Unfortunately, it was another frustrating weekend for the U18s last Saturday as they failed to take anything from their home game against Aston Villa, losing 3-1 in the Premier League Cup.
The visitors showed dynamism in attack with a front three full of pace and craft and who were able to unlock the Norwich defence on multiple occasions.
One of those attacking players was the prolific Scottish striker, Rory Wilson who is the top goalscorer in the U18 Premier League, hitting eleven goals for the season already. The Scot showed high levels of intelligence to get into promising positions in between the central defenders, making him a difficult opponent to nullify all game. His ability to get into promising attacking positions was epitomised by his two goals in the afternoon.
In the last couple of games, Norwich U18s have reverted to a back three to give extra protection to the backline. As a result, one player who has experienced a change of position is Uriah Djedje.
Since the away game at Tottenham, Djedje has been deployed as a central centre-back, testing his positional awareness more frequently. From a personal viewpoint, Uriah isn’t as effective in that position, as it requires a balanced approach in dealing with dangerous situations.
This doesn’t correlate to the type of player Uriah is, as he continuously wants to press and be aggressive. However, if the club is deliberately moving Uriah back to centre back temporarily in order to expose him more to dangerous attacking situations to aid his defensive understanding, then that would be understandable. It may form part of his development plan.
From one end of the pitch to the other, the attacking play was promising despite a lack of efforts at goal. Elliot Myles scored his fourth of the season for the U18s on Saturday while also scoring a hat-trick in the U17 EPL Cup on Wednesday.
Elliot Myles is in red-hot form. Credit: Spurs
Myles was terrific last Saturday, carrying the responsibility of being Norwich’s creative threat. Across the ninety minutes, he perfected numerous audacious long passes, which progressed the team nicely into the middle and attacking third.
Not only was he immaculate in demonstrating his passing range, Elliot also carried the ball well, full of confidence and swagger. However, he wasn’t only immaculate on the ball as he showcased good movement off it too, finding himself in a clever position on the back post to dispatch the ball for his goal.
Another player to impress on Saturday, was Elliot’s strike partner, Pedro Amadou.
After a prolific pre-season in which he scored four goals, Amadou was expected to impress in the early stages of the season, but on the opening day of the season, he was surprisingly named on the sub bench. He is now starting to get back into form though, scoring in the U18s last league game against Tottenham while also assisting in the U18PL Cup against Villa.
His assist last Saturday was a lovely piece of play from the dynamic attacker, holding off his defender while running at extreme pace, then placing an accurate low-driven pass across the centre of the box for Myles to dispatch.
Pedro is a devastating attacker on his day, with a huge amount of pace as well as a wonderful physique, which enables him to dominate defenders. Every time I get to watch Amadou it feels like he needs to accomplish something early on for his confidence levels to increase.
Pedro in action during pre-season. Credit: norwichcity
Another element of Amadou’s performance which was highly encouraging at the weekend was his sharpness. Pedro was extremely effective at linking up with his fellow midfielders, keeping the ball secure in possession while making proactive movements for his team to progress up the pitch.
However, more importantly, Amadou connected well with his strike partner, Elliot Myles. This was pivotal as there were occasions in which the ball was kept alive in the Villa penalty area, making the team a more dangerous attacking unit. Harry Thompson’s physical capabilities also complemented the two strikers.
In terms of the defending, there was an encouraging goalkeeping performance from Caleb Ansen. Before I explain my reasons for Ansen’s positive performance, it’s worth highlighting the achievement of Ansen in reaching the first-team bench against Middlesbrough on Tuesday night. Inclusion in a matchday squad is significant evidence of Ansen’s career trajectory.
Back to the game now, and Ansen executed a fine performance, displaying the reasons why he’s recently been involved with the U21s and first-team. Despite conceding three goals, he looked assured across the ninety, which hasn’t always been the case in every game after making some slight errors. However, Ansen made some exceptional stops at the weekend, one in particular being a glorious strong hand, to his right to deny a curling effort.
Furthermore, his distribution was superb last weekend, finding his targets at every opportunity. One case study which underlines this was his success at playing chipped passes to his full-backs from a fair distance, which illustrates his improved consistency with his feet.
Defender Waylon Renecke also contributed with a solid performance. Due to his athleticism, he was able to contend with the direct balls down the sides and behind him, which gave the defence one less problem to deal with. Waylon’s consistency across the U18s and U21s has been remarkable so far this season.
The last player who deserves a mention is U18s midfielder Miles Bracking, who contributed with another fine display.
One of Bracking’s appealing traits is the manner in which he dribbles with a composed nature as well as constantly looking to play on the front foot. But his defensive game has arguably been the more impressive component of his game this season, winning many physical duels in midfield but his tidiness on the ball was refreshing to watch last weekend.
He has high levels of intelligence too, finding pockets of space to start passing patterns centrally. Bracking has been my player of the season so far.
Ironically, the U18s play against Villa in the league in eight days’ time hoping to bounce back after that disappointing defeat.