Reading coach to join Arsenal as u23 assistant | OneFootball

Icon: Daily Cannon

Daily Cannon

·27 November 2021

Reading coach to join Arsenal as u23 assistant

Article image:Reading coach to join Arsenal as u23 assistant

Reading u23 coach Mehmet Ali will join up with the Arsenal u23s as an assistant to Kevin Betsy from January, according to a report.

Mehmet Ali with the Reading u23s (Photo via

Arsenal Youth report that Reading u23 coach Mehmet Ali will join the Arsenal u23 coaching staff in January, with Ali set to act as an assistant to Kevin Betsy.

When Betsy initially joined over the summer, he was aided by the likes of Ryan Garry and Greg Lincoln, but both have since left to join the England youth setup.

As a result, Arsenal were in need of a replacement, and Arsenal Youth write that Ali has informed his current squad he’ll be leaving in December – before joining up with the Gunners in January.

Ali hasn’t spent long in charge of the Reading u23s, so it’s difficult to judge what he’ll bring to Arsenal.

But the academy have done a good job with their recent recruitment, so they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt.

Betsy seems to have been a particularly good hire, helping Arsenal from a relegation battle to the top of the Premier League 2.

Arsenal were also one of just three u21 teams to make it through the EFL Trophy group stage, so they’re fighting on multiple fronts.

Article image:Reading coach to join Arsenal as u23 assistant

Kevin Betsy with the Arsenal u23s (Photo via Arsenal Academy on Twitter)

There are a lot of factors going into that, including new signings, players returning from injuries, and so on, but Betsy has the feel-good factor back in the academy.

No better time than that to add to the club’s staffing options and continue to build on the recent successes.

Arsenal youngster undergoes injury scan

Arsenal youth defender Joel Lopez is having an injury problem assessed, after missing the u23 match at the weekend.

Article image:Reading coach to join Arsenal as u23 assistant

Joel Lopez in training with the Arsenal first team (Photo via Twitter)

Ahead of Arsenal’s u23 match against Derby on Friday, the team were dealt a number of defensive blows, including the absence of left-wing-back Joel Lopez.

Whilst the team were also missing right-wing-backs Zak Swanson and Brooke Norton-Cuffy, and centre-backs Omar Rekik and Zane Monlouis, Lopez was one of the biggest misses of the lot.

The fact is that Arsenal just don’t really have a replacement for him in the current u23 squad.

Winger Kido Taylor-Hart ended up playing the left-wing-back role. He didn’t look too comfortable doing so, eventually coming off around the hour mark for u18 defender Henry Jeffcott.

That’s not to mention that Lopez has been one of Arsenal’s better-performing players, directly contributing to six goals, through two goals and four assists.

Even if Arsenal did have another u23 left-wing-back available, Lopez’s absence would still be felt. It’s just even worse when there isn’t an obvious alternative.

Unfortunately, Jeorge Bird reported after the game that Lopez has had to have a scan to assess an injury.

Article image:Reading coach to join Arsenal as u23 assistant

Joel Lopez in first-team training with Arsenal (Photo via Lopez on Instagram)

Until the results of that scan are known, it’s possible we could be missing Lopez for a while. Jeffcott may find himself involved more often in the meantime.

Arsenal u18s reach quarter-finals as Edwards & Richards score

The Arsenal u18s did just enough to top their u18 Premier League Cup group on Saturday, progressing to the quarter-finals.

Article image:Reading coach to join Arsenal as u23 assistant

Khayon Edwards with the Arsenal u23s (Photo via Edwards on Instagram)

The u18 Premier League Cup begins with a group stage of seven groups, with all group winners and just one runner-up progressing to the quarter-finals.

Arsenal went into the final group game against Everton knowing they had no chance of progressing in that runner-up spot, as they only had four points whilst multiple second-place teams in other groups had six.

Instead, the young Gunners needed a win or a draw to finish top.

