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July 2021

Arsenal’s new sensation is revealed

By Ian Brookes

I had the pleasure of watching the Peterborough vs Arsenal U18s in the FA Cup on Monday night. It was a 7pm kick off and as I have family that are Season ticket holders at Peterborough I thought it would be a nice evening out.

As the players came out the teams were announced to the crowd and I was delighted to hear that Zelalem was playing, I made a lot of fuss about this with my two sons and told them to look out for our number 8.

Peterborough started very lively, they were working hard and were closing Arsenal down. Arsenal looked comfortable in the ball but with the intensity from the home side, the early exchanges were a little scrappy.

But as we see so often with the first team, the U18s grew in composure and started to stamp their authority on the game. Around the 15th minute Maitland – Nyles wearing 7 and playing on the right wing was put through by Dan Crowley.  He lifted the ball over the oncoming keeper but it hit the outside of the post.  A great move and he was unlucky, you could tell from his reaction that he thought he should have done better.

Arsenal were one up soon after, again Crowley put Maitland-Nyles through and this time he calmly put the ball under the oncoming keeper. Just before half time it was two, Crowley had the ball on the left hand side of the area and under pressure, he worked himself some space to cross for Akpom who had a very simple header.

It was interesting that you could physically see the heads of the Peterborough players drop. They had worked hard, chased everything, been very well organised but were being undone in the main by Crowley and the finishing of our forwards.

In the second half, Arsenal took control early and it was Crowley putting Akpom through again for 3-0 on 49 minutes.

On 62 minutes Akpom scored his hat trick, again it was Crowley that found him in space in the box and he made no mistake. Akpom was clearly delighted with his goal and shared high 5s with most of the team including Crowley who is so much shorter than Akpom I thought he might need a step ladder to complete it!

Crowley then made it 5, he had the ball on the left hand side of the area, worked himself some space and shot from the edge of the area into the far corner, where the ball entered the net off the post.  A truly great finish and no more than he deserved; indeed this was recognised by the home supporters who also applauded. Crowley made it 6-0 with five mins to go after a Peterborough attack broke down and Arsenal attacked with pace and numbers, he was put through, took the ball and around the keeper and steered into an empty net.

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Another great finish, good applause from all within the ground and delight for my six year old who said “have we really scored 6?”

Arsenal played keep ball for the remainder of the game in the same vein that we see the first team doing. Short little passes, excellent movement between all of the players and it really was like watching the first team.

Peterborough however did get a consolation goal. I thought that Arsenal should have been given a free kick about 30 yards out however the Ref allowed play to continue and Peterborough scored with a nice shot. It gave the home fans something to cheer and the final whistle sounded not long after.

I did not make a list of the team when it was announced however have noticed that has made some errors. They have Maitland-Nyles at 6, when he played at 7, Crowley at 9 when he was 10, Akpom at 11 when he was at 9, Iwobi at 10, when he was 11. Which makes the next bit a little difficult.

The stand out performance was from Crowley.  At 16 he was the youngest on the pitch, he played in the number 10 role just behind the front players and it was a wonderful performance.  He is similar to Jack, has a wonderful first touch, is able to turn and find players in very tight spaces. He has a great short injection of pace and a natural body movement that gives him incredible balance. He rightly deserved his applause from the home crowd when he scored as was exceptional.

I left the ground saying to my children (10 & 6), that they should remember this night and this performance as it was remarkable. Of course I hope Crowley continues to develop as he is an Arsenal player and I would love for my children to be able to look back in a few years’ time and remember this night and his performance

Zelalem, had a fairly quiet game, he looked very similar in stature and movement to Paul Davis, he was caught in possession a couple of times, but in general was comfortable on the ball, he played on the left side of midfield. I mention him as I was expecting more given that he  had been on the pre-season tour and done so well. Not that it was a bad performance, I was just expecting more.

