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August 2021

The Arsenal first team squad members who are under 21: the updated report

by Andrew Crawshaw

Following the widely reported promotions to the Arsenal First Team Squad here is a breakdown of the players we are likely to see more of as the season progresses.  I have listed them in order of their birthdates.

Cohen Bramall – 2 April 1996 (not 1995 as the official Arsenal web site has it)

Cohen joined us in January last year from non-league Hednesford Town following a successful trial.  He is a left sided defender with blistering pace (sub 11sec for 100m at his best).  He played last year for the U23 team and was on a very steep learning curve – his initial performances displayed a considerable naivety in his defending but a much better appreciation of the requirements going forwards.  He has proved a quick learner and is far more adept with the defensive side of his game, although still inexperienced and prone to being beaten by older and wiser attackers.  His speed across the ground enables him to recover well when caught out of position.

He is coming on and we all hope for a successful conclusion to his ‘fairy tale’ rise from losing his job in a car factory to becoming an Arsenal player.  Mind you we will have to wait another year as it has been announced that he is off on loan to Birmingham (along with Carl Jenkinson).  Let’s hope ‘Arry doesn’t ruin him.

Alex Iwobi – 3 May 1996

Alex made his breakthrough into the first team squad two season ago and most of us are well aware of his strengths and weaknesses.  He seems to have been around the First team now for so long that we are sometimes liable to forget that he is still just 21 years old and very much learning his trade.  Alex is the nephew of former Bolton player Jay-jay Okocha and is now a player with the Nigerian National squad despite having been capped by England up to U18 level.

Alex is an attacker and effective anywhere across the pitch.  He is strong on the ball and an effective striker of the ball.  Whilst his first team goal tally hasn’t yet taken off he will score more as his confidence  increases and I would expect him to be consistently in double figures in the not too distant future.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 20 August 1997

Ainsley is not unlike The Ox in that he is incredibly versatile as a player.  Coming through the junior teams at Arsenal he was a fairly conventional midfielder in both attacking and defensive roles.  His first team appearances have been almost anywhere – Right Wing Back, Right Back, Central Defender as well as his more natural midfield slots.  He has tried very hard wherever he has been asked to play although I’m sure he would agree that Centre Back isn’t his best position.

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Twenty on Sunday, I’m sure that he will be happy to do whatever is necessary to get game time at present but he really needs to work out with the coaches which position he is ideally suited to and start to concentrate to master one role rather than the present ‘scatter gun’ approach.  My feeling is that he will make an excellent defensive midfielder in the longer term (or at least as much of a defensive midfielder as we ever play with)

Jeff Reine-Adelaide – 17 January 1998

Jeff joined us from Lens in the summer of 2015 aged 17 and so, although French, will qualify as home grown once he reaches the age of 21.  He joined us as a left winger but has been primarily used as a central attacking midfielder.  He is a player with excellent ball control and is taller than our average midfielders.  At his best when on the ball he looks imperious but sometimes is caught out of position.  I am sure there is a wonderful player in him but am not always convinced by his effort and workrate.  His limitations are between his ears, get that part of his body sorted and we will have a superstar.

Joe Willock – 20 August 1999

Joe is that last of three brothers who have come through our Academy.  The eldest Matthew is playing for Man United in their U23 squad, Chris the middle brother left this summer and joined Benfica in Portugal appearing for them in the Emirates Cup.  Joe is probably the best of the three in terms of long term potential hence his promotion to the First Team at the age of 17 (he shares a birthday with Ainsley but is two years younger)

Joe is either a winger or attacking midfielder who has progressed very rapidly becoming a regular at U23 level last year despite his youth.  He has put in some stellar performances during pre-season showing absolutely no fear of opponents and has the ability to literally run rings around most normal players.  The sky is the limit as far as his future is concerned.

Reiss Nelson – 10 December 1999

Reiss is the youngest of this group of players and has long been recognised as the stand-out player in the Arsenal Academy.  He made his debut at U23 level whilst still a schoolboy and has looked a natural at every stage of his career to date.

Predominantly a right winger so far, his performances at right wing back during the pre-season tour were highlights that caught everyone’s attention.  No longer a hidden gem he is now definitely centre stage.  His run and finish from the left side of midfield in the U23 game on Monday evening, as we came back from a two goal deficit to beat Derby by 3 goals to two, was a thing of real beauty.  His first from an exquisite chipped pass from Reine-Adelaide wasn’t bad either (although a PL keeper would have probably stopped it).

The video isn’t yet available on Arsenal player but you can get the essence of Reiss’s two goals through this match report with embedded video courtesy of the Daily Canon.  It is good to note that the assists were supplied other players featured here, these six are used to playing together and as a unit are probably stronger than taken individually.


Assuming these six players continue their current progress and they stay with Arsenal they will probably command a transfer value of close to £1bn in four or five years and we should all look forward to their rise to the top tier of players.  We are truly blessed to have the opportunity to witness their progress.

We should also remember that the path to the top is never smooth and all of these players will have bad matches at times.  Our more excitable supporters should be ignored when after the first hiccup they declare the player ‘not fit to wear the shirt’ and demand that he be sold at once.


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24 comments to The Arsenal first team squad members who are under 21: the updated report

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Arsenal U23 v Mac City this evening at the Emirates. Kickoff 19:00. Full live coverage on Arsenal Player via

    I expect all except Alex Iwobi to feature probably with Jack, Calum as well


  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    Has the bloated Arsenal first team squad of 34 senior Gunners according to Le Prof last week been reduced now to 31 or 32 in number as of today after the sales of Gabriel last week and the loan out deals of Jenkinson and Bramall this week? Is Bramall counted as a first team squad Gunner having been recently promoted to that rank and given a senior team squad number?

