After a disappointing start to the season against Chelsea, Arsenal U18s secured their first victory of the campaign yesterday afternoon, and it was an emphatic win as they thrashed Aston Villa 5-1 away.
Miguel Azeez scored the pick of the goals, with the midfielder finding the net with a well-executed strike from distance, while substitute Alfie Matthews scored and Sam Greenwood added a penalty late on.
One of the standout players for Ken Gillard’s side was Ben Cottrell, with the midfielder, who signed his first professional contract recently, hitting a brace against Villa.
The previous night Cottrell had featured as a substitute for Arsenal U23s in their win against Brighton & Hove Albion, when he was deployed as a winger.
Against Villa, though, the 17-year-old reverted to his usual central midfield berth and captained the side as he delivered a composed performance which included him playing some excellent passes.
It is anticipated that Cottrell will flit between the U18 and U23 teams regularly, while also featuring in the newly rebranded Leasing.com Trophy.
Cottrell isn’t the tallest or strongest, which is perhaps why the club are easing him in slowly at U23 level, but he certainly possesses the technical qualities to make a major impact for the second-string.
The youngster is also becoming increasingly tactically aware, with his reading of the game having improved, leading to him making some well-timed interceptions.
Next up for the U18s is a trip to take on West Ham United, a side who have also won once and lost once so far this campaign.