th minute as Inter Milan were beaten 1-0 by Sampdoria.

Joel Campbell started and was deployed on the left wing before later being substituted as Villarreal lost 2-0 to Sevilla.

Wellington started but was replaced after 61 minutes as Almeria were beaten 2-1 by Athletic Bilbao. The Brazilian’s cross led to an own goal by Mikel Balenziaga.

Jon Toral was introduced in the 71st minute of Brentford’s 2-2 draw with Millwall, with the Spaniard setting up a chance for Jota.

Yaya Sanogo was an un-used substitute as Crystal Palace beat Stoke City 2-1.

Josh Vickers played as Concord Rangers beat Weston-Super-Mare 2-1.

Ryo wasn’t involved as Twente drew 2-2 with Groningen, but the Japanese winger did feature for Twente’s B team against Helmond Sport last week.

Bellerin rewarded with Spain U21 call-up

Hector Bellerin has been rewarded for his tremendous development this season by receiving his first call-up to the Spanish U21 squad.

The right-back, who turned 20 yesterday, has featured regularly for the Arsenal first-team in recent months in the absence of Mathieu Debuchy and has impressed with his forays down the flank, as well as showing some signs of improvement defensively.

Signed from Barcelona’s famed academy in 2011, Bellerin caught the eye with his displays for Arsenal’s youth sides before spending part of last season on loan at Watford.

This campaign has been his most successful to date, however, with Bellerin featuring 11 times in the Premier League and scoring his first senior goal against Aston Villa, in addition to playing four Champions League games.

The youngster, who has previously been capped by his country at U16, U17 and U19 levels, is set to feature for Spain’s U21s in their friendly fixtures against Norway and Belarus. He will join up with the squad on Monday.

Football Manager 2015 review

The latest iteration of the esteemed and long-running series, Football Manager 2015 is perhaps the most accessible version of the game to date.

Possessing a slick interface and helpful hints which enable users to make sense of the wealth of information available, it doesn’t take long to get underway and commence your journey into football management.

Immediately you are provided with an indication of just how many tasks a manager has to face on a daily basis. In addition to matches, you must ensure that your club’s finances are in line with Financial Fair Play, whilst also taking control over individual player training and keeping an eye on players who are progressing well in the youth team.

Transfers, of course, are another integral part of being a manager. Unlike in other games where a transfer for a relatively high profile player can be completed quite quickly, the system in Football Manager is much more realistic, with agents seeking to get the best possible deal for their player, often leading to several rounds of negotiations.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Football Manager is the lack of restrictions it impinges upon you. Your managerial style is entirely of your own making, from tactics to the coaching staff you employ.

Team-talks are also important and can play a significant part in affecting the morale and motivation of particular players. You have the ability to alter tactics and instructions during the course of a game, with the new engine demonstrating just how far this game has come in terms of graphics.

A new in-game editor provides further opportunities for customisation, whilst the online mode is also hugely compelling.

The sheer amount of, largely accurate, information available about each player is staggering, and only adds to the game’s realism. This is a game that requires you to pay full attention and adapt very quickly to what occurs on the pitch.

Football Manager isn’t for the faint-hearted or uncommitted, however. The addictive nature of the game is such that it is almost impossible to play it on a casual basis. With so many options available to you, especially when the transfer window is open, you are constantly left thinking about which decisions to make and how they will affect the overall make-up of your team.

Football Manager is a hugely compelling game and is a series that will surely continue to grow in stature. The loading times can be a little tiresome and the lack of a licence for the Premier League is something that could perhaps be addressed, but overall this is certainly a game that lives up to its reputation.

This was supplied by Cash Generator, who deal in Xbox 360 consoles.

Report- Jebb and Iwobi impress but Arsenal U21s are held by Blackburn

U21 Premier League

Blackburn Rovers 0 Arsenal 0

A much-changed Arsenal U21 team were held to a goalless draw by their Blackburn Rovers counterparts this evening, with both sides coming close to scoring in a competitive encounter.

