It is fair to say that the past week has been a positive one for many of the young players at Arsenal, with the Reserves and under-18s both winning and two members of the latter side training with the first-team ahead of tonight’s Champions League tie with AC Milan.
The under-18s overcame Crystal Palace with a 1-0 victory on Saturday thanks to a Josh Rees strike, and, if truth be told, the scoreline should have been more emphatic. Schoolboy midfielder Jack Jebb, who recently returned from injury, dominated proceedings as he dominated his outstanding passing ability. Winger Jeffrey Monakana, who has been told he is free to leave the club, found himself in the unusual position of being on the opposing side at London Colney as he came on as a second-half substitute for Palace, with whom he is currently on trial.
Yesterday, the Reserves comfortably dispatched of Wolves with a 3-0 victory. Nico Yennaris, Oguzhan Ozyakup and substitute striker Philip Roberts scored the goals, as Neil Banfield’s side won their second game in succession. Recent signing Thomas Eisfeld was absent through injury, but Sebastien Squillaci was called upon at the heart of defence. Ozyakup was the standout performer, creating numerous chances as well as scoring himself, and his performances at this level this season suggest that the Dutchman is ready for a loan spell, something which could well occur in the next couple of weeks.
Those weren’t the only positives to take from the week, however. Yesterday, whilst the Reserve game was ongoing, two members of the under-18s side trained with the first-team squad ahead of the Milan game. Jordan Wynter, who has been deployed in his preferred holding midfield role this season, and schoolboy left-back Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill were the duo selected to train with Arsene Wenger’s side and will surely benefit from the experience.
One negative to emerge, however, was the fact that Chuks Aneke, who is currently on loan at Stevenage, was left out of the League One side’s matchday squad once again for their game last night. The promising midfielder, who made his first-team debut in the Carling Cup this season, has only made five league appearances since joining Stevenage and the current signs suggest that he will be returning to Arsenal once his loan expires next month.