West Bromich Albion - August 28th
Last week's inaugural addition started off with Daniel Crowley doing something awesome. This week starts off with Crowley doing something spectacular. He's got no business scoring here, but he bangs it in delightfully. By merely putting free kicks on frame, he's in the top 1% of free kick takers at Arsenal.
Chuba Akpom was pushed out left due to the inclusion of Joel Campbell in this match and shows great wide forward play here. An excellent turn allows him to show off his club record speed which allows him to get off a decent shot. His confidence has been sky high since his return from a loan spell with Coventry City last season.
Another great Crowley freekick here which should have immediately resulted in a goal. Luckily enough, in the scrum that followed, Akpom was able to put it away with a poacher's finish Darren Bent would have been proud of.
Hopeful Hope of the USMNT, Gedion Zelalem, sprays the ball out wide to Hector Bellerin, of #BellerinFC fame, whose cross Akpom is happy to head home for the brace.
I would love to give Campbell credit for playing that pass, but that might be the worst successfully-lofted pass I've ever seen. Akpom's hat-trick was the beneficiary of a Gerrard-esque slip from the WBA centerback and Joe Hart-esque keeping.
As they always say, 4-0 is the most dangerous lead in soccer. Looks like the Arsenal youngsters are being trained in proper zonal marking defending techniques on corner kicks.
It's Newcastle all over again.
Thoughts after the WBA Match:
- Crowley is really dangerous on free kicks. Almost like a right-footed Brad Evans.
- In all seriousness, Crowley continues to look like the star of the U21s. Would love to see him get League Cup experience this season, but due to our crowded attacking roster, that seems very unlikely. He hasn't even been playing at the U21 level for a full season, but he already looks like he's ready for his next challenge.
- In our last GIF roundup, I criticized Akpom for some weak finishing so of course he came through with a hat trick his next time out.
- Isaac Hayden, Arsenal's "break glass in emergency" centerback for the time being, played on the right wing in this match, relegating Ainsley Maitland-Niles to the bench. This was done to fit Francis Coquelin and Abou Diaby into the starting XI.
- Speaking of Diaby, he played the whole first half. Positives: didn't get hurt. Negatives: Considering he didn't get hurt, none.
- Arsenal's U21 side is still on track to be Youth Invincibles.
U18s v. Aston Villa U18s - August 30th
A midfield runner scores due to the right back being out of position and the right winger inadequately tracking back. Clearly, Jonker is hammering the Arsenal Way into these kids.
This is such a lovely interchange from Villa. Arsenal's left back, Marc Bola, should have cleared this much better, but the move deserved a goal.
Stephy Mavididi gets Arsenal on the scoresheet with a fine finish.
TV5 may have been sold, but do not fear, prospect George Dobson is ready to step up and take on the mantle of Marauding Arsenal Centerback. While this play eventually leads to a chance (after he loses the ball), I couldn't help but laugh at the initial foray forward.
Arsene cameo! Oh, and that was a pretty good chance Mavididi didn't bury. But look! Arsene was there!
Ainsley Maitland-Niles didn't feature in the WBA U21 match so he popped down to the U18s for this match. Shows off some trickery then lays it off for new scholar, Ben Sheaf, formerly of West Ham United's Academy, whose shot isn't too far wide.
Decent pass from Harry Douglas sets up another Mavididi chance, but he opts for the field goal attempt.
I swear this isn't the same play as earlier where the right side of Arsenal's defense is wide open and they're punished for it.
For the second week in a row, Tyrell Robinson has the best goal of the Arsenal youth squads. Last week he had the spectacular solo run n' goal. This week, he pounded the ball off someone's face into the back of the net. Promote him to the first-team immediately.
- Although the defense struggled a bit, these youngsters do attack with promise. Mavididi looks very impressive. If Akpom ever goes on loan, it would be interesting to see if he got promoted to the U21s. Akpom has aged out of the UEFA Youth Cup side, so he may get his chance to start in European competition.
- I guess this side won't be Invincible.