Arsenal gave scholarship deals to 15 young prospects in the summer and they have all progressed at varying rates since then. Here’s a summary of how the season has unfolded for each player so far.
A product of the club’s Hale End academy who can play at centre-back, Bola has more frequently been used as a left-back this season and has been a mainstay at U18 level. In recent weeks he has been called upon for the older age-groups and, in the absence of the injured Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, has started the past two games for the U21s.
Like several of Arsenal’s foreign recruits, Chatzitheodoridis had to be patient at the start of the campaign for the paperwork to be processed to enable him to feature for the club in competitive fixtures. His debut against Tottenham Hotspur was error-strewn, however, with the left-back appearing to be hopelessly out of his depth. He should be given time to settle in, though, and it is hoped that he will show some more encouraging signs in the second half of the campaign.
A right-back signed from Fulham’s academy towards the end of the season, Centeno has started the past eight games for Arsenal at U18 level and also made the bench in the UEFA Youth League. Quick and a good passer, he can get caught too high up the field on occasion, but has made impressive strides in recent weeks.
Kristopher Da Graca
The imposing centre-back has endured a difficult start to his Arsenal career. He is yet to receive the paperwork enabling him to play in England, but would be unable to feature anyway as he is currently carrying an injury. The Swedish youth international will hope to be involved in the New Year.
A player who garnered much experience of U18 football whilst he was still a schoolboy, Dobson, who can play as a centre-back or a defensive-midfielder, made his U21 debut against Newcastle United and has also appeared in the UEFA Youth League. An interesting prospect for the future, his ability to break up play is impressive.
Diligent central-midfielder Donovan has quietly established himself as an important player for Frans De Kat’s U18 team. The youngster isn’t a frequent goalscorer, but he creates numerous chances for his team-mates in addition to being a good tackler.
The winger has been a more regular presence in the U18 team of late. Despite not being one of the club’s brightest prospects, he cannot be accused of shirking any responsibility with his tracking back and general enthusiasm. A good crosser of the ball.
A very bright prospect who was plucked from Leyton Orient’s academy as a schoolboy, Hinds has featured at all three age levels this season. Usually a striker, the England youth international can also operate as an attacking midfielder. He has made quite an impression in Arsenal’s UEFA Youth League campaign and should push on further as the season develops.
The right-back has featured regularly in the UEFA Youth League and made his debut for the U21s against Blackburn Rovers recently. The only problem with his involvement in the older age groups is that his participation in those fixtures has often seen him rested for the U18s, depriving him of valuable game time.
Like Da Graca, Finnish goalkeeper Keto is yet to feature for Arsenal due to paperwork issues. When he returns he is likely to be the deputy at U18 level to Ryan Huddart, the tall goalkeeper who was on the bench for the first-team in the Champions League recently.
Striker Mavididi started the season in scintillating form as he scored ten goals in the first six U18 games of the season. However, since then the goals have dried up and he hasn’t found the net in his past three starts at that level. He has, though, featured for the U21s and in the UEFA Youth League.
A Greek central-midfielder who has compared his own playing style to that of Mesut Ozil, Mourgos is yet to reach such lofty heights in an Arsenal shirt, but, in fairness, he has only played four games so far so it is perhaps a little early to judge him.
The dynamic winger was excellent at U18 level this season and, although he has missed some games through injury, he has caught the eye again this campaign with four goals in five games for the U18s.
A midfielder who was signed from West Ham United’s famed academy in the summer, Sheaf has been mainly used as a substitute for the U18s but has impressed with his passing range when called upon. He should make his way into the starting line-up as the campaign progresses.
Perhaps the most recognisable name on this list, Willock played for the Arsenal first-team in a friendly against Boreham Wood in July. The winger has been one of the club’s standout players at youth level, too, and has impressed in the UEFA Youth League. He could break into the U21 team after Christmas.
Jeorge Bird is the author of www.arsenalyouth.wordpress.com Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird
I really enjoy these updates. Great to know what’s going on with players who we could be cheering on in the first team in years to come (if we’re optimistic!)
Excellent snippet. We really need to keep nourishing our squad with quality academy players. Our left back spot has been pretty much sorted for a 20 year period via our youth players.. would love to see something similiar happen in other areas of the pitch.. I dont expect us to produce the next Messi but somone of quality at CB maybe.
I would just like to hear commentators and pundits trying to pronounce Chatzitheodoridis. I can’t think of a better reason for hoping one of these guys makes it…
Arsenal will have to get you pay more for printing his name on kits. Wish to Chatzi to make it to first team. Chatzi, not bad !
Why is Wenger sitting on his hands when we have GEORGE DOBSON!
Hello, just wondering how many of our current players have made it from the academy?
Wilshere, Gibbs, Bellerin, does Szcz count? does Gnabry count?
Who are close to making it?
Hayden, Zelalem, Akpom…
Did I miss anyone/is this accurate?
Afobe is looking surprisingly good at MK dons. He looks confident and his physique transformation from wiry kid to powerful young man is striking. At present, I’d take him over Sanogo all day long.
Really like knowing what’s going on with the youth at the club,would love to see clubs bringing more players through there youth systems into senior football
I watched the friendly at Boreham Wood where WIllock played. My goodness, the lad looks the real deal! I hope to see him in an Arsenal shirt for years to come. With prospects like Gnabry, Huddart, Hayden, Zelalem, Akpom, Crowley, and Willock coming through, I think we’ve got a pretty good pipeline going.
Some great names, if you didn’t know better you would swear our youth are computer game regenerations..
Nice article Jeorge, as ever. Thanks.
Too early to make a Dobby the elf joke about Dobson?
Kristopher Da Graca will fit in just fine lol a defender with injury problems!!!
Great article – like some of the others on here, it is always good to see what we have coming through.
Just a few questions for either Jeorge or some of the other avid followers of the youngsters.
1. Are you seeing any tangible difference since the younger age groups were given a bit of a shake up? Style of play, overall technical abilities etc.
2. Of the names above, which of them are most likely to be making some sort of impact with the 1st team in the cup competitions etc, over the next few seasons?
Top-class article, as always. Excellent work, Jeorge!