For their opening game of the new Premier League 2 season against Manchester United, Arsenal U21s fielded a midfield trio comprised of Miguel Azeez, Matt Smith and James Olayinka.
At U21 level that is a very experienced midfield, especially when it is taken into consideration that they have over 100 EFL League appearances between them.
Arsenal ran out 3-1 winners against United, with Azeez at the base of the midfield while Smith and Olayinka operated ahead of him.
The deeper role really seemed to suit Azeez, who dictated play well and also managed to get on the scoresheet himself after being found by Marquinhos.
In truth, though, all three of Arsenal’s midfielders shouldn’t really be playing at this level at this stage of their development and it would be very surprising in they are still in the U21 team at the conclusion of the campaign.
Azeez’s loan move to Portsmouth last season didn’t go entirely to plan but it still helped him to improve aspects of his game and another temporary switch is needed.
Smith and Olayinka have often acquitted themselves well at youth level and have had various loan spells but they are both 21 years old so it is now perhaps time for them to look for a permanent move.
For now, though, Arsenal U21s are benefiting from being able to call upon three players who certainly know how to perform in Premier League 2.
Jeorge Bird is the author of www.arsenalyouth.wordpress.com Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird
Azeez is class, hope he steps up. And the others too!
All three of them need a Championship loan now in my opinion. That will make or break them. Azeez is the one with most promise so, as the article suggests, perhaps a permanent move is best for the other two maybe with a sell on fee or buy back clause.
Surprised that Smith is 21. He looks like a kid.
Interesting seeing Azeez at the base of a 3 given its an area the first team really struggle to cover when Party is absent. He’s obviously not ready to take that role on for Arsenal yet, but a loan to a club with a similar tactical set up would be fascinating.
Why is he not ready???
Was hoping Marquinos would be involved on Saturday
Matt Smith: already more decorated then that Sp*rs captain.
After watching the highlights, Marquinos was heavily involved in all the positive play and, frankly, above the fray. Do we have another Martinelli, I don’t know, but he looked very sharp. As did the three mentioned. The highlights did show much of Tomi regrettably.
*did not. :/