FA Youth Cup

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Nelson - The youngsters who have impressed me most

Reiss Nelson

Our under-18s reached the FA Youth Cup semi-finals on Tuesday, and Reiss Nelson couldn’t be more proud of our young stars.

Emile Smith Rowe struck twice, while Bukayo Saka, Folarin Balogun and Xavier Amaechi were all on target as we hit five past Colchester United to book our place in the final four.
“It’s a really exciting time for all youth teams at the moment,” Nelson told Arsenal.com. “We’re near the top of the table in the Premier League 2 and we’re into the latter rounds of the FA Youth Cup. I think everyone’s just buzzing in the youth section of the training ground at the moment.
“We’ve got so many talented youngsters in our ranks, but the ones who have really stood out to me are Trae Coyle at No 10 and Xavier on the wing, who has also made a couple of under-23 appearances.
“Flo Balogun is like a young Eddie Nketiah up front because he gets into good positions and always scores goals. I really like Bukayo Saka as well. He’s still young but is doing the business for them, including that really good goal at Anfield. He’s definitely one for the future.”


‘We have to make home advantage count’

We twice took the lead against Blackpool on Tuesday night, but we still head into next month’s FA Youth Cup semi-final second leg with it all to do at Emirates Stadium.

Tyreece John-Jules and Xavier Amaechi were again on target for us, but Dylan Sumner’s finish, Ben Jacobson’s strike and Trae Coyle’s missed penalty left the tie in the balance after the first leg.
“I thought it was a tough game,” John-Jules told Arsenal.com. “To be fair, Blackpool did well. It was a scrappy game but we’ve just got to keep our heads up and take it to the next leg.
“It’s at home, so we’ll have a bit of an advantage with a better pitch. It will be good to see what happens there.
“I was pleased to score the opener. I just saw the ball and latched onto it. Luckily it went in, so I’m just happy to score.
“We’ve just got to keep our heads up,” John-Jules added. It’s all about leaving the past behind and we need to keep going until the end.”

Post-Match Report

FA Youth Cup: Blackpool 2-2 Arsenal - Report

James Olayinka in Youth Cup action

By Akshay Patel at Bloomfield Road


Our FA Youth Cup semi-final will be decided at Emirates Stadium after we were held to a draw in Tuesday night’s first leg against Blackpool.

We twice took the lead through Tyreece John-Jules and Xavier Amaechi but were pegged back each time, and Trae Coyle’s missed penalty leaves the tie in the balance going into next month’s second leg.

After a cagey opening half an hour, we finally found the breakthrough when John-Jules reacted quickest to smash home from inside the six-yard box after Blackpool had failed to clear Amaechi’s corner.

The hosts equalised against the run of play on the stroke of half-time, though, with Dylan Sumner coolly slotting home Will Dunne’s far-post header.

But despite Blackpool’s resurgence, we would strike next. Vontae Daley-Campbell’s powerful run and cross found an unmarked Amaechi, who finished into the bottom corner to restore our advantage.

We had the opportunity to increase our lead from the penalty spot when substitute Bukayo Saka was felled by Will Avon, but Craig Thordarson reacted well to his right to keep out Coyle from 12 yards.

And we would be punished for our missed opportunity moments later. We failed to deal with a dangerous cross from the right-hand side, and Ben Jacobsen was on hand to capitalise from close range.


The result means the tie is perfectly poised going into the semi-final second leg next month.

We welcome Blackpool to Emirates Stadium for the return fixture on Monday, April 16, hoping to secure our place in the final for the first time since we lifted the trophy in 2009.


After participating in the Dallas Cup next week it’s back to league action for our under-18s, who host Leicester City at London Colney on Saturday, April 7. 


Smith Rowe - Kevin De Bruyne is my inspiration

Emile Smith Rowe produced another memorable display on Tuesday night to help book our place in the FA Youth Cup semi-finals.

The teenage winger opened the scoring against Colchester United before firing an unstoppable free-kick into the top corner as we reached the final four with a 5-1 win at Weston Homes Community Stadium.
We caught up with Smith Rowe after the game, and this is what he said:
on the win…
It was a great performance from our team. In the first half, we didn’t get as many chances as we would have liked but we were able to go 1-0 up. In the second half, we just showed how great we can play. We’re very happy to advance to the semi-finals.

on Colchester making us work…
They’re a good team to be fair. We knew we would be up against a hard team, so I think we did well to get the win.

on his first goal…
I thought I would get the ball and just try to run forward with it. I played the one two with Bukayo, got it back and then just finished it. I was very happy.

on his free-kick…
Yeah it’s definitely something I work on at the training ground before all of us go out to train. I definitely work on them quite a lot, so to I was very happy to get a free-kick.

on who his free-kick inspirations are…
In the Premier League, probably De Bruyne. He doesn’t score many free-kicks, but I think his crossing from wide is really good and I look up to him quite a lot.

on going all the way in the FA Youth Cup…
Definitely. We’re a great team on our day and I think we can definitely win against Blackpool. We’re just very happy to advance.


'The Youth Cup is vital to know where we stand'

Our under-18s are back in FA Youth Cup action on Tuesday night, aiming to become the first of our academy sides to lift the trophy since 2009.

While Arsene Wenger will be preparing for our Europa League clash against AC Milan, he will still be provided with regular updates from our quarter-final at Colchester United.

"I always have an eye on that," he told Arsenal Player. "We spoke about our DNA and that’s part of us as well. The quality of our youth is very important. 

"We invest a lot of money in there and it is to have end products. End products are players who have the quality to play for the first team. That’s why you always look around when it’s international competition or national competition, like the FA Youth Cup. It’s always very important to know where we stand compared to the other clubs.
"Behind the players that we know already, like Nketiah, Willock, Dasilva and Nelson, we have another group of young players just behind who are very good as well. 

"I’m convinced that in the next two or three years, Arsenal will have a lot of satisfaction on that front. I’m convinced that the way for Arsenal to come back to fight for the Premier League is to rely on a core of young players to come out of our football club."