Spurs under 18’s versus Arsenal: (match preview)
On Thursday evening two of the most talented under 18 sides in Europe will go toe to toe in the fourth round of this seasons FA youth cup. Few of our under 18’s will have ever been involved in a bigger game of football than our cup tie against Arsenal on Thursday. Matt Wells unbeaten under 18 side will make the short trip to Meadow Lane the home of non league side Boreham Wood on Thursday evening to face the home team the ‘ Gunners ’ who are only one place below Spurs in the league table in second place. Both teams are two of the favourites to win the worlds most prestigious youth competition this season, and in so many ways it’s a great pity that we had to be drawn against our bitter rivals so early on in the competition. Fresh from their 4-1 league win over Brighton at the weekend Matt Wells table toppers have already beaten their arch rivals in the league this season. Although neither side fielded their strongest team for that game, Spurs still did well to beat Arsenal 3-2 at Hotspur Way in a typically dramatic and fiery North London Derby back in November. Tomorrow’s hugely important cup tie will likely see both sets of managers field very different sides. Especially Ken Gillard’s Arsenal side who I’m assuming will have England youth internationals Bukayo Saka, Xavier Amaechi and Tyreece John-Jules available for tomorrow’s match. The ‘ Gunners ‘ are one of the best sides that we have come up against this season and they are a team who like to play with a lot of width. Arsenal’s under 18’s have a very well rounded squad who have a solid defence, powerful midfield and a formidable front line. Their two towering centre half’s Mark McGuinness and former Spurs schoolboy Bayli Spencer-Adams form a very strong defensive partnership and then you’ve got midfielders such as Alfie Matthews and James Olayinka. However, Arsenal’s most talented players are their attackers and they have it in abundance. When at full strength the ‘ Gunners ‘ front line is frightening. With the pace and skill of Bukayo Saka and playmaker Xavier Amaechi Arsenal will look to test the Spurs fullbacks and try and to the clinical Tyreece John-Jules inside the danger zone.
In addition to their attacking trio of England youth internationals Arsenal also have prolific centre forward Folarin Balogun, former Sunderland schoolboy and attacking midfielder Sam Greenwood, and former Spurs schoolboy Jordan McEneff to choose from ahead of tomorrow’s cup tie. Overcoming Arsenal on Thursday evening will be a very difficult challenge for Matt Wells‘ side and they will need to be at the very top of their game to be able to beat the ‘ Gunners ’ inform side. I have no doubts that our lads can out class, out pass and out perform Arsenal when these two teams meet. While it is highly unlikely that Oliver Skipp will be available for tomorrow’s match we should still have a very strong side to choose from excluding any injuries that players have picked up since our last game against Brighton. I have interviewed a number of former Spurs youth players who have won the FA youth cup and so many of them have said to me that winning the famous cup had been one of the highlights of their footballing careers, and some of those players went onto play football at the very highest level. I wish all of our lads the very best of luck for tomorrow’s big game and I would like nothing more than too see the wonder boys of Hotspur Way beat Arsenal in their own back yard. I will be at tomorrow’s match and my in-depth match report will be out by the next day. COYS!
My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Oluwayemi, Okedina, Lyons-Foster, Binks, Cirkin, White, Bowden, Maghoma, A.Shashoua (c), Bennett, Parrott.
Subs from: Kurylowicz, Tainio, Walcott, Thorpe, Clarke.
Injured/unavailable: Enoch Asante, Jeremie Mukendi, Phoenix Patterson, Rafferty Pedder.
Doubtful: Rodel Richards, Dilan Markanday.
Previous meeting: Spurs 3-2.
My score prediction: Spurs 3-1.
My one to watch: Arsenal have many talented attacking players but winger Bukayo Saka is one of their very best prospects. The speedy left winger has already featured on a couple of occasions for Arsenal’s first team this season, and with his skill and frightening speed Saka will be looking to cause problems for Spurs down our right hand side.