Report – Smith Rowe hits brace as Arsenal U18s thrash Colchester to reach FA Youth Cup semi-finals

FA Youth Cup quarter-final

Colchester United 1 (Jones 48) Arsenal 5 (Smith Rowe 41, 52, Saka 55, Balogun 66, Amaechi 74)


Emile Smith Rowe hit a brace as Arsenal U18s produced an impressive performance away to Colchester United tonight, with a 5-1 victory securing the young Gunners’ place in the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup.

Kwame Ampadu’s side will face Blackpool in a two-legged semi-final as Arsenal look to win the competition for the first time since 2009 but they didn’t have matters all their own way against a spirited Colchester side.

Arsenal were initially set to face Reading in this round of the competition only for the Royals to be thrown out for fielding an underage player, and Colchester were determined to prove their credentials.

After Smith Rowe gave Arsenal the lead, Colchester pulled level early in the second half courtesy of a penalty from Callum Jones.

Eventually, though, Arsenal’s class shone through, with Smith Rowe getting on the scoresheet again before Bukayo Saka, Folarin Balogun and Xavier Amaechi also found the net.

Arsenal again opted against calling upon Reiss Nelson in this competition, while they were without the suspended Tyreece John-Jules and Joseph Olowu wasn’t involved.

From the victory in the previous round over Middlesbrough there were two changes as Saka and Balogun replaced Matt Smith and John-Jules.

Colchester, meanwhile, called upon former Arsenal youngster Rob Howard.


Daley Campbell-Ballard-Medley-Thompson

Burton-Smith Rowe



Subs: Barden, Benson, Omole, M. Smith, Swanson.

Arsenal had prevailed past Sheffield Wednesday, Liverpool and Middlesbrough to reach this stage, and this was their third successive away fixture.

The young Gunners started in the ascendancy as Trae Coyle’s effort struck a post, but Colchester soon provided an indication of the threat they they possessed as Joao Virginia had to make an impressive reaction stop from Jones’ free-kick.

Virginia then made another good save in an even first half, with Arsenal responding by carving out an opportunity of their own as Vontae Daley-Campbell, bursting forwards from right-back, found Coyle, whose shot was saved.

The dangerous Jones then hit a post as Colchester sought to take the lead but it was Arsenal who went into the break in the ascendancy as Smith Rowe found the net with a neat strike.

Arsenal went into the break in buoyant mood but that feeling soon changed early in the second half as Zech Medley conceded a penalty following a challenge.

Jones stepped up and confidently slotted the ball past Virginia to pull a spirited Colchester side level.

Arsenal needed a moment of quality to restore their lead and that it was what transpired as Smith Rowe doubled his tally with an excellent free-kick.

From there, Arsenal grew in confidence and added further to their lead with Saka, a constant attacking threat, applying the finishing touch to a slick passing move.

There was more to come with Balogun scoring on his first appearance in this competition with a shot from close range.

Arsenal added a fifth as Amaechi finished confidently and, despite Colchester’s best efforts, Ampadu’s side managed to prevail.

The hope will be that Arsenal can go all the way in this competition, although Chelsea, who have won the tournament on each of the last four occasions, could potentially lie in wait in the final.


Loan report – Martinez concedes three against Real Madrid; Reine-Adelaide and Akpom feature


Lucas Perez played the whole game as Deportivo La Coruna drew 1-1 with Eibar.

Emiliano Martinez played the full game as Getafe lost 3-1 to Real Madrid.

Carl Jenkinson played the whole game and Cohen Bramall was an unused substitute as Birmingham City lost 2-1 to Nottingham Forest.

Julio Pleguezuelo played 85 minutes and was booked as Gimnastic Tarragona lost 2-1 to Tenerife.

Chuba Akpom played 80 minutes as Sint-Truiden drew 0-0 with Sporting Charleroi.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide played 62 minutes as Angers beat Guingamp 3-0.

Kelechi Nwakali is expected to feature when MVV Maastricht face Fortuna Sittard away tomorrow night.

Takuma Asano wasn’t involved as Stuttgart beat Cologne 3-2.

Joel Campbell wasn’t involved as Real Betis lost 2-0 to Valencia.

Krystian Bielik missed out through injury as Walsall beat Southend United 3-0.

There was no game for Tafari Moore this weekend as Wycombe Wanderers’ encounter with Crawley Town was postponed, while the same situation affected Ben Sheaf as Stevenage’s fixture with Mansfield Town was called off.

Charlton Athletic’s game with AFC Wimbledon was also postponed but Stephy Mavididi would have missed out through injury in any case.

Marc Bola wasn’t in action this weekend as Bristol Rovers didn’t have a game.


