Friday, March 1, 2024

Arsenal U21s showcase their attacking intent with flying start

Much has been made about the perceived lack of attacking options in Arsenal’s first-team squad, but at U21 level the attacking line is very much the Gunners’ forte at present.

Steve Gatting’s side have made a flying start to the new campaign and currently sit top of the Second Division having won all three of their fixtures so far this season.

The young Gunners are the highest scorers in the division with nine goals, five of which came in the demolition of West Ham United at Emirates Stadium last week.

In that fixture striker Stephy Mavididi, who has started the campaign well, scored a brace, with Kaylen Hinds, operating in the number ten position, also on the scoresheet.

That duo were ably supported by two wingers who are on the periphery of the first-team in Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Alex Iwobi.

Reine-Adelaide, whilst still a rather raw talent (he tends to lose the ball quite easily) is a considerable threat to defenders, whilst Iwobi has much experience of U21 football and uses his pace to excellent effect.

There have been goals form elsewhere, too, with deep-lying midfielders Glen Kamara and Ben Sheaf also getting on the scoresheet against West Ham; the latter rounding off the victory with a penalty against his former club.

In fact, Arsenal’s attacking options at U21 level are so strong that a player as talented as Chris Willock, who featured for the first-team in pre-season, can’t even get into the starting line-up at present. The winger was introduced as a substitute against West Ham and, so as to provide everybody with a reminder of his undoubted quality, promptly won the penalty which Sheaf dispatched.

Summer signing Yassin Fortune, meanwhile, can’t get into the U21 squad at present despite featuring at that level against Fulham in the opening game of the season. Fortune has instead been featuring for the U18s, whose form took a turn for the worse last week with a 4-1 defeat to Reading.

Arsenal took the lead through an effort that deflected in off striker Edward Nketiah, but Reading responded and the young Gunners displayed a worrying susceptibility towards conceding goals from set-pieces.

The lack of a bonafide defensive-midfielder was also in evidence, with coach Frans De Kat electing to deploy Ismael Bennacer and Savvas Mourgos, two attack minded players, in the pivot against Reading, which didn’t have the desired effect.

There was some more positive news regarding the U18s, however, with several members of De Kat’s squad being chosen to train with the first-team before their trip to face Newcastle United last week. First-year scholars Donyell Malen, Joshua Dasilva and Marcus Agyei-Tabi were all involved, along with schoolboy Reiss Nelson, an attack-minded youngster who is tipped for an incredibly bright future.

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

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Malen looks a brilliant prospect….hell we might need him this season…..joking. Or am i?

good ol' 1 nil to Woolwich

I would very much like the U21s to get out of that division and into the real thing this season… come on you young guns


What’s the scene with Bielik?

David C

Thanks for the updates! I love reading these.

Rohith J

Our U-21 squad is an alphabet soup of players.


Despite the troubles with the first team (seemingly temporary), the future is bright from the look of things. However, I would like to see how these players perform in the First Division of the U-21. Great work though!


It’s probably a mug’s game, but I’d be interested in your opinion, as a seasoned youth team observer, as to which players look genuinely most likely to make it for us at senior level. The Jeff looked an amazing prospect in the Emirates Cup, so it’s interesting to read how raw he still looks at under-21 Division 2 level. It seems a rarity nowadays for a teenager to establish himself in our first team (Bellerin an obvious exception). Does anyone else look close to that level yet?


Obligatory Nelson Hype:


In my opinion this is the most talented group of players we’ve had in quite some time. With Welbeck’s injury, is it possible that someone like Iwobi might get more first team chances?

bims lay

Thanks for this regular update which I for one, now look forward to.

A group of very talented young gunners….future is definitely bright no doubt, and the recent investment in the youth infrstructure seems to be paying a bunch. I also will like to see them push to the top tier, there is certainly enough talent in the squad to get there…COYYG!


Thank you for the youth squad updates!

But what is it with Arsenal and this double-pivot fetish?!


future looking bright for our young players

Andy Mack

I get the feeling that between;
A) some of then having a really good ‘pre-season tour’/ Emirates Cup
B) some of their team mates doing very well on loan
that it’s given them a real push to try to do well and follow the loaned players lead.
They really need to get back to the top division for next season.

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