Why is it going so right for Kwame Ampadu and Arsenal U18s?


Over the past six years Arsenal have often struggled for results at U18 level, and, while development certainly takes precedence over victories, it surely can’t be positive for a youngster to be losing every week.

Now, though, matters appear to have taken a turn for the better, with new coach Kwame Amapdu having got his tenure off to a stellar start.

With seven rounds of fixtures played, Arsenal U18s are top of their section, having won five, drawn one and lost one of their games. They have also scored more goals, 22, than any other major academy across the country, but why is it going so right for Ampadu’s side?

A glance at the team sheet for most games this season offers an insight into matters. Arsenal were previously renowned for fielding inexperienced sides at U18 level, but while some younger players, such as the outstanding Trae Coyle, have been involved this season, the side has often mainly been comprised of second-year scholars.


The likes of Edward Nketiah (who has continued to score with regularity this season), Josh DaSilva, Marcus McGuane, Donyell Malen, Vlad Dragomir, Tolaji Bola and Jordi Osei-Tutu are all vastly experienced at U18 level and have featured prominently for Ampadu’s side in the early weeks of this campaign.

DaSilva is still only 17 but he has been playing U18 football since the latter stages of the 2013/14 season and is a strong physical presence in midfield, while McGuane made several appearances for the second string last campaign but has been forced to drop back down to the U18s with the likes of Gedion Zelalem and Ainsley Maitland-Niles having returned from loan spells.

Nketiah’s prolific nature in front of goal (he has scored seven times in as many games) has been a huge help, but other players have also made significant contributions, and it is abundantly clear that Arsenal have a lot of talented wide players at their disposal.


The likes of Joe Willock (who is striving to earn his first professional contract at the club), Emile Smith-Rowe and Coyle have all impressed, while Nathan Tella marked his return from injury with a spectacular goal in the victory over Tottenham Hotspur last weekend and Reiss Nelson has also been involved in several games for Ampadu’s side.

Arsenal have excellent squad depth at this level, which is set to increase further when Charlie Gilmour and Yassin Fortune return from injuries. In fact, the young Gunners have so many players available that some of the new first-year scholars- namely Dominic Thompson and Jay Beckford- haven’t played a single game for the U18s yet this season.

There are still some matters to improve upon. Despite the fact that they have only conceded seven goals this season, Arsenal remain vulnerable at the back, with the club again struggling to produce defensive talents with the same regularity with which they bring through flair players.


Full-backs Jordi Osei-Tutu and Tolaji Bola have done well enough for the U18s, but there is a concern that they could find matters difficult in the older age groups, with Bola having already had some disappointing performances for the U23s and U19s.

Overall, though, matters are going very well for Arsenal and for Ampadu, with the coach having managed to get his side playing as a cohesive unit. The signs suggest that Arsenal could make an impact in the FA Youth Cup this season, while they will also seek to challenge for the league title.

In addition, many members of the U18 squad have been involved in the UEFA Youth League this season, which will inevitably be hugely beneficial for their development. At the moment, however, it is difficult for players to break through to the U23s given that Steve Gatting has an established group to work with at that level.

For now, though, it could hardly be any better for Arsenal or Ampadu with regards to the U18s, and the coach will hope that his side will be able to continue their winning momentum after the international break.

Loan report- Wilshere and Asano feature; Crowley unused again


Wojciech Szczesny played the whole game as Roma beat Inter Milan 2-1.

Calum Chambers played the entirety of Middlesbrough’s 1-1 draw with West Ham United.

Jack Wilshere hit the post and also missed an inviting chance as Bournemouth drew 2-2 with Watford, with the midfielder also being booked prior to being substituted in the 74th minute.

Takuma Asano started on the right wing and played 74 minutes as Stuttgart drew 1-1 with Bochum.

Glen Kamara entered the fray as an 85th minute substitute as Colchester United lost 2-0 to Carlisle United.

Stefan O’Connor came on in second half stoppage time as Maastricht beat Cambuur 2-1. Kelechi Nwakali was an un-used substitute.

Joel Campbell was an un-used substitute as Sporting Lisbon drew 3-3 with Vitoria Guimaraes.

Jon Toral was an un-used substitute as Granada lost 1-0 to Leganes.

Julio Pleguezuelo was an un-used substitute as Mallorca lost 3-1 to Lugo.

Dan Crowley was an un-used substitute as Oxford United beat Bolton Wanderers 2-0.

Ryan Huddart was an un-used substitute for Eastleigh’s 3-3 draw with Woking.

Tafari Moore wasn’t involved as Utrecht lost 3-2 to Ajax.


Report-Tella hits winner on comeback as Arsenal U18s beat Tottenham 4-2


Tolaji Bola (Image: Tottenham Hotspur)

Arsenal U18s remain top of the table following an impressive 4-2 victory away to rivals Tottenham Hotpur today.

Tottenham took the lead through Reo Griffiths before Arsenal equalised courtesy of a rare goal from Kostas Pileas.

Joe Willock, who has been in excellent form of late, then put Arsenal ahead only for Tottenham to level matters with another goal from Griffiths.

It was Arsenal who would prevail, however, with substitute Nathan Tella, back from a two month injury lay-off, making it 3-2 before schoolboy Trae Coyle added further gloss to the scoreline with a late strike.