Loan report – Sheaf makes Stevenage debut; Lucas Perez misses penalty

Ben Sheaf made his debut for Stevenage as he came on in first half stoppage time in the 2-0 defeat to Notts County. 

Lucas Perez played the whole game and missed a penalty as Deportivo La Coruna drew 0-0 with Espanyol. 

Chuba Akpom played the whole game and was booked as Sint-Truidense lost 2-0 to Oostende. 

Kelechi Nwakali played the full game and was booked in Maastricht’s 3-0 win over Almere City. 

Julio Pleguezuelo played the whole game as Gimnastic De Tarragona drew 1-1 with Barcelona B.  

Carl Jenkinson played 83 minutes before being replaced by Cohen Bramall as Birmingham City lost 2-0 to Barnsley.  

Jeff Reine-Adelaide played 76 minutes as Angers beat Lille 2-1. 

Tafari Moore played 63 minutes as Wycombe Wanderers lost 4-2 to Morecambe. 

Emiliano Martinez was an unused substitute as Getafe lost 1-0 to Villarreal. 

Takuma Asano was an unused substitute as Stuttgart beat Eintracht Frankfurt 1-0. 

Marc Bola wasn’t involved as Bristol Rovers drew 1-1 with Scunthorpe United. 

Krystian Bielik has suffered an injury setback, which meant he didn’t feature in Walsall’s 2-1 defeat to Blackburn Rovers. 

Stephy Mavididi missed out through injury as Charlton Athletic lost 2-0 to Shrewsbury Town. 

Joel Campbell is set to miss out through injury when Real Betis face Levante tomorrow night. 

Dasilva hits winner and Iliev impresses as Arsenal U23s beat Dinamo Zagreb in Premier League International Cup

Premier League International Cup quarter-final

Arsenal 2 (Willock, Dasilva) Dinamo Zagreb 1 (Borna)

2018-02-24 20_48_33-Josh Da Silva Photos Photos - Arsenal v Bayern Munich_ Premier League Internatio

Arsenal U23s overcame their Dinamo Zagreb counterparts with a hard-fought 2-1 victory in the quarter-finals of the Premier League International Cup today, with midfielder Josh Dasilva scoring a late winner.

Having finished top of a group containing Bayern Munich, Porto and Reading, Arsenal were rewarded with another home fixture.

Coach Steve Gatting could call upon Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah again, with the trio replacing Yassin Fortune, Xavier Amaechi and Tyreece John-Jules in the starting lineup.


Osei Tutu-Mavropanos-Medley-T. Bola


Dragomir-Nelson-Smith Rowe


Subs: Virginia, Gilmour, John-Jules, Amaechi, Ballard, Fortune.

Nketiah, who was an unused substitute for the first-team against Ostersunds, had an effort saved after linking up with Nelson, but it was Willock who opened the scoring in the 27th minute with a composed finish.

Willock later had to go off after suffering an injury following some rash challenges.

Dinamo Zagreb showed impressive spirit in the second half and made matters difficult for Arsenal, with goalkeeper Deyan Iliev making several fine stops.

Iliev was disappointing in the league defeat to Leicester City last week but he was in inspired form on this occasion, even though he was eventually beaten when Miklic Borna scored.

Arsenal, however, managed to prevent extra-time as Dasilva scored the winner in the 87th minute.

(Team via @AFCFixtureNews)

Report – Coyle and Benson star as Arsenal U18s thrash Brighton

U18 Premier League

Arsenal 5 (Benson 48, Coyle 62 (pen), 81, Saka 74, Olowu 86) Brighton & Hove Albion 1 (Onen 45)

Arsenal U18s, inspired by Trae Coyle and Josh Benson, produced an impressive display to come from behind and beat Brighton & Hove Albion 5-1 at home in the league today.

Having been beaten by rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League Cup last weekend, Arsenal were determined to return to winning ways.

Coach Kwame Ampadu made four alterations to his side, with Vontae Daley-Campbell, Tobi Omole, Robbie Burton and Bukayo Saka replacing Zak Swanson, Harry Clarke, Matt Smith and Jordan McEneff.


Daley Campbell-Olowu-Omole-Thompson




Subs: Swanson (for Olayinka, 66), McEneff (for Saka, 79), Clarke (for Daley-Campbell, 79). Not used: Barden, M. Smith

Arsenal sought to cause problems for Brighton in the first half, but it was the visitors who took the lead just before the break when Jayden Onen, who was released by the Gunners last year, headed the ball past Joao Virginia.

The young Gunners showed renewed determination in the second half and soon clawed themselves level when Benson found the net.

Thereafter, Arsenal took control of the game and they went ahead when Coyle scored from the penalty spot.

Arsenal continued to push forwards and added further to their lead as schoolboy Bukayo Saka made it 3-1.

