Concerns abound for struggling Arsenal U18s

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Arsenal U18s have struggled in the league for several years now, with many of the club’s best players often being pushed into the U21 side as quickly as possible.

This season, however, results at U18 level have been especially concerning. Despite a change in the club’s hierarchy at youth level, which saw Andries Jonker appointed as Academy Manager and Frans De Kat (pictured) installed as U18 coach, the youngsters have continued to deliver inept displays.

To provide some background, the U18s have won just one league game since September and have conceded an alarming 39 goals in their 21 fixtures.

The aim at this level, of course, is always to produce youngsters who are capable of breaking into the first-team squad in the future but losing nearly every week is hardly beneficial for either their confidence or their development.

The main cause of this abysmal form, somewhat inevitably, appears to be the defence. Many of the goals that the U18s have conceded this season have stemmed from individual errors, with the positioning of the full-backs and the communication between the centre-backs often being called into question.

There are some good attacking talents at this level, with Tyrell Robinson a dangerous winger who can also be utilised at left-back, whilst schoolboy striker Josh Da Silva possesses much potential.

In the past week, however, the U18s have suffered four concerning defeats in seven days.

Last weekend they lost 2-1 to West Bromwich Albion, despite an impressive individual strike from Greek midfielder Savvas Mourgos.

On Monday night came perhaps the biggest disappointment as De Kat’s side crashed out of the FA Youth Cup by losing 3-2 to Crewe Alexandra.

It was another inept Arsenal performance, with the defence struggling to cope with Crewe’s pressing game and high intensity. The most concerning aspect was that Arsenal were unable to muster much in the way of attacking momentum despite being able to call upon the likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Dan Crowley, Gedion Zelalem and Chris Willock.

Stephy Mavididi and substitute Marc Bola scored to give Arsenal hope of progressing, but Crewe were deserved winners and Arsenal’s wait for a trophy at youth level goes on.

U18 league action resumed on Wednesday with a trip to take on Tottenham Hotspur and this game resulted in yet another defeat, with Tottenham winning 4-1. Mourgos was again on the scoresheet for an inexperienced Arsenal side, but once more some disappointing defensive decisions proved to be Arsenal’s downfall.

Then, this morning, with Krystian Bielik making his first appearance for the club since his move from Legia Warsaw, the U18s slipped to another defeat, this time losing 3-1 to bottom of the table Norwich City, despite Da Silva’s strike.

It has been a season of much concern at this level and, whilst the results are clearly a major talking point, the biggest worry as far as the future of the club is concerned is the lack of defensive prospects emerging out of the club’s Hale End academy.

Jeorge Bird is the author of  www.arsenalyouth.wordpress.com  Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird

 

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Cracked
Cracked

Concerns abound for Arsenal’s over 18 side as well!

That’s a cheap shot, sorry, but is there ANY arsenal related good news lately? Even Alexis has been underwhelming lately 🙁

Triggs
Triggs

When we buy players who were excellent in their previous club, they become mediocre or shit after a few months under our management. Ózil was a world beater, considered one of the best if not The best playmaker around. Stated well for us, then faded into mediocrity. Giroud was Ligue 1 top goal scorer tearing it up and a big part of securing the title. Instantly wasteful and poor when he joined us. Admittedly he is getting back to pre Arsenal form more and more now for how long that last.

Poldi was supposedly better than Van Persie according to his former manager, Germany regular and 19 goals for a relegated bundesliga club. The club was affectionately known as FC Podolski. He to started out quite well for us, but faded into shit.

Chambers bright prospect, thrown into the fire but handled himself admirably and getting lots of praise. But he to fading away the longer he stays under our management. Cazorla also faded after a good start, but has come back to pre Arsenal form again lately after he was utilized in the right manner for how long that last. With Wilshere back he will find himself brushed aside soon enough in favour of the golden boy, just like Özil.

Welbeck were never really that good, but he has been even worse for us than he was at united, and cant see much progress either.

Gervinho was brilliant pre Arsenal, but he to faded away imto mediocrity/shit after joining us, but reignited his career after leaving Arsenal. Sanogo finally scored when he got away from Arsenal.

And most recently Alexis. Started out great and was the beast we knew from Barca, but he to is fading away more and more with each passing game and is bordering on mediocrity.

Who do we put this down to if not the management?

Johnwaynesimpson
Johnwaynesimpson

Triggs, that is such long winded gas! Can you think about something else please?

