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 Arsenal.com and Jeorge Bird’s Arsenal Youth websites.
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.
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.
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