Maitland-Nyles – looked incredibly pacey and very lively. He made lots of darting runs in behind the left back, scored one and could have had another. He was very pleased with his goal and immediately ran to celebrate with the Arsenal youth manager, running past his team mates as he did so. I am not sure of the significance of this or if there is any reason behind it.

At right back and according the Arsenal site we had Moore, he looks like a little like Edgar Davids, is a very strong and quick attacking right back as you would expect from Arsenal. I hope Arsenal have his name right as worked very hard (as did all the team). He was always looking to pass the ball out of defence and give good options to his team mates. A couple of small misplaced passes in the second half due to his willingness and desire to get forward, but a good performance.

Wearing number 4 the Arsenal site states was Siemann and again I hope this is right.  He sat in front of the back 4, had a great first touch, incredible composure and reads the game very well. He broke up everything that Peterborough could offer and was also very good at finding himself space and finding passes in congested areas.

The central defenders were comfortable and rarely challenged and the goal keeper was good when called upon however this was a very good Arsenal team that spent most of the time going forwards so difficult really to critique the defence too much. Only to say that as you would expect from an Arsenal defence they looked to keep possession at all times.

In general the game itself was played in a good spirit, there were no yellows given to either side however to be honest both sides could have had at least one each.

The attendance was 1,980 which considering the average Peterborough home crowd is just over 8,000 wasn’t too bad. Entry was £3 for adults and £1 for concessions. Peterborough had 2 of the 3 stands open (the fourth stand is under construction).

Hoping for another Midlands based team in the next round!


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18 comments to Arsenal’s new sensation is revealed

  • WalterBroeckx

    Thanks Ian for this article.

    I have seen images of the match on The vision of Crowley and the weight on his passes looked exceptional on TV.

    And I remember bringing some of my kids to a pre-season match Beveren – Arsenal in the time we had our partnership with them. It was a game played by the youngsters and many reserve players. But at the time we had Cesc and RVP in that team. I also told my kids to keep an eye on those two players. They would become great players for Arsenal. I was right. But never realised at that moment they would be great traitors also 😉

  • Rich

    Good write-up. Thanks for taking time to do it. Always eager to hear anything about the youth team.

    Funny thing is that just yesterday I saw a post, on Jeorge Bird’s Arsenal youth, from someone listing four players, including Siemann, who they said were the only one’s in current crop they’d never seen a positive match report on.

    Must admit, I hadn’t either in Siemann’s case (though I had seen a couple of moments in clips which showcased excellent passing for anyone, let alone a cb). And, there you go, I see one today.

    However, just to be absolutely sure- as you did say there was some confusion with numbering and your description of playing style somewhat fits what I’ve heard of the other cb,Stefan O’Connor- Siemann’s the blonde guy, O’Connor’s taller with an Afro.

  • ian

    @ Rich

    Thank you, looks like our number 4 was not Siemann after all and from your description may well have been O’ Connor. Whoever it was they were deployed in the DM position.

    The guy behind me (a Peterborough fan) kept saying how impressed he was with him and would want him in their first team.

    Ian Brookes

  • Gf60

    Surely a bit unfair that Cesc is painted with the same brush as Von Pissy? VP could be lined up against the execution wall as far as I’m concerned but Cesc, let’s just say I’d give him 5 years playing for Arsenal as punishment. 😮

  • Gf60

    Sorry, forgot to say thanks to IB for a really warming report.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Cesc broke my heart more than VPissy. That’s why. Cesc could repair my broken heart. As for RVPissy…I wish he will burn himself with the red devils… whooahaaahaaaaaaaa (this is meant to sound an hysterical devilish laugh 😉 )

  • WalterBroeckx

    I also noticed that the first goal from Crowley was met with much applause from the fans in the stadium. They recognised the little boy his performance as what it was: a great performance.
    Let us hope many more may come for Arsenal in the next decade or so and beyond

  • nicky

    An interesting report on, I trust, stars of the future.
    Hope your two boys like to kick a ball as well as watch.

