Arsenal U18s got their season off to an impressive start as they beat Aston Villa 4-2 at London Colney yesterday, with striker Folarin Balogun hitting a brace.
Balogun made a major impact for the U18s in his first season as a scholar and also broke into the U23 squad, and he will be eager to impress again this time around.
With Eddie Nketiah, Stephy Mavididi and Tyreece John-Jules currently ahead of him in the pecking order, Balogun will have to be patient for opportunities as he looks to get back into the second-string setup, but for now it seems as if he will have a significant part to play for the U18s.
The 17-year-old, a graduate of Arsenal’s Hale End academy, is fast and extremely skilful. A player who is somewhat similar in style to Mavididi, Balogun knows that making the breakthrough at Arsenal won’t be an easy task, especially with several talented young attackers ahead of him, but he is determined to continue to improve.
There were some other notable performances from the game against Aston Villa, including the display of schoolboy Yunus Musah, who scored and provided an assist. Musah was linked with a move to Juventus in the summer but elected to stay with the Gunners and is capable of playing as a central midfielder, an attacking midfielder or out wide.
Another schoolboy, Kido Taylor-Hart, managed to get on the scoresheet shortly after entering the fray as a substitute and he too will be seeking to become increasingly involved for Kwame Ampadu’s side this season.
Arsenal’s lack of goalkeepers at youth level meant that 14 year old Remi Mitchell started between the sticks, while Pedro Virginia, the brother of Joao (who recently joined Everton) was on the bench.
If more players head out on loan before the end of this month then the U23s, and as a consequence the U18s, will find their resources stretched further, with more schoolboys likely to feature for the latter age group.