Perhaps with Friday’s game against Aston Villa in mind, coach Steve Gatting made six changes to the team that started the defeat to Derby County last time out, with Matt Macey, Renny Smith, Semi Ajayi, Marc Bola, Jack Jebb and Stephy Mavididi all coming into the side, the latter making his first start at this level.

Earlier in the campaign Theo Walcott made his Arsenal return in the corresponding fixture, but this was a rather more low-key affair, with Arsenal’s inconsistent form at this level continuing.

Macey

Smith-Ajayi-O’Connor-M. Bola

Kamara-Maitland Niles

Zelalem-Jebb-Iwobi

Mavididi

Subs: Lipman (for Jebb, 72), Robinson (for Zelalem, 89). Not used: Iliev, Dobson, Sheaf.

Dan Crowley and Krystian Bielik were amongst the players who didn’t feature, but the young Gunners still managed to create plenty of chances in their absence.

Arsenal started brightly and very nearly opened the scoring with less than ten minutes on the clock when Ainsley Maitland-Niles saw his effort repelled by goalkeeper David Raya before Gedion Zelalem struck a post with a fierce effort.

Jebb, meanwhile, was relishing his return to the side. The midfielder spent several weeks on the sidelines after suffering an injury whilst on loan at Stevenage, but he was back to something approaching his best here as he created some inviting chances for his team-mates.

Firstly Jebb’s corner was met by Maitland-Niles, who skewed his effort over the crossbar. Jebb then played an intelligent pass into the path of Glen Kamara, but the Finnish youngster, restored to his favoured position at the base of midfield, could only shoot over.

Jebb was involved again shortly afterwards when his deflected effort fell into the path of Maitland-Niles, who shot wide. Arsenal continued to pressurise the Blackburn defence with the half-time whistle approaching, but the game remained goalless at the break after Mavididi was denied by Raya.

Blackburn saw slightly more of the ball in the second period and the hosts came close to breaking the deadlock through an ambitious strike from Dean Rittenberg.

Arsenal still managed to pose a threat at the other end, though, with Iwobi becoming increasingly involved in proceedings. The winger, who has trained frequently with the first team of late, cut inside and found Zelalem, whose shot struck the side-netting.

Iwobi then found Zelalem again but the midfielder’s luck was still out as Raya comfortably gathered his header.

Blackburn’s capabilities couldn’t be discounted, however, and the young Gunners were served a warning when Devarn Green’s effort cannoned off Macey’s far post.

The game lost much of its rhythm in the closing stages and Arsenal were unable to seize all three points despite the introduction of Austin Lipman as a substitute. The result means that Gatting’s side have won just one of their last five fixtures, something that they will seek to address when they face Villa on Friday.

Donovan trains with first-team but Arsenal U18s lose again to Norwich

U18 Premier League- Play offs

Arsenal 1 (Eyoma (78)) Norwich City 2 (Couzens (26), Middleton (79))

Eyoma scored his fourth goal of the season

Eyoma scored his fourth goal of the season

The commencement of the end of season play-offs was supposed to provide Arsenal U18s with an opportunity to forget their dismal league form this campaign, but Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at home to Norwich City was familiar for all the wrong reasons.

Keto

Wright-Da Graca-T. Bola-Chatzitheodoridis

Sheaf-Donovan

Robinson-Mourgos-C. Willock

Eyoma

subs: Da Silva (for Robinson, 66), Tabi (for Sheaf, 84). Not used: Huddart, Nketiah.

It was actually one of the better performances that Frans De Kat’s side have produced this season, with wingers Tyrell Robinson and Chris Willock posing a regular threat and Aaron Eyoma, deployed as a central striker this season, also heavily involved.

However, those positives were marred by yet more individual errors, most of which occurred in Arsenal’s own half, which ultimately prevented De Kat’s team from being able to take anything from the game.

The tone was set in the opening stages when a slack pass from goalkeeper Hugo Keto presented Norwich with a goalscoring opportunity that they failed to take.

