This week we examine the Arsenal academy's record in recent seasons.
Arsenal's youngsters take part in the NextGen Series quarter-finals on Monday, hoping to take another step towards silverware.
Terry Burton's side take on CSKA Moscow at Emirates Stadium, having knocked out holders Inter Milan in the previous round in Italy.
Should Arsenal win, they will qualify for finals weekend, to be played in Lake Como, Italy, over Easter. The semi-finals will be staged on Friday, March 29, with the final and third-place match on Monday, April 1.
This is the first season Arsenal have entered the NextGen Series - a sort of youth Champions League tournament - and if they triumph it will be the Club's eighth major title since the academy was established in 1998.
Arsenal reached this stage after finishing second in the group, ahead of Athletic Bilbao and Marseille, with two wins, two draws and two defeats from six games. Olympiacos topped the group.
"Yennaris is one three players to appear in the NextGen and also represent the first team this season - the others are Thomas Eisfeld and Martin Angha"
Arsenal then beat Inter Milan 1-0 away in the round of 16, thanks to a goal from captain Nico Yennaris, to set up the date with CSKA Moscow.
Yennaris is one of six different scorers for Arsenal in the competition, and one of three players to appear in the NextGen and also represent the first team this season - the others being Thomas Eisfeld and Martin Angha.
Angha has played in all seven matches so far, as have Chuba Akpom and Sead Hajrovic. Akpom and Hajrovic, incidentally, were unused subs for Arsenal's Champions League game at Olympiacos in December, a couple of months after playing against the Greek side's youth outfit in the NextGen.
Monday's match will be the eighth time an Arsenal youth side has appeared at Emirates Stadium, having won all seven previous games.
At the start of the season the newly formed under-21 side twice played at Emirates, beating Bolton (3-1) and Blackburn (3-0) with Thomas Eisfeld and Conor Henderson scoring in both games.
Prior to this season, the last time an Arsenal youth team appeared at Emirates Stadium was May 2010 – an eight-goal thriller against Nottingham Forest. That day the Arsenal Under-18s won 5-3 to clinch the Academy League title. Benik Afobe scored a hat-trick with striking partner Luke Freeman claiming the other two.
The previous game at Emirates also saw Arsenal's youngsters celebrating. Back in 2009 Arsenal Under-18s beat Liverpool 4-1 in the first leg of the FA Youth Cup final, with Jack Wilshere among the scorers. Nine of the starting XI went on to play for the Gunners first team, and Steve Bould's young side went on to lift the trophy with a 6-2 aggregate win after completing the job at Anfield.
Before that there was another 4-1 Emirates win, in the Youth Cup semi-final against then holders Man City. Wilshere was again on the scoresheet. The first time an Arsenal youth team stepped out on the Emirates turf was during the first season at the stadium, marking the occasion with a 3-2 FA Youth Cup sixth round victory over Cardiff City.
Youth team goals at Emirates Stadium
That game – played in front of 11,610 – was notable for witnessing the first hat-trick scored at Emirates Stadium. Captain Jay Simpson, who now plays for Championship high-fliers Hull City, claimed the matchball as the Gunners saw off the young Cardiff side, who featured Aaron Ramsey in their midfield.
The Gunners team included Kieran Gibbs, while Wojciech Szczesny was an unused sub. Lee Butcher, the starting goalkeeper, saved a penalty.
It set up a semi final with Manchester United, and the first leg at Emirates set an attendance record for the FA Youth Cup which still stands. 38,187 were there to witness a 1-0 win for Arsenal. Gibbs - playing on the wing - scored the only goal against a United side featuring Danny Welbeck up font and Tom Cleverley at left back.
In fact there were more people at Emirates for that game than there were for Tottenham first team's UEFA Cup match being played the same night at White Hart Lane. Talking of White Hart Lane, that was the venue when Arsenal Under-18s won the Academy title in 2008/09, with a 1-0 win over Spurs in the play-off final on May 17.
