Miguel Azeez scored a fantastic solo goal for the Arsenal u18s to secure a win over Chelsea in his final game at that level.
Going into the final game of the u18 Premier League campaign, Arsenal faced Chelsea for the chance to move up into fourth in the table. A win would guarantee a finish above Chelsea and leave Spurs three points behind – though Spurs play on Friday.
It was also a chance for Miguel Azeez and Kido Taylor-Hart to sign off from the u18s. The pair have played more regularly for the u23s in recent months, and they’ll be too old for the u18s next season, but they dropped down for one last game.
Similarly, Daniel Oyegoke, Mazeed Ogungbo, Alex Kirk, and Nathan Butler-Oyedeji were all playing their final Arsenal u18 fixture.
So even though they weren’t fighting for the title, the game still had a fair bit of significance. In the 16th minute, Azeez marked the occasion with a rather spectacular goal, taking on half the Chelsea team before scoring confidently.
That footwork. That nutmeg. That finish.
— Arsenal Academy (@ArsenalAcademy) May 12, 2021
Azeez is clearly above u18 football at this stage, and he’s likely to start knocking on the first-team door more regularly before long, but it was still an impressive goal.
Jack Henry-Francis made it 2-0 in the 43rd minute, assisted by Marcelo Flores. That goal was just rewards for the two of them, who have impressed even when not scoring or assisting lately. It was defensive midfielder Henry-Francis’ first Arsenal u18 goal.
Arsenal dominated the first half, but they dropped off a little in the second half, with Joe Haigh pulling one back for the hosts in the 68th minute.
Amani Richards and Zach Awe came on to try and secure the victory, which they did.
The players stepping up from this level to the u23s next season will make welcome additions to Steve Bould’s side, which struggled this campaign.
More than just the names listed so far, there’s also Charlie Patino, Brooke Norton-Cuffy, Omari Hutchinson and others who will hope to have an impact in the u23s. Azeez will have his eyes fixed on the senior side.
Whilst this has been a somewhat inconsistent u18 campaign for various reasons, and the quarter-final FA Youth Cup exit was a shame, they’ve ended on some really encouraging results and a high to take into the next campaign.
Lineup: Mitchell, Oyegoke, Ogungbo, Kirk (c), Monlouis, Henry-Francis, Ideho, Azeez, Butler-Oyedeji, Flores, Taylor-Hart
Subs: Awe (for Butler-Oyedeji, 87), Richards (for Ideho, 71)
Unused subs: Kovacevic, Jeffcott, Sagoe Jr