Arsenal responded, with Willock seeing a shot saved following good work from Harry Donovan.

However, Norwich’s considerable threat soon became apparent, with Louis McIntosh shooting over after the visitors carved Arsenal’s defence apart with an intricate attacking move.

The opening goal came courtesy of schoolboy defending from schoolboy defender Tolaji Bola, who missed the ball, allowing George Couzens to race through and score.

Norwich have had an even worse campaign than Arsenal in terms of results but they returned to London Colney full of confidence having won here just a couple of weeks previously.

Arsenal, to their credit, did at least mount a meaningful response to falling behind. A neat pass from Elliot Wright found Eyoma, with the latter controlling brilliantly before shooting over.

Robinson also sent an effort off target after he was located by Willock, but Arsenal were hugely fortunate not to fall behind shortly afterwards following another lapse in concentration.

Kristopher Da Graca was the guilty party on this occasion, with the centre-back losing control, enabling former Arsenal youngster Benny Ashley-Seal an opportunity to run through on goal. However, Ashley-Seal lost his footing at the crucial moment and was unable to regain his composure, providing Arsenal with a lifeline in terms of their hopes of salvaging something from this game.

They drew level shortly after that incident, with the alert Eyoma applying the finishing touch to a neat move that involved good combination play from Ben Sheaf and substitute Josh Da Silva.

It wasn’t long, though, until Norwich regained control of proceedings and, unsurprisingly, it was another error that cost Arsenal, with Donovan this time losing the ball in a dangerous area, enabling Glenn Middleton to inflict Arsenal’s eleventh league defeat of the season.

*Arsenal U18s remaining Play-Off fixtures: Stoke City (A), Blackburn Rovers (H), Bolton Wanderers (A), Newcastle United (A), Southampton (H), Fulham (A).

* With several players on U21 duty (Steve Gatting’s side face Blackburn Rovers away tonight), Donovan was selected to train with the first-team squad at London Colney this morning prior to tomorrow’s Champions League tie against Monaco.

Gabriel and Tomas Rosicky returned to training and could make the squad for the trip to France, whilst Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Debuchy and Serge Gnabry also trained as they continued to build up their fitness.

Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Isaac Hayden and Abou Diaby are all still out.

Loan report- Wellington faces Campbell; Podolski hits post; Sanogo returns

Wellington and Joel Campbell, two players who could soon be in direct competition for a place in the Arsenal squad, faced each other today as Almeria took on Villarreal in La Liga.

The game ended goalless, but both of Arsenal’s representatives were heavily involved in proceedings. Campbell, who started on the right wing in a 4-4-2 formation before being withdrawn in the 66th minute, had a shot saved by goalkeeper Julian.

Later, a rapid run from Wellington later led to Villarreal’s Juame Costa being dismissed for a second bookable offence. Wellington, who has shown some encouraging signs of consistency this campaign, was heavily involved in the majority of Almeria’s attacking moves, including one occasion when he created a chance for Tomer Hemed.

Lukas Podolski was introduced as a substitute at the start of the second half and rattled the post with a fierce effort as Inter Milan drew 1-1 with Cesena.

Yaya Sanogo returned from injury to play the final ten minutes as Crystal Palace beat Queens Park Rangers 3-1. The striker was unable to find the net after he was found by Dwight Gayle.

Jon Toral was introduced in the 80th minute as Brentford lost 2-1 to Cardiff City. The Spanish midfielder sent a header over the crossbar before setting up a goalscoring opportunity for James Tarkowski.

Josh Vickers played the entirety of Concord Rangers’ 1-1 draw with Bath City. Other than the goal the youngster was barely called into action.

Carl Jenkinson was absent from West Ham United’s defeat to Arsenal under Premier League rules.

Ryo was again left out of FC Twente’s squad as his temporary side beat Zwolle 2-0. The winger has featured mainly for Twente’s reserve team in recent weeks and played the whole game at that level in the goalless draw with Den Bosch on Friday.