Monday, October 3, 2022

Arsenal youngsters return from Dortmund with mixed feelings

The first-team’s start to their latest Champions League campaign may have been hugely frustrating, but Arsenal’s youngsters returned from Dortmund in a much happier mood this week after prevailing 2-0 in their opening UEFA Youth League fixture.

An Arsenal U19 team will be facing the same group stage opponents at the senior side, and there were several positives to take from Wednesday’s win. Both goals came courtesy of striker Kaylen Hinds, who was one of three first-year scholars in the starting line-up.

Arsenal were without many of the players who helped them to reach the Quarter-Finals of this competition last season, with the likes of Chuba Akpom, Isaac Hayden and Jack Jebb now too old to feature in this tournament.

Instead, an exciting young side, containing the technical talents of Gedion Zelalem, Dan Crowley and Chris Willock, was very impressive in Germany, with the young Gunners hopeful of making further progress in the tournament.

Crowley and Willock provided the assists for the goals, and, whilst Dortmund were without a couple of their key players, Arsenal fully merited their victory.

Another point of note was that, with the exception of Zelalem, the entire Arsenal squad for this fixture was English, a commendable achievement for an academy that has been accused of favouring foreign youngsters in the past.

Whilst the youngsters returned from Germany with a win, Hector Bellerin, a player with much experience of playing for the youth teams, endured a very difficult evening on Tuesday as he made his Champions League debut at the Westfalenstadion.

Bellerin, like most of Arsenal’s players on the night, looked nervous from the offset and struggled to retain possession for any length of time. It was a little surprising to see the Spaniard, a bastion of consistency at youth level, suffering in such a manner. In mitigation, however, he wasn’t afforded much protection by his team-mates.

That performance will not cause Arsene Wenger to lose faith in Bellerin, however. Since joining from Barcelona three years ago, he has developed well and remains one of the club’s best prospects. A good performance against Southampton in the Capital One Cup next week could go some way towards restoring Bellerin’s confidence, even if Tuesday night provided an indication that perhaps he is not quite ready to compete for a regular starting berth.

Bellerin is unlikely to be the only youngster involved against Southampton, with Akpom, Hayden, Zelalem and Semi Ajayi amongst those who could be included in the squad against Ronald Koeman’s team.

The composition of the team is set to be split between senior players and young prospects, with Wenger likely to hand out starts to players such as David Ospina and Tomas Rosicky, who haven’t featured in the Premier League so far this season.

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



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Look at me Hector.




We’ve got some future players in there, hope they develop well and play for the first team….looking forward to the Capital One Cup against Southampton, love seeing the young guns in action…


As long as they dont mind the left wing its all good.


Is the Southampton match being shown on TV in the UK?


What impressed me the most (and that was pretty much the only impressive thing about that Dortmund game) about Bellerin was his headers. He was our shortest defender but won pretty much every header like he was the BFG. I’m officially on the Bellerin hype train


It was a bad performance from the whole team in Dortmund, but he did do a few things right. He kept things simple when he passed (though he did misplace a few as well, like everyone else), won nearly all his headers, and generally seemed an enthusiastic participant. Hope he gets a second start vs Southampton, he won’t be gegenpressed this time, so looking forward to an improved performance from Bellerin (and the team). After starting a game in the intimidating atmosphere in Dortmund, Southampton should be a relatively calmer prospect.

palace gunner

As you say pressure hit the team and hector was fast on the ball he will improve with more team work it was gd to see gibbs back as well.


what has happened to Thomas Eisfeld?

Chairman Meow



Expect Diaby to get a start against Southhampton. He played 90 in the u21 match against Villa and imo was excellent. Strong, decisive and there were real glimpses of the talent he possesses..


but for injury propensity, Diaby is a beast in midfield. He is one of two players who can carry the ball for us through the middle. In later seasons (unfortunately interrupted by injuries), he has also matured defensively in awareness and positioning.

Hope he indeed gets a chance for the FA cup.


Think he will be on again for FA cup. Chambers and Bellerin rotating at Rb is a good thing. Only issue would be if Chambers gets a knock. The defensive ‘crisis’ or shortfall at Arsenal is not as big as the pundiots in the media would make it out to be. We have 7 quality players at the back with Bellerin (Debuchy of course out for a spell). He is at about the same age that Gibbs made a bow for the first team. We are only slightly short at Cback which is the worry bc it may impact other… Read more »

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