Article image:Reading coach to join Arsenal as u23 assistant

Marcelo Flores with the Arsenal u23s (Photo via Flores on Instagram)

Dan Micciche put out an interesting side, with the strong addition of Brooke Norton-Cuffy (due to his u23 suspension) and a couple of very young players stepping up in debutant Luis Brown and 15-year-old Myles Lewis-Skelly.

Amani Richards was also making his first u18 start of the season, despite having a positive impact in pre-season, due to the good form of the players ahead of him.

But it was a couple of u18 regulars who opened the scoring for Arsenal, with Amario Cozier-Duberry setting up Khayon Edwards in the ninth minute.

One minute later, it was 2-0, with Richards scoring on his return to the team. Marcelo Flores assisted the goal, as he continues his recent run of goal contributions for club and country.

That turned out to be a misleading start to the game, as Everton grew into it and pulled one back through Martin Sherif before half-time.

Sherif added another soon after the break to set Arsenal nerves jangling, but they held on for the draw to secure their progression into the next round.

Arsenal u18 lineup vs Everton

Mitchell, Norton-Cuffy, Brown, Henry-Francis, Ibrahim, Lewis-Skelly, Bandeira, Cozier-Duberry, Flores, Edwards, Richards


Gaspar (for Richards, 58), Vigar (for Brown, 82), Davies, Kovacevic

What’s next?

While Arsenal wait for the draw for the next round of the cup, the u18s face Chelsea in the u18 Premier League South on Saturday, December 4th at 11:00 GMT.

That’s not set to be an easy game, as Chelsea are currently the league leaders. But they’re only four points ahead of Arsenal in fifth, so it’s a good opportunity to close the gap.

Boss praises Arsenal u23s’ character after 7 late goals in 5 games

Arsenal u23 boss Kevin Betsy has praised the group’s character after their latest dramatic late goal against Blackburn Rovers with 10 men.

Article image:Reading coach to join Arsenal as u23 assistant

The Arsenal u23s celebrate a goal against Crystal Palace (Photo via David Price on Twitter)

The Arsenal u23s are on a run of late goals, having scored seven in the 85th minute or later in their last five Premier League 2 games.

The goals against Everton and Leeds United were only to secure the result, and the goal against West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League Cup was just a consolation.

But the three injury-time goals against Leicester City won them a point, and the winning goal in the 89th minute against Blackburn Rovers secured all three.

More than that, it was yet another example of Arsenal digging in after losing a player.

The Arsenal u23s beat Chelsea earlier in the season despite having Omar Rekik sent off in the 37th minute, scoring three further goals in the remainder of the match to win 6-1.

They got that injury-time draw against Leicester after Karl Hein came off with an injury and Arsenal had no substitutes left to replace him.

Then they won the game against Blackburn despite having Brooke Norton-Cuffy sent off for a last-man handball.

Across the three games, Arsenal have scored seven goals and conceded just three during the period of the match when they had a man disadvantage.

Kevin Betsy was unsurprisingly keen to praise his team after their latest victory.

“The group has got tremendous character,” he said.

“They’ve done this before with 10 men in the past this season and come up with a win when it looks like we could lose, there’s fantastic character amongst the players tonight.

Article image:Reading coach to join Arsenal as u23 assistant

LONDON, ENGLAND: Flo Balogun of Arsenal celebrates with teammate Salah Oulad M’Hand after scoring the team’s first goal during the Premier League 2 match between Arsenal U23 and Brighton & Hove Albion U23 at Emirates Stadium on October 01, 2021. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)

“It’s part of our identity, it’s part of who we are as a club, developing strong young Gunners here at Arsenal, it’s credit to the players.

“They’ve done it numerous times this season, It’s not a fluke.

“When the chips are down or it looks like we might lose a game or come away with just a draw, they find a way to win the game and it shows great resilience and character.

“Credit to the guys, they work really hard in training every single day and they get their rewards come match day.”

Arsenal wouldn’t be top of the Premier League 2 without those extra late points, so their fight to the end is really making a difference right now.

View publisher imprint