Which Youth Team Players will make the 1st Team Squad?

On Monday night I watched a really enjoyable FA Youth Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Man City.

First the bad news. We lost on aggregate and MC had the best two players on the pitch. Brahim Diaz and Manu Garcia, both Spanish, were a constant danger and showed why they are so highly rated.

But we are not interested in the worrying success of the Northern Oilers youth policy, what we want to know is are our chaps any good?

Well, it is hard to assess based upon just 90+ minutes. Some fared better than others.

Starting at the back, I was impressed by the keeper, Keto. Finnish,  6’3″ and athletic. He looked assured made some good stops. Do Finns make good keepers? I know they like a drink, fishing , ski-ing and Sibelius.

Centre backs are always of interest because the last time one came through the ranks seems a long time ago. Bola and Beilik are highly thought of, Bola got sent off and made little impression but Bielik looks a player. Mobile, powerful and with an eye for a pass he may well be the man who progresses from the defence. He is normally a DM but is being played at CB to learn his trade, this became clear as he was out of position too often for my liking but nonetheless was our stand-out defender.

The full backs, Robinson and Johnson looked typical Wenger FB’s – fast, concentrated upon getting forward and thus open to the counter-attack.

In midfield Bennacer impressed. A French Youth international, he reminded me of Samir Nasri in his play.

A very young man named Nelson (could his nickname be Lord?) did well against older players. He has Wengerball  – power, control, pace and always looking to pass the ball forward. An England U-16 regular he is highly rated at AFC.

I was looking forward to an evening of Jeff but despite working hard he rarely found space to impress. This was thanks to an excellent defensive display from the MC DM’s. Nonetheless Jeff is comfortable on the ball and I predict will be a success at Arsenal.

Upfront Hinds and Maviiddi worked ceaselessly. Hinds plays like Chuba Akpom which is no surpirise. A Dutch chap named Marlen came on in the 60th minute and looked sharp, scored and generally impressed.

But my favourite player on the night was Chris Willock. Playing on the left he has obviously spent many hours watching Alexis Sanchez. He scored a neat goal and was a constant menace.

It is impossible to accurately predict how such young men will develop. I did not see any baby superstars like Rooney, Owen or Fabregas but we do have talent.

My guess, based upon very little, is that Bielik, Jeff and Willock will be the next ones to join the first team squad but what do I know?  I thought Glenn Helder would be the a Superstar!

Disclaimer: The above is based upon just one game with hardly any background research!

41 Responses to Which Youth Team Players will make the 1st Team Squad?

  1. mickydidit89 says:

    Thank you Erik
    You’ve managed to touch on the only subject in the world about which I have no opinion.
    I’ll have a coffee, a think, and then make one up

  2. Paul says:

    Highly impressed by Willock. The last time I saw him in a pre season game he looked lightweight (not unexpected for 16 year old) but with age he’s grown and has an exceptional touch. Hinds looked the next in line, fantastic control and he has a nice short stocky build, low centre of gravity, the physical attributes of Aguero almost. And I’m going against you next because I preferred Bola to Bielik. Bielik was all over the place, out of position as you say and his tracking of runners was abysmal. Bola was constantly in position, looks exceptionally strong and showed great touch for a centre back. Also Jeff looked like he found it all too easy.. a bit like Emmanuel-Thomas used to be at youth level..

  3. Big Raddy says:

    Paul. Thank you. As I said I a no expert on the youth team (or anything else!)

  4. RC78 says:

    I just look at the Belgium, French, German, Spanish and eventually the Dutch Youth System and it seems that they do produce first-team material on a regular basis even in regarded teams in the league…

    You look at
    – Atletico, Bilbao, Barcelona, Real Sociedad, Sevilla, Valencia in Spain
    – Dortmund, Leverkusen, Shalke in Germany,
    – Lyon, Lille, Nice, Rennes, Saint-Etienne in France,
    – AZ, PSV, Ajak in Netherlands,
    – Anderlecht, La Gantoise and Standard in Belgium

    and they do produce local players that become part of their first team on a very regular basis and eventually join bigger teams at the national or European level…

    Is it because their leagues are weaker and they can afford to bring in youth players? Is it because their reserves league is stronger? Is it because they have more national talent or are better at scouting? Is it because they have a better youth development system?

    I look at AFC and besides Gibbs and Wilshere, which English player have we produced from the ranks that has been a regular starter at AFC or in another EPL team?

  5. RC78 says:

    and why is that Southampton, Everton and even Tottenham are producing more English youth talent than us?

  6. RC78 says:

    At PSG, we also have this serious issue of grooming our promising players to become regular starters 😦

    So far and in recent years only Sakho and Rabiot have been regular starters…We could not keep hold of Coman (:-()…Our best hope now are Nkunku and Augustin while Ongenda or Bahebeck have failed to fullfil their promising talent…

  7. RC78 says:

    Trapp – Aurier, TSilva, DLuiz, Maxwell – Verratti, Motta, Matuidi – Lucas, Ibrahimovic, Di Maria

    -> 1 French, 1 Ivoirian, 1 Argentine, 1 Swede, 1 German, 2 Italians, 4 Brazilians –> none from our youth rank

    Sirigy – Van Der Viel, Marquinhos, Nkunku, Kurzawa – Rabiot, Stambouli – Pastore – Ongenda, Cavani, Augustin

    -> 4 players from our youth rank in our back up team and nesides Rabiot, the rest hardly plays…

  8. chas mobile says:

    Cheers, BR.
    I liked the assessment of players almost as if it was a match report.

