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.