Arsenal F.C. Under-21s and Academy

Arsenal Football Club Academy is the youth system of Arsenal Football Club based in Hale End, London, England. It is often referred to as Hale End eponymously by the club, sports media, and fans.[1][2][3] 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.[4]

Arsenal Under-21s and Academy
Full nameArsenal Football Club (Under-21s and Academy)
Nickname(s)Hale End
Founded1887; 136 years ago (1887)
GroundMeadow Park
Academy ManagerPer Mertesacker
LeagueProfessional Development League,
(Division 1)

Arsenal Under-21s, previously referred to as the Reserves, is the highest level squad within the setup. They train at the Arsenal Training Centre and play the majority of their home games at Meadow Park,[5] 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 are recovering from injury.

Arsenal's Academy is one of England's most successful, winning seven FA Youth Cups together with six Premier Academy League titles altogether.[6][7][8] Numerous international players have graduated from the academy and reserve teams.

Under-21 team (previously reserve team) historyEdit

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.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] 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.[11] 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.[12]

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.[10] 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.[13][14] 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.[15] 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.[11]

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),[16] 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.[17] 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.


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,[18] along with several key changes with in key coaching roles throughout the academy.[19] 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,[20] 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.[21]

Academy (previously Youth) historyEdit

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.[22] 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.[6][23]

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".[23]

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.[6]

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.[6]

Arsenal got to fourth place of the NextGen Series in 2013[24] and got to the quarterfinals of the newly created UEFA Youth League in 2014.[25][26] In 2016, Arsenal's U21s won the semifinal of the Professional Development League's Division 2 playoffs 2–1 against Blackburn Rovers.[27] In the final Arsenal beat Aston Villa by 3 goals to 1 at the Emirates Stadium so as to become playoff champions.[28]

In April 2017, Arsenal's Under 13 team defeated Sunderland to lift the inaugural Premier League National Cup as champions.[29] As well, in June 2017, Arsenal's Under-14s won the 2016-17 Premier League Albert Phelan Cup.[30] 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.[31]

Under-21s current squadEdit

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

No. Pos. Nation Player
38 DF   ENG Zach Awe
41 MF   POR Mauro Bandeira
44 MF   ROU Cătălin Cîrjan
46 MF   ENG Ben Cottrell
47 FW   ENG Khayon Edwards
53 GK   POL Hubert Graczyk
55 MF   IRL Jack Henry-Francis
56 GK   ENG James Hillson
57 FW   NED Joel Ideho
No. Pos. Nation Player
58 DF   NIR Henry Jeffcott
61 FW   RWA George Lewis
63 DF   ENG Zane Monlouis
68 MF   NED Salah-Eddine Oulad M'Hand
71 FW   ENG Charles Sagoe Jr.
72 MF   ENG Matt Smith
75 DF   WAL James Sweet
76 MF   ENG Kido Taylor-Hart
77 FW   ENG Billy Vigar

Out on loanEdit

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   NGA Tim Akinola (on loan to Chesterfield until June 2023)
37 DF   ENG Ryan Alebiosu (on loan to Kilmarnock until June 2023)
39 MF   ENG Miguel Azeez (on loan to Wigan Athletic until June 2023)
42 FW   DEN Mika Biereth (on loan to RKC Waalwijk until June 2023)
43 FW   ENG Nathan Butler-Oyedeji (on loan to Accrington Stanley until June 2023)
48 GK   ENG Ovie Ejeheri (on loan to SJK until June 2023)
49 MF   MEX Marcelo Flores (on loan to Real Oviedo until June 2023)
50 DF   ENG Taylor Foran (on loan to Hartlepool United until June 2023)
59 FW   ENG Tyreece John-Jules (on loan to Ipswich Town until June 2023)
No. Pos. Nation Player
60 DF   ENG Alex Kirk (on loan to Ayr United until June 2023)
62 FW   SWE Nikolaj Möller (on loan to FC Den Bosch until June 2023)
64 DF   ENG Brooke Norton-Cuffy (on loan to Coventry City until June 2023)
65 DF   IRL Mazeed Ogungbo (on loan to Crawley Town until June 2023)
69 MF   ENG Charlie Patino (on loan to Blackpool until June 2023)
70 DF   TUN Omar Rekik (on loan to Wigan Athletic until June 2023)
73 GK   ENG Tom Smith (on loan to Colchester United until June 2023)

Under 18s current squadEdit

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

Second-year scholarsEdit

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

No. Pos. Nation Player
85 FW   ENG Amario Cozier-Duberry
86 FW   ENG Henry Timi Davies
87 MF   ENG Jimi Gower
88 FW   ENG Kaleel Green
89 MF   ENG Bradley Ibrahim
90 GK   ENG Alex Kovacevic
91 MF   NED Ismail Oulad M’hand
No. Pos. Nation Player
92 DF   TRI Tino Quamina
93 DF   CRC Elián Quesada
94 MF   WAL Mathaeus Roberts
95 DF   ENG Josh Robinson
96 DF   ENG Lino Sousa
97 DF   ENG Reuell Walters

