The first-team may still have two crucial fixtures left to play, but Arsenal’s youngsters will be heading for their holidays shortly after both the U21s and U18s concluded their respective seasons last week.
It has been a memorable campaign at youth level, with Serge Gnabry featuring in the Premier League and Champions League, whilst several other players also received their maiden senior call-ups. It is hoped that at least one youngster will be promoted permanently to the first-team squad this summer, with right-back Hector Bellerin the current frontrunner in that regard, with the 18 year old having developed apace during his second season at the club.
The former Barcelona youngster does, however, still have some improvements to make, and was given a torrid time by lively Liverpool winger Jordan Ibe during the 1-1 draw between the sides at U21 level last week in what was potentially the last ever game at Underhill. After a tame opening period from both sides, Arsenal took the lead through a ferocious Thomas Eisfeld shot from distance, but Liverpool came away with a deserved point after substitute Villyan Bijev applied the finishing touch to a swift counter-attack.
That result meant that Arsenal finished in 5th place in the Elite Group, some 13 points behind leaders Tottenham Hotspur, with the final standings perhaps a consequence of the Gunners constantly rotating their side at second-string level, with the occasional importation of first-team players returning from injury.
The U18s also finished mid-table in their section, eventually securing 4th place after a dramatic final day victory over Newcastle United. The young Gunners prevailed 5-4 in a thrilling encounter on Tyneside, with winger Anthony Jeffrey, who spent time on loan at Stevenage earlier in the season, scoring a 91st minute winner to secure the three points. Jeffrey had opened the scoring and also teed up Austin Lipman to extend Arsenal’s advantage, whilst Tarum Dawkins and Jack Jebb, the latter with a superb free-kick, were also on the scoresheet.
On Tuesday evening a mixed U21 and U18 side took on non-league Wimborne Town in a benefit match for two Wimborne players, with Arsenal eventually prevailing 2-0 thanks to a brace from substitute striker Chuba Akpom, who has enjoyed an excellent campaign, with the 17 year old having scored 19 goals in all competitions, with the majority of those coming at U21 level despite the fact that he is in his first full year at the club.
With the fixtures finished, there are just a few training sessions remaining before the youngsters will be let go for the summer. As mentioned previously, many of them are unlikely to come back, with a whole range of players set to either be released or sold to make way for the next crop of youngsters coming through.