Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Arsenal U18s reach FA Youth Cup final

Morning all.

Let’s start with Arsenal’s U18s after they beat Man City 2-1 last night to reach the FA Youth Cup final. The game was in the final stages of extra-time and heading for penalties when Myles Lewis-Skelly did this:

Afterwards, Jack Wilshere, the U18s head coach said:

“Overall we dominated and we deserved it. I’m so glad we won it the way we did. It was special and that’s why everyone loves football, there’s no better feeling.

“The moment when we scored the winner was special and it’s going to live in the memory of the players, staff, and everyone involved with the club.”

Jack, of course, has some history in this competition. He scored in the final the last time we won it, beating Liverpool 4-2 (gimme some of that on Sunday) in 2007-08, alongside players like Francis Coquelin and Emmanuel Frimpong, and Luke Ayling who played for Leeds against us on Sunday.

The last time we made the final was 2017-18, when we got well and truly beaten by Chelsea over two legs. The Arsenal side included Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, but were no match for a much stronger Chelsea. This time around we’ll face either West Ham or Southampton, and the single-match final will be played at the Emirates, so hopefully there’ll be a big crowd there to get behind the boys.

In the Premier League, it was interesting to see Jurgen Klopp rest a chunk of his best players for Liverpool’s trip to Chelsea. It ended 0-0, and in the the context of their away record this season that’s a decent result, but it’s clear he made that selection with an eye on Sunday and our visit to Anfield. I don’t really understand why, at this point, he didn’t just go for it and try and take advantage of a Chelsea side that have been just as, if not more, inconsistent than his own team.

Liverpool’s chances of finishing in the top four were relatively slim, but a win last night would have left them on 45 points, just 5 points behind Sp*rs with 9 games to play. And given they play them at the end of April, it seems odd that he lessened his team’s chances of winning last night. Maybe he feels beating Arsenal is more of a marker for his season, but that doesn’t really make much sense to me either. Perhaps it’s just a case then when you’re struggling, you scratch around and make some really strange decisions, but I don’t understand why you wouldn’t just go for it at this stage.

Elsewhere, come the summer, I think there will be plenty of eyes on Brighton … again … as they continued their excellent season with a 2-0 win over Bournemouth. As we know Arsenal already tried, and failed, to buy Moises Caicedo; Kaoru Mitoma has been one of the players of the season; and World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister will surely have plenty of teams chasing him in the off-season.

And although he’s only broken through this season, I’m sure that there will be plenty of scouts and clubs looking at young Irish striker Evan Ferguson. His finish last night was absolutely delicious, and while it’s early days in his career yet, he’s showing a lot of potential for a player who only turned 18 in October. You would probably suggest that staying put at the club that gave him a chance is the best best right now, but if he continues on this trajectory, it won’t take long for offers to come in.

Brighton’s impressive season is almost as impressive as the way they unearth gem after gem. The reality of being a club of that stature is that the big boys come along and pluck said gems away (although not easily and very rarely for anything less than a significant transfer fee), but they keep finding more. With two games in hand over Sp*rs, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that they could scrap for top four if they keep up this form, but with a game against us to come, let’s hope they have at least one off-day between now and the end of the season.

That defeat for Bournemouth, as well as losses for Nottingham Forest and Leicester, makes the relegation scrap even more interesting. It’s still incredibly tight down there, a lot of teams have got to keep fighting for the points they need, which may well add a measure of unpredictability to these last few weeks of the season. Let’s see.

Right, we’ll leave it there for this morning. Have a good one.

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