This weekend was a testament to Arsenal‘s robust youth development programme, as both the under-21s and under-18s squads grabbed important victories.

Under-21s defeat Manchester United in a six-goal thriller

The under-21s put on an exhilarating performance against Manchester United at Leigh Sports Village, coming away with a 4-2 win.

The young Gunners took control early, surging ahead with a four-goal lead within the first 35 minutes.

Goals came courtesy of Lino Sousa, who netted twice, and contributions from Jack Henry-Francis and Khayon Edwards.

United did pull two goals back, making for a tense second half, but Arsenal ultimately held on for a valuable three points.

Mehmet Ali, the under-21s head coach, commended his team’s clinical finishing and gave special praise to his assistant, Max Porter, for his tactical preparation.

“As the game progressed, we needed to improve our ability to manage the lead. We conceded some cheap goals, but credit to Manchester United for their resilience despite our substantial lead,” Ali said.

“After the first half, I was very impressed with our players. Our pressing was excellent, showing aggression, sharpness, and clinical prowess in front of the goal.

“This time, we capitalised on our opportunities. In other matches, we’ve played at a similar level, but today we were lethal in front of goal, which is pleasing to see.”

Under-18s crush Southampton in convincing home win

Meanwhile, the under-18s enjoyed a comprehensive 4-0 triumph over Southampton.

High pressing and effective teamwork were the hallmarks of their game, resulting in a well-deserved victory that has garnered attention and elevated expectations for the future of these young talents.

After the match, Jack Wilshere said, “It’s a great feeling, and this win was well-deserved. We fielded a very youthful squad today, and there were moments where we faced challenges, but I believe we handled them admirably.

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

They also gave a debut to 13-year-old Max Dowman.

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

“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.”

What it means for the teams

The under-21s’ win catapults them to third place in the Premier League 2 standings, while the under-18s are steadily climbing up their own league table.

Both teams appear to be in excellent form, providing exciting prospects for the senior side’s future.

What’s next?

The under-21s are set to face Everton in an away match on Friday, September 29, kicking off at 7pm at Haig Avenue.

The under-18s have yet to announce their next fixture but will undoubtedly look to build on their emphatic win.