Arsenal’s youngsters were not in action this week, but they have plenty of fixtures to look forward to in the near future, with the Gunners still competing in five competitions below youth team level.
U21 PREMIER LEAGUE
Arsenal sit 13th in table at present, rendering a title challenge unlikely, but Steve Gatting’s side do have some intriguing fixtures on the horizon, most notably Chelsea’s visit to Borehamwood early next month. They are also scheduled to take on Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, whilst Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad, who are coached by Patrick Vieira, will provide the opposition for the penultimate game of the campaign.
Gatting’s side are short of firepower up front following Chuba Akpom’s departure to Coventry City on loan, but first-team squad members Gedion Zelalem and Ryo have featured regularly for the second-string in recent weeks, whilst Isaac Hayden, who signed a new contract with the club yesterday, has been impressive throughout the campaign.
U21 PREMIER LEAGUE CUP
Having defeated Chelsea in the Quarter-Finals, Arsenal’s U21 side will host either Wolverhampton Wanderers or Reading in the last four of this exciting competition. This would appear, on the face of it, to be Arsenal’s best opportunity of winning a trophy at youth level this season, especially given that the likes of Carl Jenkinson and Serge Gnabry may well feature if they are not needed for the first-team.
UEFA YOUTH LEAGUE
Having negotiated their way through the group stages, Arsenal welcome Shakhtar Donetsk to Borehamwood later this month as the knockout stages commence. There is the added incentive that a victory could lead to Arsenal travelling to face Barcelona in the Quarter-Finals, which would see a long-awaited contest between two of Europe’s most prominent academies. The comparative experience of the likes of Kristoffer Olsson and Jon Toral is likely to be key to Arsenal’s progression in this tournament.
FA YOUTH CUP
After it was postponed last week, Arsenal will finally play their Fifth Round tie against Charlton in seven days’ time. Zelalem could feature but Arsenal will be without Dan Crowley, who is still recovering from an injury sustained whilst playing for the U21s in January. Crowley has been Arsenal’s star performer in this competition so far, scoring three goals and claiming plenty of assists in the two matches to date.
U18 PREMIER LEAGUE
For all their progress in other competitions, the biggest disappointment regarding Arsenal’s youth teams so far this season has been the wretched league form of the Gunners’ U18 side. Coached by Carl Laraman, they failed to win for 18 games between August and January, but recently things have picked up a little, with lively winger Tarum Dawkins helping them to secure two consecutive victories for the first time this season. They are scheduled to face Chelsea away tomorrow, but the game is likely to be called off due to the adverse weather conditions.