Welcome to my Arsenal blog for the 2015/16 season; here you can check out my thoughts on the current goings on at the club.
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Friday, 18 April 2014

Arsenal U18's vs Chelsea U18's; FA Youth Cup

A few times this season I've featured a number of Arsenal's youngsters in the blog. Arsenal's U18's playing over on ITV4 last night gave me a chance to see some of the players play a full ninety minutes for the first time. In terms of watching the youth team play I've been restricted to highlights packages and hearing and seeing stuff about the players. Watching them last night gave me a good idea of who we hope will make the first team, or go a at least a bit further in their development as a footballer. It was a game that was played at the Emirates. A great experience for all involved but the young Gunners suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Chelsea. The result meant that they failed to reach the final of the FA Youth Cup, losing 3-1 overall on aggregate after being defeated 2-1 at Stamford Bridge last week.
Josh Vickers impressed despite being at fault for the goal
I haven't been able to write as many articles on this site as I would've liked to but so far I have featured Hector Bellerin & Jon Toral, Kris Olsson, Chuba Akpom and Gedion Zelalem. The latter of the five players I've just named played in this game. Perhaps the two most known too and the biggest prospects within the youth team. Chuba Akpom has been on the bench in the last two of the first team's fixtures and scored a great goal in the first leg against Chelsea last week. He was perhaps Arsenal's brightest spark looking to set the play up and run at the defence. The type of striker that Wenger seems to be looking for at the moment, for example Yaya Sanogo against Wigan.

Gedion Zelalem's season has been interrupted with injury despite appearing on the bench this season for the first team. He even won a first team appearance against Coventry in the FA Cup. He didn't really get to showcase his talents as much as he'd like too but we know he has the quality from seeing him in previous matches. One player the Arsenal U18's really missed over the course of these two legs was Serge Gnabry. He's been out injured recently and in my opinion, had he been fit, would've played a big bearing in both games. Danny Crowley came on with about half an hour left and gave the side a much needed urgency going forward, playing behind the striker. The way he played was similar to that of Aaron Ramsey in the way he drifts forward, and turns past players cleverly.

We tend to hear a lot about the more attacking players in the youth teams but a mention has to go to the defenders and goalkeeper. Josh Vickers made two brilliant saves in quick succession in the first half but then made an error for Chelsea's goal as he allowed Colkett's effort to squeeze through his legs. Overall, the young keeper had a very good game though. Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill continued his spell of games at left back and showed to be a threat going forward. He reminded me a little of the way Kieran Gibbs plays. He's developing well and it wouldn't surprise me if he ended up getting a chance in the first XI in a few years time. Pleguezuelo, a boy who came from Barcelona in the summer has been much talked about since his arrival. He recently signed his first professional contract and looked pretty solid up against the pace of Chelsea's attackers.

As I said, it was a rare chance for a lot of fans to watch some of our youngsters play live. It was the first time the youth team have lost at the Emirates in eleven attempts but they can take plenty of heart from reaching the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup. Overall though, it was a pretty poor effort on the night and we didn't really test Chelsea whatsoever.

The teams lineups:

Arsenal U18's: Vickers, Moore, Siemann(67), Pleguezuelo, Ormonde-Ottewil, Maitland-Niles, Zelalem, Kamara(85), Jebb, Iwobi(59), Akpom.
Subs: Huddart, O'Connor(67), Crowley(59), Mugabo, Lipman(85).

Chelsea U18's: Beeney, Dabo(59), Christensen, Clarke-Salter(67), Aina, Houghton, Colkett(80), Loftus-Cheek, Kiwomya, Solanke, Dasilva.
Subs: Collins, Ssewankambo(59), Palmer, Mitchell(80), Brown(67).

Attendance: 9675

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