Friday, March 1, 2024

Wilshere proud of young Gunners after tough defeat in FA Youth Cup final

Arsenal under-18s were beaten 5-1 by West Ham United in the final of the FA Youth Cup ending hopes of a first success in the competition since 2008/09.

In front of more than 34,000 fans at Emirates Stadium, Jack Wilshere’s side raced to an early advantage thanks to Omari Benjamin’s tidy finish.

Unfortunately, that was to be the high point of the evening as the Hammers, roared on by a fervent travelling contingent, ruthlessly took advantage of lax defending at regular intervals.

Two goals in two minutes from George Earthy and Callum Marshall put the visitors in front before the midway point of the first half before Gideon Kodua scored the goal of the game with an audacious chip not long before the break.

The Gunners had chances to reduce the deficit during a spirited start to the second half only for Kaelan Casey and Josh Briggs to stick the knife in late on with goals from corners.

While West Ham – runaway winners of the under-18 Premier League South – were deserved winners, the young Gunners can take heart from their run to the final, which included memorable wins against Millwall, Newcastle United, Watford, Cambridge and Manchester City.

After the match, head coach Wilshere thanked his players for their efforts and backed them to come back stronger.

“I had a decision to make in the summer about whether I stopped my playing career and come and coach this team,” he told

“I was still unsure even when I came in as you never know if it’s the right decision until you’re there experiencing it and living it.

“The players have made it so that I made the right decision. They’ve given me feelings that I’ve never experienced in football before, and I’ll always love them for that. I’m proud of them.

“The overriding feeling is sadness because the boys deserve more than that, but that is part and parcel of development. Sometimes football is horrible, and they’re devastated because they deserve more, but now you’ll see the strong ones and who bounces back. I lost finals in my career and there’s no worse feeling but now it’s how you respond.”

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Hopeful Gooner

Yeah, losing any cup final is tough. Here’s to hoping Jack and his lads can focus on the positive of actually reaching the final, learn the lessons, and then bounce back much stronger next season 💪


Hold your heads high, boys. We’re all proud of you! (..and most of us wound saw off an arm to be in your place 🙂
I’m helplessly paraphrasing here, but “Pride is not never having fallen. Pride is getting up every time you do, and walking on”


They are still youth players and young men, boys even. Right now their football–academy football–is about process, not trophies. The good news is there will be plenty to learn from a 1-5 defeat! Losing a youth cup final didn’t do young Bukayo Saka any long-term harm.

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