Arsenal have drawn Millwall in the FA Youth Cup third round, but they may be without some of their best players for the match.
The FA Youth Cup is traditionally a competition that Arsenal take very seriously, despite the fact it’s an u18 tournament.
Normally, Arsenal’s top 17-year-olds would be playing in the u21s instead of competitions like the u18 Premier League or the u18 Premier League Cup, but the FA Youth Cup is the exception.
Arsenal usually name their strongest possible side in the cup, with Bukayo Saka continuing to play in it even after he’d made his debut in the senior FA Cup!
Current u18 head coach Jack Wilshere is sure to take it all seriously, having won the cup himself as a player.
So it’s generally a competition to keep an eye on, and Arsenal begin this year’s edition with a match at home to Millwall in the third round, with ties to be played before Saturday, 17th December.
But the Gunners may not have their full-strength side available for their opening game.
Arsenal’s first team will be travelling to Dubai next month, leaving on December 4th and not returning until the 14th.
The chances of the Youth Cup tie being scheduled outside of those dates are pretty low, given it has to take place by December 17th.
So any Arsenal youngsters called up by the first team in Dubai will be unavailable.
That already reportedly includes star 16-year-old Myles Lewis-Skelly, and it’s very likely players like Reuell Walters, Lino Sousa, Bradley Ibrahim, and Ethan Nwaneri join the trip too.
With as many as 10 Arsenal first-team players at the World Cup, there will be lots of gaps to fill on the Dubai tour.
Mikel Arteta will want a squad large enough to play full practice matches, and the youth players listed above are among Arsenal’s top talents at the moment. It makes sense for them to travel to Dubai.
Unfortunately, that may well result in a weakened side being sent out to face Millwall in the Youth Cup third round.
Wilshere will hope he still has enough to reach the next stage and get his top talents back involved then.