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
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 Bould currently manages the reserve team.

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 (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 (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]

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

In April 2017, Arsenal's Under 13 team defeated Sunderland to lift the inaugural Premier League National Cup as champions.[26] As well, in June 2017, Arsenal's Under-14s won the 2016-17 Premier League Albert Phelan Cup.[27] On 7 July 2017, it was announced that Per Mertesacker, who retired from football at the end of the 2017–18 season, would take up the role of Arsenal Academy's manager thereafter.[28]

Under-23s current squad[edit]

These players can also play with the senior squad and are all Young Professionals.

As of 22 September 2020[29][30]

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

No. Pos. Nation Player
36 MF England ENG Ryan Alebiosu
38 FW England ENG Folarin Balogun
41 MF England ENG Ben Cottrell
43 FW Sweden SWE Nikolaj Moller
44 GK Estonia EST Karl Jakob Hein
45 GK England ENG James Hillson
48 FW Rwanda RWA George Lewis
49 DF Spain ESP Joel López
50 MF Republic of Ireland IRL Jordan McEneff
53 GK England ENG Arthur Okonkwo
55 DF England ENG Joseph Olowu
No. Pos. Nation Player
61 MF England ENG Tim Akinola
62 DF England ENG Jonathan Dinzeyi
66 MF England ENG Miguel Azeez
68 MF Romania ROU Cătălin Cîrjan
74 MF Netherlands NED Salah-Eddine Oulad M'hand
82 MF Mexico MEX Marcelo Flores
86 FW England ENG Omari Giraud-Hutchinson
89 DF England ENG Zane Monlouis
91 MF England ENG Charlie Patino
95 FW Netherlands NED Joel Ideho

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. Pos. Nation Player
37 DF Northern Ireland NIR Daniel Ballard (on loan to Blackpool until January 2021)
39 DF England ENG Tolaji Bola (on loan to Rochdale until January 2021)
40 DF England ENG Harry Clarke (on loan to Oldham Athletic until January 2021)
42 FW England ENG Trae Coyle (on loan to Gillingham until June 2021)
46 GK North Macedonia MKD Dejan Iliev (on loan to Shrewsbury Town until January 2021)
47 FW England ENG Tyreece John-Jules (on loan to Doncaster Rovers until June 2021)
51 DF Republic of Ireland IRL Mark McGuinness (on loan to Ipswich Town until June 2021)
No. Pos. Nation Player
52 DF England ENG Zech Medley (on loan to Gillingham until June 2021)
54 MF England ENG James Olayinka (on loan to Southend United until January 2021)
56 DF England ENG Jordi Osei-Tutu (on loan to Cardiff City until June 2021)
57 MF England ENG Ben Sheaf (on loan to Coventry City until June 2021)
58 MF England ENG Matt Smith (on loan to Swindon Town until June 2021)
59 GK England ENG Tom Smith (on loan to Dover Athletic until January 2021)
60 DF England ENG Zak Swanson (on loan to MVV Maastricht until June 2021)

Under 18s current squad[edit]

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

Second-year scholars[edit]

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

No. Pos. Nation Player
66 MF England ENG Miguel Azeez
67 FW England ENG Nathan Butler-Oyedeji
68 MF Romania ROU Cătălin Cîrjan
69 GK Nigeria NGA Ovie Ejeheri
70 GK England ENG Hubert Graczyk
71 DF England ENG Alex Kirk
72 DF England ENG Levi Laing
No. Pos. Nation Player
73 DF Republic of Ireland IRL Mazeed Ogungbo
74 MF Netherlands NED Salah-Eddine Oulad M'hand
75 DF England ENG Daniel Oyegoke
76 FW England ENG Luke Plange
77 DF England ENG Jason Sraha
78 MF England ENG Kido Taylor-Hart

First-year scholars[edit]

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

No. Pos. Nation Player
79 DF England ENG Zach Awe
80 MF Portugal POR Mauro Bandeira
81 FW England ENG Khayon Edwards
82 MF Mexico MEX Marcelo Flores
83 DF England ENG Taylor Foran
84 MF England ENG Jack Henry-Francis
85 MF Brazil BRA Luigi Gaspar
86 FW England ENG Omari Giraud-Hutchinson
No. Pos. Nation Player
87 DF England ENG Henry Jeffcott
88 GK England ENG Remy Mitchell
89 DF England ENG Zane Monlouis
90 DF England ENG Brooke Norton-Cuffy
91 MF England ENG Charlie Patino
92 FW England ENG Charles Sagoe Jr.
93 FW England ENG James Sweet
94 FW England ENG Billy Vigar


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

No. Pos. Nation Player
GK England ENG Alex Kovacevic
GK England ENG Alexei Rojas
DF Trinidad and Tobago TRI Tino Quamina
DF England ENG Cameron Brayne
DF Costa Rica CRC Elián Quesada
DF England ENG Reuell Walters
MF England ENG Jimi Gower
No. Pos. Nation Player
MF Nigeria NGA Bayo Fapetu
MF England ENG Bradley Ibrahim
MF Poland POL Michal Rosiak
MF England ENG Sydie Peck
FW England ENG Kieran Petrie
FW England ENG Shaun Mavididi
FW England ENG Omari Benjamin

Current staff[edit]

Updated 30 July 2020[31]

Head Coaches:

Germany Per Mertesacker Academy Manager
England Luke Hobbs Head of Academy Coaching
England Steve Bould U23 Head Coach
Republic of Ireland Ken Gillard U18 Head Coach
England Dan Micciche U16 Head Coach
England Adam Pilling U15 Head Coach
Wales Adam Birchall U14 Head Coach
England Max Porter U13 Head Coach
England Simon Copley U12 Head Coach
England Lewis Goater U11 Head Coach
England Paul Barry U10 Head Coach
England Josh Hinckson U9 Head Coach


England Ryan Garry U23 Assistant Coach
England Greg Lincoln U18 Assistant Coach
England Andy Woodman Head of Academy Goalkeeping/U23 Goalkeeping Coach
Australia Chris Terpcou U15-U18 Goalkeeping Coach
England Seb Barton U9-U14 Goalkeeping Coach
England Matt Henly Head of Education
England Kate Green Head of Personal Development and Psychology
England Des Ryan Head of Sports Medicine and Athletic Development
England Kieron Lewis Pre-academy Coordinator
England Lee Herron Head of Talent ID
England Steve Brown Lead Talent ID Coordinator
England Yousuf Sajjad Emerging Talent Coordinator (U17-23)
England Conan Watson Lead Talent ID Coordinator (U15-U16)
England Phil Antwi Lead Talent ID Coordinator (U12-U14)
England Ayo Durojaiye Lead Talent ID Coordinator (U9-U11)
England Paul Wilson Academy Kit Manager
Northern Ireland Niall O'Connor Academy Analyst
England Sam Mincher Academy Analyst
England James Krause Academy Football Analyst (U23)
England Josh Smith Academy Football Analyst (U15)
England Sam Moore Academy Football Analyst (U9-U16)
Republic of Ireland Padraig Roche Lead Strength & Conditioning Coach (U18-U23)
England John Boca Senior Academy Operations Officer


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[26]
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

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.

Updated 8 September 2020.


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External links[edit]