Arsenal kicked off their FA Youth Cup campaign with a big win over Millwall on Monday, with many seemingly boosted by their first-team involvement.
Reuell Walters, Amario Cozier-Duberry, Myles Lewis-Skelly, and Ethan Nwaneri have all played for the Arsenal first team in recent friendlies, but they dropped back to the u18s against Millwall on Monday night.
Arsenal always take the FA Youth Cup seriously, utilising as many of their eligible players as possible, even if they usually play for the u21s.
Bukayo Saka even appeared in the Youth Cup after making his debut in the senior FA Cup!
So it was no surprise to see Jack Wilshere naming a very strong side against Millwall, and his young Gunners reaped the rewards.
Jimi Gower opened the scoring after just 13 minutes, before Nwaneri and Cozier-Duberry linked up for a great chance, well saved.
Nwaneri then scored a thunderous effort that went in off the post in the 26th minute, and just three minutes later Michal Rosiak added a third – on his return from injury.
Cozier-Duberry and Lewis-Skelly had been performing well without getting involved in the goals, so it was fitting that the latter then set up the former for 4-0 early in the second half.
Cozier-Duberry had been so impressive for the first team days earlier, and he seemed inspired, forcing a few more saves in the subsequent minutes.
Omari Benjamin then added some gloss to the scoreline with a goal after a corner, before adding Arsenal’s sixth with help from Cozier-Duberry again.
At the other end, debutant Noah Cooper kept a clean sheet to ensure a dominant 6-0 victory.
Whilst there were plenty of strong performers throughout the Arsenal team, the four to have recent first-team involvement certainly did their reputations no harm.
This was an u18 Millwall side, so we can’t read too much into the scoreline or individual performances, but Cozier-Duberry is performing well every time he takes to the pitch at the moment.
Arsenal are somewhat low on forwards, particularly until they (hopefully) manage to bring one in during the January transfer window. On current form, Cozier-Duberry deserves to be at least competing with Marquinhos for his squad spot.
The FA Cup game against Oxford United is fast approaching, so a competitive debut may be possible for some of Arsenal’s top academy talents.
Arsenal u18 lineup vs Millwall
Cooper, Rosiak, Robinson, Walters, Quesada-Thorn, Ibrahim, Lewis-Skelly, Gower, Cozier-Duberry, Nwaneri, Benjamin
Ferdinand (for Rosiak, 58), Brown (for Robinson, 77), I. Oulad M’hand (for Ibrahim, 77), B. Okonkwo, Dudziak, Green, Kamara
The Arsenal u18s now begin their winter break, with the u21s also having begun their break at the weekend, so there are no games until January 7th, when the u18s face Norwich City at home at 12:00 GMT.
As for the FA Youth Cup, Arsenal will face Newcastle United away from home in the next round, with the exact details to be confirmed. The game must be played before Saturday, 21st January 2023.