    It has been reported in the media that Arsenal are well stocked at the leftback with Gibbs, Monreal & Kolasinac on Arsenal books in that position. And in the present Arsenal defence-line which comprises nine specialist defenders in the pecking order of: Bellerin, Holding & Debuchy at rightback/right wingback. And in the case of wingback role, left or right, Bellerin is known can play in the two multiple positions. Koscielny, Bfg & Mustafi are the centrebacks. And Monreal, Kolasinac & Gibbs are the left backs and all are able to play the dual roles of leftback and left wingback. But definitely, Le Prof will still rationalize this his nine man defense-line this summer by removing the Surds that are in it with his axe seriously looking will fall on Debuchy and Gibbs to be sold or loan out on or before the end of this summer transfer window. Which will reduce the size of his senior team squad defense-line personnel to the manageable seven in number for him to manage.

    To me, Cech, Ospina, Macey, Bellerin, Holding, Koscielny, Bfg, Mustafi, Monreal & Kolasinac are the ten senior Gunners personnel who will be manning Arsenal back line during this summer campaign. But still, there are fifteen senior team squad personnel Gunners that will be named in the midfield and in the forward line positions before the official 25 man Arsenal senior team squad for this summer campaign are known. But some of whom that will be named if not all, we’ve already known.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    I think I’ve made a mistake in limiting Arsenal specialist defenders to nine in number instead of ten in number if Chambers is included. Does the tall looking Chambers who can play as centreback, rightback and DM looks to takeover from Bfg when he retired at the end of this campaign? I think he should but if Le prof agrees. Therefore, he should be retained this summer and named as a DM, third to Coquelin and second to Elneny since it doesn’t look like Le Prof will sign a new holding midfielder this summer. And of course he can be deployed to play in the defense-line when the need to do so arisen.

  • Jerry

    Latest: Birmingham City have signed Cohen Bramall and Carl Jenkinson on season-long loans

    Wish the Gooners the best on their loan spell!

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    U23 Team. Mackey. Maitland-Niles. Da Silvaholding. Bielik. Pleguezuelo (c). Malen. Willock. Nketiah. Wilshere. Nelson

    Bench. McGuane. Keto. I sei-Tutu. Dragomir and Gilmore

  • Andrew Crawshaw


    Grimshaw. Latibeaudiere. Oliver. Francis. Wilson. Davenport. Diaz. Smith. Nmecha (c). Richards. Dilrosun

    Bench. Duh abet. Haug (gk). Dele-Bashkiria. Gonzalez

  • Gord

    From the twit thing:

    > What a start for #AFCU23 – they lead 1-0 after just 12 minutes The scorer? @ReissNelson9

  • Gord

    From the twit thing (about 3 minutes after previous one):

    > It’s not 1-0 anymore… ? @EddieNketiah9 fires in from close range after smart work from @Ains_7

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Half time and three one to Arsenal. Nketiah got the third after Matthew Smith pulled one back with a header. Should have been four but Nketiah went for the Hattrick instead of a pass to a team mate for a tap in

    Jack Wilshere looking very good indeed and running the midfield. In a different class from all of the other midfielders on the pitch from both teams

  • Nitram


    “Jack Wilshere looking very good”

    As you say, class above. Fantastic pass for the third.

  • para

    Good play lads, Reiss needs to be in 1st team even at his age for real.

  • Nitram


    Another lovely goal

  • Nitram

    O couple of developments.

    Now 10 a side. Wilshere off and 4-2.

  • para

    Come on lads i know you tired but dont let it slip now.

  • para

    Clear the lines at this stage of the game boot it out the side lines, dont they learn this?

  • Gord

    Why were Wilshere and Wilson sent off?


  • Nitram

    Wilshere reacted to a poor foul with a push.

    Never going to hurt the guy, who made the most of it, but an automatic red.

    Wilson sent off in ensuing melee.

    Original foul only a yellow, probably correctly.

  • para

    Good win lads, a little dicey at the end but a win.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Good game apart from some poor refereeing. Jack had been fouled a number of times in the second half each one with increasing ferocity and just lost it in the end. I’d need to see a replay but the challenge looked as though it was meant to leave a mark at least. I was surprised it too wasn’t a red card. The ref should have carded City players earlier in the game to take the heat out of the situation

    In the end a good win. Now for Liverpool on Friday night at Borehamwood


  • Gord

    Little medja coverage. SkySprots has a blurb, and says nothing about whether Wilshere was being gooned or provoked.

    It is all just another “Arsenal must be shit” article.

  • para

    My thoughts;

    We dont seem to teach in training how to keep a game we are winning, this reflects in both the youth teams and the 1st team.

    A comfortable team performance 😀 was nearly turned to a draw(or lost) by some events 🙁 that allowed city to get back in the game.

    We dropped back after performing so well(ok tiredness) but simple things like kicking the ball out the sides to diffuse attacks, keeping the opposition penned back and forcing them to use long balls were missing, instead we got a little penned back ourselves by going defensive.

    These are the things that make a game ours when we are winning and if not done, allows the opposition to recover too easily.

    Still, a good performance otherwise, but our training needs to be tweaked in these issues, as the issues will be brought into the 1st team and are.

    Jack is obviously in some conflict mentally as the game went on due to some tackles on him but he should be setting examples and not reacting this way even though it is understandable. Luckily both teams lost a man and not just Arsenal, else we would have lost 2 points and even 3 maybe.

    I just wish for these things to be addressed to make the teams more solid and resilient.

  • ARSENAL 13

    Nelson has been promoted to the first team, isnt it??….He looks too good for under 23.