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Match Preview: U18s vs Arsenal

22 February 2023

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In the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup for the first time in their history, Cambridge United’s U18s prepare to take on giants Arsenal in Thursday’s heavily-anticipated clash at the Emirates Stadium...

Backed by a sea of amber, the record-breaking young crop will look to put themselves in the national headlines once more, as they gear up to showcase their potential against Jack Wilshere’s promising group in North London.

How to Watch

Popular demand means that the full allocation of 2,797 tickets are now sold out ahead of the clash in London, with no more available for U’s fans.

Returns will be made available online as soon as they come in, so be sure to follow @cufc_to on Twitter for the latest updates.

Supporters who require a duplicate ticket due to having not received theirs in-time should email prior to 11am tomorrow. Duplicate tickets will then be available to collect from the Emirates Stadium Box Office. Please note, the Club Shop and Ticket Office at the Abbey Stadium will close at midday on Thursday.

If you can not make the match, the action will be streamed live on The FA Player, so there is no reason to miss out. BBC Radio Cambridgeshire will also be providing live commentary

Opposition Focus

Central to the long-term future of Arsenal, developing young talent has been a crucial part of the club’s philosophy. Committed to establishing one of the best academies in the world, Hale End has helped develop heroes of the game such as Tony Adams, Ashley Cole, Cesc Fabregas and Bukayo Saka – they’re hoping this current squad have more future stars in the making. The U18s have the third-most Youth Cup wins with seven altogether – their last occurred in 2009 when current manager Wilshere scored as they thumped Liverpool 4-1 in the final. Following a shock 3-0 Third Round defeat to Colchester United last season, the Gooners are hungry for silverware and, with just three victories between them and the prestigious trophy, they hope that this is their year.

  • Third Round – 19/12/2022 – Arsenal 6-0 Millwall – Gower, Nwaneri, Rosiak, Cozier-Duberry, Benjamin x2
  • Fourth Round – 17/01/2023 – Newcastle United 2-3 Arsenal – Ferdinand, Cozier-Duberry, Kamara
  • Fifth Round – 06/02/2023 – Watford 2-4 Arsenal – Cozier-Duberry x2, Kamara, Rosiak 

Plummeting 13 goals against three stern opponents showcases the clinical nature of the squad, who needed character to come behind from two goals down achieve victory against the Hornets earlier in the month. Noah Cooper is very much a modern-day goalkeeper, his experience in midfield as a youngster means he’s comfortable on the ball and distributing, while Poland youth international Michal Rosiak and Lino Sousa, one of a few in the team who have been part of the men’s matchday squad this season, are mainstays in the defence. In an attack blessed with pace and skill, Amario Cozier-Duberry is looking to add to his four strikes, Osman Kamara is a consistent figure and Ethan Nwaneri, who made history in September by becoming the youngest ever Premier League player at 15 years and 181 days, is equally menacing in both wide and central roles.

Form Guide

Arsenal: WDWLW

Cambridge United: LWWWD

United’s Approach

One year on from making the last 16 for just the second time in their history, the class of 2023 have now gone one better and, considering they play without fear and only optimism, have plans to tear up the rulebook and continue their mazy run. After laying foundations last season by overpowering Leeds United, before eventually being edged out by finalists Nottingham Forest, United’s imperious journey this time around has been no fluke. Now, Jimmy Unwin’s group prepare to partake in what will be the most memorable evening of their young careers so far.

  • First Round – 01/11/2022 – Cambridge United 4-2 Stevenage – Yearn x2, Usman, Lott 
  • Second Round – 30/11/2022 – Portsmouth 4-5 Cambridge United (AET) – Njoku, Yearn x2, McConnell x2 
  • Third Round – 20/12/2022 – Colchester United 0-6 Cambridge United – Hoddle, McConnell x4, Njoku 
  • Fourth Round – 26/01/2023 – Cambridge United 1-0 Chelsea – Lott 
  • Fifth Round – 08/02/2023 – Cambridge United 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday – McConnell, Njoku 

Throughout their five wins, the U’s have shown an excellent application defensively, knocked the ball around the park neatly and have been devastating in the final third – bulging the onion bag an impressive 18 times. From fighting against adversity three times at Pompey to keeping one of the world’s best academies in Chelsea at bay, the blend of first and second year scholars continue to make waves in the competition.

A mainstay, Tom Finch has popped up with some crucial saves throughout the run, putting his body on the line numerous times. An aerial threat and a commanding figure, captain Jaydyn Lott was the famous matchwinner in the Fourth Round and has built a strong partnership with both Ty Ewans-Findlay and the imposing Dan Carey-Evans. In the middle, George Hoddle enjoys pulling the strings, with Glenn McConnell an industrious presence who enjoys racing into the final third – he is the joint top-scorer in the competition with seven goals. On the wings, Ronan Ismaili and Dan Barton are forward-thinking with excellent agility and pace to burn. Kai Yearn, the U’s youngest ever goalscorer, oozes confidence in possession and has an eye for goal, just like the industrious Brandon Njoku, whose composed last-gasp strike two weeks ago sealed the date with the Gunners.

Quarter-Final Fixtures

  • 22/02 – Ipswich Town vs West Ham United
  • 23/02 – Arsenal vs Cambridge United
  • 02/03 – Preston North End vs Southampton
  • 07/03 – Manchester City vs Oxford United


Referee: Gary Parsons

Assistant Referee: Shaun Farrer

Assistant Referee: Andrew Hickman

Fourth Official: Morgan Conn

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