Arsenal’s youngsters recently concluded what was a rather hectic campaign in which they did battle on four fronts. They were ultimately unsuccessful in their attempt to secure silverware, but the season did enable us to continue to track the development of some intriguing prospects.
Striker Chuba Akpom, for example, who has been capped by England up to U19 level, established himself as the leading striker for the club’s U21 side despite only turning 17 during the early months of the season. The Hale End product also earned a surprise call-up to the first-team squad for the Champions League trip to Olympiacos and could make his competitive debut next season, possibly in the Capital One Cup.
The versatile Isaac Hayden, meanwhile, who is comfortable either at centre-back or in a deep-lying midfield position, was invited to train with the first-team on several occasions towards the end of the campaign after some highly impressive showings at second-string level. Hayden, who was signed from Southend United when he was a schoolboy, possesses an excellent reading of the game and is extremely calm in possession.
Another promising player to look out for is Swedish youth international midfielder Kristoffer Olsson. Yet to feature for the first-team competitively, Olsson underlined his immense promise during 2012/13 and demonstrated a capability to operate in a more defensive-minded midfield position than he was previously used to.
If the three aforementioned youngsters continue to develop apace during 2013/14 then a measure of faith may yet be restored in the Arsenal youth set-up, which has endured much criticism of late following the decision to let 15 youngsters go at the end of the season.
Written by Guest Authour – Jeorge Bird. Follow Him on Twitter @jeorgebird