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Academy

Micciche and Pilling join the academy

Dan Micciche

Dan Micciche and Adam Pilling have joined our academy as head coaches of the under-15s and under-13s respectively.

Micciche’s previous roles include head of England Under-15s, head of England Under-16s, head of coaching at MK Dons and first team manager at MK Dons.

“We have appointed a forward thinking, creative youth coach who is highly qualified and experienced in developing young players. Dan will be a fantastic addition to the academy,” said Per Mertesacker, academy manager.

Pilling meanwhile, was most recently the head of academy coaching at Hull City and his previous roles include coaching positions at Sheffield United, Watford and Reading.

Adam Pilling - under-13s manager

He has already commenced his position with the under-13 squad.

“We are very pleased with the immediate impact that Adam has made on the under-13 team,” Mertesacker added. “His experience and expertise will have a positive effect on our young players.”

Everyone at Arsenal would like to welcome Dan and Adam to the Arsenal family.

Post-Match Report

U-23s: Arsenal 0-4 Blackburn - How it happened

Amaechi

WHAT HAPPENED 

We ended our year in defeat with a 4-0 loss to Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League 2 on Monday night.

Charlie Gilmour and Zech Medley were handed starts after featuring in the Europa League last Thursday, while Xavier Amaechi made his return from injury.

After losing possession high up the field in the opening minute, Rovers countered in numbers and picked out Brad Lyons, who broke free down the left and fired into the bottom right corner for the opening goal.

The game then went on to take a lively twist with a number of tough tackles and cynical fouls, before Tyreece John-Jules created our first chance with an improvised piece of skill.

The 17-year-old flicked the ball over the head of his marker and fired at goal with a first-time volley, but his driven effort was pushed to safety.

Shortly after Matty Platt headed wide from close range, before Deyan Iliev made a stunning diving save to deny the visitors a second.

Ben Sheaf’s curling free-kick from 25 yards proved to be our best chance of the opening 45 minutes.

We kicked off the second half by playing a number of probing passes in the final third, but just two minutes after the restart, Rovers doubled their advantage.

Lyons received the ball 30 yards from goal, cut inside and fizzed a right-footed effort into the top corner.

We struggled to get going in the second half, and in the 71st minute the visitors scored their third goal of the evening.

Sheaf was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the penalty area, with Joe Nuttall making no mistake in converting from 12 yards.

The Rovers forward then went on to score his second of the evening with a simple finish from close range.

WHAT IT MEANS 

PL2 Table

WHAT’S NEXT 

Our next game is against Brighton and Hove Albion in the PL2 on Monday, January 7.

The game will take place at the Checkatrade.com Stadium with kick-off at 7pm (UK time).

Interview

Per - The golden moments for us here

Per Mertesacker had not been long in his new role as academy manager when he was faced with his first challenge.

The chance came up for highly-rated under-18s head coach Kwame Ampadu to join Thierry Henry's staff at Monaco, so how did Per react to it?

"That showed as well that every single day there’s something you need to cover, there’s something that will surprise you and you need to be prepared for," Mertesacker told Arsenal Player.

"These are the golden moments because there is an opportunity for a coach that worked for us brilliantly to go to a first team.

"When a player goes to the first team, it’s a golden moment and we have to cover the ground behind it so these golden moments will come in a time where everyone is set and the coaches are set, and you know what you’re going to do, how your academy is and how are the people reacting. 

"We said to Kwame that he deserves it and we let him go and let him go to what is a brilliant opportunity.

"We sorted it and we’re trying to figure out who is the best person to replace him as head coach of the under-18s, who is going to be someone that is going to assist the new under-18s coach and who takes the new role that has been left over. These are the moments that you have to be grateful for and work things out."

Interview

'We need to make our players resilient and ready'

Our recent Europa League victory at Vorskla was a proud moment for our academy.

