Arsenal’s academy had a good weekend, as the u18s progressed in the Premier League Cup, and the u23s won their Premier League 2 match against Sunderland 3-1.
The u18s faced Norwich City in the quarter-finals on Saturday. The match was full of drama. The young Canaries took the lead through Aaron Ekumah, but Arsenal hit back with a Folarin Balogun header. Bukayo Saka then set up Trae Coyle for a 2-1 lead with 30 minutes to go.
The visitors weren’t ready to give up just yet though, and Alan Fleming scored to send the game to extra time. Things went from bad to worse in the additional period. Adam Idah scored one and provided an assist for Anthony Spyrou to put Norwich 4-2 up.
Fortunately, Arsenal managed a fight back of their own. Jordan McEneff scored the Gunners’ third, then Saka bagged his second of the match for 4-4.
The game went to penalties, and although Arsenal missed their first, Joao Virginia came up with two great saves towards the end of the shootout. Zak Swanson scored the winning penalty to send the Gunners to the semi-finals.
Arsenal’s u23 match wasn’t quite so dramatic, as the Gunners dominated despite having a few absences. Players like Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock weren’t available, possibly with the first-team’s Swansea City match in mind.
Emile Smith-Rowe and Tyreece John-Jules got an opportunity to prove themselves as a result. It was one they both took, with Smith-Rowe curling a lovely effort in for the lead on 24 minutes. Then John-Jules chipped home following good work by Josh Dasilva and Reiss Nelson.
In the second half, Sunderland pulled one back, with Elliot Embleton reducing the deficit. It wasn’t 2-1 for long though, as John-Jules restored Arsenal’s well-deserved two goal cushion. The youngster turned home Tolaji Bola’s cross for 3-1, and that’s how it remained for the rest of the match.
Konstantinos Mavropanos started for the u23s again, and continued to impress with the youth team. It can only be a matter of time until he gets a first-team opportunity.
Arsenal’s u18s face Middlesbrough in the FA Youth Cup on Friday, before the u23s play Everton in the PL2 on Monday.