This season has been an eventful one for Arsenal’s youngsters across various age-groups.
The u23s recovered from a poor start in the league to finish fourth in Premier League 2, whilst the u18s have battled hard despite adversity to push Jody Morris’ Chelsea side for major honours this term.
In the final weeks of this campaign, it’s time to review some of Arsenal’s best goals scored by Academy players.
During the four-minute video above, there are a number of excellent strikes – some flashes of individual brilliance whilst others are well-taken finishes after well-crafted moves.
Here’s my top 5, in no particular order:
Edward Nketiah vs Manchester United
Nketiah has scored a number of important goals for both the u18s and u23s this season. This one was based on technical skill, awareness and pure bravery. Having already squandered a number of opportunities during Monday’s encounter at the Emirates, you almost wondered whether it wasn’t going to be the 17-year-old’s day.
To his credit, he continued being a nuisance for United’s backline to handle. Calling for the ball on the edge of the area, he took Cohen Bramall’s pass perfectly with his first touch, pushing the ball towards his right foot inside the box. Then whilst mid-slide, had enough composure to slot his effort into the bottom corner despite advances from Cameron Borthwick-Jackson. Just unfortunate that it didn’t help seal all three points during their final league fixture of the campaign.
Vlad Dragomir vs Southampton
This goal helped seal all three points in a comfortable 3-0 home victory, but was undoubtedly the pick of the bunch. Romanian creative midfielder Dragomir hasn’t yet completed a breakthrough into the u23s and sporadic appearances continue to come but with contributions like this excellent long-range effort, it’s going to be hard for Steve Gatting to ignore him for much longer.
After receiving a one-two by Nketiah as the forward accelerated towards the Saints’ box, he was visibly calling for the ball. Dragomir opted to shoot and a left-footed strike caught goalkeeper Adam Parkes by surprise as it arrowed towards the top corner with aplomb.
Reiss Nelson vs Blackburn
Perhaps one of the best individual performances this season too, Reiss Nelson has continued to impress when featuring for both Kwame Ampadu (u18s) and Steve Gatting’s more experienced crop of u23s.
Here on his return from a minor injury, he netted a hat-trick inside 20 first-half minutes during a commanding 5-1 away victory over Blackburn – the same team that he was harshly sent off against during an FA Youth Cup tie in December last year. Coincidence? I think not.
His curling effort came seconds after shrugging off opposition challenges outside the area and having the ability to shoot from distance is no easy feat, especially for someone with so many strengths in his ever-improving young career.
Edward Nketiah vs Manchester City
A well-worked team move, cooly finished by none other than Nketiah again. After some patient passing movements in and around the middle third of the pitch, Arsenal attacked with speed in numbers and their quick build-up play was almost untouchable. Marcus McGuane was instrumental here, having intricately passed the ball around City’s backline with ease inside the box. Nketiah was his partner in crime and made no mistake from close-range, just one of 15 league goals at u18 level this season.
Joe Willock vs Manchester United
When mentioning the surname Willock, every Arsenal supporter that has an interest in the youth set-up will think of Chris. But his younger brother Joe has equally played his part at u18 level this season.
A brilliant solo effort against United set the wheels in motion during an important away victory earlier this month. Skipping past Tyrell Warren before playing a one-two with Nketiah, he left his marker in a heap on the turf before showing enough composure to stutter and slot home under goalkeeper Theo Richardson.
Enjoy all the strikes I’ve highlighted and more in the video here: