23/11/13 Tottenham Hotspur U18s 4-2 Arsenal U18s, Hotspur Way
Luke McGee (18)
Kyle Walker-Peters (16) Cameron Carter-Vickers (15) Filip Lesniak (17) Connor Ogilvie (17)
Harry Winks (17)
Josh Onomah (16) Will Miller (17)
Emmanuel Sonupe (17) Daniel Akindayini (18) Nathan Oduwa (17)
Joe Pritchard (17) for Harry Winks, 60.
Anthony Georgiou (16) for Emmanuel Sonupe, 70.
Shayon Harrison (16) for Daniel Akindayini, 70.
Sub not used:
Liam Priestley (18)
Anton Walkes (16)
Chiori Johnson Alfred Mugabo Lenader Siemann Arinse Uade
Renny Smith Jack Jebb
Tarum Dawkins Daniel Crowley Alex Iwobi
Spurs were nearly full-strength, just missing the injured Christian Maghoma from their strongest XI. Lesniak dropped into central defence to cover him, allowing Winks and Onomah to share duties as the midfield “pivot”. On the other hand, Arsenal fielded a weakened team due to their UEFA Youth League fixture against Marseille this coming Monday – they made five changes from their previous match against Chelsea, and Chuba Akpom was one of those omitted.
Arsenal started quickly and looked keen to get the ball forward quickly on the deck. It took a few minutes for the Spurs boys to get going, before they managed to play out from the back, and Akindayini held the ball up and won a free kick, which gave them a chance to get organised.
Sonupe had the first opening as he got onto Harry Winks’ pass, cut in from the right touch-line, and smashed his shot well over.
The impressive Alex Iwobi, nephew of Jay-Jay Okocha, was unhappy when he was adjudged to have fouled Harry Winks in midfield – he may have got some of the ball, but it was a very physical challenge and he came in from the side, so I could see why the referee stopped play.
Sonupe’s dangerous low cross was cleared for a corner, which Winks took. The goalkeeper rose to claim the delivery, but spilled the ball and it was worked back to Winks after a scramble. He created space and struck goal-wards, but his effort was deflected over for another corner. This time Miller met the set piece at the near post, but sent his attempt wide.
Oduwa carried the ball forward and sent Sonupe a little wide with his pass. He stood a cross up to the far post, where Miller controlled a volleyed effort nicely, but couldn’t generate any power.
Carter-Vickers committed a foul, but Ogilvie towered above his opponent in the air and cleared Jebb’s free kick.
Arsenal’s left-back, Uade, let the ball drift out of play for the second time in quick succession, before Miller lost the ball in a dangerous area, with Lesniak reading the situation well and stepping in.
Akindayini then had a fantastic opportunity to open the scoring. Winks strode forward and slid a pass to Sonupe – he beat his man and sent in a perfect cross. Akindayini arrived in the six-yard box at the right time, but his volleyed effort flew over.
Spurs then showed their counter-attacking brilliance. With Lesniak struggling to dispossess his man, Oduwa dropped back in to the left-back area help out. He won the ball, carried it forward, played two give-and-gos, and slid in Sonupe, who had his effort blocked. A superb run from the talented Oduwa nonetheless.
Crowley curled over after McGee’s throw out to Sonupe was cut out – Crowley had some neat early touches, but seemed to get frustrated with himself and his teammates, and was not shy in letting them know.
McGee’s distribution was better the next time, as he sprayed an excellent pass out to Ogilvie. He headed on first time for Oduwa, who nodded the ball down into his own stride, and showed terrific pace to beat his man on the outside. He took on the cross on his weaker left foot, but it was cut out.
Winks’ free kick drifted just over, before Lesniak and Miller sandwiched Smith after Ogilvie had committed himself on halfway. Ogilvie cleared the resulting free kick with ease.
Spurs took the lead, and it required some excellent refereeing to allow it to happen. Sonupe turned away from his man, Mugabo, who did everything he could to stop him progressing – grabbing at him and attempting to trip him. Sonupe regained his footing and carried on regardless, with the referee indicating the advantage. He continued on and fed Akindayini with a slide-rule pass. It looked from my vantage point that Akindayini toe-poked beyond the goalkeeper, but I’m told that it was a defender who actually put the ball into his own net.
At the other end, Winks made a good saving challenge on Jebb on the edge of the box, before Oduwa set off again on another excellent driving run. He slipped Miller in on the right and he shot low and hard back across the goalkeeper and found the net to make it 2-0.
Ogilvie was forced to foul Dawkins on the edge of the box as he found space. McGee went to great lengths to organise the wall appropriately, but Jebb curled the kick over the angle of post and bar.
Uade made a fantastic challenge on Walker-Peters to stop a break forward, and a minute later Arsenal pulled a goal back. Jebb – Arsenal’s best and most influential player – rose unchallenged between the Spurs centre-backs to meet a cross from the young full-back, Chiori Johnson. He nodded it back in the direction it had come, beyond McGee.
