The Arsenal u23s and u18s played the first games of their respective league seasons this weekend, coincidentally both facing Southampton.

Omari Hutchinson on Instagram after Arsenal's 4-2 win over Southampton
Omari Hutchinson on Instagram after Arsenal’s 4-2 win over Southampton

The Arsenal u23s faced Southampton on Friday night, before the u18s took on the same opposition the next morning. There were a number of interesting storylines in both matches, so let’s take a look at them.

Arsenal u23s 1-2 Southampton u23s

Ben Cottrell with the Arsenal academy (Photo via Cottrell on Instagram)
Ben Cottrell with the Arsenal academy (Photo via Cottrell on Instagram)

Ben Cottrell continued his strong start to the season with a goal for the Arsenal u23s, but they slipped to a disappointing defeat on the day.

Cottrell impressed with the first-team in pre-season, before providing an assist in the EFL Trophy opener against Ipswich Town. He followed that up with a goal within 11 minutes to open the scoring in Arsenal’s first Premier League 2 match of the season.

Arsenal managed to hold onto the lead until half time, but their opponents saw the majority of the possession, so it was no real surprise to see them capitalise with an equaliser shortly after the break.

Soon after that, the Gunners got a boost as Kayne Ramsay picked up a second yellow card. It was certainly a fiery opening hour, as Arsenal also had Tolaji Bola, Miguel Azeez and Cottrell on bookings by that stage.

However, rather than taking advantage of the extra man, Arsenal fell behind to a Kgaogelo Chauke goal. Though they saw a lot of the ball after that, Steve Bould’s side didn’t create nearly enough chances to turn things around.

It’s rather worrying for Bould how poor the league results have been for a while now. The u23s haven’t won a league game since December 6th, 2020, losing four and drawing two from the date until the end of February when the season ended early.

They did well in the Premier League International Cup last season, and started with a win in the EFL Trophy this campaign. But they need more regular league results to help build morale.

Arsenal u23 lineup

Macey; Alebiosu, Oyegoke, McGuinness, Bola; Azeez, Olayinka, Cottrell; Cirjan, Balogun, Lewis.


Oulad M’Hand (for Cirjan, 58), Akinola (for Alebiosu, 63), Hillson, McEneff (for Oyegoke, 77), Ogungbo.

Arsenal u18s 4-2 Southampton u18s

Luke Plange with the Arsenal academy (Photo via Plange on Instagram)
Luke Plange with the Arsenal academy (Photo via Plange on Instagram)

There was a little bit of pressure on Arsenal forwards Luke Plange and Khayon Edwards going into this game, given all the departures ahead of them.

With Sam Greenwood, Alfie Matthews and Tyreece John-Jules (loan) all leaving this summer, Plange and Edwards are only behind Folarin Balogun as academy centre-forward options right now. There’s every chance Balogun might leave as well.

For two players with seven u18 league starts between them before Saturday, that’s a lot of responsibility.

However, the two of them are clearly taking it as an opportunity. Plange started the match, and he got on the scoresheet in the first 20 minutes, set up by Mauro Bandeira.

Marcelo Flores is another making the step up to the u18s this season, and after forcing a Ryan Finnigan own goal in the 25th minute, he scored one of his own in the 36th – assisted by Omari Hutchinson.

With a 3-0 lead going into the final 10 minutes, the game looked dead. But a Goran Babic penalty and a Jayden Smith goal in the 92nd minute suddenly put Arsenal at risk of collapse.

Fortunately, substitute Edwards wrapped up the game with a fourth goal even deeper into injury time. Centre-back Alex Kirk played a lovely ball down the field for Hutchinson to run onto, who then squared for Edwards to tap in.

Arsenal u18 lineup

Graczyk; Laing, Ogungbo, Kirk, Awe; Patino, Bandeira, Hutchinson; Flores, Plange, Taylor-Hart.


Ejeheri, Francis, Vigar (for Plange, 78), Edwards (for Taylor-Hart, 71), Foran (for Awe, 72).