The Gunners had won their group by 25 points that season, in a 28-game season. The total attendance for the four FA Youth Cup games at Emirates so far is 92,725 (average of 23,181) with the young Gunners scoring 23 and conceding eight in the seven games overall.
Youth games at Emirates Stadium
|19/2/2007||Cardiff City||FAYC 6R||11,610||W||3||2|
|Scorers: Simpson (3).|
|14/3/2007||Man Utd||FAYC SF 1L||38,137||W||1||0|
|22/4/2009||Man City||FAYC SF 2L||9,266||W||4||1|
|Scorers: Watt (2), Wilshere, Bartley.|
|22/5/2009||Liverpool||FAYC Final 1L||33,662||W||4||1|
|Scorers: Sunu, Wilshere, Watt, Emmanuel-Thomas.|
|11/5/2010||Nott'm Forest||U18 Acadamy Final||N/A||W||5||3|
|Scorers: Afobe (3), Freeman (2).|
|20/8/2012||Bolton W.||Barclays U21 League||N/A||W||3||1|
|Scorers: Eisfeld, Henderson (2).|
|31/8/2012||Blackburn R.||Barclays U21 League||N/A||W||3||0|
|Scorers: Watt, Eisfeld, Henderson.|
As well as NextGen matches, this season Arsenal's young players have been involved in Academy Under-18 League, Barclays Premier Under-21 League and - until February - the FA Youth Cup.
So far an incredible 75 different players have represented the four Gunners youth teams in 2012/13 - Chuba Akpom, Kristoffer Olsson and Isaac Hayden have the most appearances, with 26 each across the four different competitions.Looking purely at the Academy League and FA Youth Cup (the two competitions run at under-18 level) midfielder Jack Jebb leads in terms of appearances, with 22 so far this season.
Roberts is currently on loan at Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Scottish Premier League, where he has made 23 first-team appearances.
He's one of 15 Arsenal players out on loan at the moment.
Looking through the list of leading appearance makers and top scorers for Arsenal under-18s since the turn of the century throws up some interesting names.
Leading appearance-maker from 2010/11 Jeffrey Monakana is now a virtual ever-present for Preston in League One, while Luke Ayling, who made 29 appearances for Arsenal Under-18s in 2008/09, has since gone on to make more than 100 league outings for Yeovil.
Going further back, Sebastian Larsson (leading appearance-maker in 2002/03) and Jerome Thomas (2000/01) are now active in the Premier League with Sunderland and West Brom respectively.
Arsenal academy's joint-leading scorers in 2007/08 with 13 goals were Jack Wilshere and Nacer Barazite, who now stars for Austria Vienna.
The last player to score 20-plus goals in a season for Arsenal Under-18s was Benik Afobe. Now aged 20, Afobe is still at Arsenal, but has been ruled out for the foreseeable future with a cruciate ligament injury.
The NextGen Series would appear to be the youth section's best hope of silverware this season, though there are still plenty of fixtures remaining for the under-18 and under-21 sides in their respective league campaigns.
The last trophy picked up by the academy was the FA National Academy League title in 2010.
The Academy League is run in group stages, before the top teams play off at the end of the season to determine the national champions. Arsenal have won this title four times since the turn of the century (since 2004/05 this has been run at under-18 level, prior to that there were separate under-17 and under-19 competitions).
Furthermore, the Club's senior academy team has finished top of the group stage eight times in the past 13 seasons, and have an average finishing position since the current system was established in 1998 of 1.93.
Arsenal academy honours since 1998
|1999/2000||FA National Academy Under-17 Champions|
|2000||FA Youth Cup winners|
|2001||FA Youth Cup winners|
|2001/02||FA National Academy Under-19 Champions|
|2008/09||FA National Academy Under-18 Champions|
|2009||FA Youth Cup winners|
|2009/10||FA National Academy Under-18 Champions|
* = All Under-18 league (Under-19 for 2000/01 to 2003/04) and FA Youth Cup appearances included.
2000/01 to 2003/04 = under-19 league2004/05 onwards = under-18 league
All stats correct as at March 20, 2013
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