It occurred to me at this point that Winks and Onomah had switched roles – Onomah dropping back to play as the pivot, with Winks moving further forward. In truth, they probably showed the flexibility to switch roles more frequently than I’m giving them credit for.
The last real action of the half saw a bit of Sonupe trickery create a crossing opportunity, but it was put out for a corner, which Winks curled out of play.
Spurs made it 3-1 after the restart when centre-back Cameron Carter-Vickers was on-hand to tap home from about a yard out, after Onomah’s low cross had eluded the Arsenal defenders. Carter-Vickers had pushed forward to press the ball and continued his run.
Spurs should have gone further ahead when Akindayini met another excellent Sonupe cross, but Macey made a fantastic stop – in truth, Akindayini failed to make a clean connection, and should have given the goalkeeper no chance.
Arsenal replaced Dawkins with Kaylen Hinds, who was originally listed on the team sheet as starting the game.
McGee fumbled a cross slightly, but Ogilvie mopped up well, before Arsenal’s forward, Steffy Mavididi, struck a loose ball cleanly goal-wards, with McGee equal to it
Joe Pritchard came on for Harry Winks – he went to play at left back, with Ogilvie shifting across to centre-back and Lesniak moving to his more familiar holding midfield role.
Spurs grabbed a fourth with Oduwa again at the heart of the move. He weaved his way forward before scooping the ball over the back line towards Miller. Johnson missed his clearance, leaving Miller in the clear to slam a textbook volley past Macey.
Hinds nipped in to take advantage of a loose pass from Miller, but Carter-Vickers swept in to usher him off the ball effortlessly.
After Arsenal had a spell of possession around the edge of the box, Pritchard dived in with a very strong tackle to win the ball and get it to safety.
Spurs replaced Akindayini and Sonupe with Harrison and Georgiou for the final 20 minutes, but in truth Spurs took their foot off the gas a little at a time when they could have added a few more goals.
Oduwa burst through and played the ball on to Onomah. He cut in but didn’t get his shot away early enough; instead, he had to lay off to Georgiou, who took on a shot from a far more difficult angle which flew wide.
Spurs nearly had a fifth when Georgiou pounced on an error and played across for Oduwa, who drew a fabulous save from Macey.
Oduwa then beat his man with a piece of skill on halfway, got down the left, hit the byline, and played a ball inches ahead of the onrushing Harrison.
Onomah put an effort wide from an Oduwa cross, before Oduwa showed a terrific attitude by dropping in to cover at left-back as Pritchard went forward.
Lesniak played in Oduwa with a lovely pass, but his firm snapshot was saved when it looked to be heading towards the top corner. Following the resulting corner, Pritchard’s shot was blocked for another corner.
As Arsenal looked to keep the ball at the end, one of their defenders shouted “we’re playing as if we’re winning” – this seemed to instil some urgency, and Jebb had a shot which was saved by McGee. They went a step further minutes later when substitute Jamal Raage got on the end of a terrific pass from Crowley and sent a tidy finish into the bottom corner.
Arsenal have tended to ‘save’ players for their UEFA Youth League fixtures so this wasn’t their strongest XI. That said, you can only beat what you’re up against, and Spurs missed a string of chances and could have won this more handsomely. The approach play was generally excellent, with both wide men a constant threat.
Luke McGee 7 – He is an exceptionally vocal goalkeeper, giving clear instructions throughout. Did pretty much everything asked of him.
Kyle Walker-Peters 8 – The best word to describe him is “swashbuckling”; he is up and down the line constantly, competent at both ends of the pitch, and has a great work ethic.
Cameron Carter-Vickers 8 – It’s hard to believe this kid is just 15. So strong, so dominant, and so calm in possession.
Filip Lesniak 7 – Did really well filling in at centre back, and then seamlessly moved to play the holding midfield role in the second half.
Connor Ogilvie 7 – To put it simply, he’s too good for this age group now, and needs more games for the Under-21s. It’s just a shame there aren’t more matches available.
Harry Winks 8 – I really enjoyed his first half performance, where he moved both the ball and himself gracefully and with style.
Josh Onomah 7 – Another solid performance from a talented player. I would like to see him get beyond the striker a little more often, but I’m not sure if that’s something his role would allow.
Will Miller 7 – Not his greatest game overall, but he came away with two very goals from tidy finishes and that will please his manager.
Emmanuel Sonupe 8 – A constant threat, with consistently dangerous end product.
Daniel Akindayini 6 – Some decent runs to stretch the defenders, and it was nice to see him putting the defence under pressure with his work rate… but I still feel like he needs to involve himself more.
Nathan Oduwa 8 – Tricky, creative, strong, direct. I like him. I like him a lot.
Joe Pritchard – a steady showing in an unfamiliar position.
Anthony Georgiou – had a chance to show his terrific pace, although came on at a time when Spurs seemed to take their foot of the gas a little.
Shayon Harrison – as above, didn’t get an opportunity to have a major impact.