Seoighe
Seoighe

The goals against is alarming, however as it goes Wenger wants the youth team to be like, play like and train like the seniors, so you’d imagine the team is packed with 5 foot midfielders and nobody likes defending.

jordangooner
jordangooner

Jeorge, a good and thoughtful analysis as usual, well done. It is concerning for the team, with the new coaching set up this season, that we are shipping goals throughout the whole club from the under 18s upward. When you look at Southamptons set up, its amazing how they produce such excellent players, with less resources than us. Is is not the fact we are poor, but clearly ee should be much better,

Seoighe
Seoighe

Joking aside though it is the Dutch coaching teams first season in the job, and Jonker himself said everything has to be approved by Wenger so what do you expect. And how long have the Southampton staff been in place…

Harish P
Harish P

Wasn’t it on Arseblog we read that Brian McDermott had been brought in to scout for defenders? I hope that it includes at youth level, we should look to take advantage of the national search and sign opportunity these days if the defenders don’t cut the mustard. Unless it’s more a simple case of giving them team building work if the players are good enough and it’s just poor communication.

It’s painful to hear our renowned youth teams not doing so well, and for so long too.

jordangooner
jordangooner

Apologies this does not include the under 21s who have the best defence in the league!

David C
David C

I am a little uneducated to how these youth team works. Are the U21 and U18 the main teams? In North America, we usually just have an under 19 team associated with the bigger sports team or under 19 players that are drafted and used in the farm team. The farm team in hockey, for example, can have players of any age. I guess this would be similar to some reserve or B teams in Europe, like Barcelona have.

Great article, I always enjoy keeping up with the prospects.

Dexterbear
Dexterbear

The under 18s is for the youngest pro’s at the club, they sign their first full time contract and then join the u18s for the next 2 or 3 years. In the past in english football this team was called the youth team. The most prestidgous trophy at this level is the fa youth cup which is basically the fa cup for players 18 and under.

In english football we dont have farm teams like in north america or b teams that play in pro leagues like in continental europe. Each club traditionally has a reserve team which play against the reserve teams of other english clubs. The team was a mix of young players, first team squad players that arent playing regularly for the first team and first team regulars building up fitness after injury. A couple of years ago the fa changed the rules and the reserve team became the u21s. However 3 over age players are allowed.

I personally think the results problem is often caused by the club fielding much younger players than the opposition. We often look technically superior but the other team is physically more powerfull and a bit better organised because of the extra experience.

Asheville Gunner
Asheville Gunner

As another American not up on the English youth system, I definitely appreciate the explanation. Guess I’m not too bothered about the results of U18 considering your insights on technical quality v. physical development. Also, being realistic, Arsenal will always buy to plug gaps homegrown talent cannot fill.

GreekTragedy
GreekTragedy

Well, we’ve seen carling cup games where we assume every player will make it into first XI action. Four or five years ago we looked incredible but Wilshere was the only player to come through. No need to be too concerned, it’s impossible to tell who is going to make it at such a young age. Zelalem and Crowley will surely be getting phased into the first team so as long as the individuals are getting through, I couldn’t give a monkeys about the results.

Arsene's Apologist
Arsene's Apologist

I see that, but the mentality has to be developed too. If you are raising them to be content to lose so long as they develop individually, then you will get what you sow. If we want players who know the demand to win, and improve themselves because of it, then I think we help both the individuals and the club.

Dexterbear
Dexterbear

Coquelin is from the same youth team as wilshere. Since then we’ve had bellerin and gnabry come through. Its actually not too shabby.

GreekTragedy
GreekTragedy

I still can’t work out if wenger always saw coq as a future first teamer or if we were short in that position, had to use him and he took his chance. I’m swayed towards the latter to be honest.

yes
yes

it probably is more of the latter but that doesnt matter he is still a former youth teamer who has established himself in the first team squad. he has come through the arsenal system and looks good in the first team. Most young players get their first run in the side because of injuries.

Gandalf
Gandalf

“It was another inept Arsenal performance, with the defence struggling to cope with Crewe’s pressing game and high intensity.”

Sure we’re not talking about the first team here?

Hi-brid
Hi-brid

But 4 matches in a week?!? That’s some schedule.

Ozil+alexis=goals

I went to the hive on Monday for the Crewe game and we were so average. The back four looked very shaky especially steffan oconner who was constantly out of position and he scored an own goal because of this. Something is clearly wrong and this needs to be changed as soon as possible. In 2009 I went to the fa youth cup final and that team contained some amazing talent and since then everything has plummeted completely. I remember being certain that at least four or five if these youngsters would. Make it but only one- jack wilshire – made it. Something’s gone wrong and it must change.

bro
bro

You need to go and do some coaching badges before you go online and make statements that are incorrect.Football is a team game that involves 12 players and subs.I was at the game and we had an off day Just like the first team against Monaco.

Paul
Paul

Oh dear, sorry to hear that! 🙂

Ciderman
Ciderman

Safe to say Arsenal need someone in there to sort out the defense right the way through all the age ranges

Chilli
Chilli

Sounds like your the man for the job…?