  • arse_or_brain

    glen kamara was no 4, siemann was 5 and it was tafari moore who was at right back who has had a great season already regularly playing for the u21s as many of these players do

  • John

    Thanks for the article Crowley and Akpom look very promising … while others like Moore, Kamara, Niles, Zelalem and Ottewill look like they can all make the grade.

    Of course great promise at youth level is just that…. there’s so many things that can go wrong from injury to having a world class young player already playing in their position.

    Its very much a numbers game and you hope the top talents progress but credit to Arsenal for investing the time/money in the youth set up.

    PS I know Crowley is a Aston Villa product I dont care he is with us now and with abit of luck will push on to the 1st team in afew years.

    There’s also a younger lad Willock, chris the middle of three brothers who is also meant to be very talented, his older brother got let go by Arsenal and has joined Man U. They are now trying to poach chris from us … hopefully he has some sense and stays put as I’m pretty sure the signing of the older brother is just a ploy by those undesireables who have zero class!!!!

  • Pat


    What a great match for your kids to see as well!

  • Arsenor

    Ssshhh Ian,keep it quiet.during the summer I was following the next gen tournament,quietly confident,with the young talent that we have.we get to the semi’s,only villa to play(how the hell are they there I was thinking)no probs.watched the highlights,and we got slapped 4-0or4-1 can’t remember,anyway this small lad ripped us apart.buck me I thought to myself,who’s this…Dan Crowley was his name.I couldn’t name you a single youth player from another club in the premiership but I knew this kid from villa.about a month later about June when we realeased about 20 youth players,I was looking to see who was left,when I saw that name on Arsenal squad list,can’t be the same one I thought to myself,it was!buck me again!this is a top,top buy,I said to my brother afterwards you ever herd of a boy called Dan Crowley,no he said(just like when I asked him if he has of a young lad of 15 at the time called jack to witch he said no)say no more.tonight,when I saw him ,he said he was listing to talkcrap and they were raving about dan setting up 4 and scoring 2 saying how much of a super,super talent we have got and how this kid is super a bit of a smug way I felt vindicated.I know this boy will be leading the front line in the 2018 World Cup,without doubt,we just don’t want to let the cat out of the bag too soon before the media jump all over him calling him the next messi,or englands saviour.last point,and not sure it’s the totally true,is that we paid £4.000.000 for him,and to think there was not one back page mention of this transaction on any paper

  • elkieno

    Walter a devilish laugh reads like this… Mwahahahaa!!!

    And in my opinion Cesc is not in same bracket as Dutch skunk at al, ‘you guys’ just makes my blood book!
    With Cesc we knew he was going to go only to Barca, for at least a couple of years so my love for him started to wane when he dithered bout signing up again. We are a better team for it anyway abs Cesc isn’t getting fawned over like here, his loss.
    Also it just goes to show you how good Cesc was that at 16 he was in first team!

  • elkieno

    Arsenor: wow man that just vindicates this article, I am excited so much! I just can’t believe ppl would want Wenger out when he is the only one that concentrates on youth and senior levels, buck me he is the greatest.
    Dan Crowley, remember the name!!

  • insideright

    I saw Crowley play for the first half of the pre season friendly against Sutton. He was in a different class and by a long way the youngest on the pitch (I think it was close to Suttons first eleven).
    If he stays fit and focussed he will be a star without doubt.

  • Ian

    @ Nicky

    My youngest plays more than my eldest but both enjoy it, would love for one of them to be the next Crowley but that might be stretch for them.

    @ All others
    Thank you for taking the time to read and comment and for the additional information about the youth team. Sorry i was unable to be as accurate as i would have liked regarding the team as was looking at the AFC site. Also to add that Jack Jebb came on for the last 10 mins but this has not been picked up on the AFC site either. Will take a pen and paper with me next time

    Thank you again


  • WalterBroeckx

    and if their football career ends up nowhere they still can become refs. ‘Good’ refs 😉