First-year scholarsEdit

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

No. Pos. Nation Player
98 FW   WAL Omari Benjamin
99 DF   ENG Luis Brown
100 GK   JAM Noah Cooper
101 MF   ENG Harrison Dudziak
102 FW   ENG Seb Ferdinand
103 MF   ENG Romari Forde
104 MF   NED Ismeal Kabia
82 DF   ALB Maldini Kacurri
No. Pos. Nation Player
106 FW   ENG Osman Kamara
107 DF   ENG Josh Nichols
108 GK   ENG Brian Okonkwo
109 GK   COL Alexei Rojas Fedorushchenko
110 MF   POL Michał Rosiak
111 FW   ENG Kamarni Ryan
112 DF   ENG Coby Small

Schoolboys (U15/16s)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
81 MF   ENG Myles Lewis-Skelly
83 MF   ENG Ethan Nwaneri
- GK   ENG Owen Asemota
- GK   ENG Jack Porter
- GK   ENG Khari Ranson
- GK   GER Michael Zeitzen
- DF   ENG Tobi Alade
- DF   ENG Sam Chapman
- DF   NGA Samuel Chinedu
- DF   ENG Reece Clairmont
- DF   EGY Camron Ismail
- DF   ENG Ayden John
- DF   BUL Teo Minchev
- DF   NGA Josh Ogunnaike
- DF   WAL William Sweet
- MF   NGA Demi Akarakiri
- MF   ENG Bless Akolbire
No. Pos. Nation Player
- MF   ENG Andre Annous
- MF   ENG Dan Casey
- MF   ENG Louie Copley
- MF   ENG Ife Ibrahim
- MF   ENG Geovanni Johnson
- MF   ENG Theo Julienne
- MF   POL Max Kuczynski
- MF   LTU David Mendonca
- MF   ENG Archie Shepherd
- MF   ENG Zach Shuaib
- MF   FRA Macaulay Zepa Adams
- FW   ENG Brando Bailey-Joseph
- FW   ENG Jakai Bascoe-Fisher
- FW   GUY Domeiro Bobb-Semple
- FW   DEN Chido Obi
- FW   ENG Daniel Oyetunde
- FW   ENG Louis Zecevic-John

Current staffEdit

Head Coaches:

  Per Mertesacker Academy Manager
  Luke Hobbs Head of Coaching
  Mehmet Ali U21 Head Coach
  Jack Wilshere U18 Head Coach
  Adam Birchall U17 Head Coach
  Adam Pilling U16 Head Coach
  Josh Smith U15 Head Coach
  Simon Copley U14 Head Coach
  Josh Hinckson U13 Head Coach
  Kieron Lewis U12 Head Coach
  Lewis Goater U11 Head Coach
  Jhovan Bruce de Rouche U10 Head Coach
  Derry Hart U9 Head Coach


  Will Oldham Operations Manager
  John Boca Senior Operations Officer
  Paul Wilson Kit Manager
  Matt Henly Head of Education
  Perry Stewart Head of Performance
  Kate Green Head of Personal Development and Psychology
  Matt Joseph Coach Developer
  Ken Gillard U21/Loan Coach
  Max Porter U21 Assistant Coach
  Julian Gray U18 Assistant Coach
  Dominic May Lead U21 Strength & Conditioning Coach
  Terry Mason Head of Goalkeeping
  Chris Terpcou Goalkeeping Coach (U18)
  Matt Doyle Goalkeeping Lead Coach (U9-U18)
  Reece Ottley Goalkeeping Lead Coach (U12-U16)
  Lee Herron Head of Talent ID
  Steve Brown Lead Talent ID Coordinator (U8-U16)
  Chris Perkins Head of Emerging Talent (U17-21)
  Conan Watson Lead Talent ID Coordinator (U15-U16)
  Phil Antwi Lead Talent ID Coordinator (U12-U14)
  Ayo Durojaiye Lead Talent ID Coordinator (U9-U11)
  Niall O'Connor Lead Analyst
  Sam Moore Analyst
  Sam Mincher U9-16 Analyst
  Zenon Backhouse U18 Analyst


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[29]
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

Academy graduatesEdit

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.


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  15. ^ "Arsenal 0-0 Colchester United".
  16. ^ Blakeman, M (2010) The Official History of the Eastern Counties Football League 1935-2010, Volume II ISBN 978-1-908037-02-2
  17. ^ "Arsenal reserves get a breakthrough of sorts". Sport
  18. ^ "Andries Jonker appointed Academy manager". Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  19. ^ "Youth academy coaches re-organisation". Retrieved 1 August 2018.
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  21. ^ "Jonker named head coach at Wolfsburg". Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  22. ^ "The History of the Middlesex County FA".
  23. ^ a b "South East Counties League: Archives".
  24. ^ a b "Arsenal lose in NextGen third-place play-off". Eurosport. 31 March 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  25. ^ "Arsenal 1-0 CSKA Moscow: Gnabry grabs plaudits but dogged defenders are the quiet stars". Four Four
  26. ^ "Clinical Arsenal overcome Shakhtar".
  27. ^ "Arsenal u21s 2-1 Blackburn Rovers".
  28. ^ a b "Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 1- Villa youngsters suffer play-off final defeat". Birmingham Mail.
  29. ^ a b "Arsenal's U-13s win national cup final".
  30. ^ "Congrats to our Under-14s".
  31. ^ "Per Mertesacker to lead Arsenal academy".
  32. ^ "Arsenal Reserves: Honours". NTL Archived from the original on 8 April 2003.

External linksEdit