An emphatic win over Southampton by Arsenal’s under-18s, coached by Jack Wilshere, has made headlines not just for its 4-0 scoreline but also for the debut of 13-year-old Max Dowman.

Hale End academy
Hale End academy

The journey to victory

Jack Wilshere‘s young Arsenal side impressed from the outset, with Chido Obi’s hat-trick setting the tone.

An additional goal by Louis Zecevic-John ensured the young Gunners clinched an important win.

“It’s a great feeling, and this win was well-deserved,” said Wilshere, praising the team’s overall quality, especially in the final third.

“We fielded a very youthful squad today, and there were moments where we faced challenges, but I believe we handled them admirably.

“Scoring the opening goal was crucial in a match like this, and we displayed a higher level of quality in the final third compared to previous weeks, and that’s what earned us the victory.”

Spotlight on Chido Obi

Chido Obi celebrating with the Arsenal youth teams (Photo via Obi on Instagram)
Chido Obi celebrating with the Arsenal youth teams (Photo via Obi on Instagram)

The 15-year-old Danish international Chido Obi was singled out for special praise by Wilshere.

“Chido was exceptional today; this has been building up in him,” Wilshere said.

“Today was the day he truly arrived at the under-18s level. He showcased to me, the coaches, and the staff what he’s capable of, and we’re eager to see more of that.

“His pressing and link-up play was notably improved, and he possesses immense potential with much more to offer.”

Defensive resilience

Maintaining a clean sheet was central to Arsenal’s game plan.

“Maintaining a clean sheet is vital for our culture,” Wilshere said.

“We emphasise creating an environment where our players are tenacious, tough to contend with, unrelenting, celebrating tackles, and standing together. This approach pays off when we consistently adhere to the fundamentals.

“We’ve placed considerable emphasis on defending our box, and today’s result reflects our efforts in that regard.”

Max Dowman: the 13-year-old prodigy

However, the day’s highlight was arguably the debut of Max Dowman, a 13-year-old who has rapidly ascended through Arsenal’s youth system.

His introduction sent a powerful message about the depth and quality within the academy.

“We take a holistic view of the academy, pushing our players to excel,” Wilshere explained.

“Debut opportunities aren’t handed out lightly, and Max has demonstrated over the past few months that he deserves this chance. There are others on the verge of stepping up as well.

“He handled the moment admirably, sending an important message to the team that when we introduce players, they possess the quality to contribute effectively.”

Looking ahead

Finally, Wilshere looked to the future, especially next week’s London derby against Chelsea.

“This is the perfect way to prepare for a game like Chelsea,” Wilshere said.

“It’s a derby, and it will be a test as we play away from home, requiring some adjustments. However, when you score four goals one week, you expect the team to approach the next game with confidence, creating and converting chances.”

What it means The win takes Arsenal’s under-18s to sixth place in the league with eight points from five games.

What’s next The young Gunners are set to face Chelsea on Saturday, September 30, with kick-off at Cobham scheduled for 11 am.

Team News Arsenal XI: Cooper, Nichols, Kacurri, Heaven, Brown (Clairmont, 74), Rosiak, Julienne (Sweet, 79), Oyetunde, Zecevic-John (Dowman, 67), Ismail, Obi