With Arsenal’s first team now on pause with the international break, it’s a great time to check in with the Academy. Formerly the Arsenal U23s, the now U21s are off to a great start to the season in both their league and cup competitions. There’s been a lot of attention over the past week for 15-year-old Ethan Nwaneri, but as most Arsenal fans know, Hale End and London Colney have a great history of developing young talent.
If you enjoy the Arsenal Academy or just want to see the structure being built by Per Mertesacker make sure to check out the new ‘Inside Hale End’ series. Five of the six episodes are now available on YouTube.
Premier League 2 - Season Results
Arsenal opened the season with three straight wins in the league, scoring at least three goals in every match. Those wins against Manchester United, West Ham, & Chelsea quickly put the Gunners at the top of the table. Their first points dropped came on the road at Brighton. They let in a third-minute goal, rallied to take a 2-1 lead before a 73rd-minute equalizer saw the sides split the points.
Arsenal bounced back with a 4-1 result over Blackburn before a draw against Wolves this past weekend. The Young Gunners were a man and a goal down at halftime but managed to pull out a result.
Premier League 2 Table
Arsenal are currently in a three-way tied top of the league with 14 points. The Young Gunners along with Crystal Palace and Manchester City have four wins, two draws, and are the only sides in the league without a loss after six matches. Remarkably, all three sides also have the exact same goal difference, +9. Palace win the tie-breaker by having one more goal scored than Arsenal, 18 to 17.
Football League Trophy
Group A in the South sees Arsenal paired with League One sides Ipswich Town and Cambridge, plus League Two’s Northampton Town. Arsenal won their first group match 2-0 over Cambridge United with two goals from Nathan Butley-Oyedeji. The side then fell 2-nil in the next match, arguably the hardest they will face in this round. On the road against the league leaders in League One side who haven’t lost a match. The Gunners remain in second place (top two advances) and will play their final group match against Northampton Town on October 18th.
Premier League Cup
Arsenal is in Group G with Burnley, Stoke City, and Swansea City. The Gunners opened group play with a 2-1 win over Swansea thanks to goals from Cedric & Joel Ideho. They travel to Burnley this coming weekend before a pause in Cup action until November.
Stat Leaders (PL2 only)
- 4 - Charles Sagoe Jr.
- 3 - Marquinhos
- 2 - James Olayinka, Amario Duberry, Khayon Edwards
- 4 - James Olayinka
- 2 - Amario Duberry
- 1 - Seven players tied with a single assist
Future First Team Players?
While Marquinhos has played three of the U21s six league matches, I think we can all agree he doesn’t need to be considered in this section. His debut and goal in the Europa League at Zurich was enough to know he will factor into the first team this season. James Olayinka jumped out to a great start (2G+4A) but then made a permanent move to Cheltenham Town.
The standout attackers are Charles Sagoe Jr who often lines up on the left side of the attacking line and Khayon Edwards who plays as the U21s’ central forward. The other two notable midfielders or attackers at the moment are actually both from the U18s squad - Amario Duberry who can play on either wing or in central midfield and the prospect with all the buzz this week, Ethan Nwaneri. At 15, clearly, we don’t have a great idea of where Nwaneri will ultimately land on the pitch, but so far this season he’s played at attacking-mid, left-wing, and forward for either the 18s or 21s.
In defense, 18-year-old center-back Zack Awe and 17-year-old left-back Lino Sousa are promising prospects. Either could end up with half-year loans come January.
- September 23rd - Burnley (A) - Premier League Cup - Group G, Match 2
- October 1st - Liverpool (A)
- October 8th - Tottenham (A)
- October 24th - Leicester City (A)
- October 31st - Crystal Palace (H)
Who of the current U21s are you most excited to see progress this season? Which players do you believe have the best chance of making their first-team debut this year? And if you like this update and would like a similar one for the U18s let us know down in the comment section below.