Lino Sousa had a positive impact on his Arsenal u18 debut start on Saturday, helping his new team to a draw against Leicester City.
Arsenal’s only January signing who didn’t immediately leave on loan was Lino Sousa, a 17-year-old left-back from West Brom.
Having only turned 17 in January, Sousa is starting his Arsenal journey in the u18s, and he made his first start for the side as they took on Leicester City at London Colney on Saturday.
The u18s have been very patchy this season, only stringing together consecutive wins once since September. But this was another opportunity to do so, after the 4-0 win over Chelsea last time out.
The bad news was that Marcelo Flores was unavailable for the match, having been involved in the u23 squad the previous day. Flores is second in both the u18s’ goals (seven) and assists (five) tallies, so it’s always a blow to have him unavailable.
Sousa had the first good opportunity of the match, forcing a save in the 13th minute.
But in a match where the away side narrowly edged the chances, Leicester took a first-half lead through Chris Popov, converting a Brandon Cover assist.
Fortunately, Dan Micciche did at least have his top scorer Khayon Edwards available, and it was Edwards who levelled the scores early in the second half.
Rather than playing left-back, Sousa was playing a more advanced role on the left-hand side, and on one of his forays into the box he won a penalty after being brought down.
Edwards was on hand to convert for his 19th goal in all competitions across all levels.
In the absence of Flores, Charles Sagoe Jr was probably the team’s second-biggest threat, with seven u18 goals himself. He forced another good save from the Leicester goalkeeper, but there was to be no late winner on this occasion – the match finishing 1-1.
Though not a terrible result, particularly when coming from behind, the draw keeps Arsenal down in sixth place and keeps their inconsistent run going. There’s certainly still work to be done with the side to get them to their best.
Arsenal u18 lineup vs Leicester City
Mitchell, Robinson, Ibrahim, Quamina, Foran, Sagoe Jr, Sweet, Sousa, Cozier-Duberry, Edwards, Vigar
Kovacevic, Quesada-Thorn, Roberts, Gaspar, Gower
The Arsenal u18s don’t play another league game until Saturday, February 19th at 11:00 GMT, when they take on Crystal Palace away from home.
Before that, they have the u18 Premier League Cup quarter-finals to deal with, travelling away to Stoke City on Saturday, 12th February, also at 11:00 GMT.