Osei Tutu-Olowu-Pileas-T. Bola




Subs: Tella, J. Willock, Benson, Ballard, Crean. 

Report: Dragomir impresses but Arsenal U19s suffer frustrating defeat against Basel

UEFA Youth League Arsenal 1 Basel 2

By Jeorge Bird @ Meadow

Park, Borehamwood 

Arsenal U19s are still seeking to kickstart their UEFA Youth League campaign after they suffered an agonising 2-1 defeat at home to Basel today. 

The young Gunners, wearing their away kit, fell behind to a spectacular long range strike from Eray Cumart before Vlad Dragomir equalised after the break. 
However, with Krystian Bielik having to be substituted at half time after clattering into the advertising hoardings, Arsenal had much defending giving in the second period. 

It appeared that they had done enough to secure a point but the referee gave Basel a controversial late penalty when Chiori Johnson was adjudged to have handled in the area. 

Basel’s Neftali Manzambi converted the spot kick and Arsenal now have just one point from their first two games. 

Andries Jonker fielded a strong side but Chris Willock and Jeff Reine-Adelaide were absent. 

Schoolboy Trae Coyle made the bench, as did Kaylen Hinds, who is over his latest injury setback. 

Basel were presented with an opportunity to take the lead early on following a mistake from Kristopher Da Graca but they were unable to take advantage. 

Arsenal then started to dominate proceedings and they kept the ball well without ever really threatening the Basel goal in the first half. 

Stephy Mavididi laid the ball off superbly for Donyell Malen, but the Dutchman couldn’t quite latch onto it. 

The young Gunners continued to lead the way in terms of possession but there was always a danger that they could get caught out on the break and Bielik had to make an impressive intervention to cut out the danger on one occasion. 

Hugo Keto then had to save with his feet after his goal kick went straight to a Basel player. 

Soon Keto was picking the ball out of the back of the net following a spectacular effort from Cumart from the halfway line that deceived the Finnish goalkeeper. 

In a half that wasn’t exactly incident packed this was a dramatic moment. 

Matters then turned from bad to worse for Arsenal as Bielik crashed into an advertising hoarding and suffered what appeared to be a serious injury. 

Bielik was replaced by Tolaji Bola for the start of the second half, and Arsenal seemed intent on equalising straight away. 

They signalled their intent when Dragomir saw his free-kick gathered and the Romanian found the net with his next attempt as he finished neatly following good work from Marc Bola. 

Despite equalising, Arsenal then found themselves under a significant amount of pressure from the Basel attack with the Swiss side being allowed through too easily on some occasions. 

Reiss Nelson had a rare effort saved for Arsenal but he, along with Josh DaSilva, was then withdrawn, with Hinds and Coyle entering the fray. 

Keto then made a good save to keep Basel at bay but the visitors continued to press for a winner and, somewhat fortuitously, they achieved their aim when a penalty was awarded and Manzambi scored.  

Arsenal had no time to respond and were left devastated at the final whistle. 

Jonker’s team didn’t play badly and Dragomir was particularly impressive, but Arsenal seemed to lack a spark going forwards, while the loss of Bielik proved costly. 

In order to progress to the knockout stages Arsenal need to start getting points on the board, starting against Ludogorets, who were thrashed 8-1 by PSG today. 
Arsenal: Keto; Johnson, Bielik, Da Graca, M. Bola; McGuane, DaSilva; Malen, Dragomir, Nelson; Mavididi. 

Subs: T. Bola, Hinds, Coyle. Not used: Virginia, Mourgos, Nketiah, Osei-Tutu. 

Talented Joe Willock looking to match his brother’s achievements at Arsenal


Joe Willock will undoubtedly have been extremely proud when his brother Chris made his competitive debut for the Arsenal first-team last week, but now the younger sibling is seeking to show that he can also be involved in the senior set-up.

A talented winger who has represented England at youth level, Joe Willock is skilful and direct while he also possesses a goal threat. His first season at U18 level was a little frustrating as, perhaps owing to the fact that he is the youngest player in his age group, he found game time limited.

Now, though, he is a fully-fledged member of Kwame Ampadu’s U18 team and has played a key part in the side’s impressive start to the season.

Although he isn’t the strongest physically, Willock is adept at beating players, while he possesses the ability to play killer passes for his team-mates to latch on to. A good crosser and a sublime dribbler, Willock is a very direct player and has been one of the standout performers for the U18s this season.

If he continues to progress at this rate then Willock should be able to earn a professional contract this season, with involvement in the UEFA Youth League and the U23s the next step in his development.

He is still some way off matching the achievements of his brother, who is on the cusp of the first-team squad, but the prospect of there being more than one Willock representing the Arsenal senior side in the future can’t be discounted.

Arsenal take former Celtic goalkeeper Alex Crean on trial


Oasis Shirley Park

Arsenal have given a trial to talented young goalkeeper Alex Crean, who previously played for Celtic and Crystal Palace.

The 16-year-old currently represents Bromley, for whom he was an unused substitute in the National League on several occasions last season.

Crean, who was born on New Years’ Day 2000, was on the bench for Arsenal U18s against Leicester at the weekend, with the Gunners set to make a decision over whether to sign him.

If he did join then Crean would provide back-up to Joao Virginia, who is Arsenal’s first-choice shot-stopper at U18 level.