Arsenal F.C. Under-23s and Academy

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Arsenal Under-23s and Academy
Full nameArsenal Football Club (Under-23s and Academy)
Nickname(s)The Gunners
GroundMeadow Park
ChairmanSir Chips Keswick
Academy ManagerPer Mertesacker
LeagueProfessional Development League,
(Division 1)

Arsenal Football Club Academy is the youth system of Arsenal Football Club based in Hale End, London, England. The academy teams play in the Professional Development League, the highest level of youth football in England. The club also competes in the FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League competitions. Former player Per Mertesacker is the current academy manager.[1]

Arsenal Under-23s, previously referred to as the Reserves, is the highest level squad within the setup. They train at the Arsenal Training Centre play the majority of their home games at Meadow Park,[2] which is the home of Boreham Wood FC. On occasion they also play at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium. Senior players occasionally play in the reserve side, as in the case when they're recovering from injury. Steve Gatting currently manages the reserve team with his assistant being Carl Laraman.

Arsenal's Academy is one of England's most successful, winning seven FA Youth Cups together with six Premier Academy League titles altogether.[3][4][5] Numerous international players have graduated from the academy and reserve teams.

Reserve team history[edit]

Early Years (1887–1919)[edit]

Since Arsenal were based in Plumstead as Royal Arsenal F.C., they had a reserve side which was at first set up in 1887. The club initially played friendlies and cup competitions, winning the 1889–90 Kent Junior Cup. In 1895–96 the club which was renamed Woolwich Arsenal in 1891 had their reserves join the Kent League, winning the title the next season but leaving circa 1900.[6] They later joined the London League where they won three titles during the 1900s.

From 1900–01 to 1902–03 the reserves played in the West Kent League, winning the league title in every season they featured within such.[7] As they were at a level higher than their local opponents, in 1903 the team moved to South Eastern League, playing there until 1914–15 when football was suspended due to the First World War. Concurrent to this period, the reserves also entered in the London League First Division in the 1906–07, 1907–08, 1908–09, 1913–14 and 1914–15 seasons. The club went on to omit the "Woolwich" from their title in 1913, so as to be known only as "Arsenal".

The Football Combination [Pre War] (1919–1939)[edit]

Following the end of World War I in 1918, Arsenal Reserves took the first team's place in the London Combination league which was renamed the Football Combination in the summer of 1939.[8] For the 1926–27 season, the competition was expanded to include teams as far afield as Portsmouth, Swansea, Southend and Leicester. During the inter-war period Arsenal's reserves matched the first team's success, winning the League South A title of 1940 and 1943 as well as being the London league champions of 1942.[8] Additionally, from 1931 onwards the club's reserves were entered into the London Challenge Cup, winning it twice in 1933–34 and as well in 1935–36.[9]

To give opportunities to younger players, Arsenal created an 'A' team in 1929. Initially the 'A' team entered the London Professional Mid-Week League and were champions in 1931–32.[7] They then competed in the league until the 1933–34 footballing season. Wherein, during the summer of 1934, Arsenal had taken on Kent side Margate as their nursery team. Arsenal had agreed to send promising youngsters to Margate to give them experience in the Southern Football League and were given first choice on any Margate players. The two clubs thus enjoyed being within this relationship which had lasted for four years before Arsenal broke it off in 1938.[10][11] Afterwards, Arsenal entered the reserve team in the Southern League in its own right with home games being played at Enfield F.C.'s stadium at Southbury Road.[12] The club eventually finished in 6th place in the league season of 1938–39.[citation needed]

At the start of the 1939–40 season the reserves played two Football Combination games and one Southern League game before football was partly suspended due to the outbreak of the Second World War.[8]

The Football Combination [Post War] (1945–1999)[edit]

For the 1946–47 season, the Football Combination resumed but the league was split into two divisions with the winners of each division playing in a final to decide the champions. A new competition was introduced – the Football Combination Cup. This was the same teams that played in the Football Combination but divided into 4 groups with the winners of each group playing in semi-finals and a final. This format continued until the end of the 1954–55 season. From 1955–56 the Football Combination continued generally as a normal league format, occasionally consisting of two divisions with promotion and relegation. The Football Combination Cup was discontinued but re-instated for seasons 1965–66 to 1969–70 inclusive and 1996–97. The reserves continued to be entered in the London FA Challenge Cup until the 1973–74 season, with the exception of 1961–62 when the first team were entered.

