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Be proud, be very proud. Arsenal become first team ever to retain Premier Academy League

Arsenal have won the Premier Academy League – the first team ever to retain the title.  What’s more they have secured their position as the most successful youth team club of all time.

What’s more, Arsenal won the title without using their main players from last year.  Jay Emmanuel Thomas, for example, who could have played, was left on the bench.  Others from last year such as Jack Wilshire, didn’t even feature.

What I will try and do here is explain how the competition works, and review what has happened.

First, the team. My guess is that you may not know too many of these guys, except Benik Afobe – who made it into the Golden 30 list (which you can still reach via the home page of this site.)

  • James Shea
  • Nico Yennaris (c)
  • Cedric Evina
  • Daniel Boateng
  • Ignasi Miquel
  • Emmanuel Frimpong
  • Oguzhan Ozyakup
  • Chuks Aneke
  • Conor Henderson
  • Benik Afobe
  • Luke Freeman

Substitutes (not used)

  • Sean McDermott
  • Kyle Bartley
  • Jernade Meade
  • Roarie Deacon
  • Jay Emmanuel-Thomas

Now how it all works.

The league was started as the FA Premier Youth League in 1997, with the aim of being a unified top level of youth football.

In the very first season Arsenal beat the Very Tiny Totts 2-1 on aggregate in the play off final.

After the FA Academy system came in, the competition became the FA Premier Academy League and divided into Under-19 and Under-17 sections, and 32 teams played in four sections of eight each.

After several other changes the league was finally changed to the current format in 2004/05 as an Under-18 competition with up to 3 Under-19 outfield players and 1 Under-19 goalkeeper allowed per match.  There are four groups (A to D).

In 2009-10 season Arsenal were in Group A.  All teams played each other in their group twice and also played 10 inter-group fixtures.  The four group winners enter the playoffs, as straight knock out games.  Arsenal won their semi-final knock out against Man U (reported here the other day) and have now won the final against Nottm F.

Benik Afobe scored a hat-trick and was involved in the other goals.  Luke Freeman got a penalty.

Arsenal now have three under 18 titles, plus one under 19 title and one under 17 title.  The nearest rival is West Ham who have two under 17 titles, but nothing else.

To complete the record and to be exact, as only Untold Arsenal knows how, the record of the Very Tiny Totts is under 17 titles 0, under 18 titles 0, under 19 titles, well, err, sort of, 0.  At least they are very consistent.

Just a final point – the reason that few teams manage to keep going and win titles consecutively in these leagues is simply because players of merit move up quickly.  Jay Emmanuel Thomas is an example – he, along with many others from last season, could still have played for this team, but he was out on loan through this season.

In effect, and this is the point I want to make here, what we have done is produced two giant youth teams.  The double  winners of last year, and the champions of this year.  Two different teams!

When people start saying, the Youth Project has failed, just point out this stunning, and amazing achievement.  And if they say that Chelsea have a new successful youth project, you might like to point out that although they did win the youth cup this year, they are 15 points behind Arsenal in the youth league.  And the fact that the last Chelsea youth player to make it to the first team was John Terry.

I think every serious Arsenal supporter should be extremely proud.

(c) Tony Attwood 2010

Untold Arsenal – the index of everything

Woolwich Arsenal – everything 100 years ago

Making the Arsenal – everything else

14 comments to Be proud, be very proud. Arsenal become first team ever to retain Premier Academy League

  • TheSKAGooner

    Well said, Tony. The Academy lads have done us all proud again, and it’s an aspect of the overall Arsenal program that more folks should pay attention to.

  • walter

    I must say I really enjoyed the game. It was great stuff and they had most of the posession, most of the shots, most of the chances.
    But some players need to keep focus when 2 goals up. But I think they will learn that in time.

    This is our future and if you can keep bringing them up like we seem to be able now it is great for us in the next years

  • c gander

    fantastic news! im really proud of our youths…..now time for the seniors to step up?

  • rusty

    Has there been any thought to forming stronger ties with a particular lower-tier club? I’ve noticed that our top young players are moved to League One or the Championship (or Bolton), but there are no consistent destination teams. In Wilshere’s case, there seems to be a style-of-play element there, helping him grow as a person by putting him in the cold northeast and whatnot, but that’s not always the case.

