Arsenal’s youngsters have made the best possible start to 2014 by securing progression in two prominent cup competitions.
On Monday night Arsenal’s U18 side turned in a hugely impressive performance as they dispatched of Peterborough United with a 6-1 victory in the Fourth Round of the FA Youth Cup. 16 year old midfielder Dan Crowley captured much of the attention after delivering a virtuoso performance, with the youngster setting up four goals and scoring the other two himself.
Chuba Akpom, who struggled for goals somewhat during the first half of the season, returned to form with an emphatic hat-trick, with the striker’s goals accelerating a temporary move to League One side Brentford, who he has joined on loan, initially for a month.
Last night saw Arsenal’s second-string face Fulham in the U21 Premier League Cup with coach Steve Gatting calling upon four members of the first-team squad, most notably Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who made his first appearance in five months after recovering from injury.
Oxlade-Chamberlain played the first-half of the 1-0 victory and, although he was evidently a little rusty after spending so long on the sidelines, he came close to scoring with a well-struck effort.
Arsenal’s goal came courtesy of Thomas Eisfeld, who continued his impressive scoring record since joining the club, but the most commendable performers from an Arsenal perspective were the defence and goalkeeper, with Matt Macey, who was signed from Bristol Rovers earlier this season, demonstrating his impressive reflexes as he kept a clean sheet.
Centre-backs Semi Ajayi and Isaac Hayden were also mightily impressive, and Arsenal’s reward for this victory is a home tie against Chelsea in the next round which will most probably take place at Emirates Stadium.
Another player who caught the eye last night was Nico Yennaris, who recently returned from a loan spell at Bournemouth where he didn’t play a single minute of football. The 20 year old, who normally plays as a defensive-midfielder or a right-back, was impressive in the unfamiliar position of left-back last night and may well leave the club on loan again before the transfer window closes this month.
Meanwhile, the club are currently making the considerably difficult decisions regarding which schoolboys should be offered a scholarship for next season. Some selections have already been made, with right-back Chiori Johnson receiving an extended stay, whilst goalkeepers Corey Addai and Harry Girling have been let go. The most promising schoolboy, however, would appear to be Chris Willock, with the diminutive England U16 international, who usually plays as a winger, having trained twice with the first-team recently.
Photo by Kieran Clarke