Coyle then got the goal of the game with a sweet strike after being teed up by Benson and there was still time for defender Joseph Olowu to get his first goal at this level and add further gloss to the scoreline.

The win sees Arsenal apply pressure on league leaders Chelsea, who are three points above them with a game in hand.

From Crowley to Willock – What happened to the 11 youngsters that left Arsenal last summer?

As is usually the case each year, a host of youngsters left Arsenal last summer, with some having been released, whilst others elected to move on themselves.

Here’s an assessment of how each of them have got on since leaving the club.

Stefan O’Connor


The youngster joined Newcastle United after being released and has been heavily involved for the Magpies’ U23 side, whilst he has also played in the EFL Trophy.

Although he was usually deployed as a centre-back at Arsenal, O’Connor has demonstrated his versatility at Newcastle, featuring as a midfielder and at right-back on occasion.

Kostas Pileas

2018-02-21 11_34_41-ANORTHOSISFC_FOOTBALLPLAYER⚽️ (@kostaspileas) • Instagram photos and videos.png

Another defender who was let go, Pileas struggled to perform consistently for Arsenal at youth level, but he was snapped up by Anorthosis, who play in the top tier in his homeland of Cyprus.

Pileas has made five league appearances so far but has mostly been an unused substitute.

Kristopher Da Graca

Fotboll, Allsvenskan, IFK Gšteborg - …rebro

The Swedish centre-back also returned to his home country with IFK Goteborg, with whom he has made his first steps into senior football.

Da Graca was sent off on his debut against Malmo but made several appearances thereafter.

However, having struggled he lost his place in the side.

Chris Willock


Perhaps the most high-profile youngster to leave Arsenal last summer, Willock turned down a new contract with the Gunners to instead sign for Benfica.

Despite being involved with the first-team in pre-season, Willock has only featured for Benfica’s B side so far, although the winger has impressed, scoring three goals and providing two assists in 17 games.

Kaylen Hinds

2018-02-21 11_36_42-kaylen hinds wolfsburg - Google Search.png

A player who frequently linked up with Willock when the pair were at Arsenal, Hinds left the club without having made a senior appearance.

The forward joined Wolfsburg and made his Bundesliga debut against Borussia Dortmund but became less involved with the first-team after former Arsenal academy chief Andries Jonker was sacked as the club’s manager.

Hinds subsequently joined second division side Greuther Furth on loan.

Glen Kamara


Kamara may have been unable to make the cut at Arsenal but the midfielder has thrived since leaving the club.

The Finnish youngster joined Dundee and has been a regular for the Scottish Premiership side, making 36 appearances across all competitions.

Dan Crowley


Once regarded as one of Arsenal’s standout youngsters, midfielder Crowley, having impressed on loan at Go Ahead Eagles, made the permanent switch to Dutch football with Willem II.

Crowley flitted between the first-team at the B team in the first half of the season prior to linking up with second division team Cambuur on loan.

Ismael Bennacer

The talented Algerian midfielder made it clear that he didn’t want to spend any more time playing U23 football and left Arsenal for Empoli.

Bennacer’s decision looks to have paid off so far as he has been a regular for the Serie B side and has impressed.

Savvas Mourgos


The midfielder was unable to really thrive at U23 level for Arsenal and ended up signing for Norwich City.

So far the Greek youngster has been a key figure for the Canaries in the second tier of Premier League 2, scoring twice in eight appearances.

Jon Toral


Strangely, given his quality, Toral left Arsenal without having made a competitive senior appearance.

Since then he has managed to hold down a regular starting berth for Hull City in the Championship, featuring as a right winger and, at times, an attacking midfielder.

Toral has scored once and provided three assists in the league for Hull as he looks to help the club avoid relegation.

Donyell Malen


A surprise departure right at the end of the summer transfer window, Malen returned to Holland with PSV Eindhoven.

The forward excelled for PSV’s U21 side in the first half of the season, scoring eight goals and providing two assists, and he has since stepped up to make two senior appearances in the Eredivisie.


Report – Dragomir scores but ten-man Arsenal U23s are outclassed by Leicester

Premier League 2

Leicester City 3 (Gordon 9, Eppiah 22, Barnes 60) Arsenal 1 (Dragomir 84)


Arsenal U23s’ hopes of winning Premier League 2 suffered a blow tonight as they were beaten 3-1 away by a spirited Leicester City side, with the young Gunners’ misery compounded by the dismissal of striker Tyreece John-Jules.

Vlad Dragomir, who had been pushed up front following John-Jules’ sending off, scored a late consolation but Arsenal missed out on the chance to go top of the table and produced a woeful performance that was sorely lacking in terms of cohesion and the creation of clear cut chances.

