After a dearth of news in recent weeks, there have been many significant events concerning the Arsenal Academy in the past week or so- including a signing, a departure and a hard-earned point against Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Youth League.
The game against Dortmund at Meadow Park was not the exhilarating spectacle of football you might expect from two of Europe’s most highly regarded youth sides, with a rather tame affair ending in a goalless draw and a dismissal apiece, with Chuba Akpom being sent off in the closing stages for dissent having also missed a penalty in the first-half.
Seven points from their first three group stage fixtures, however, does not represent a bad return for the young Gunners, and their next encounter, mirroring the schedule of the first-team is a trip to face Dortmund in the reverse fixture, where a win would virtually guarantee their progression to the latter stages.
Rather frustratingly, given that the Capital One Cup returns next week, Arsenal have not had a fixture to fulfil at U21 level for over two weeks, rendering in rather difficult for players to make an impression on Arsene Wenger and his coaching staff. One positive piece of news, however, is that midfielder Gedion Zelalem, who was promoted to the first-team squad last month at the age of 16, returns to full training today, although it is not currently clear whether the German youth international will stand any chance of featuring against Chelsea at Emirates Stadium next Tuesday.
One player who definitely won’t be featuring for the club again is centre-back Tom Dallison, who left Arsenal to join Brighton & Hove Albion this week. The 17 year old joined the Gunners from West Ham United at the start of last season, but found his opportunities severely restricted by injury in his first campaign at the club and was highly unlikely to be offered a scholarship with the Gunners.
Another, less surprising piece of transfer news emanated yesterday, with Arsenal completing the signing of 18 year old goalkeeper Matt Macey from Bristol Rovers. The tall shot-stopper, who turned out three times for the Gunners during a successful trial, is a good commander of his penalty area and will provide competition for Deyan Iliev at U21 level following Damian Martinez’s departure on loan to Sheffield Wednesday.
Arsenal U18s, meanwhile, remain without a win since the opening day of the season having lost 2-1 at home to Reading in their most recent fixture. Carl Laraman’s side took the lead through schoolboy Stephy Mavididi and looked to be heading towards victory, but two late goals condemned them to defeat. They travel to face Manchester City on Saturday in dire need of a victory.