A slightly briefer prospect run-down this weekend, with the season done for many of the players. For some, however, there’s still lots to play for.
The Premier League season is coming to a close, and Manchester United are closing in on a third straight league title. A 2-0 win over Manchester City on Sunday leaves them needing four points to secure the trophy, and Rafael Da Silva played 90 minutes against Robinho in the derby win. He looked shaky at times, but impressive in other spells, as he once again came up trumps against his more experienced countryman, having dominated him in the reverse fixture. In a quiet week at Old Trafford, he was the only one of the numerous Red Devil prospects to get an outing.
The day before, Jack Rodwell was given 90 minutes for Everton in their goalless draw with Tottenham. A European place already assured for next season, Everton’s games now are all about preparation for their first FA Cup Final in 14 years at the end of the month, one which Rodwell will be desperate to be involved in. At the same time, Aston Villa’s Nathan Delfouneso and Ciaran Clark were unused subs as Villa’s season comes bumbling to an end, dropping to a disappointing 3-1 defeat at Fulham.
In the Football League, the remaining Play-Off teams feature just one prospect in Henri Lansbury of Scunthorpe, but the Arsenal loanee continues to struggle with a foot injury and missed Friday night’s first leg draw with Milton Keynes Dons. It means that all of the key action in recent days has been in the FA Premier Academy League.
In some late midweek fixtures, Tottenham clinched the Group B title with a 2-1 win over Watford, where Dean Parrett captained the team again, and was joined by returning loanee Jonathan Obika, who featured so well for Yeovil over the past two months. It puts Tottenham into the Semi-Finals, where they will play Sunderland. The winner of that fixture will progress to the Academy Final, and play Arsenal, who beat Manchester City this week.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Kyle Bartley started against Kieran Trippier and Robbie Mak, with Rhys Murphy on the bench. An early Arsenal goal put them into the ascendancy, but Mak earned a free kick from which City equalised before half-time. A tight game was settled in the second half when Murphy came off the bench to score a clinical winner and push the Gunners into their second Final of the season, having already lined up an FA Youth Cup clash with Liverpool at the end of May.
City’s Reserves had a better time of it, with Vladimir Weiss scoring a sensational solo goal in a single-score victory away to Burnley. This followed a friendly against Chelsea where the Blues of London won 3-2, with Miroslav Stoch scoring one and providing another, whilst Jacob Mellis, Jeffrey Bruma and Patrick van Aanholt featured. Liverpool played a similar friendly against Ajax, but Mikel San Jose, Dani Pacheco and Gerardo Bruna finished on the losing side, with Stephen Darby’s injury-time own goal defeating the Reds.
Finally, as you will have read elsewhere on the site, Jose Baxter, John Bostock and Jack Wilshere have been representing England in the European Under-17 Championships in Germany. Bostock has captained the team in both outings so far, where Wilshere impressed against Holland in a 1-1 draw on the opposing flank to Baxter, before all three featured in a 4-0 thrashing by the hosts. Baxter was lucky not to be sent off for a wild lunge in the second half.