Arsenal’s shock defeat at home to Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup on Saturday left them looking at just the Champions League competition to fight off yet another season without silverware. Not since Patrick Vieira tucked away a penalty against Manchester United in the 2005 FA Cup Final shoot-out has a trophy come back to North London with Wenger’s men.
Now Vieira works with the Elite Development Squad (the youth team to you and me every day folk) and has therefore been linked with taking over from Liam Brady as Arsenal’s Head of Youth Development in the summer of 2014.
However Arsenal’s current Youth Team will unfortunately be compared to their adult counterparts this week after being dumped out of the FA Youth Cup in the fifth round.
The side had previously overcome Fulham and Newcastle United in the competition but when faced with Everton’s cream of the crop they could not do enough to progress; losing 4-2 at Barnet’s Underhill Stadium on Monday night.
Considering Arsenal had several players from their NextGen side involved in the tie the result may have come as a surprise. Swedish midfielder Kristoffer Olsson played with Jack Jebb in the middle while the likes of Hector Bellerin, Chuba Akpom and Serge Gnabry also featured.
Despite goals in each half courtesy of Akpom and Gnabry Everton struck three goals in nine second-half minutes to condemn the Young Gunners to a Youth Cup exit.
The youngsters will not be to disheartened in defeat; after all they do still have the NextGen Series to compete in which sees them take on Inter Milan on the 6th March and unlike their senior counterparts they last won this competition in 2009; a wait of only four years to the clubs eight.
That season the likes of Francis Coquelin, Emmanuel Frimpong and Jack Wilshere were in a side captained by Jay Emmanuel-Thomas so the Youth team players from today will take solace from their predecessors career developments since; but in terms of looking for a glimmer of hope in terms of silverware the youngsters find themselves in the same position as the first team squad, counting on Europe.
What do you think of Arsenal youngsters chances in the NextGen Series?