Date: 18th May 2009 at 10:42am
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Last week, we hailed the Arsenal Ladies man. It’s now time to applaud the kids man. And not just him, but the whole Arsenal Academy staff.

After winning one of the two southern groups of 10 teams (which included the Under-18s of Premiership clubs West Ham, Portsmouth, Chelsea and Fulham) with 25 points clear, our boys marched on to the play-off stage. Having beaten Manchester City away in the semi-final, yesterday Arsenal legend Steve Bould took the youngsters to White Hart Lane to face our neighbours Tottenham Hotspur who had knocked out Sunderland in the other semi-final.

The Final was an exciting and fiery north London derby. After Rhys Murphy scored the first goal of the game in the second half, the players hung on to the advantage despite Luke Ayling’s dismissal after 72 minutes and have been crowned the Premier Academy League champions. This is the first time our Under-18 boys have won the Youth League in its current format, our previous triumphs coming from seasons 2001-02 (Under-19s) and 1997-98 (Under-18s).

The Under-18s coach was naturally pleased with the result that rewards Arsenal’s youth development effort: ‘It’s great for the kids. It’s their reward for their efforts. We’ve surpassed the rewards I had aimed for this year so this just adds to it all. It’s a great end to their season but they need to be professional and turn their minds to the next game like all good teams do.’ He also praised the outstanding players like Emmanuel Frimpong who was ‘great’ but ‘marching on the edge a bit’ in the fiery NLD and Henri Lansbury who was ‘fabulous in the second half.’

Now Steve Bould will take the boys to the Emirates Stadium to face Liverpool in the first leg of the FA Youth Cup Final this Friday. Gooners, get your tickets now if you want to support the kids in their pursuit of the Youth Double.

Take a bow, Mr Stephen Andrew Bould!

PS: There’re only four kids in the starting line-up who weren’t born in England.