The Gunners U21 side are off to Coventry this evening for their first ever Checkatrade Trophy match, which could end up with a Final at Wembley if they go all the way. If you can make it to the Ricoh Arena this evening you can get in for just 11 GBP and you could see many of our future stars on show.
Our new Academy manager, Per Mertesacker, agreed to join this competition for the first time ever to give our youngsters much needed experience against Lower League clubs. Mertesacker said: “We’re pleased to be entering our Under-21s in the Checkatrade Trophy this forthcoming season.
“We feel it’s important to provide our young players with a variety of experiences in their development and we certainly felt that by entering the Checkatrade Trophy, the players will face different challenges from strong club sides.
“With many of the players in this age group destined to go on loan soon in their careers, the experiences from this competition can act as a very good link between academy and first team football.”
Arsenal can only name two players over the age of 21, and one of them is likely to be between the sticks as our usual U23 keepers are Emiliano Martinez (26) or Deyan Iliev (23).
If this was the Final we could field a really strong team with Maitland-Niles, Mavropanos, Nketiah, Willock, Smith-Rowe and Guendouzi all eligible, but for tonight we are only likely to see Nketiah, Willock and Smith-Rowe featuring this evening. And maybe even Gedion Zelalem as he continues to recover from his injury troubles. In defence we could have some Under 23 stalwarts like Jordi Osei-Tutu, Julio Pleguezuelo and Ben Sheaf, who have all been knocking on the door of the first team squad.
All in all, it could be an interesting game, and with Freddie running up and down the touchline it could be entertaining too!