On Wednesday night in front of a disappointly low 9,000 crowd at the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal reached the FA Youth Cup Final for the first time in eight years by eliminating Manchester City. A 4-1 win on the night and a 6-2 aggregate win was achieved with some fine performances by recognisable faces from the prospect list.
The first leg had seen Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Gilles Sunu give the Gunners a lead, after Alex Nimely-Tchuimeni had given the holders the lead. The return leg last night was highly anticipated and Arsenal shot out of the blocks with an early goal from Sanchez Watt, and they never looked back. Watt then earned a penalty from which Jack Wilshere confidently converted, before he turned provider for impressive centre back Kyle Bartley to head them into an unassailable lead. Watt added another before the half hour mark, and whilst Abdi Ibrahim pulled one back, Nimely, Robbie Mak and captain Kieran Trippier weren’t able to reduce the arrears further.
Wilshere was impressive, showing the added class and control that a season training with the first team will bring to the table. Bartley was commanding at the back and found the scoresheet again, having netted earlier in the competition against Tottenham, and Emmanuel-Thomas will now hope to get his hands on the trophy next month. City will be disappointed that a very strong season has now seen semi-final elimination in the most prestigious domestic cup and on tour in Dallas, and will turn to Nimely (who was decent on the night) and Mak (who wasn’t) to ensure they make the most of their fine league season by competing for the Academy League title.
Arsenal look set to meet Liverpool in the Final, with the reds holding a 3-0 first leg lead over Birmingham heading into the second leg at Anfield. They have no prospects list entrants in their regular Cup team but have undoubted future members in Lauri Dalla Valle and Andre Wisdom, and will be hoping for their third title in four years.