In their infinite wisdom, the powers-that-be at Arsenal have decided that we are unworthy of live streams, much less full match replays, of youth squad action. We are forced to accept a five minute highlight clip, showcasing a mere handful of play. But here at The Short Fuse, if life gives us a slice of lemon, we grab a pack of artificial sweetener and make awful faux-lemonade like we did at restaurants growing up because soda cost $1.99 and your dad was a tightwad.
So without further ado, I’d like to unveil a new feature: Arsenal Youth Highlight GIF Roundup. Each week or so [EDITOR'S NOTE: Depending on the management's competence, a lack of which is on display presently in regards to this post arriving SEVERAL days late. --Thomas], we’ll compile the best clips from the academy highlights provided to us by Arsenal Player and draw unreasonable conclusions from each snippet.
Reading U21 – August 15th
Dan Crowley, one of Arsenal’s brightest prospects, plays a brilliant pass here, but unfortunately, Ainsley Maitland-Niles was unable to control it. A glimpse of Crowley’s passing range and accuracy here.
This is a little better from the young winger. Beats his man by cutting inside and sets up Gedion Zelalem with a nice goal-scoring chance. Also showcases something Zelalem needs to work on: goal-scoring ability. He’s never really shown an ability to control the ball, set it and himself up, and strike the ball with power.
Another dangerous ball played in by Crowley, excellent header by Maitland-Niles, and Chuba Akpom’s goal-bound effort was blocked off the line by the arm of a Reading defender. We earned a penalty? Clearly, Steve Gatting is not training these boys in the Arsenal way.
Akpom takes PKs better than Özil.
Maitland-Niles seems fast. This probably should have been a goal.
Crowley with a cheeky FK. I like this kid.
Maybe this is why they don’t televise these matches.
Another chance created by Crowley. Akpom really should have scored here. Seems like a typical Arsene striker if you ask me.
Brilliant pass by Hayden. Akpom with another impressive miss.
Derby County U21 – August 22nd
Against Reading, Crowley created the danger moments. As you will soon see, it was Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ turn against Derby County.
Almost a carbon copy of the previous play. Maitland-Niles driving at the defense, creating a chance for Akpom.
Great vision from Zelalem to cut it back for Crowley and woo boy, that’s a shocking miss from Crowley there. Love seeing those two combine though.
[cue Yakety Sax] I can only picture Szczesny watching this and saying, "I AM NOT A ROLE MODEL."
This goal is beautiful. Lovely pass, lovely run, lovely finish.
Ajayi saw that video of William Carvalho taking out two guys with one tackle and decided he needed to step things up.
Arsenal concedes a questionable PK. "Train up a child in the way he should go…"
There goes the one game clean sheet streak.
This move deserved a goal, but MOTM Maitland-Niles couldn’t quite lift his finish over their keeper.
Alex Iwobi did all he could to atone for conceding the PK with a powerful run through midfield, but Akpom doesn’t score, again, on an easy chance.
U21 Thoughts After Two Matches (worth of highlights):
Akpom really needs to take his chances better. He missed several chances, a lot of them golden chances, to score. The intelligent movement and athletic ability is there, but if he really wants to break through at Arsenal, he needs to start burying some of those. Recent reports have indicated he may be on his way to the Eredivisie. Personally, I think that'd be a great move. Playing in a technical league with open play, and a plethora of goal-scoring chances, is exactly what Akpom needs to develop his game.
Where is Zelalem? He featured in these highlights twice. Arsenal youth twitter seemed to indicate he had at least a moment or two more of real brilliance in the Derby County match, which begs the question of why that was not shown. Conspiracy theories are welcome in the comments.
Crowley and Maitland-Niles are so exciting. Having this level of impact at their age is very promising for the future.
Arsenal U21 need to win the Division 2 title so they can play better academy teams. Being televised more often wouldn’t hurt either.
Chelsea U18s – August 23rd
The Arsenal 18s have also been in action with 2 blowout wins, 4-0 against Brighton and 5-1 versus Chelsea. Highlights of the Brighton match are unavailable, but let’s look at some of the high points of our U18s drubbing of Chelsea.
Nice cross from the left back Marc Bola and talented striker prospect, Stephy Mavididi heads it in with ease.
Unfortunate, deflected goal. Good sign for this young Arsenal defense that this was all they let through.
Great break from Arsenal’s youngsters here. Kaylen Hinds with an excellent run, squares to Mavididi who finishes with ease.
Chris Willock caught everyone’s eye with his surprise inclusion in the XI for the initial Boreham Wood friendly and here he is again with a nice run which, luckily, led to Arsenal’s third goal by substitute Harry Donovan.
Nice play with a clean up goal by Tyrell Robinson.
Robinson joined Mavididi in the brace club with this impressive solo goal. The defending here was abysmal, but Robinson showed excellent speed and control to give the Gunners their 5th goal.
U18 Thought After Two Matches: These guys seem pretty good, and should only improve once our foreign summer additions are eligible to play.