Our under-18s travel to Colchester United in the quarter-final of the FA Youth Cup on Tuesday night. Read on for our match preview.
THE STORY SO FAR
It’s certainly been an encouraging season for our under-18s - but they go into their FA Youth Cup quarter-final at Colchester United having suffered their first defeat in 14 matches last time out.
Kwame Ampadu’s side had gone four months without losing before being beaten 4-1 by Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-final of the Premier League Cup a fortnight ago. And with Saturday’s league game at Southampton having been postponed due to adverse weather conditions, Tuesday’s fixture will give them their first opportunity to get back on track.
The under-18s - who average three goals a game this season - have impressed so far in the Youth Cup, mixing an attractive, attacking style of play with plenty of heart and desire.
After Xavier Amaechi’s brace saw off the challenge of Sheffield Wednesday in round three, we were just five minutes away from bowing out of the competition at Liverpool in the last 16. Bukayo Saka’s late equaliser sent the tie to extra-time, before the winger set up Tyreece John-Jules’ eventual winner. We reached the quarter-final of this competition thanks to another away win by the same 3-2 scoreline, this time at Middlesbrough, in which John-Jules was among the scorers.
Tuesday’s hosts have had an unusual route to the quarter-final - in fact they were beaten 4-1 at home by Reading in the last 16, but were reinstated after the Royals were removed for fielding an under-age player.
Before then, Colchester had seen off Cheshunt (5-4), Bishop’s Stortford (5-0), Crewe Alexandra (2-0) and MK Dons (2-0).
Colchester are ninth in the Under-18 Professional Development League, but have won their last three matches.
ONE TO WATCH
The aforementioned John-Jules has impressed in the Youth Cup, scoring in each of the previous two rounds.
The teenager’s record at under-18 level has been impressive overall this term - six goals in eight appearances - and he’s maintained that form in the under-23s too, for whom he’s scored three times in five games.
The striker’s fine performances were rewarded with a first professional contract on his 17th birthday, a week after he scored in England Under-17s’ 2-0 Algarve Cup win over the Netherlands.
LAST TIME WE MET
Tuesday night won’t be our first trip to Weston Homes Community Stadium. In August 2013, a young Arsenal XI were beaten 5-1 by the then-League One side in a pre-season friendly. Our team that evening featured the likes of Emi Martinez, Isaac Hayden, Gedion Zelalem, Alex Iwobi and Chuba Akpom.
FOLLOW THE ACTION
We will be providing updates on our Twitter account - @Arsenal - and will post a match report on Arsenal.com after the full-time whistle.
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