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The Kids Are Alright, Really

Our kids are going to a Cup Final! Well it may not be a glamorous affair at Wembley, though I'm not sure if we'd be keen to play on that pitch anyway. We'll play two legs on a home-and-away basis. Having been knocked out of both domestic cups despite some fantastic performances in earlier stages, we have set up a chance of rewarding the club's youth development efforts with a trophy, a smaller one but a meaningful one all the same. With the last triumph coming from 2001 - Steve Sidwell, Jermaine Pennant, Jeremie Aliadiere, Justin Hoyte and some lesser known kids got the winners' medals - I very much hope we can pick up the FA Youth Cup again this year.

I feel that Gooners tend to pay more attention to the reserves and youth team than some other fans because of the amount and quality of the promising kids coming through, as evidenced in their performances in the domestic cups. This season, with some of our young players out on loan (Senderos, Simpson, Fonte, Lansbury, Rodgers, Steer, Botelho and Nordveit), the sides that Steve Bould has fielded have been even younger and less experienced than before. However, this young but talented side had knocked out Aston Villa, Wolverhampton, Sunderland and Spurs with a combination of good football and grit. On Wednesday evening, we moved one step closer to the youth trophy with an impressive 4-1 win (6-2 on aggregate) over holders Manchester City at the Emirates, after a mixed but spirited performance yielded a good 2-1 result in the first leg up north in March.

Kids like Walcott, Vela, Gibbs and Denilson who started playing for Wenger in the Carling Cup in the last two years have been in and around our first-team action this season. The encouraging story of 19-year-old Kieran Gibbs, the latest youth academy graduate who has established himself as Clichy's understudy, has been a source of inspiration to the even younger kids on occasions like this.

As with the first team, the youth team is set up to play attacking football and tends to get a smoother cruise if they manage to take an early lead. Sanchez Watt only took 34 seconds to strengthen our advantage and then three more goals came in the first 31 minutes. Watt completed his brace after Jack Wilshere scored a penalty and Kyle Bartley a header. Ahmad Benali added a consolation goal for Man City just before the break. I didn't watch the game - it's early in the morning here and I couldn't stand another late night after our league game at Anfield. You can go to arsenal.com for the match report. Gooners who went to the game can also tell us what you think about the kids here or in the forums.

At the same time, Arsenal legend Steve Bould has guided his young side to a very healthy position in the Under-18s so far this season. We are now the deserved favourites to win the Youth League with an impressive 26-point lead in the table, having played one game more than some of the teams.

The other semi-finalists, Liverpool and Birmingham, will face each other on 24th April. Liverpool, who beat Manchester United to the FA Youth Cup on penalties in 2007, are going into the second leg tomorrow with a 3-0 lead at Anfield. Well unless they concede 4 like their first team has done twice recently, it's most likely Liverpool that our kids will face over two legs in May.



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The Journalist

Writer: GoonerLou Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday April 23 2009

Time: 11:04PM

Your Comments

A couple of others from that 2001 side went on to play regular PL football; Moritz Volz with Fulham, now at Ipswich and Jerome Thomas is currently at Portsmouth. Would be good to think more from the current crop would make it in our first team.
Amos.
A couple of others from that 2001 side went on to play regular PL football; Moritz Volz with Fulham, now at Ipswich and Jerome Thomas is currently at Portsmouth. Would be good to think more from the current crop would make it in our first team.
Amos.
Really annoyed, I had my ticket for the City second leg and then I got called into a late meeting at work and couldn't go. I shall certainly go to the home leg of the Final though. I was at the home leg in 2001 and Aliadiere ripped Blackburn apart and we won 5-0 I think. Let's hope Aliadiere doesn't continue his love of scoting against us this weekend.
Little Dutch
Really annoyed, I had my ticket for the City second leg and then I got called into a late meeting at work and couldn't go. I shall certainly go to the home leg of the Final though. I was at the home leg in 2001 and Aliadiere ripped Blackburn apart and we won 5-0 I think. Let's hope Aliadiere doesn't continue his love of scoting against us this weekend.
Little Dutch
I did go to the game, and it was great to see young kids with their parents there. But was alittle disappointed that we only managed just over 9,000, whereas when they played the spuds youths I understand there was nearly 20,000 at WHL.
hackneyval
I did go to the game, and it was great to see young kids with their parents there. But was alittle disappointed that we only managed just over 9,000, whereas when they played the spuds youths I understand there was nearly 20,000 at WHL.
hackneyval
Val last year's home leg of the semis against ManU broke the Youth Cup attendance record with close to 30,000 people there. I'm also a bit disappointed with the attendance this time. Hope the atmosphere was good cos the kids were really buzzing before this game. Who were the better performers you think? And thanks again Amos for posting this.
GoonerLou
Val last year's home leg of the semis against ManU broke the Youth Cup attendance record with close to 30,000 people there. I'm also a bit disappointed with the attendance this time. Hope the atmosphere was good cos the kids were really buzzing before this game. Who were the better performers you think? And thanks again Amos for posting this.
GoonerLou
Terrific stuff from 'Bouldy's Boys'. I look forward to seeing some of them in the first team in due course.
norfolk dumpling
Terrific stuff from 'Bouldy's Boys'. I look forward to seeing some of them in the first team in due course.
norfolk dumpling
Val Tottenham away's a bit more of a day out for a few older 'faces'. I don't think we can grumble too much about 10k! Was at the game and it was a very cultured way to spend a lovely spring evening, just a shame the Anfield leg's during the week really!
shewore
Val Tottenham away's a bit more of a day out for a few older 'faces'. I don't think we can grumble too much about 10k! Was at the game and it was a very cultured way to spend a lovely spring evening, just a shame the Anfield leg's during the week really!
shewore
 

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