    What turns a good youngster into a decent pro? It’s so difficult to nail down. Ability alone is not enough.
    Clubs have to pay the youngsters well, else they move on. But this must give them a false sense of having made it.

    Do any players come through these days who had other professions? I doubt it.

  9. Paul says:

    RC78 – Probably a number of factors but clubs with lesser financial power have a bit more leeway to produce. The quality of clubs they face are of a lower quality. Not to say that a team like Ajax produce average players, but they are players lesser sides than an Arsenal product would have to play against. Even Barcelona, despite the quality of La Masia, are veering toward bought stars to keep ahead of purchasers like PSG, Chelsea and Man City.. Neymar, Suarez, Rakitic, Turan, Mascherano.. even some of their youth players had to leave the club before being brought back.. Alba, Pique, Fabregas previously..

    For our lesser neighbours, they’ve never had Champions League expectation, just aspiration, so the opportunity to blood youngsters was there.. if they begin to push for Champions League every season, the chances of allowing youngsters to come through will lessen as expectation increases..

  10. GoonerB says:

    Thanks Raddy, Marvelous post. I agree with your list of who may step forwards but also would add Toral to the list (didn’t play in that game) who is having a very productive loan spell. I wonder whether Akpom may have a chance as well.

    Great comments from RC and Paul. i also have wondered about Chas’ sentiment that too many players feel they have made it too early and their drive to become the very best they can is reduced. Perhaps this is already the case with many of our promising ones we have seen come and go.

    Players coming from Chile, Brazil and some other countries may only have football as their way out of poverty and are therefore much more motivated.

  11. Big Raddy says:

    GB. I think chas makes a good cpoint.

    Read this about Zelalem who looked the nuts in the Youth team….


  12. chas says:

    The blog editor’s comments are excellent, ta.

  13. chas says:

  14. chas says:

    Kevin De Brain is back.
    Saggna and clitchy playing for the camel boys.

  15. chas says:

  16. chas says:

  17. chas says:

  18. chas says:

  19. Eddie says:

    @6:49 – that is REALLY handsome pug, even more gorgeous than my Romeo

  20. Eddie says:

    my dear God, this is about last night’s game:

    “While the teams have spent a reported £800m between them on players in the past five years, the game, which was entertaining, lacked the quality expected from such blue-chip line-ups”

    £800m!!!! And thousands of kids around the world are dying of starvation. We live in a VERY sick world. Puts me off football

  21. mickydidit89 says:

    Morning all

    Bring back Sniffer 🙂

    ie does every good blog need an obsessive lunatic? 🙂

  22. mickydidit89 says:

    Got it
    What we need is a B Topic. We can’t do politics and all that crap, so we need to find some common ground. We’ve flirted with music, but that ended in tears with Beardy’s indian rubbish and Erik’s guitar solos, so that’s a non starter.

  23. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    Is Beardie on a mission from God?

    Are Peaches and Rasp hiding from the revenue?

    What is wrong with a guitar solo?

  24. Big Raddy says:

    And where are FGG, Shard, LB, Kelsey and RA +++?

    We are in a title race and no-one seems interested

  25. mickydidit89 says:

    We are interested but we’re not in a title race 🙂

    Hey Erik. I’ve started a Tug of War team. Had our first meeting in the boozer on Tuesday, and we’re already going off to find a rope.
    Got my eight man team, and back-ups too.

    We’ve got four farmers, a gamekeeper, a postie, Duane and Nobby. I shout.

  26. Big Raddy says:

    Of course we are. Spurs lose to MU and we beat WHU 0 one point behind the knuckle-draggers and they have yet to play Chavs away.

    If we win all our games Leicester have only lose a couple and it is all to play for.

    Leicester’s run of lucky 1-0 wins cannot continue (he wrote hopefully)

  27. Big Raddy says:

    I had a go at Tug of War but being a weakling and slight (at the time) found myself relegated to the sidelines to be replaced by Big Anne Fielding.

    Very embarrassing.

    I guess with your fragile arm a shouting position is best

  28. mickydidit89 says:

    This year we take on the neighbouring village pub
    Nest year, the worldies 🙂

  29. Big Raddy says:

    A rope is a good start. How will you practice?

  30. mickydidit89 says:

    Big Anne Fielding ha ha ha ha 🙂

  31. mickydidit89 says:

    Leicester have to lose three out of six, and I just don’t think they will.

    We will come second though, I’m pretty sure.

  32. mickydidit89 says:

    The focus will be on beer drinking and team spirit, rather than practice.

  33. Big Raddy says:

    Who would have thought that the Swiss would be Champs? They must have had the best shouter

  34. Big Raddy says:

    Didn’t watch the odious RM last night and this example is why ….

  35. mickydidit89 says:

    Back to your point about fixtures, and blimey it’s a big game for West Ham. Win, and they really are in with a shout of top four.

  36. mickydidit89 says:

    Are you there
    Would you like me to knock out a quick one?

  37. mickydidit89 says:

    I’ll do one, and send

  38. Big Raddy says:

    Great Micky. Thank you. I will publish it when you send it in

  39. mickydidit89 says:


  40. Big Raddy says:

    There is a New Post

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