There were some positives to take from proceedings, with Josh Dasilva, who captained the side, performing very well in midfield, whilst left-back Tolaji Bola was rewarded for his persistence as he provided the assist for Dragomir’s goal.

However, Arsenal were very disappointing, with goalkeeper Deyan Iliev especially culpable as he frequently gave the ball away on account of his inaccurate distribution.

There were some mitigating circumstances, with Arsenal deprived of the services of Reiss Nelson, Matt Macey, Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock, who are all expected to be involved in some capacity in the Europa League encounter against Ostersunds on Thursday.

Still, though, this was an abject Arsenal performance, quite possibly the worst of the season so far.

Coach Steve Gatting made four alterations to the side that beat Everton last time out, with Dasilva, Zech Medley, John-Jules and the lesser spotted Yassin Fortune all coming into the side.

Meanwhile, scholars Daniel Ballard and Vontae Daley-Campbell, who have caught the eye for the U18s this season, received their first call-ups at this level.


Osei Tutu-Mavropanos-Medley-T. Bola

Smith Rowe-Dasilva


John Jules

Subs: Eyoma (for Fortune, 82). Not used: Keto, Gilmour, Ballard, Daley-Campbell.

Arsenal are used to starting games in the ascendancy, but, providing an indication of what was to come, that wasn’t the case on this occasion.

Leicester were impressive from the outset and signalled their attacking intent almost immediately as Harvey Barnes sent an effort wide.

With just nine minutes gone Leicester were in front and Arsenal goalkeeper Deyan Iliev should have done better than to flap at a corner, with Josh Gordon slotting home from close range to open the scoring after George Thomas sent the ball back into the area.

Leicester, who are in contention to win the title themselves, could have made it 2-0 shortly afterwards but Iliev partially redeemed himself by stopping Barnes’ effort.

Arsenal usually revel in dominating games with their slick, passing football but they struggled to muster any sort of momentum for much of the game.

They did manage to create one half chance when Dasilva prodded the ball into the path of John-Jules, but the latter’s effort was deflected over.

Leicester were utterly dominant and it was of little surprise when they made it 2-0 in the 22nd minute, with Josh Eppiah sending a fine strike beyond the reach of Iliev.

The pressure was unrelenting, with Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s free-kick whistling just wide, and Arsenal at times found it very difficult to cope with the situation they found themselves in.

As the first half drew to a close Arsenal started to grow in confidence and saw slightly more of the ball.

Xavier Amaechi, who will take some time to adapt to this level after stepping up from the U18s, found Dasilva, whose effort rattled the post, and then Dragomir and Konstantinos Mavropanos came close with further attempts.

There was, however, always something to fear at the other end of the pitch, with a Leicester cross deflecting off Mavropanos and hitting the crossbar and then Iliev made a good reaction stop to tip over from a header.

Arsenal, undoubtedly having received some stern words at half-time, emerged for the second half in determined mood and started to keep the ball a little better.

Dragomir shot wide from distance when he perhaps should have elected to pass and then Dasilva found the Romanian, who turned expertly but again couldn’t find the net.

Arsenal were made to pay for their lack of ruthlessness as, following an impressive move, Barnes rounded Iliev and scored to put Leicester 3-0 up and effectively end the game as a contest.

Their hopes of getting back into the game may have been all but over, but there was still more misery to come for Arsenal as, almost immediately, John-Jules was sent off for a reckless challenge on Barnes.

The young striker, who is a very exciting talent, lost his composure and will surely learn from this experience.

Dragomir then moved up front but much of the action was occurring down the other end of the pitch, with Leicester looking to make the most of their numerical advantage.

Iliev made a good stop but then, as he has a habit of doing, the goalkeeper squandered possession with a woeful ball out, and he was fortunate that Leicester didn’t take advantage, with Gordon hitting the post and Eppiah shooting wide.

Arsenal then brought on Aaron Eyoma, who was recently on trial at Queens Park Rangers, in place of the ineffective Fortune.

There was at last something for Arsenal to celebrate as Tolaji Bola pushed forwards and found Dragomir, who sent a sweet strike into the top corner to reduce the deficit.

Bola now has three assists in Premier League 2 this season, while Dragomir has six goals, but it was too late to spark a comeback.

Mavropanos, who didn’t disgrace himself despite the scoreline, saw an effort deflected wide and then had to make an impressive defensive intervention at the other end.

Leicester, though, fully merited their victory and outclassed Arsenal tonight, with Gatting’s side lacking dynamism.

The absence of Nelson, Nketiah and Willock, as well as those who left on loan in January, was certainly felt, as a run of six league games unbeaten came to an end.

Arsenal are back in action on Saturday when they host Dinamo Zagreb in the Premier League International Cup but they will certainly have to perform much better in that game if they are to avoid being eliminated.