After an entertaining, if not disappointing, 5-5 draw at Wrexham on Saturday, Michael Flynn’s Swindon Town side will now focus on their league campaign towards the EFL Trophy.
First in the group stage will be Premier League side Arsenal Under-21s on Tuesday night at the County Ground. Fellow Group O members Exeter City and Reading will kick off their respective campaigns when they face off at St James Park on September 19.
Arsenal’s academy is one of the most successful youth teams in the country, with six Premier League Academy titles and seven FA Youth Cups to their name.
Hale End has been the starting point for countless talents, hailing from overseas and the UK, who have made a name for themselves at the top of the game – including Jack Wilshere, Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe, Tony Adams, Ashley Cole and Emiliano Martinez.
In the summer of 2018, former Gunners defender Per Mertesacker was confirmed as the academy’s new manager; the 38-year-old oversees the club’s youth teams, including the Under-21s, Under-18s and Under-16s.
18/08/2023: Arsenal Academy 4-1 Leicester Academy (PL2)
11/08/2023: Arsenal Academy 3-0 West Ham Academy (PL2)
The last time
Town hosted Arsenal Under-21s on a similar occasion two years ago and came away 2-1 winners in the opener of their 2021/22 EFL Trophy campaign.
Robins finished first in their group but were knocked out in the second round of the competition against Colchester United.
The manager: Mehmet Ali
Arsenal Under-21 head coach Mehmet Ali joined the club from Reading in January 2022, initially as an assistant to Kevin Betsy – his predecessor.
The 36-year-old was handed the role of head coach in July 2022 and has previously been part of the North London youth team at Tottenham Hotspur’s academy, where he spent six years .
Watch: Ethan Nwaneri
Arguably the most exciting prospect the Arsenal Academy has produced since Bukayo Sara, 16-year-old attacking midfielder Ethan Nwaneri – should he feature against Town – is likely to be one of the visitors’ highlights.
Last September, Nwaneri broke records to become the youngest Arsenal player to make his senior debut, and the youngest player to ever play in English football’s top flight, aged just 15.
Already a player almost five years older than his age bracket, Nwaneri has continued to impress and started the Premier League 2 season in fine fashion, scoring a hat-trick against Leicester last Friday.