When Arsenal lost U21 coach Kevin Betsy to Crawley Town in the summer there was concern regarding whether the club would be able to find a sufficient replacement.
Academy manager Per Mertesacker elected for an internal appointment, with Mehmet Ali, who previously served as Betsy’s assistant, stepping up to take the main job.
Ali got off to a flying start with a 3-1 victory over Manchester United in the opening game and the U21s are still unbeaten across all competitions, nine games into the campaign.
Already this season Ali has had to cope with difficulties, such as having to be without main striker Khayon Edwards for several games due to injury.
However, Arsenal have still managed to produce some impressive displays and they have also done well in difficult circumstances, such as in today’s 1-1 draw against Wolves when they managed to get a point despite Henry Jeffcott being sent off in the first half.
Given that Arsenal are involved in several cup competitions, Ali has had the opportunity to give playing time to all of the members of his squad, and he has helped the likes of Charles Sagoe Jr to progress well.
The unbeaten run will surely come to an end at some point but most importantly, Ali has already made his mark on the U21s. The playing style is rather similar to that used by Mikel Arteta, with the full-backs spending a lot of time in central midfield.
Players such as Amario Cozier-Duberry, Catalin Cirjan and Matt Smith have already got on the bench for the first-team this season and it seems likely that there will be more to follow.
Jeorge Bird is the author of www.arsenalyouth.wordpress.com Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird
Some great names there. Henry Jeffcott my favourite.
A cross between Thierry Henry, Francis Jeffers and Theo Walcott. Like an auto generated FM player come to life.
Charles Sagoe Jr sounds like a jazz musician
I thought that was Robert Pires when I first saw that photo.
Was curious to see how Betsy is getting on at Crawley. Struggling in the league so far, they’ve only won 1 in 9. But they knocked out Fulham in the League Cup.
No mention of Ethan Nwaneri, the 15 year old, playing for the U21s or how there’s a striker shortage at U21 level which makes Ali’s success all the more remarkable.
Why would you even mention an obscure 15 year old player like that in an article about the manager? Probably won’t even get to sign a scholarship contract. Ethan who? 🤔
This is pretty funny post Brentford.
Nwaneri just made his first team debut man he is a pure baller