After an entertaining if not disappointing 5-5 draw at Wrexham on Saturday, Michael Flynn’s Swindon Town side will now switch focus from their league campaign to the EFL Trophy.
Up first in the group stage are Premier League side Arsenal’s Under-21s, at The County Ground on Tuesday evening. Fellow Group O members Exeter City and Reading will kick-off their respective campaigns when they face each other at St James Park on 19th September.
A lowdown on the visitors
Arsenal’s academy is one of the most successful youth set-ups in the country, with six Premier League Academy titles and seven FA Youth Cups to its name.
Hale End has been the starting place for countless talents, both from abroad and the UK, who have gone on to make 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 sides, 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)
Last time out
Town hosted Arsenal Under-21s on a similar occasion two years ago, and came away 2-1 victors in the opening fixture of their 2021/22 EFL Trophy campaign.
The Robins went on to finish top of their group, but were knocked out in round two of the competition against Colchester United.
The manager: Mehmet Ali
Arsenal’s Under-21 Head Coach, Mehmet Ali, joined the club from Reading in January 2022 initially as assistant to Kevin Betsy - his predecessor.
The 36-year-old was handed the role of Head Coach in July 2022, and has previously been a part of the youth set-up across north London, at Tottenham Hotspur’s academy, where he spent six years.
One to watch: Ethan Nwaneri
Arguably the most exciting prospect that the Arsenal Academy has produced since Bukayo Sara, 16-year-old attacking midfielder Ethan Nwaneri - if he is to feature against Town - will likely be one of the standouts for the visitors.
Last September, Nwaneri broke records to become the youngest ever Arsenal player to make his senior debut, and the youngest player to ever appear in the top flight of English football, at just 15.
Already players almost five years higher than his age group, Nwaneri has continued to impress, and started the Premier League 2 season in fine fashion, with a hat-trick against Leicester last Friday.