Monday, March 20, 2023

Midfield options a major positive for Arsenal U21s

Arsenal U21s may be short of options in some areas of the pitch, but in midfield there is an array of talent for coach Mehmet Ali to call upon.

An added boost is that several of the midfielders at this level pose a threat in front of goal, which will be very useful during a busy second half of the season.

Matt Smith remains the captain of the side, although the 22-year-old should really be playing senior football at some level at this stage of his development.

Nonetheless, Smith’s relative experience is useful for the players around him and he is joined in that regard by Ben Cottrell, who hasn’t yet gone on loan because of various injuries.

Cottrell is now back in the U21 side, however, and his performances of late have been of a high standard. Against Reading in the Premier League Cup, for instance, he produced a superb pass to find Catalin Cirjan, with the Romanian youngster finishing well.

Cirjan is another midfielder who has endured much misfortune with injuries, but he has been heavily involved at U21 level and he has been one of the standout performers for the second string this season.

Schoolboy midfielders Ethan Nwaneri and Myles Lewis-Skelly both look at home in the U21s, and the latter has also filled in at left-back at times.

Jack Henry-Francis is another dependable performer who provides a mixture of defensive diligence and creativity, although he is currently unavailable due to injury.

Mauro Bandeira, an all-action midfielder, scored the winner against Reading in extra-time, and is another interesting prospect.

Bradley Ibrahim is also in contention for more minutes, although he may not be able to fully establish himself in the side until Smith departs.

To add even further depth to the squad, Salah-Eddine is also back at the club after his loan spell at Hull City didn’t go to plan due to injury. The 19-year-old didn’t play a single game for Hull, but he is back in training with Arsenal and could be available to play for the U21s soon.

Jeorge Bird is the author of Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird

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Jeorge, Apart from nwaneri, who among these midfielders is most likely to break into the 1st team?
A follower since the 2010/2011 season.

The Iceman

I’m no where near as well schooled on the subject as the right honorable gentleman Mr Bird, but in my opinion the closest to breaking through might be Amario Cozier-Duberry. Went to dubai I think for winter camp and has often been on bench for prem. Very versatile which helps his cause. Norton cuffy on loan at Coventry now looks a good shout. Depends on if we block his pathway by signing someone like frescenda the real valillidod rb/rwb. Nwaneri looks a superb prospect but nothing is nailed on… Still super young and no guarantees. With him, he has stepped… Read more »

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