Arsenal saw their hopes of winning the FA Youth Cup come to an end against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, but there were still some positives to take from proceedings for Ken Gillard’s side.
Winger Bukayo Saka, the most high profile member of the team, was a constant threat to the West Brom defence, even though he perhaps should have ended the game with more than one goal.
On the other flank, meanwhile, Xavier Amaechi continued to enhance his reputation and there is an argument to suggest that he is perhaps more ready for first-team involvement at present than Saka is.
Possessing speed and flair in abundance, Amaechi is an extremely difficult player to defend against, as he has proven on numerous occasions for both the U23s and the U18s.
It is a shame that a player of his quality won’t get to win the Youth Cup – he will be too old to play in the competition next year – but Amaechi is certainly ready to push on and perhaps make his senior debut next season.
There were some elements of concern for Arsenal in the 2-1 defeat to West Brom, especially defensively.
Matt Smith partnered James Olayinka at the base of the midfield but neither player was able to provide the requisite protection to the back four.
The defence didn’t help themselves, though, and Gillard’s decision to drop Vontae Daley-Campbell and bring in Joel Lopez at left-back, with Zak Swanson moving across to right-back, certainly didn’t have the desired effect.
Arsenal missed the presence of the injured Bayli Spencer-Adams at the heart of the defence and were vulnerable to West Brom’s quick breaks downfield.
The young Gunners will now have to turn their attention to their league fixtures, where they are competing with Tottenham Hotspur for the title.