U18 Preview: Saints vs Arsenal

By SFC Media time Sat 23 Feb Saints v Arsenal
Photo by James Bridle

The lowdown on our Under-18s' Saturday morning opponents, as Saints teams face a double dose of Arsenal action this weekend...

THE MATCH

Southampton U18 vs Arsenal U18
Under-18 Premier League
Staplewood Campus
Saturday 23rd February, 11:30am GMT

It's been a waiting game for the young Saints over the past three weeks. No fixture since the end of January has given them a chance to reflect on a positive start to 2019, as well as ample time to build up to a big tie with Arsenal today.

Paul Hardyman's side were 3-1 winners over Fulham last time out, but arguably face a much sturdier test this morning, with table toppers Arsenal leapfrogging Tottenham after victory over Leicester City in the week.

Today's visitors were knocked out of the FA Youth Cup the weekend before, but responded with a 5-0 thumping of the Foxes, where Tyreece John-Jules hit a first-half hat-trick - taking his tally to ten for the season.

That win meant that the young Guns enter today one point clear at the top of the Under-18s Premier League table - but second-placed Tottenham have played a game less.

Saints have the chance to make up ground on West Ham and Aston Villa immediately above, who both have a two point advantage, with eight league games remaining.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 26: LtoR Taymar Fleary, Alex Jankewitz, Christian Norton, celebrates after Chris scores from a header during the Under 18s match between Southampton FC and Fulham FC pictured at Staplewood Complex on January 26, 2019 in Southampton, England. (Photo by James Bridle - Southampton FC/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Christian Norton celebrates Saints' opener against Fulham last time out

COACH'S THOUGHTS: Paul Hardyman

There's plenty of activity in the Academy camp, despite a three-week fixture respite, as Hardyman reveals that preparation has already begun for next season, but first, the young Saints have eight league games left to negotiate - starting with Arsenal...

"It's always a tough game against Arsenal," the Under-18s boss began. "We know what to expect from one of the best academies in the country.

"We'll draw plenty of confidence from two wins and a draw in our last three league fixtures - that's a good platform to enter a tough game.

"We were excellent against them away from home and really unlucky not to take something away from the game.

"There was only one goal in it, but we missed a penalty and a few good opportunities so I'm hoping we've learnt from that and are able to take our chances today.

"We're beginning to plan for next year already, so this game will be a good measure of how far we've come this season."

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