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October 2016
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The Junior Teams – Season End Review part 3 Midfielders

by Andrew Crawshaw

This is the third (of four) parts where I am reviewing the 2015-16 season from the U18, U19 and U21 team perspective.   Part 1  and Part 2 can be found by following the links.  For reasons that will not become completely apparent at this point but have a lot to do with Tony being at a pre-birthday celebration part four has been published before part three.

Before I start however, I want to give an update on one of the defenders.  Here is what I wrote about left back, Ilias Chatzitheodoridis – “Greek, born 5/11/97 so will still qualify as an U18 player next season.  He made 20 starts all in U18 League games.  Has struggled at times but at other times seems to be getting the hang of things.  A long way from contention for the first team but will certainly be looking to progress towards the U21 team next season.  Has a lot of work to do.”  Arsenal clearly decided that he was unlikely to make the required progress and have released him.

As with the article on Defenders, where I was confused over players who operate in multiple positions, there is a degree of confusion between midfielders and wingers.  For the purpose of this article I will include players listed as Attacking Midfielders here, and leave comments on those listed as Attacking Midfield/wingers to the article on forwards.  I am also using the categories of Defensive Midfielders, Midfielders, Centre Midfielders and Attacking Midfielders as these are the groupings used by and Jeorge Bird’s Arsenal Youth websites.

Defensive Midfielders,

There are only two of our junior midfielders who are specifically listed as defensive.

Glenn Kamara – Finland He played 10 times for the U21s, scored 1 goal and had no bookings.  He looked solid in the games I saw, will probably look to go out on loan in 2016-17 to gain some further first team experience.  Will still qualify as an U21 player next year.

Marcus McGuane – Irish, will still be age qualified at U18 level next year but will undoubtably be looking to establish himself as the main man in this position for the U21s, which he is quite capable of doing given the real progress he made last season.


Serge Gnabry – Germany, will still qualify as an U21 player next season, made 6 starts at the end of the season following his return from West Brom scoring one goal and getting two yellow cards.  Before his ill-fated loan spell was a full member of the first team squad but was nowhere near that level last season.  Will need a good pre-season to re-establish himself into the first team squad where he faced a big challenge to regain either the AM or right wing slot.

Alex Iwobi – Nigeria, will still qualify as an U21 player next season, played 10 games for the U21s and 4 games in the UEFA Youth League, scored 4 goals and got one yellow card.  Alex was promoted to the first team squad last season and will certainly continue barring injuries or catastrophic loss of form.

Gedion Zelalem  – USA.  Played only a single game before his loan to Glasgow Rangers where he impressed in spells.  Still highly regarded but may well need to have another season on loan before a final decision is made on his long term future.

Vlad Dragomir – Romania will still qualify as an U18 player this coming season.  Made 11 starts and 6 sub appearances in an injury interrupted  season all at U18 level, scored 2 goals and received 2 yellow cards.  Will be looking to establish himself as an automatic starter at U18 level at the start of the season and advance toU21 level as the season progresses.

Yassin Fortune – France will also still qualify as  an U21 player next season, made 20 starts for the U18s, also one sub appearance for the U21 team.  Scored 7 goals and got a single yellow card.  His main objective for next season will be to establish himself as a starter for the U21s and feature in both FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League.  A player with great promise.

Centre Midfielders

Ben Sheaf – England.  Will still qualify as an U18 player this coming season.  Made 27 starts (17 at U21 level, 5 in the UEFA Youth League, 4 in the FA Youth Cup and a single start at U18 level) last season, he scored 5 goals and got a single yellow card.  Will be looking for fringe involvement with the first team squad this coming season and the possibility of Capital One Cup starts (depending on the draw).  May also be looking for a loan for the second half of the season.  A good player developing nicely.

Charlie Gilmour – England.  Came into the U18 squad this last year as a 16 year old.  Will be looking to establish as first choice starter this coming year.  Last season made 10 starts and 5 sub appearances, scored one goal and got no yellow cards.  Very much one for the future assuming his development continues along its current path.

Dan Crowley – England will qualify as an U19 player next season.  Made 14 starts for the U21s and in the UEFA Youth Leagues last season scoring one goal and getting 4 yellow cards.  Still looks very slight of stature and already announced that he is joining Coventry City on loan next season.  This may well prove to be pivotal for his chances of becoming an Arsenal player in the future.  He has exquisite ball skills but currently is bullied off the ball by bigger opponents.  He is also somewhat hot-headed at times.  A good loan spell should enable him to showcase his undoubted skills and press for first team involvement in 2017/18.  A poor season could see him released.

