Matthew Smith has hit 10 u18 Premier League assists in 14 games in the current campaign, and the young midfielder’s creativity continues to catch the eye.
The Arsenal u18s defeated Leicester City 5-0 on Tuesday, and Smith provided a couple of assists to help them on their way. The first was the most impressive, as he took half of the Leicester team out of the game with one through pass to Tyreece John-Jules. John-Jules then finished confidently with a fake shot before rounding the goalkeeper:
The pair of assists brought Smith to 10 for the season, in addition to the four goals he’s scored. 14 goal contributions in 14 games isn’t bad at all for a deep-lying midfielder.
The problem for the 18-year-old is he’s yet to find a way into the u23 side. The likes of Charlie Gilmour, Joe Willock and Robbie Burton have limited him to just one start for the top academy side this season, in a 1-1 draw against Swansea City.
It’s a shame because the teenager has really taken control of Arsenal’s matches at u18 level. Although he didn’t score or assist in the FA Youth Cup run, he was arguably the team’s man-of-the-match against Northampton, and he was similarly impressive in the 5-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur.
Unfortunately, the pathway to first-team opportunities relies on him first breaking into the u23 side first. Hopefully, this summer will create an opening, with a player or two going on loan or earning a promotion to the first team. We’ll see.