by Andrew Crawshaw
This evening at the Emirates Arsenal take on Aston Villa at U21 level to decide who joins Derby County in gaining promotion to the first division of U21 Football. On Sunday afternoon the Senior teams meet with Villa already relegated to the Championship for next year.
Last Tuesday Arsenal U21s boosted by Thomas Rosicky and (for 60 minutes) Santi Cazorla dispatched West Brom U21s by two goals to one to qualify for the knock-out final. Arsenal were the second placed team during the regular season, Blackburn were the fifth.
Aston Villa reached the play-off final after finishing in fourth place during the regular season, they then played Swansea who finished one place higher on 25 April at the Liberty Stadium winning by the same two – one scoreline as Arsenal. Here is a brief summary of their game Courtesy of the Birmingham Mail :-
Villa lined up in a 4-4-2, and looked nervous in the opening exchanges, Good defending though to prevent a Swansea goal in the 9th minute. By the 17th minute Villa growing into the game, Abdo running the show in midfield.
More good defending from Mason and Suliman in Min 33 to deny first Bray and then Suliman. Min35 Villa take the leadHepburn-Murphy shot deflected, rebound fell to Davis six yards out and looked certain to score but for a magnificent save from Vickers (ex Arsenal GK). The ball fell to Hale who was almost on the touchline but managed to squeeze the ball in.
Three minutes later Swansea make it one-all. Gorre with a break down the left, gets the better of the Villa backline and slots home under Sarkic. Min 41 and Villa should be ahead, dreadful defending from Swansea but Vickers with another good save to deny Hepburn-Murphy who should have done better. At the start of the second half almose two one for Swansea as Sarkic drops the ball on the goal line but Suliman on hand to clear before the Swansea attackers.
On 52 minutes a clear penalty as Davis is hauled down inside the box. Hepburn-Murphy with an excellent penalty in off the inside of the post despite Vickers going the right way. Villa then hanging on, bookings for Lyden and Abdo for wild challenges, Kingsley and Borg for Swansea joining Lewis in the caution book. Swansea nearly with a last minute equaliser but it hits the bar and goes out for a corner. Villa hang on for a hard fought victory.
Villa Team – Sarkic (GK), Webb, Mason, Suliman, Borg, Hale, Lyden (C), Abdo, Green, Davis, Hepburn-Murphy.
Subs – Johansson, Leggett, Blackett-Taylor, O’Hare, Cox
The Aston Villa Squad (from the official Villa web-site)
GK – Bradley Watkins (England U16, U17), Charlie Bannister (England) and Matija Sarkic (Montenegro U17, U21)
Defenders – Tom Leggett RB (England), Kevin Toner CB/LB (Ireland U19), Kodi Lyons-Foster CB (England), Ben Swift LB (England), Liam Batemen CB (England), Janoi Donacien CB (England), Niall Mason Utility (England), Easah Suliman CB/LB (England U17 Captain, U18), Joshus Webb (England)
Midfielders – Henry Cowans (England), Jordan Lyden (Australia), Rory Hale (N Ireland), Khalid Abdo (Sweden U18)
Forwards – Harry McKirdy (England), Jerell Sellars (England), Hepburn-Murphy (England U18), Davis
Loan – Riccardo Calder (England) on loan at Dundee, Lewis Kinsella LB (England on loan to Kidderminster), Callum Robinson (England U17) on loan at Bristol City
Arsenal Squad News
Some of the normal U21 players are currently playing at the U17 European Championships in Azerbaijan so some familiar names are missing. Marcus McGuane, Reiss Nelson, and Tolaji Bola are all away representing England, Joao Virginia for Portugal, Yasmin Fortune for France and Donyel Malen representing the Netherlands.
In the last game Arsenal drafted in three first team players Chambers at CB (NB he still qualifies as an U21 player), Santi Cazorla and Thomas Rosicky.
I thought it unlikely that any of these would be involved for this game – Chambers as he will be required as cover on Sunday, Santi because he is also likely to be involved and I suspect that Rosicky will also be on the bench, however I have now seen a tweet purporting to be from Santi stating that he will definitely play. Assuming that to be true I would expect the line-up to be something like this:-
Chiori Johnson, Julio Pleguezuelo, Krystian Bielik, Tafari Moore
Ben Sheaf, Santi Cazorla
Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Serge Gnabry, Chris Willock
Beach – Ryan Huddart (GK), Kaylen Hinds, Kristopher da Graca, Daniel Crowley, Edward Nkeitah.
If Thomas also plays then one of Reine-Adelaide or Serge Gnabry will drop to the beach probably at the expense of Kaylen or Kristopher.
Kick off is 19:00 London time, There is provision for extra time and penalties if necessary to determine a winner.
I’ll be at the game and will try and post updates at intervals via the comments.
The game is being televised on Arsenal Player, free to all Arsenal members and there is also a free digital membership if you wish to sign up and enjoy access to all of the Arsenal Player content.
- Theo to WHU, as Wenger buys Bundesliga megastar duo as Chelsea run into problems.
- State Aid Utd does something odd at Tax Payer Stadium while the media looks elsewhere.
- The top 4 mini league table
Untold Arsenal has published five books on Arsenal – all are available as paperback and three are now available on Kindle. The books are
- The Arsenal Yankee by Danny Karbassiyoon with a foreword by Arsene Wenger.
- Arsenal: the long sleep 1953 – 1970; a view from the terrace. By John Sowman with an introduction by Bob Wilson.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football. By Tony Attwood, Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews.
- Making the Arsenal: a novel by Tony Attwood.
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal by Mark Andrews.
You can find details of all five on our new Arsenal Books page