    In Spain and Mexico, the big teams have lower-division affiliates — in Mexico, they sometimes earn the points for promotion to the top division but are ineligible for promotion. Has Arsenal considered a deal where they take a financial interest or something similar in a lower-division club in return for picking some of the training staff etc? Is that legal under FA rules?

  • Kgunna

    ofcourse any serious gunna shuld be proud. . This is the ARSENAL MODEL . . . .We will have the last laugh . . .but they should not be rushed out on loan when too young coz they start demanding 1st team -even when the atmosphere is not good . . .but this policy is a success from all angles ! Thanks tony 4 reminding people its all about the ARSENAL WAY …HOPE THE KIDS SUCCESS FOLLOWS AT SENIOR LEVEL !

  • lp

    Well done.

  • Rusty, any formal arrangement involving finance or influence by the people in one club over another is not allowed. So we have had situations where players on loan have then not got games – and there’s not much Arsenal can do about it.

    But I agree – there should be an Arsenal Junior club. However if it were formed in League Two (ie Division 4) within 3 years they would be in the Championship challenging for the play offs.

    And that would be awkward.

  • Gudman Emeh

    We’re always proud of Arsenal, kudos to our yong guns & many tanx to wenger!

  • walter

    Why not form a new club and name it Arsenal Youth. There is no rule against sharing a ground so they could play in the Emirates. At first they can only open the lower tier of the stadium and when that youngster club is succesfull and would attract bigger crowds they could open the whole stadium.

    And in some 4 years time we play the ultimate derby : Arsenal FC – Arsenal Youth. 🙂

    I think it could attract some crowd because when as a football lover visiting London and you know you can see the Arsenal future playing and you can just go to the ground an buy a ticket. Must say from what I saw on my pc yesterday, I would like to see more of them.

    Arsenal could loan their youth players out to that team, they would play real competition and learn even more and they could play in the Arsenal style so changing from the youth to the first team would be no problem.

    The only problem could be the pitch. I don’t know if it can take double the games.

    But then again, I don’t think it is as simple as I put it here.

  • Abhishek Kumar

    Ya Walter..

    This question is exactly what I suggested to Tony to ask Wenger. We can certainly ask for rules to be changed having a few more teams on our side. And instead of the reserve leagues we can certainly have the reserve teams compete in the various leagues.
    1)This will not only get many teams extra revenue, the reserve players will be useful in much better way.
    2)This will also prompt the teams to nurture more young players as the young players will get more games and they will be more viable financially.
    3) The number of games will still be the same and the reserves grounds can be used as the home ground for that team. And like youth team and women’s team they can use Emirates for their big matches.
    4) For big clubs like Arsenal, overseas supporters can get the ticket to see the future team players and I would love to see the Arsenal youth team play if I dont get tickets to see the Arsenal seniors.

    Now I dont know how flexible is FA but I certainly think that this suggestion definitely makes sense if the teams are not allowed to be promoted to premier league hence having no conflict of interest.

  • well-endowed gooner

    Maybe we should all decamp from the Emirates and start supporting the Arsenal Academy side?

  • Good to be a GOONAH!!

    I was at the match. We were excellent going forward but too often tried to play a 4-0-6 formation. Frimpong should have been holding but too often was caught out of position.

    Freeman and the electric Afobe (3 goals, 2 assists!) stood out. Henderson showed nice passing and touches. Miquel looks a really talent in central defence. Otherwise I think last year’s team had more talent.

    But as you say, two win this trophy with AN ENTIRELY NEW TEAM… is really terrific.

    As well as JET, Bartley was on the bench and unused.

  • eduardo

    Tony you will also find that Jack Wilshere was U18 this season, so he was a massive loss to the FA Youth Cup team, I’m sure if they had to be able to call upon him Arsenal would have done the double at youth level again this season, and on to yesterday’s team, I think 6 or 7 of them are available for the FAY Cup side next season so we could be looking at winning it back and have a great chance of making it 3 academy league titles in a row.

    Aneke is a monstor of a kid, good to see us getting some size in the ranks

  • brdgunner

    Another reason to thank Arsene Wenger for his time at the club. And hope he signs a new contract with the club.

    COME ON THE GUNNERS