Not only did Emile Smith Rowe and Joe Willock score, but three youngsters made their first-team debuts and 12 of the 20-man travelling squad progressed through either London Colney or Hale End.

Per Mertesacker was proud to see these players make such an impact, and believes it all comes down to preparation.

"We have a good standard [of player here], and we need to prepare them for these moments, for these opportunities," he told Arsenal Player. "So when they train with the first team, they make an impression. When they go on loan, they make an impression. 

"It all comes back to the way we’ve treated them when preparing them for these moments. We need to have them resilient and ready for those moments. There will be players who won’t be able to have those moments, and will be released. Some will suffer injuries, some will go to other clubs. 

"We are responsible for them all. We cannot give it all to Emile Smith Rowe. We need to make sure and have the responsibility that all the others who go through the academy system are well prepared for their future, whatever happens on the path they take. 

"But we’re doing great and those who are catching the attention right now are doing well because they were well prepared. Let’s not forget that. There are others as well who we need to treat with the same amount of intensity and attention."

Interview

'I do almost everything that you can imagine'

After 15 years playing at the highest level, Per Merteacker has opened a new chapter in his life as our academy manager.

But how is he adapting to the role - and how hands on is he at London Colney and Hale End?

"I do almost everything you can imagine, so I’m obviously involved with the coaches, involved with the players and with their surrounding team with agents, parents and all the stakeholders," Mertesacker told Arsenal Player. 

"I choose by myself at the moment what I’m going to do and where I’m going to put emphasis on, so in a managing role, especially in the academy, you go into stuff and then you zoom in and then zoom out.

"You’re not working with a team on a daily basis, you have more responsibilities, and I’m trying to figure out as well how my week looks. At the moment I’m doing it all, but I’m trying to get the best out of me and that is the relationship with people, the relationship with players, where I can support with my experience and where I can support with me as a person.

"There’s lots I can do and I feel that. At the moment what is really important is that kids, players and parents recognise me and they think, ‘Yeah, he’s done a great job playing 15 years professional’ and that gives you some respect, but obviously I want to stick to that and help them and support them.

"But as well you want to live the values of the club and you want to bring some content to the club, so this kind of measurement as a player where you’ve done really well and maybe kept for one or two seasons, I want to do really well and keep improving as an academy manager and that’s my first focus."

Post-Match Report

U-18s: Arsenal 2-0 Northampton - How it happened

WHAT HAPPENED

Goals from Folarin Balogun and Zak Swanson secured a 2-0 win over Northampton - and sealed our place in the next round of the FA Youth Cup.
 
We were on top for much of the encounter and tested the visitors’ resolve early on when Sam Greenwood showed some neat close control before sending a strike goalwards.
 
Balogun then forced Bradley Lashley in the Northampton goal to parry the ball away after an effort of his own.
 
At the other end of the pitch, a rare attack from the visitors and a dangerous ball to the far post forced Vontae Daley-Campbell to nod the ball away from the onrushing forward.
 
We eventually broke the deadlock as we entered the final 10 minutes of the first half. Balogun seized on the ball before driving towards goal, holding his nerve to unerringly send a low strike into the net.
 
Balogun went close again at the start of the second half, but his rising strike cannoned off the crossbar and flew behind for a goal kick.
 
Our margin of victory increased with a quarter of an hour remaining, with Swanson marauding forward from left-back before seeing a cross-cum-shot loop over Lashley and find the net. 

WHAT IT MEANS

We’ll now face either Millwall or Tottenham Hotspur in the next round of the FA Youth Cup.
 
Stay close to Arsenal.com for confirmation of our opponents and a set fixture date and kick-off time.

WHAT’S NEXT

Ken Gillard’s under-18s will now have a break, returning to action on Saturday, January 5.
 
That fixture will be a Premier League South game, with our youngsters hosting Brighton & Hove Albion at London Colney, with kick-off at 3pm.
 
Access to the fixture is by invitation only.