Academy Action: All the goals and interviews

James Olayinka celebrating

It was a successful weekend for the Gunners as we were unbeaten across all teams. Here's everything you may have missed from the Academy side.

U21s: Arsenal 4-1 Chelsea

Our Under 21s continued their winning start under manager Mehmet Ali, as they comfortably saw off Chelsea in a 4-1 victory at Meadow Park. 

A glorious curling effort from James Olayinka broke the deadlock before the half-hour mark, and goals from Khayon Edwards, Charles Sagoe Jr, and Nathan Butler-Oyedeji saw our Gunners go top of the Premier League 2 table with three wins out of three (report and photos). 


Mehmet Ali had high praise for his team's resilience under pressure: "Credit to Chelsea, they came for us: they were very aggressive on the press and they went man for man all over the pitch. But I thought we were very clever at how we eliminated their press and went over it with quality. By doing that, it allowed us to get more of a foothold in the game and then choose our moments to go and score."

"It's always good to win. We've been telling these boys every single game that we want to win, we want to compete, and be aggressive. But for us, it's more about the performances that the players are putting in and that comes from hard work every single day in training. That is what's going to keep them in this industry." 

Winger Charles Sagoe Jr was relieved to get on the scoresheet, but working for the collective is always his priority: "Mehmet really trusts me and I appreciate him starting me whenever he does and I always try to give my 100 per cent all. I'm always working hard and goals are just an extra for me. I just want to play well for the team and affect the game as much as possible."

Sagoe Jr, who signed his first professional contract with us this summer, is already looking to the future: "Just seeing what Mikel is doing with all the young players, such as Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe – they start in big, big games. I just want to be a part of that and hopefully get the chance, one day, to be at the Emirates."  

U18s: Fulham 1-1 Arsenal

Meanwhile, the Under 18s registered their first point under Jack Wilshere in a tough battle away at Fulham (report).

Despite the hosts taking the lead with a penalty in the first half, we responded almost immediately with Omari Benjamin's equaliser from an Ethan Nwaneri cross. Our Gunners dominated the second half and were exceptionally close to coming away with the three points, but the 90 minutes ultimately ended in a draw. 

Post-match, Jack Wilshere spoke about the team's takeaways from the draw: "Similar feeling to last week: we're a little bit disappointed that we didn't win the game, because I feel that when you dominate a game like have to win those games. They probably needed a little more composure in the final third, a little more quality, but that will come."

"I feel like sometimes the players are the best coaches, because they're on the pitch and they feel it. They feel the right moments to press or what they can do in possession, so I always ask them what they think. This group have been really good: even in the classroom, sometimes they lead the session. They give us their thoughts and we give them ours and collectively, we create a game plan."

Maldini Kacurri barely put a foot wrong in defence and is quickly developing a dynamite partnership with Tino Quamina: "I love playing with Tino because he helps me out a lot. He's good on the ball, he's fast, so it allows me to play my game the best as I can." 

Kacurri also reflected on what it means for the team to have Wilshere in the dugout: "It's different from the usual manager because you know he's done it, he's done everything. You can really trust his advice, along with Adam – they give us good quality information, always." 

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