Ismael Bennacer – France.  Will qualify as an U18 player this coming season.  Made 16 starts last year (2 U18, 5 FA Youth Cup, 3 UEFA Youth League and 6 U21, with a further 6 U21 sub appearances), he scored two goals and got a single yellow card.  Another youngster with great promise who will be looking to feature prominently at U21 level and at least make the first team squad in training sessions.

Savvas Mourgos – Greece  will still qualify at U18 level next year.  Made 20 starts this last season 18 of which were at U21 level.  Will look to move up to the U21s this coming year where he got 2 substitute appearances last year, also likely to feature in the FA Youth Cup and UEFA League squads.

Josh Benson and Robbie Burton both made the U18 squads last season despite being U16 players.  Both are likely to feature at that level far more regularly.

Attacking Midfielders

Joe Willock – English  will still qualify as an U18 player next season.  Joe is the younger brother of Chris and currently operates in much the same areas of the pitch either as an Attacking Midfielder or on either wing.  Like his brother has a bright future.  He had 10 starts and 8 sub appearances all at U18 level last season scoring 3 goals and receiving 2 yellow cards.  Will be looking to being an automatic starter at this level and hoping to push on towards involvement with the U21s.

Aaron Eyoma – English will qualify as an U19 player this coming season.  Aarom started the season as a right winger but was frequently used as a right back.  He had 25 starts mostly for the U18s and scored a single goal.  He did not quite make the progress expected of him with regards to appearances at U21 level and will be needing to make that transition at the start of the coming season.  He will also need to sit down with his coaches to decide on his best position.


A number of solid players in midfield, but few ready yet for life in the first team.  Some with a lot of work to do to make the grade.

The Under 18, Under 19, and Under 21 squads.

 Part 1 – Overview and summary

Part 2 – Goalkeepers and defenders

Part 3 – Midfield (this article)

Part four – Attackers


3 comments to The Junior Teams – Season End Review part 3 Midfielders

  • Gord

    Oops, pressed dislike by mistake. And trying to press like doesn’t undo damage.

    Thanks for the writeup Andrew.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    So Mr Crawshaw, Arsenal principally have 3 categories of youth squads of: the Under 18, 19 & 21 in the Arsenal academy school. But they don’t have the Under16 squad since there is no any formal Under 16 competition in which they can compete in and be identified with it, hence they do play for the Under 18 team. Enh?

    Interesting to note is, a boy from the age of 8 years can join the Arsenal academy school like Jack Wilshere is said to have done. And could continue to make progress by getting promotions to the upper classes of the academy school if he’s making the grades I should believe. And ultimately one day graduate to the senior squad like Alex Iwobi has recently achieved.

    Arsenal academy school is productively functioning very well for the purpose it was constituted to serve. The school has graduated many long and short term school levers graduates for the Arsenal senior team squad. Notably among them are, Jack Wilshere, Hector Bellerin, Wojciech Szczsney and many others who are still with Arsenal FC and playing very well for them.

    The productive Arsenal academy school that produces players for the senior team squad on regular basis has help in a great deal at curtailing the high amount of money Arsenal would have been spending in recruiting players at the transfer market every window.

    But what I want to ask which I’ve not known is, are the football students at the Arsenal academic school combining academic studies with football training at the academy? Are there academic schools there at the Arsenal academy where the academy school players can read up to the primary & secondary education levels? And even up to university education level as the case maybe? Then write and pass their exams and become graduates in the various disciplines they’ve choosen. Which some of the graduates who graduated from the schools could fall back to, to earn their living if they didn’t make the grade to become successful footballers in the long run.

    I believe Arsenal will reinforce their Under 21 squad with new top additions from the market this summer, like Kekechi Nwakali and Samuel Chukwueze and promote some from their Under 19 squad to there, to adequately equipped them for the next season Under 21 football campaign.

    And finally, after I’ve seen the facts and figures you’ve posted today & yesterday on our academy youth players, I’ve come to realised that some of them are not up to the required age needed to be promoted now to the senior team squad. It will still take about a year or two for someone like Mavididi 18, to get promotion to the senior team. Hence, the Boss have to buy those 2 new players he said he will buy and maybe add 1 more to them.

  • Gord


    There is an abundance of English people on this blog.

    Tomorrow is Brexit Referendum day, as I understand things. Iwill not voice an opinion as to how I would like you to vote. But, first and foremost get out and vote!

    I will predict that Mike Riley 😈 will vote to exit the EU, as will most PGMO employees.