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!