The 'A' team was resurrected at the start of the 1948–49 season when a team was entered in the Eastern Counties League, Eastern Counties League Cup and East Anglian Cup, winning the Eastern Counties League in 1954–55, after which they left the league (stating that it was so strong that they needed to enter a more competitive team, which would be more expensive),[13] but continued to play in the East Anglian Cup for the next two seasons. In addition, the 'A' team was also entered in the London Professional Mid-Week League from 1949–50 to 1957–58, winning a second time in 1952–53. During the summer of 1958, the 'A' team was entered into the Metropolitan League, Metropolitan League Cup and Metropolitan League Professional Cup. This proved a very successful venture until the mid-1960s. Towards the end of the 1960s, the 'A' team struggled against strong amateur teams and the club declined to enter a team after the close of the 1968–69 season.


In 1999 they left the Combination to become founding members of the Premier Reserve League.[14] They never won the competition, although they did finish as runners-up in the 2001–02 and 2010-11 seasons. At the end of the 2011–12 season they finished 3rd in Reserve League South, in what would be the competition's final season. Players from the reserve team have also been used extensively in the League Cup since the 1997–98 season. At the beginning of the 2012–13 season Arsenal's reserve and academy structure received a major overhaul. The reserve team left the Premier Reserve League and joined the Professional Development League for the competition's inaugural season. Fundamentally, replacing the reserves with an Under-21 team that has the allowance of three over-age outfield players and one goalkeeper per match day squad. Arsenal also signed up for the expanded NextGen Series, later to be replaced by the UEFA Youth League in 2013.


At the beginning of the 2014–15 season Arsenal's academy coaching structure received a major change with Andries Jonker being appointed as head of academy on 1 July 2014,[15] along with several key changes with in key coaching roles throughout the academy.[16] In his time in charge of the academy, he instigated many changes, such as changes to the way the players were educated within the club, therefore helping them spend more time on site with their fellow players. He was also a key part in the new Hale End facility being built,[17] with three pitches for the academy teams to make use of. In 2016 with the rebranding of the Premier League the reserve team continued to play in the Professional Development League, but it would now be named the Premier League 2. On 27 February 2017, it was announced the Andries Jonker would leave his role as head of academy to join VfL Wolfsburg as head coach, alongside former Arsenal player Freddie Ljungberg as assistant coach.[18]

Under-23s current squad[edit]

As of 13 July 2018

These players can also play with the senior squad and are all Young Professionals. Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
36 Northern Ireland DF Daniel Ballard
38 England DF Tolaji Bola
39 England DF Cohen Bramall
40 Wales MF Robbie Burton
43 Scotland MF Charlie Gilmour
44 Republic of Macedonia GK Dejan Iliev
47 England DF Zech Medley
49 England FW Eddie Nketiah
50 England DF Joseph Olowu
No. Position Player
51 England DF Tobi Omole
52 England DF Jordi Osei-Tutu
53 Spain DF Julio Pleguezuelo
54 England MF Ben Sheaf
55 England FW Emile Smith Rowe
57 Republic of Ireland MF Nathan Tormey
59 England MF Joe Willock
60 United States MF Gedion Zelalem

Out on loan[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
37 Poland DF Krystian Bielik (on loan to Charlton Athletic)
45 England GK Matt Macey (on loan to Plymouth Argyle)
No. Position Player
48 England MF Reiss Nelson (on loan to Hoffenheim)
98 Nigeria MF Kelechi Nwakali (on loan to FC Porto B)

Youth team history[edit]

Arsenal Youth (1954–1998)[edit]

Arsenal have occasionally operated a youth team as far back as 1893–94, and there had been an established third team known as Arsenal 'A' for young players from 1929 to 1969.

