Most of Arsenal’s scholars have returned to training after their holidays, as they prepare to potentially feature in next week’s opening friendly against Boreham Wood.
Even though Arsenal’s first-team season has only been over for a few weeks, the academy have had a bit more time off. The u18s played their final game in early May, so they’ve now had over the required six weeks off and have started to filter back into training.
The club’s first-year scholars from last year (now second-year) are the first to return, with a couple of exceptions. Here’s the full list, along with explanations for those who haven’t yet returned:
Second-Year Scholars in Training
- Ryan Alebiousu
- Matthew Dennis
- Stanley Flaherty
- Alfie Matthews
- Tom Smith
- Joel Lopez
- Sam Greenwood
Not Yet Back
- Ben Cottrell (extended holiday due to England duty)
- Arthur Okonkwo (extended holiday due to Europa League final)
- Bukayo Saka (extended holiday due to Europa League final)
It appears Karl Hein is still recovering from his injury last season.
The new scholars have also returned to training, though we don’t have an official list for them yet. Arsenal should confirm it in due course, but we know Nathan Butler-Oyedeji and Miguel Azeez are among them.
Ryan Alebiosu and Matthew Dennis were both on the bench a lot last season, but given they can each play right-back (or further forward) they’ll be looking to step up into the space vacated by Vontae Daley-Campbell.
Stan Flaherty is in a similar position, playing on the right and only having made a couple of starts last season, but he’ll certainly be more involved in an advanced role.
Meanwhile, centre-forward Alfie Matthews impressed with a couple of goals at the Dallas Cup, and he could look to take advantage of Folarin Balogun and Tyreece John-Jules stepping up to the u23s.
Tom Smith started to nail down a spot in goal towards the end of last season, and with Arthur Okonkwo pushing for u23 starts, he’ll just be looking to keep that going this campaign. He’ll have Karl Hein back from injury for competition though, so it won’t be easy.
Joel Lopez and Sam Greenwood are both heading into their second seasons with the club, but with very different targets in mind.
Greenwood was excellent and pivotal in the u18s’ success last season, contributing 15 goals or assists in 21 league matches, so he’ll be pushing for u23 matches as the season goes on.
Lopez, on the other hand, had a mixed debut campaign in England, so he’ll just be aiming to nail down a starting spot for the u18s at left-back.