The Arsenal u18s qualified for the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup with a confident win over West Ham United this week.
The FA Youth Cup has returned in full swing recently, after its initial suspension due to the ongoing pandemic. Arsenal got back underway with a 4-1 win over Blackburn Rovers, which set them up for a fifth-round tie against West Ham United.
West Ham had just come through a dominant cup win over their own, eliminating Norwich City 5-0. They also got the home advantage in the draw.
But there was plenty going in Arsenal’s favour too, with Marcelo Flores returning from his recent injury to start, and Miguel Azeez coming back from his first-team call-up in Prague to make the lineup as well.
Arsenal had the best of the first half, and Omari Hutchinson continued his excellent recent form by scoring the opening goal.
Flores turned away from pressure and set Brooke Norton-Cuffy away down the right-hand side, with the right-back playing a square pass inside for Hutchinson. There was still a lot to do, with the ball on Hutchinson’s weaker foot, but he fired it in off the post.
Shortly after the half-time break, Hutchinson was involved in a second goal. The talented teenager picked the ball up on the right and cut inside before firing a deflected shot against the post, which fell to Khayon Edwards to tap in.
Hutchinson hit the post with another effort, before winning a penalty in the 80th minute whilst running through on goal. It was a denial of a goalscoring opportunity, and therefore a red card for West Ham’s Jamal Baptiste. Hutchinson converted the spot-kick.
West Ham’s 10 men actually scored the next goal of the game, pouncing on a mistake by Arsenal goalkeeper Ovie Ejeheri to make it 3-1. But the Gunners continued to totally dominate the match, and Edwards was only denied a second by a great save from close range.
It finished 3-1, with Arsenal setting up a quarter-final away to Liverpool – likely at Anfield. The highlights of the West Ham game are below:
There were some excellent performances all around on the day. Some of Azeez’s passing was top class, whilst young Jack Henry-Francis’ tireless midfield performance was correctly highlighted by many.
Flores was sharp and involved in a few nice moves including that first goal, whilst Joel Ideho went close on a few occasions after replacing Flores late in the match.
Norton-Cuffy continues to impress at full-back, Edwards took his goal nicely and could’ve had one or two more. Pretty much every player had their moments on the night.
But Hutchinson was the star again. His two goals put him on 18 goal contributions for the season, and he could’ve had four goals if not for the width of the post.
A goalscorer and a creator who is confident enough on either foot and is making a name for himself at right-wing, it’s hard not to draw comparisons to Bukayo Saka. If he continues developing as he is at the moment, he could well follow in Saka’s footsteps.