Arsenal 14-year-old Ethan Nwaneri impressed in his first u18 start of the season on Saturday, providing a brace of assists in a win over Reading.
Ethan Nwaneri had technically already made his Arsenal u18 debut before this weekend, featuring and scoring in a match for the u18s last May – also against Reading.
But those were very different circumstances, with Arsenal and Reading agreeing to name younger sides on the day to give them a run-out.
This Saturday’s match was a different story, a normal competitive u18 Premier League game, and Nwaneri was given a chance in the starting lineup.
After his call-up with the England u16s this month, it seems clear he’s rated above his age group right now.
17-year-old Matheus Roberts was also handed his first u18 start of the season, and the two of them put in excellent performances in the first half.
Within nine minutes, Roberts headed home a Nwaneri assist for 1-0. Roberts almost made it 2-0 in the 25th minute after a shot was cleared off the line, but he got his second not long afterwards.
Once again, Nwaneri set him up – this time with a through ball – before Roberts finished low into the bottom corner.
Nwaneri headed a chance of his own narrowly wide in the 40th minute, and Arsenal were handed a reminder that the game wasn’t over as Reading promptly pulled one back before the half-time break.
Arsenal had dominated the chances to that point, and they made that count again in the second half, with Taylor Foran scoring after a Mauro Bandeira corner.
Khayon Edwards got in on the act in the final five minutes, scoring his 21st academy goal of the season, set up by substitute Billy Vigar.
Reading repeated their trick of scoring at the end of the half for 4-2, but it was much too late to deny Arsenal a win.
Arsenal u18 lineup vs Reading
Kovacevic, Foran, Ibrahim, Foran, Quesada-Thorn, Bandeira, Nwaneri, Sweet, Robinson, Roberts, Edwards
B. Okonkwo, Vigar (for Roberts, 75), Gower (for Nwaneri, 85), Sagoe Jr (for Ibrahim, 85), Benjamin
The Arsenal u18s travel away to Aston Villa on Saturday, March 5th at 12:00 GMT.