Despite yet another goal contribution for Khayon Edwards, the Arsenal u18s lost comprehensively to league leaders Chelsea on Saturday.
Arsenal knew they’d be up against it facing Chelsea this weekend, with the hosts sitting at the top of the table and one of the young Gunners’ key men absent on international duty, Marcelo Flores.
Flores and Khayon Edwards have been by far the driving forces of Arsenal’s goalscoring threat this season, so losing the Mexico u20 international (and possibly senior international soon) was always going to be a blow.
Arsenal also gave a first start of the season to 15-year-old Myles Lewis-Skelly, a show of faith in such a young player.
Yet Arsenal actually took an early lead, and Edwards was inevitably involved.
The young striker picked the ball up in the box and found Amario Cozier-Duberry, who finished confidently.
The lead lasted just five minutes, before Leo Castledine scored a tap-in equaliser. Tudor Mendel-Idowu made it 2-1 before the break with another close-range finish, and Chelsea certainly ended the half on top.
Arsenal continued to struggle defensively in the second half, with Malik Mothersille and Louis Flower adding to Chelsea’s lead, and the match finished 4-1.
The game represents a continuation of common themes for the Arsenal u18s this season: Overreliance on a small group of goalscorers and defensive frailties.
Only four players have scored more than a single goal for the u18s this season, and Edwards and Cozier-Duberry are two of them. The absent Flores is the third, and Sagoe Jr is the fourth.
The rest of the u18 squad have combined for just two goals in total, after 14 games in all competitions.
For Edwards and Cozier-Duberry, their strong form continues. Edwards is up to 18 goal contributions this season, and 16-year-old midfielder Cozier-Duberry is on a very respectable seven in 11 appearances himself.
Arsenal u18 lineup vs Chelsea
Mitchell, Awe, Jeffcott, Foran, Lewis-Skelly, Ibrahim, Cozier-Duberry, Bandeira, Sagoe Jr, Richards, Edwards
Kovacevic, Quamina (for Awe, 65), Robinson (for Richards, 50), Gaspar (for Sagoe Jr, 70), Vigar
The u18s take a break from their u18 Premier League campaign to play in the FA Youth Cup away to Colchester United on Friday, December 10th at 19:00.
They may well be bolstered by some u23 players who are still young enough, like Charlie Patino, Brooke Norton-Cuffy, and Omari Hutchinson.
But given it’s only the opening round of the competition for Arsenal, it’s also possible they stick with a younger side for now.