Academy Action: All the weekend highlights

Seb Ferdinand against Spurs

A new challenge for our U21s and the first North London derby of the season: check out all the goals, highlights, and interviews from this weekend’s academy action.

U18s: Arsenal 4-1 Tottenham Hotspur

There was plenty to smile about on Saturday as our Under 18s registered their first win of the season and Jack Wilshere got his first victory as head coach.

Omari Benjamin ensured the North London derby kicked off the right way with a sumptuous strike into the top corner, giving us the lead only four minutes in. Less than half an hour later, Benjamin had a first-half hat-trick to his name thanks to two more superbly taken goals.

Things then went from bad to worse for Spurs, who were reduced to 10 men before half-time. Our rivals did manage to get back into the game through a corner, but it proved only to be a consolation goal as Ethan Nwaneri made it 4-1 shortly after.

Highlights | Arsenal 4-1 Tottenham U-18s (H)

Jack Wilshere was thrilled by more than just the three points, as he singled out the strength of character on display: “It makes me really proud when you ask the boys to do something and bring a certain energy and attitude, and they go out there and do that.

"That, for me, is the biggest thing today: the way they approached the game. As long as you can see that there’s a hunger, and I looked at the players in their eyes before the game and I saw it. I just said to them now, that is the level.”


U-18s: Tottenham Hotspur (H) | Jack Wilshere interview

Omari Benjamin, match ball in hand, spoke after the game about his impressive start to life in the Under 18s: “As a first year coming up, my main objective was to start getting minutes and start getting game time, and then scoring goals is a bonus. So, if I can keep doing that, it’ll be a good season.”

“It feels that much better because it was against Tottenham. It felt brilliant to get that quick start because, in the previous two games, we’ve gone a goal down. So, to be on the front foot, it’s changed the game and we were able to dominate throughout.”


U-18s: Tottenham Hotspur (H) | Omari Benjamin interview

U21s: Brighton & Hove Albion 2-2 Arsenal

Our flying start to the Premier League 2 season hit a slight snag on Friday night after a draw away to Brighton & Hove Albion, though we remain unbeaten and at the top of the table.

Brighton took a very early lead, but it took us less than four minutes to find the equaliser. Amario Cozier-Duberry took the opportunity to get his first goal for the U21s and level the score simultaneously, with a well-drilled shot in the bottom corner.

Charles Sagoe Jr and James Olayinka continued their great runs of form as they linked up down the left wing to make it 2-1 just after the break. Matt Smith and Nathan Butler-Oyedeji came close to increasing our lead in the second half, but it was not enough to keep Brighton at bay, and the hosts equalised in the 73rd minute.


Highlights | Brighton 2-2 Arsenal U-21s (A)

Skipper Matt Smith reflected on the team’s disappointment after the draw: “I feel like it was frustrating going 2-1 up and then conceding the equaliser. But we’ll dust ourselves off and go again on Tuesday.”

Smith also spoke of his pride in wearing the armband – “It’s a massive honour to captain Arsenal, whatever the level and whatever the age group” – and playing alongside top prospects including Amario Cozier-Duberry: “He’s got a really bright future ahead of him. He’s got a lot of ability and he works hard as well.”


U-21s: Brighton (A) | Matt Smith interview

Overall, Mehmet Ali was pleased with the team’s performance: “I thought we edged the second half and we were better. It’s just a shame we didn’t get that other goal to kill them off, but I thought a draw was probably the fair result tonight.”

Ali and co are already looking ahead to our cup tie against Cambridge United on Tuesday: “The Papa Johns Trophy is brilliant for these boys to play in front of a crowd. To play against men will be a real difficult challenge but it’s one that we’re up for, and again, it’s going to help these guys with another layer for their development.”


U-21s: Brighton (A) | Mehmet Ali interview

Post-Match Report

Report: Arsenal U18 4-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Arsenal U18 team celebration against Tottenham


Highlights | Arsenal 4-1 Tottenham U-18s (H)

We picked up our first win of the season as we beat Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 in the north London derby at London Colney on Saturday afternoon.

Jack Wilshere's side, buoyed by an inspirational video message from Cesc Fabregas in the dressing room before the derby, took the game to the visitors right from the first whistle.

Our fast start was rewarded inside five minutes as Harrison Dudziak picked out Omari Benjamin, our forward creating space for himself before firing into the top corner beyond Luca Gunter.

We doubled our lead soon after, Bradley Ibrahim winning the ball in midfield and finding Ethan Nwaneri, whose impressive outside-of-the-foot pass fell perfectly into the path of Benjamin, who scored his second with a composed finish low across Gunter.

It was a third for us and Benjamin midway through the half, a flowing team move from defence to attack unlocked the visitors as Nwaneri picked out Benjamin in a wide area, allowing him to cut inside onto his right foot and complete his hat-trick.

Tottenham's afternoon went from bad to worse minutes before the break, as Jahziah Linton was shown a second yellow card for a late challenge on Dudziak.

The visitors picked up a consolation goal midway through the second half, Damola Ajayi finishing at the back post after we failed to clear a corner.

With 20 minutes left to play, Nwaneri got the goal that his performance deserved, firing home on the rebound after more good play from Ibrahim in midfield.

Wilshere gathered his young Gunners on the pitch at the final whistle to give them a rousing team talk after we picked up a statement victory in the derby.


U-18s: Tottenham Hotspur (H) | Jack Wilshere interview


We move up to sixth place in the Under-18 Premier League table, five points behind league-leaders West Ham, after three matches played.


Next up for Wilshere's side, a trip to Newcastle as we face the Magpies in a Premier League Cup group stage clash on Saturday, September 3.

Kick-off at Little Benton is at 11am (UK time).


U-18s: Tottenham Hotspur (H) | Omari Benjamin interview


Starting XI: Rojas; Nichols, Kacurri, Quamina, Quesada-Thorn, Ibrahim, Gower, Ferdinand, Dudziak, Nwaneri, Benjamin

Substitutes: Kovacevic, Small, Ryan, Oulad M’Hand, Green

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