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The Arsenal U18 Team early season update

by Andrew Crawshaw

The U18s

This season has seen a number of changes forced on Kwame Ampadu’s team as several of last year’s starters have moved upwards to the U23s.  Injuries to other players have given opportunities for a number of schoolboys to step up, something unexpected at this time in the season.

Game 1 – 12 August Fulham v Arsenal 4 – 1

Please note that there is no report or highlights video on this match on Arsenal.com.  This brief summary is from the Fulham site and Jeorge Bird’s Arsenal Youth

Team

GK – Virginia

Defence – Clarke, Olowu, Medley, Omole

Defensive midfield – Benson, Ballard

Attacking Midfield – Thompson, Burton, Smith-Rowe

Centre Forward – Balogun

Bench

Okowonko (GK), Smith (for Benson 76), Daley-Campbell, Olayinka (for Ballard 57), Saka (for Thompson 46)

Good goalkeeping at both ends in the opening minutes kept the game goalless.  Joe Felix for Fulham being denied by a good save by Virginia and shortly afterwards Balogun being denied by Ashby-Hammond who was alert to the danger and rushed off his line to deny the chance.  Chances were created at both ends throughout the first half but it ended goalless.  Fulham probably marginally ahead on points but a close contest.

Arsenal broke the deadlock early in the second half, Balogun had a free header which he steered into the corner of the goal.

This seemed to add extra impetus to Fulham who were level within a minute santos-Close burst down the right and crossed for Hilton who gave Virginia no chance.  Substitute Sakayo nearly restored  the Arsenal lead on the hour mark.

Unfortunately from there on it was all Fulham.  Thompson collected a rebound after an effort from Hilton was blocked and took his time before slotting past Virginia.  A couple of minutes later Fulham were awarded a penalty after Kelly was tackled from behind in the area.  Virginia guessed correctly but was unable to get to the the well taken kick.  A second penalty was awarded for a trip on Harris, this time Virginia both guessed correctly and got to the ball denying Fulham a fourth goal.  The fourth did come as the clock ran down into stoppage time with Thompson getting his hattrick.

Overall the scoreline was not flattering to Fulham and Arsenal were a shadow of the team that finished second last season.

Game 2 – 19 August Arsenal v Aston Villa 1 – 0

Team

GK – Joao Virginia (GK)

Defence – Vontae Daley-Campbell, Zech Medley (C), Joseph Olowu, Tobi Omole

Defensive Midfield –  Benson, Ballard

Attacking Midfield – James Olayinka, Robbie Burton, Smith-Rowe

Attack – Robbie Burton, Falorin Balogun

Bench

Okonkwo (GK), Okoflex (schoolboy) (for Olayinka Min 75, Thompson (for Daley-Campbell Min 83), Smith, Agbontohoma (schoolboy)

A comfortable win which could easily have been by more than the one goal gave the U18s a good lift after the opening defeat.  The four minute highlight video on the Arsenal.com site shows the highlights of the game.  The only goal of the game was made and scored by midfielder James Olayinka when he pressurised the Villa defence into a mistake, pounced on the loose ball drove into the penalty area and scored.  Balogun, Smith-Rowe and Substitutes Ballard, and Oko-Flex all had chances to add to the scoreline but somehow none managed to do so.

Game 3 – 26 August Arsenal v West Ham 6 – 1

Team

GK – Joao Virginia

Defence – Vontae Daley-Campbell, Zech Medley (C), Joseph Olowu, Tobi Omole

Defensive Midfield – Daniel Ballard, Josh Benson

Attacking Midfield – James Olayinka, Robbie Burton and Emile Smith-Rowe

Centre Forward – Falorin Balogun

Bench

Okowonko (GK), Smith (for Smith-Rowe Min 66), Sako (for Benson Min 66), Thompson (for Olayinka Min 74), Spencer-Adams

A dream start for the Gunners with Balogun finding the net with one minute played a good low strike following a good through ball by Daley-Campbell.  Virginia then with an Oops moment allowing Korrey Henry to tap home an equaliser for West Ham.

