Competition for places among Arsenal’s young goalkeepers is fierce, but Hubert Graczyk was given a rare opportunity to impress when the U23s took on Chelsea last night.
Arsenal prevailed with a 3-1 victory, with Zach Awe, Salah-Eddine and Omari Hutchinson getting on the scoresheet, the latter pair scoring spectacular goals.
While the creative players will get the majority of the headlines, Graczyk’s performance shouldn’t go unnoticed, especially when it is taken into consideration that the 18-year-old was making his first appearance at this level since August.
Although he conceded early on, Graczyk’s overall display was of a high standard as he made some impressive stops and commanded his penalty area with authority, while his distribution was also encouraging.
Karl Hein has joined Reading on loan for the rest of the season, while Arthur Okonkwo doesn’t feature prominently for the U23s as he is usually travelling or training with the first-team.
Ovie Ejeheri has effectively been the first-choice goalkeeper for the U23s and he has often performed well, especially demonstrating his penalty-saving credentials during Arsenal’s run to the quarter-finals of the Papa John’s Trophy.
Graczyk has shown, however, that he is prepared to battle Ejeheri for a regular starting berth and it will be intriguing to see who prevails.
Ejeheri perhaps possesses more potential, but it is arguable that Graczyk is the more reliable goalkeeper at present.
Coach Kevin Betsy will certainly have a difficult decision to make regarding whether to persist with Ejeheri or give Graczyk more opportunities.