The Arsenal u18s crashed out of the FA Youth Cup in disappointing fashion, losing heavily away to Blackburn Rovers on Friday.

Ewood Park (Photo via Arsenal Academy on Twitter)
Ewood Park (Photo via Arsenal Academy on Twitter)

After an exciting 4-3 win against Brighton in the last round, Arsenal u18s faced Blackburn Rovers in the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals.

Sadly, it did not go well. Rovers had the vast majority of the chances in the first half, eventually making it 1-0 in the 34th minute through Sam Burns. At the break, Arsenal were fortunate not to be further behind.

That luck didn’t last, as Ian Wright’s grandson D’Margio Wright-Phillips doubled the home side’s lead nine minutes into the second 45. Luke Brennan killed the game with a third goal in the 73rd minute, before Burns made it embarrassing with a fourth.

Thankfully, Arsenal restored a semblance of dignity as Marcelo Flores set up Mazeed Ogungbo for a consolation goal. That was the one positive, young Flores grabbing himself an assist in one of his early appearances at this level.

That goal came in injury time though, and Arsenal crashed out 4-1 losers.

Final Thoughts

The overwhelming feeling is that the team were a bit lucky to get this far in the first place.

Their defensive openness was on full display in the last round against Brighton too, they just scored enough for it not to matter. They scraped past Southampton with a late winner and beat Cheltenham Town on penalties in previous rounds.

The team’s league form really isn’t good, despite a narrow win over Brighton last weekend. Unfortunately, this is a young and inexperienced side with major defensive issues.

There are other mitigating factors as well, from Kido Taylor-Hart only recently making his return from injury to other absentees like Nathan Butler-Oyedeji. Then there’s Bukayo Saka, still eligible for the u18s but playing in the first team.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t still talented players in the group. Ben Cottrell is having a very good season, the likes of Marcelo Flores and Mauro Bandeira featured but are still very young. Catalin Cirjan is in good form but didn’t start.

They all gave everything they had in each of the previous rounds, but their struggles as a team were always likely to come back to haunt them.