U18s will have their chances at Arsenal, says Phillips

Mark Phillips


West Ham United U18s coach Mark Phillips believes Arsenal will provide plenty of chances when they host the Hammers at their London Colney training base in the Premier League U18 South division on Saturday.

Phillips’ side have started the season in disappointing fashion, losing first at Brighton before then going down 3-0 to Southampton last weekend.

But the Academy coach believes his side have the ability to bounce back on Saturday against an outfit who play in a similar style to the visitors.

He said: “Arsenal are really like us, actually. They’re good in possession, but they’re the sort of side that will give you a chance.

“Look at last year – we were 3-1 down at Arsenal and we ended up drawing 3-3, because they will give you a chance.

“They play an expansive game. In possession, they’re a very good side, we have to keep that in mind on Saturday.

“It’s been a tough start for us, but despite that, the scorelines we’ve had so far haven’t really reflected how we’ve played. They haven’t flattered us, but we’ve had the lions’ share of possession in both those two games.

Arsenal are really like us, actually. They’re good in possession, but they’re the sort of side that will give you a chance

Mark Phillips

Kristjian Belic in action for the U18s

“Obviously we’re working on now keeping the goals out. If we can do that, we know goals will come in terms of scoring because we have the players to do that.”

Despite the two defeats, there have been plenty of positives for the U18s, including the performance of 15-year-old defender Will Greenidge who has stepped up from the U16s.

Phillips thinks the full-back has raised his game and has deserved his spot in the U18s’ squad.

“Will obviously played for us last week, and he’s an U16 – a 15-year-old lad – who has done well. He did well last week and he’s playing for us again this week. The younger lads we can blood in the team, the better.

“Obviously for us as a team, it’s about developing your players and of course that means we are thinking about our next game and that only, not necessarily the season as a whole. The more we can get into the U23s, the better.

“Of course we want to win games having said that, and we’ll want to beat Arsenal on Saturday obviously.

“As a West Ham myself, what I really want this weekend is for not only my U18s to beat Arsenal, but for the first team to go and get their first win at Newcastle too!”