By Aidan Small
Our under 18s face Blackpool on Tuesday night in their FA Youth Cup semi-final first leg. Read on for our match preview of the game.
THE STORY SO FAR
Since slipping to defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-final of the Premier League Cup, our under 18s have returned to winning ways in glorious fashion.
We’ve won all three of our fixtures since by a four-goal margin, having found the back of the net on 14 occasions.
We’ve also mustered up 13 goals in just four FA Youth Cup matches this season, displaying fluid attacking football in each round.
Our first game of the competition came against Sheffield Wednesday when a Xavier Amaechi brace inspired a 2-1 win, before an extra-time winner against Liverpool, courtesy of Tyreece John-Jules, sent us into the last 16.
We went on to pick up a 3-2 victory against Middlesbrough to seal our place in the quarter-finals of the competition, where we ran out comfortable 5-1 winners over Colchester United. Emile Smith-Rowe, who scored two goals on the day, was particularly impressive during our second-half masterclass.
Blackpool come into this fixture on the back of Saturday’s 4-2 defeat to Port Vale in the Youth Alliance League.
But the way in which they secured their spot in the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup will spur them on to go all the way.
The Seasides were 2-1 down to Blackburn with just five minutes left to play in the quarter-finals. But then Will Dunne levelled the score in the 86th minute before Rowan Roache snatched the winner from the penalty spot deep into stoppage time.
Before then, they had beaten Doncaster Rovers (2-0), West Ham (1-0), Southampton (1-1 before winning 4-2 on penalties) and Ipswich (2-0).
ONE TO WATCH
Bukayo Saka, who’s predominantly played on the left this season, has struck in each of the under 18s’ last three outings.
In fact, the English winger has scored six goals in 12 league appearances this season and his pace will be key for getting in behind Blackpool’s defence on Tuesday night.
FOLLOW THE ACTION
Kick-off is at 7pm. We will be providing updates on our Twitter account - @Arsenal - and you can read a full match report on Arsenal.com shortly after the full-time whistle.