Arsenal U23s: an update plus preview and team prediction of Arsenal v Chelsea

by Andrew Crawshaw

It has been some time since I did an update of the progress of our U23 team this season and with their game against Chelsea being shown live on Arsenal Player at 13:00 on Friday this seems like an appropriate moment to do so.

The league is split into two groups with Arsenal having gained promotion to the top group along with Derby at the end of last season.  The current league table is:-

Pos Team P W D L +/- Pts
1 Everton 14 10 2 2 22 32
2 Man City 14 8 4 2 10 28
3 Liverpool 13 7 2 4 10 23
4 Chelsea 14 5 7 2 10 22
5 Arsenal 14 7 1 6 3 22
6 Sunderland 14 5 5 4 -1 20
7 Man United 14 4 5 5 -6 17
8 Southampton 14 4 3 7 -7 15
9 Reading 14 4 2 8 -10 14
10 Tottenham 14 3 4 7 -8 13
11 Leicester 13 3 3 7 -11 12
12 Derby 14 2 4 8 -12 10

With 8 games to play, Everton look to be out of reach for us but second place looks to be possible if we have a good run.  Not easy as there is little to chose between the teams in second to 6th place.

Who has played this year?

We have used a total of 32 players this season (including a couple of first team players returning from injury)  In descending order of games played they are :-

Player Position Games Started Games as Sub Goals scored
Ben Sheaf CB/CM 12
Ismael Bennacer CM 12
Chris Willock CM/Wing 11 3
Chiori Johnson RB 10 0 0
Stephy Mavididi STR 10 0 6
Reiss Nelson Forward 9 0 2
Ainsley Maitland-Niles MF 8 2 0
Gedion Zelalem MF 8 1 0
Krystian Bielik CB/DM 8 0 0
Matt Macey GK 8 0 0
Kristopher Da Graca CB 7 3 0
Hugo Keto GK 6 0 0
Marc Bola CB/LB 6 1 0
Kostas Pileas CB 5 0 0
Vlad Dragomir AM 5 0 0
Chuba Akpom Striker 4 0 3
Edward Nketiah STR 4 4 5
Jeff Reine-Adelaide Wing/AM 3 0 0
Kaylen Hinds STR 3 0 1
Savvas Mourgos wing 3 0 1
Joshua DaSilva Striker 2 4 0
Marcus McGuane DM 2 4 0
Tolaji Bola LB 2 0 0
Carl Jenkinson RB 1 0 0
Cohen Bramall LB 1 0 0
Emile Smith-Rowe Wing 1 0 0
Glen Kamara DM 1 1 0
Joseph Olowu 1 0 0
Mathieu Debuchy RB 1 0 1
Donyell Malen STR 0 4 0
Aarom Eyoma MF 0 2 0
Tyrell Robinson LB/Wing 0 1 0

Top scorers are Stephy Mavididi with 6, Eddie Nketiah has 5.  Chuba Akpom and Chris Willock each have 3, Reiss Nelson 2 and Savvas Mourgos Kaylen Hinds and Mathieu Debuchy one apiece.

Last time we played Chelsea was on the 23rd September at Chelsea and we won 2 – 1 courtesy of strikes from Stephy Mavididi and Reiss Nielson.  Highlights of that game are on Arsenal Player Match video: Chelsea v Arsenal U-23s

Who is likely to start on Friday?

I am assuming that Gedion Zelalem will have completed his loan move and will be unavailable.

With our FA Cup game against Southampton on Saturday the starting lineup will depend to a large degree as to which (if any) of the regular U23 players will be involved with the senior squad.  It will be no surprise to me if Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Jeff Reine-Adelaide are with the first team and I think they may well be joined by either Ben Sheaf or Ismael Bennacer as defensive midfield cover.

If all of these players are included it will leave the U23s light, particularly in midfield so the team may well have a scratch look about it

I would therefore think that we will start with


Chiori Johnson  Kristopher Da Graca Krystian Bielik    Cohen Bramall

Marcus McGuane, Vlad Dragomir, Ismael Bennacer (c)

Chris Willock, Stephy Mavididi, Chuba Akpom

On the Beach

GK – Hugo Keto, Carl Jenkinson, Kostas Pileas, Eddie Nketiah, Donyell Malen

The game kicks off at 13:00 and will be shown live on Arsenal Player for details see :-

Watch under-23s LIVE on


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5 Replies to “Arsenal U23s: an update plus preview and team prediction of Arsenal v Chelsea”

  1. Ismael Bennacer received a late call up to the African Nations cup for Algeria. He will definitely not be involved in the U23 game tomorrow. Sorry I had forgotten that when I wrote the piece.

    In his pre Southampton press conference Arsène indicated that it would be a first team squad for Saturday but with a couple of youngsters. I would expect that to be Ainsley and Jeff so I would guess Ben Sheaf in the U23s

  2. There is free live stream available on for this game. Many of young lads have found their feet and are in form, but Chelsea are very strong too.

    Arsene Wenger looks very impressed with Ben-Nacer (as a box to box central midfielder), so here is my two pennies on him being Arsenal’s breakout player next season from academy, before Walter (Bellerin) or Tony (Coquelin) does 😀

  3. Well, Ainsley and Jeff look okay to be in Le Prof’s 18 man match day squad for our Southampton FA Cup match next tomorrow if they are fully match fit and are on the top of their game. Otherwise, it’s better they remain in their U23 squad for their Chelsea game and leave the big senior Gunners alone to play this our 4th round FA Cup match against Southampton on Saturday.

    My FA Cup RD4 match starts and bench for our Southampton game are as below:
    Paulista Mustafi Koscielny Monreal
    Coquelin Ramsey
    Sanchez Ozil Perez
    Cech Bellerin Holding Gibbs Chamberlain Walcott Welbeck.

    This is a comprehensive strong starts and bench in terms of full match fitness and current top form I believe Le Prof should start and have on the bench for this FA Cup match. He should please not drop Paulista for Bellerin to start at RB for this match because Bellerin can still do with a game rest on the bench in this match to heal more deeply to enabled him start the Watford and Chelsea PL matches. While Paulista be given a rest on the bench for these 2 PL games. Chamberlain is for cover at my midfield base in which Coquelin & Ramsey are the starters. Walcott should not be rushed to starts this match but could be brought on with 10 minutes to go in the game to have a run out to get competitive game fitness. Iwobi who looked jaded in the Burnley match should get a one game rest and when it’s appropriate, one or two of Gibbs, Welbeck and Chamberlain could also be brought on to have a competitive game run out.

  4. Andrew, Algeria crashed out on Monday and Ismael was not involved in any of the games, so i see no reason why he wouldn’t play on Friday
    i imagine this is also good news for Leicester and bad news for MU who play them next week

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