Wednesday, May 18, 2022

First-team players help Arsenal U21s to maintain unbeaten start

The Arsenal first-team are still unbeaten in the early stages of the season and the same sentiment applies to the Gunners’ U21 side, who have now taken seven points from their first three games after beating West Bromwich Albion 4-2 last night.

In front of a small crowd at Emirates Stadium Arsenal took the lead through a wonderfully-executed free-kick from Dan Crowley, with Chuba Akpom proceeding to score a hat-trick to seal the win. West Brom, pouncing on some slack defending, scored two late goals as something of a consolation, but Arsenal were in control for the majority of the game.

There were further positives to take, too, with Abou Diaby completing 45 minutes on his latest return to action. The midfielder is yet to feature competitively this season, but was impressive last night as he played some intelligent passes. Francis Coquelin and Joel Campbell also received run-outs, with the latter, operating as a playmaker, setting up Akpom for the goal that clinched his hat-trick.

Hector Bellerin, who is on the cusp of the first-team squad himself, caught the eye rampaging forwards from right-back, with the Spaniard creating another of Akpom’s goals with a precise cross.

The only downside generated by the involvement of the first-team players was that it meant that some of the U21 regulars such as Gedion Zelalem, Kristoffer Olsson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles had to be content with a place on the bench. Still, in front of the watching Arsene Wenger, it was a useful opportunity for some of the fringe first-team squad members to prove their worth.

The futures of two further players who fall into that category are yet to be resolved. Ignasi Miquel has trained regularly with the senior squad since returning from his loan spell at Leicester City, but the tall centre-back is now being linked with a permanent switch to Norwich City, a move that would surely be beneficial for his career at this stage.

Ryo Miyaichi, meanwhile, is over the injury he suffered towards the end of last season, but it’s currently unclear what the immediate future holds for the Japanese winger. The 21 year old is out of contract in the Summer and seems likely to depart on a permanent basis next June, but there haven’t been any suggestions that he could leave before the end of the current transfer window.

There was good news on the loanees front this week, with Benik Afobe making headlines by scoring a brace in MK Dons’ sensational 4-0 win over Manchester United in the Capital One Cup. It then emerged that Afobe signed a new contract with Arsenal shortly before heading out on loan, which could suggest that his chance of making the grade at Emirates Stadium hasn’t quite been extinguished yet.

Jeorge Bird is the author of  Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird


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Oh Ryo… What happened to Ryo?

Andy Mack

He’s still talented but needs to work on the physical side if he’ll ever make it in the PL. He needs to be much stronger and tougher (more resilient) but without losing his speed. If he manages it he still could make it but…


Poor Campbell. He’s too good for the reserves


Chuba Akpom should get a run out for the first team soon. Wenger put so much faith in a very raw sanogo and he has improved considerably but I think Akpom is techniqaly better with a huge potential.

This is the season that he pushes for the first team.

A person

yes!! Akpom bangs in goals for fun he has to get a chance soon!!

Afobe’s progress has massively been stunted by Wenger’s unwillingness to give him opportunities when he was doing the same for the reserves. stoked to see he’s signed a new contract .


Yeah right, and now Wenger doesn’t know how to bring a player from youth team into the first team. What else, i hope he know how many players take the field in a game of footballl.


Agreed, and it is the same with Campbell, We are not blessed with players who come to life in the box and know how to score. Then again Wenger going after Rabiot shows he only really loves mids lol

Bould's Eyeliner

They’re entirely unproven players in the EPL, which is viciously difficult to break into, not only for U21’s, but for professional players in the Championship league or even other top leagues in other countries. Not to mention the shit they get for playing for Arsenal whether they are ‘not good enough,’ by the fan perspective or getting whaled on by the media. Sorry, but the idea that Wenger ‘stunts growth’ or ‘only likes midfielders’ is absurd and is a reflection of the average fan’s limited knowledge of the club’s executive decisions. We’ve had plenty of homegrown players that were eventually… Read more »

jack jack jack

Akpom is hugely talented, and probably better at 1-on-1s and tricks than Sanogo, but put him in against Bayern Munich in the Champions League or against Liverpool in the FA Cup and I very much doubt he would have anywhere near the presence Sanogo had in those matches. Yaya is (currently) far more suited to top-level senior football than Chuba, but give Akpom a few years and he might just get there.

Bould's Eyeliner

It’s the physicality and movement. Sanogo provides much of the positional pressure that Giroud does, whereas Akpom is more of a poacher… Considering Arsenal need as much time to adjust to one of the world’s currently trickiest and dangerous speedsters, Sanchez, it makes more sense to have a backup CF that plays similarly to the main CF…

I suspect things will change during these next few months, however.

ronererier than ever

Harold Bishop plays the Chuba


We’re all talking about “massive” first team signings, but I wonder if Arsene has any clever youth signings in the works this summer (ala Serge Gnabry, Dan Crowley, the Ox, or Julio Pleguezuelo).

The list goes on. Wenger really does have an incredible eye for youth. Surely his scouting department also is due credit.


I don’t watch too many U21 matches, but from what I’ve seen Akpom, Zelalem and Bellerin look like the real deal. It’s not always easy to predict when it comes to younger players, as they develop differently, but I’m fairly certain those three will reach a very high level. The others? Hard to say. There might be someone else who will become top players, but I honestly doubt it will happen at Arsenal – our current first team squad is both young, and very, very good.

Springbank 1965

Gnabry looks good. Sanogo is still ‘work in progress’ though at the highest level. Crowley (17) is another and is consistent now he’s free from injury.

Wenger seems to be building for the future from both inside and out. The mere fact that he’s willing to play these ‘youngsters’ in First XI matches is probably one of the main reasons Chambers signed and Rabiot might.


I feel Zelalem has stagnated and in a few months people will lose excitement about him. After that it will be a test of his character. There is talent but it takes character to make the jump when u hit a wall.

149 Just Done It

Happy for Diaby. Still believe there is a great player in there and if he can finally get back up to match fitness then I think he can still be a great asset to Arsenal Football Club.


and he will be “LANS”

Why not

the irony is he actually will be.

Springbank 1965


Brilliant against Benfica. On the bench at Everton and Besiktas (away). Can play left back and right. Still only 19.

Not so long our youth were mostly good, but mostly unexceptional. Now a whole bunch of them look as if they could make it at the very highest level. And at Arsenal, to boot.

Who needs Southampton Academy now?


Hahaha,Sanogo,the languish French boy with little futbol brain,I have my doubt about him making the grade at arsenal,the few times I have seen chuba akpom plays,he has better promise than Wenger beloved yaya sanogo


Hahaha, iffynno, the lofty english boy with little brain, I have my doubt about him making the grade at arseblog, the few times Ive seen fatgooner commentating, it was more promising than iffynno and that speaks volumes I think

well excuse me!

Could chuba become our plan b for the senior squad within the next month or so?


Afobe signing a new contract before heading out on loan, the form of Akpom and the raw potential of Sanogo are probably indicators of why AW is reluctant to splurge in that position. I see these three as being the very best in a year or two. Give AW the benefit of the doubt, he seems to know what he’s doing.


Zelalem, you are too kind. Iffynno sounds very much like a yob than an English lad\y.

Sanogo is an Arsenal player. Bad mouthing him or any other of our boys\girls is a no-no.


Every time diaby comes through a game uninjured, that is great. I still have faith!


Wenger knows that he wants Campbell. He just doesn’t yet know what to do with him

New Magic Hat

Chuba Akpom!



I desperately want him to succeed at Arsenal, so that this becomes a thing:

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