The Arsenal u21s thrashed Swansea City to take up a commanding position in their PL Cup group on Saturday, with Catalin Cirjan starring.

Catalin Cirjan playing for Arsenal (Photo via Arsenal Academy on Twitter)
Catalin Cirjan playing for Arsenal (Photo via Arsenal Academy on Twitter)

With the first team on a break for the World Cup, the Arsenal u21s have continued to play matches in the Premier League Cup, Premier League International Cup, and EFL Trophy over the last few weeks.

The Gunners were in action again in the Premier League Cup on Saturday, playing their fourth group game away to Swansea City.

Catalin Cirjan gave Mehmet Ali’s side an early lead, capitalising on Charles Sagoe Jr winning the ball in the final third, before Bradley Ibrahim provided the assist for a calm finish.

Joel Ideho then had a good chance to double Arsenal’s lead, firing wide after an excellent twisting run. But it was Nathan Butler-Oyedeji who got Arsenal’s second goal in the 40th minute, having won the ball back himself.

The floodgates seemed to open after that, with Sagoe Jr pouncing on a loose ball to make it 3-0 in the second minute of first-half injury time, and Cirjan finishing a nice move for 4-0 three minutes later, following an unselfish square ball from Butler-Oyedeji.

Cirjan could have completed his hat trick shortly after the break, shooting over the bar after a nice through ball to get him in. But it wasn’t to be, as Arsenal took their foot off the gas in the second half.

In the end, Swansea scored the only goal of the second 45 minutes, in slightly controversial circumstances. Lino Sousa believed he’d been fouled, but the referee allowed play to go on, with Corey Hurford scoring on the rebound.

There was no late comeback for the hosts, though, and the game ended 4-1.

Final thoughts

Premier League Cup Group G as it stands
Premier League Cup Group G as it stands

Arsenal are in a dominant position in their Premier League Cup group, having beaten Swansea City home and away, beaten Burnley away, and drawn with Stoke City at home.

The Stoke fixture away from home is the more intimidating of the two remaining games, but the Gunners will hope they’ll already have won the group before that final match in mid-December.

Catalin Cirjan underlined his recent comeback with another two goals on Saturday, making it four in his last four games. The midfielder has made an impressive return to action after such a long time out through injury.

Having said that, Cirjan will hope to miss the Arsenal u21s’ next Premier League Cup game against Burnley. The match takes place on December 9th, at which point the Arsenal first team will be in Dubai, with matches against Lyon and Milan on the 8th and 13th.

Given Cirjan’s form and the fact he made four of Mikel Arteta’s six Europa League group-stage squads, he’s surely in contention for that trip.

Nathan Butler-Oyedeji and Charles Sagoe Jr continue to impress in the Arsenal front three as well, and perhaps Butler-Oyedeji has a shot at travelling as a backup striker if Gabriel Jesus is still at the World Cup by then – as you’d expect him to be.

Arsenal u21 lineup vs Swansea City

Graczyk, Walters, Foran, Monlouis, Sousa, Ibrahim, Henry-Francis, Cirjan, Sagoe Jr, Ideho, Butler-Oyedeji


Awe (for Monlouis, 60), Taylor-Hart (for Sagoe Jr, 71), Vigar (for Butler-Oyedeji, 71), Hillson, Bandeira

What’s next?

Before they conclude the group stage of their Premier League Cup campaign, the Arsenal u21s temporarily return to the Premier League International Cup for a match against Sparta Prague u21s at Meadow Park on Wednesday at 19:00 GMT.

Arsenal have a draw and a win in the PL International Cup so far, but so do Sparta Prague, so Wednesday offers a clash between the teams at the top of the group.