The club have played in the FA Youth Cup since the 1954–55 season and then entered into the South East Counties Youth Football League simultaneously. The following season the league competition was renamed as the South East Counties League.[19] Arsenal also featured from 1955 into another tournament known as the South East Counties League Cup wherein they stayed within while excluding the 1968 and 1969 seasons to the 1997–98 English footballing season. Arsenal's Academy altogether was victorious in the Counties League in 1956, 1965, 1972 and 1991. Arsenal's youths also played in the London Minor FA Challenge Cup from 1955 to 1956. In 1960 they rejoined the competition where they stayed until 1967 and was also successful in the Southern Junior Floodlit Cup which they won in 1956, 1972, 1975 and 1999.[3][20]

Arsenal thus became, of youth teams in the country, the winners of seven South East Counties League titles and six South East Counties League Cups of which included three "doubles".[20]

Arsenal Academy (1998–present)[edit]

The youth team became founder members of the FA Premier Youth League in 1997–98. The league was initially a single division and Arsenal won the inaugural title. The following season this was renamed the Premier Academy League and split into Under-19 and Under-17 sections, with the new FA Academy system formally changing Arsenal's youth team to Academy status. Arsenal entered teams in both sections, winning the U17 title in 1999–00 and the U19 title in 2001–02 as well as two more FA Youth Cups in 2000 and 2001.[3]

Since 2004–05, the FA Premier Academy League has consisted of only a single section for Under-18s, although an Under-16 section is played with no league table being recorded. Arsenal U18s have won their division group (Group A) three times, in 2007–08, 2008–09 and 2009–10. They went on to win the academy play-off semi-final and final in 2008–09 and 2009–10 to become Premier Academy League champions. In 2009 they completed their first double by also winning the 2008–09 FA Youth Cup, having beaten Liverpool 6–2 on aggregate in the final.[3]

Arsenal got to fourth place of the NextGen Series in 2013 and got to the quarterfinals of the newly created UEFA Youth League in 2014.[21][22][23][24] In 2016, Arsenal's U21s won the semifinal of the Professional Development League's Division 2 playoffs 2-1 against Blackburn Rovers.[25] In the final Arsenal beat Aston Villa by 3 goals to 1 at the Emirates Stadium so as to become playoff champions.[26]

In April 2017, Arsenal's Under 13 team defeated Sunderland to lift the inaugural Premier League National Cup as champions.[27] As well, in June 2017, Arsenal's Under-14s won the 2016-17 Premier League Albert Phelan Cup.[28] On 7 July 2017, it was announced that Per Mertesacker, who will retire from football at the end of the 2017-18 season, would take up the role of Arsenal Academy's manager thereafter.[29]

Under 18s current squad[edit]

These players can also play with the Under 23s and the senior squad.

Young Pros[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
36 England DF Daniel Ballard
40 Wales MF Robbie Burton
47 England DF Zech Medley
50 England DF Joseph Olowu
51 England DF Tobi Omole
55 England MF Emile Smith Rowe
No. Position Player
56 England DF Dominic Thompson
66 England MF Xavier Amaechi
69 England DF Harrison Clarke
70 England MF Trae Coyle
72 England FW Tyreece John-Jules
73 Republic of Ireland FW Jordan McEneff

Second Years[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
67 England FW Folarin Balogun
68 England GK Daniel Barden
71 England DF Vontae Daley-Campbell
74 England DF Mark McGuinness
No. Position Player
75 England FW James Olayinka
76 England MF Matthew Smith
77 England DF Bayli Spencer-Adams
78 England MF Zak Swanson

First Years[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
79 England MF Ryan Alebiousu
80 England MF Ben Cottrell
81 England DF Matthew Dennis
82 England MF Stan Flaherty
83 Estonia GK Karl Jakob Hein
84 England MF Josh Martin
No. Position Player
85 England MF Alfie Matthews
86 England GK Arthur Okonkwo
87 England FW Bukayo Saka
88 England GK Tom Smith
89 Spain DF Joel Lopez
England FW Sam Greenwood


Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
Poland GK Hubert Graczyk
England MF Miguel Azeez
No. Position Player
England FW Yunus Musah
Netherlands FW Malcolm Ebiowei [30]

Current staff[edit]

As of 14 October 2018[31]

Head Coaches:

Per Mertesacker Academy Manager
Freddie Ljungberg U23 Head Coach
Ken Gillard U18 Head Coach
Trevor Bumstead U16 Head Coach
Dan Macciche U15 Head Coach
Greg Lincoln U15 Assistant Coach
Simon Copley U14 Head Coach
Adam Pilling U13 Head Coach
Adam Birchall U12 Head Coach
Josh Smith U11 Head Coach
Paul Barry U10 Head Coach
Alex Nichols U9 Head Coach

Assistant Coaches:

Ryan Garry U23 Assistant Coach
Luke Hobbs U18 Assistant Coach
Andy Woodman Head of Academy Goalkeeping/U23 Goalkeeping Coach
Chris Terpcou U15-U18 Goalkeeping Coach
Seb Barton U9-U14 Goalkeeping Coach

Technical Staff:

Ameesh Manek Head of Academy Operations
Lee Herron Head of Academy Football Operations
Matt Henly Head of Education
Kate Green Head of Personal Development and Psychology
Marcel Lucassen Head of Coach and Player Development
Joe Sutton Pre-Academy Coordinator
Des Ryan Head of Sports Medicine and Athletic Development
Jordan Reece Lead Academy Physiotherapist
Steve Morrow Head of Youth Scouting
Bobby Arber Senior Academy Scout
Paul Wilson Academy Kit Coordinator
Niall O'Connor Academy Analyst
Jack Patchett Academy Football Analyst (U17/U18)
James Krause Academy Football Analyst (U16)
Sam Moore Academy Football Analyst (U14/U15)
Josh Smith Academy Football Analyst (U12/U13)
Sam Wilson Strength and Conditioning
Padraig Roche Strength and Conditioning
Noel Carrol Strength and Conditioning

International academy graduates[edit]

This is a list of former Arsenal F.C. academy or Arsenal 'A' graduates who have gone on to represent their country at full international level since the Second World War. Players who are still at Arsenal, or play at another club on loan from Arsenal, are highlighted in bold.

As of 24 August 2017.


1922–23, 1926–27, 1927–28, 1928–29, 1929–30, 1930–31, 1933–34, 1934–35, 1936–37, 1937–38, 1938–39, 1946–47, 1950–51, 1962–63, 1968–69, 1969–70, 1983–84, 1989–90
  • Football Combination Cup: 3
1952–53, 1967–68, 1969–70
  • London FA Challenge Cup: 7
1933–34, 1935–36, 1953–54, 1954–55, 1957–58, 1962–63, 1969–70
  • West Kent League: 3
1900–01, 1901–02, 1902–03
  • London League First Division: 3
1901–02, 1903–04, 1906–07
  • Kent Junior Cup: 1
  • London Professional Mid-Week League: 2
1931–32, 1952–53
1958–59, 1960–61, 1962–63
1960–61, 1965–66
1960–61, 1961–62
1997–98 (U18), 1999–00 (U17), 2001–02 (U19), 2008–09 (U18), 2009–10 (U18), 2015–16 (Play-Off Winners) (U21)
1965–66, 1970–71, 1987–88, 1993–94, 1999–00, 2000–01, 2008–09
  • Premier League National Cup: 1[27]
1955–56, 1964–65, 1971–72, 1990–91
  • South East Counties League Cup: 6
1959–60, 1960–61, 1961–62, 1963–64, 1970–71, 1979–80
  • Southern Junior Floodlit Cup: 5
1962–63, 1965–66, 1984–85, 1990–91, 1997–98
  • London Minor FA Cup: 1


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External links[edit]