On Tuesday a weakened Arsenal side were defeated in Athens, inciting a feeling of déjà vu as previously in 2009 as well as last year Arsene Wenger took a side containing reserve and fringe players and on both occasions Arsenal lost.
But just like in 2009 and last season Arsenal were already through to the next stage of the Champions League. There weren't to many positives to take from Tuesday evening but one clear plus point was from Jernade Meade who started his first match for the first-team after being a consistent performer for Terry Burton's reserve side this season.
Meade has already made his first-team debut earlier this season in the entertaining game at the Madejski Stadium against Reading after coming on in extra time for Ignasi Miquel. The 20-year-old is comfortable playing at left-back or further forward and he didn't look out-of-place in Athens.
Meade was very composed on the ball and was solid defensively. Normally for the U21's this season Meade has been very attacking getting a number of assists and winning a few penalties a long the way. This season the left back is becoming more and more consistent each game he plays. He originally started off as a winger and then switched to full-back where his defensive side has improved massively in recent seasons. Even though he isn't the tallest you know he will go in for any challenge.
Arsene Wenger described Meade as a "fighter" on Monday at his press conference. He's the type of player you know who is going to work hard for your team and that's why the Arsenal manager gave him the opportunity on Tuesday. Don't get me wrong it wasn't an outstanding performance by any means but even when Meade made a mistake he made up for it throughout the match. The Luton born versatile left-sided player showed us he was able to cope with what what a side like Olympiakos had to offer. As expected Meade didn't get that much forward throughout the match so he didn't get the chance to show the Arsenal fans what he can offer in attack. Using his pace going forward for Terry Burton's side this season he's been a vital player. He's able to contribute defensively and as an attacking option normally in a match.
A loan move in the second-half of the season does seem inevitable for Meade, as it would be crucial experience for him to get playing in the Football League regularly. Meade signed a new contract with the Gunners in the summer, I wouldn't be surprised if some people were making some comparisons to the likes of Ashley Coley or Kieran Gibbs. Just because he plays in the same position and has come through the Arsenal ranks. With the 20-year old yet to go out on loan it's hard to judge his long-term future with Arsenal, as at the moment he's clearly to good for Terry Burton's side and a loan move seems the next step. There is a chance Meade could be in the squad for Arsenal's game against Bradford in the Carling Cup next week.
Meade was replaced by Martin Angha in the 83rd minute on Tuesday evening, Angha is known for being very versatile. By which I mean that at the moment he doesn't have a set position in the back-four. For example in the NextGen Series he has played at left-back for the majority of it this season but for Terry Burton's reserve side it has been at the heart of the defence. Arsene Wenger gave Angha a start in the Captital One Cup against Covertry Town earlier this season at the Emirates where Angha played at right-back. The Swiss-youngster is capable of playing anywhere across the back-four but personally I think his best position is at centre-back. Angha does add height to the U21's side, the versatile-defender is strong, quick and reads the game reasonable well but his crossing could be improved.
If you are interested in Arsenal's youth sides, the U19's recently qualified for the next stage of the NextGen series after beating Spanish side Athletic Bilbao youth team at Barnet's Underhill 4-2, goals coming from the Spanish youth international Jon Toral, the returning Zak Ansah and England U18's defender Isac Hayden.