At last Arsenal reserves get a breakthrough (of sorts)
I have also suggested that since the English won’t play, the Scottish Third Division might be given a boost by having Arsenal Reserves in it, but on this one the footballing world has remained silent. The former France technical director Gerard Houllier said, “In England, you lose a lot of players between 18 and 21,” he said. “The two countries who are failing are England and Italy. I knew one or two players [when manager] at Aston Villa who did not have enough games to play at the top level. Between 18 and 20 there is nothing. In France when they don’t play on a Saturday, they can play for the reserves the next day.”
Arsenal have tried to compensate by using the loan system more and more vigorously, and we’ve often spoken here of the fact that Lorient is now increasingly looking like an Arsenal in the French League. But the reserves and youth team are taken as seriously as possible, and certainly more seriously than some clubs take the whole affair. Tottenham, Manchester City, QPR, Stoke for example have not played in a reserve league of late. ‘Arry pulled Tottenham out of all reserve competitions, and as for the others, I am not sure what they have been doing.
Up to last season, Arsenal played in The Premier Reserve League which started out in 1999 replacing the old Football Combination and the Central League. But no one was very happy with it and the format was re-organised time and time again. Also, because Arsenal tend to promote youngsters quickly and make great use of the loan system, they tended to use it as a chance for up coming players to experience competitive games, rather than going all out to win the league. While some clubs put unwanted members of their first team squad to play in the reserves, Arsenal never did this – using it totally for players who were over age for the Premier Academy League.
Now everything is changing. We now have the Barclays Under-21 Premier League, and there is the Next Gen knock out cup for teams across Europe. Suddenly, being a reserve is going to be a lot more fun.
Arsenal’s Under-21s will start this season with two fixtures at Emirates, against Bolton Wanderers on Monday, August 20 (kick-off 7pm) and Blackburn on Saturday, August 25 (kick-off 2pm). Teams can use three outfield players over the age of 21 and one over-age goalkeeper.
NextGen Series matches will be played at Underhill Stadium starting with Marseille on Wednesday, August 29 (kick-off 7pm). NextGen is in effect an Under-19 version of the Champions League (although teams are allowed to select up to three Under-20 players in their squad) with group stages followed by the knock out round from January onwards. Marseille are the first opponents to experience Barnet on August 29 (kick-off 7pm) before we play to Olympiacos on September 12.
Back in the new Reserve League, the 23 clubs have been divided into 3 groups. The top two teams in each group along with the two best 3rd place teams, will move into an ‘elite round’ of games to be played after Christmas. The other teams will then be divided up into 2 groups also for further games after Christmas.
Arsenal, Blackburn, Bolton, Everton, Norwich, Reading, West Brom and West Ham.
Newcastle, Tottenham, Southampton, Stoke, Manchester United, Watford, Sunderland and Aston Villa.
Fulham, Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace and Wolves.
1. James Shea
2. Hector Bellerin
3. Elton Monteiro
4. Zachari Fagan
5. Jernade Meade
6. Isaac Hayden
7. Jack Jebb
8. Kristoffer Olsson
9. Josh Rees
10. Philip Roberts
11. Nigel Neita
12. Martin Angha
13. Josh Vickers
14. Chuba Akpom
15. Alfred Mugabo
16. Samir Bihmoutine
17. Austin Lipman
18. Glen Kamara
Here are the details for the season proper…
|Mon, Aug 20||Bolton Wanderers||Under-21 Premier League||H||19:00||Emirates Stadium|
|Sat, Aug 25||Blackburn Rovers||Under-21 Premier League||H||14:00||Emirates Stadium|
|Wed, Aug 29||Marseille||NextGen Series||H||19:00||Barnet FC|
|Mon, Sep 3||Everton||Under-21 Premier League||H||19:00||Barnet FC|
|Wed, Sep 12||Olympiacos||NextGen Series||A||TBC||Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium|
|Mon, Sep 17||Norwich City||Under-21 Premier League||H||19:00||Barnet FC|
|Fri, Sep 21||West Ham United||Under-21 Premier League||A||19:00||Old Ford Sports Ground|
|Mon, Oct 1||West Bromwich Albion||Under-21 Premier League||A||14:00||The Hawthorns|
|Thu, Oct 4||Olympiacos||NextGen Series||H||19:00||Barnet FC|
|Mon, Oct 8||Reading||Under-21 Premier League||H||19:00||Barnet FC|
|Mon, Oct 22||Everton||Under-21 Premier League||A||19:00||St Helens RLFC|
|Thu, Oct 25||Marseille||NextGen Series||A||TBC||TBC|
|Mon, Oct 29||Blackburn Rovers||Under-21 Premier League||A||19:00||Leigh RFC|
|Mon, Nov 5||Bolton Wanderers||Under-21 Premier League||A||19:00||Lancashire FA|
|Fri, Nov 9||West Ham United||Under-21 Premier League||H||13:00||London Colney|
|Thu, Nov 15||Athletic Bilbao||NextGen Series||A||TBC||TBC|
|Mon, Nov 19||Norwich City||Under-21 Premier League||A||19:00||Carrow Road|
|Fri, Nov 23||West Bromwich Albion||Under-21 Premier League||H||13:00||London Colney|
|Fri, Nov 30||Reading||Under-21 Premier League||A||13:00||Hogwood Park Training Ground|
|Thu, Dec 6||Athletic Bilbao||NextGen Series||H||19:00||Barnet FC|