After this Arsenal turned on the style, Robbie Burton twice finding Emille Smith-Rowe before the interval ensuring a 3 – 1 lead at half time.  Medley made it four early in the second half with a header after an effort by Olowu had come back off the line.  Burton was then fouled in the penalty area and Smith-Rowe put too much on the ball for the keeper who got a hand to the ball but was unable to stop it crossing the line.  Burton capped a man of the match performance with a good late free kick that was headed home be Medley to round out the scoring at 6 – 1.

A special performance from the youngsters and one that will take a lot of beating this season

Read more and video at Post-Match Report U-18s: Arsenal 6-1 West Ham United – Report

Match 4 – 09 September Chelsea v Arsenal 2 – 0

Team

GK – Joao Virginia

Defence – Vontae Daley-Campbell, Bukayo Sako, Joseph Olowu, Tobi Omole

Defensive Midfield – Daniel Ballard, Josh Benson

Attacking Midfield – James Olayinka, Robbie Burton and Emile Smith-Rowe

Centre Forward – Falorin Balogun

Bench

Okonkwo (GK), Thompson (for Burton Min 63), Smith (for Olayinka Min 75), Spencer-Adams, Jon-Jules

One change to the starting lineup with Bukayo Sako replacing Zech Medley who had played for the U23s in their away game against Man United.  A tough debut as Chelsea were not only unbeaten going into this game but had also not conceded a goal.

Seven minutes into the game Chelsea were one goal to the good, George McEachran’s corner went over everyone and beyond the back post where the Centre Back Guehi had found space and his high volley was unstoppable.  A well worked corner routine and one which completely caught us out.  We nearly scored an equaliser when Chelsea’s keeper Cumming spilled a high ball but fortunately the ball bounced sufficiently clear if two Arsenal attackers to enable him to recover and only allow Balogun a snatched shot wide of the post.  In the 43rd minute Chelsea finished off an excellent passing move enabling Gilmour to rifle a powerful shot past everyone and make it two nil.

We had chances to score in the second half, but there was always a Chelsea player in the way and the ball never fell kindly to give us a decent opportunity.  Olowo really should have scored but headed straight at Cummins, either side and it would have been 2 – 1.

We nearly conceded a third when a long ball found three Chelsea attackers through with only Virginia to beat but Castillo shot too close to Virginia who was able to save with his legs.  A square ball to either of his team mates would have resulted in a tap in.

Read more and video at Academy U-18s: Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal – Report

PL U18 South Table

Team P W D L +/- Pts
1 Chelsea 4 4 0 0 9 12
2 Fulham 4 3 1 0 8 10
3 Leicester 4 3 1 0 5 10
4 Brighton 4 3 1 0 4 10
5 Swansea 4 2 2 0 3 8
6 Spurs 4 2 0 2 2 6
7 Arsenal 4 2 0 2 1 6
8 Southampton 4 1 0 3 -1 3
9 Norwich 4 1 0 3 -7 3
10 Aston Villa 4 0 1 3 -5 1
11 Reading 4 0 0 4 -8 0
12 West Ham 4 0 0 4 -11 0

PLU18 North Table

Team P W D L +/- Pts
1 Man City 4 4 0 0 9 12
2 Everton 4 2 1 1 5 7
3 Derby 4 2 1 1 3 7
4 West Brom 4 2 1 1 -1 7
5 Liverpool 4 1 3 0 1 6
6 Wolves 4 2 1 1 -1 7
7 Man United 3 2 0 1 1 6
8 Middlesbrough 4 1 0 3 -3 3
9 Blackburn 4 1 0 3 -4 3
10 Stoke 4 0 2 2 -2 2
11 Newcastle 4 0 2 2 -4 2
12 Sunderland 3 0 1 2 -4 1

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