All Guns Blazing: Keep an eye on these two young Arsenal goalkeepers
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
In our weekly Arsenal fan column, youth blogger Jeorge Bird looks at academy prospects Ryan Huddart and Hugo Keto.
Arsenal’s defence at academy level, in the Under-18s especially, can be described as porous at best, but the number in the goals against column would be much higher were it not for the interventions of the club’s young goalkeepers.
Ryan Huddart has enjoyed a remarkable season, with the 17-year-old named on the bench for the first-team’s Champions League ties against Anderlecht and Borussia Dortmund.
The tall keeper, who joined Arsenal as a schoolboy from Charlton, has also made his debut for the Under-21s and featured in the UEFA Youth League. A good communicator, he commands his penalty area well and possesses tremendous reflexes.
Given his young age and the fact that there are several other shot-stoppers ahead of him, Huddart will have to bide his time for further first-team recognition, but he is well schooled for a fruitful career, especially if he works on his distribution.
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While Huddart has featured for the older age groups at times this season, responsibilities between the sticks for the Under-18 league fixtures have predominantly fallen to Hugo Keto.
A Finnish youth international who joined Arsenal last summer, Keto had to be patient to make his debut as FIFA took several weeks to ratify the transfer.
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It was certainly worth the wait, however, with Keto, who turned 17 this month, emulating Huddart by making a catalogue of excellent saves.
Especially adept at preventing goals in one-on-one situations, Keto enhanced his burgeoning reputation with some stellar performances at the recent Under-17 tournament in Qatar.
As with Huddart, there are some aspects of his game that Keto needs to work on, with the youngster somewhat vulnerable when dealing with crosses.
With time, though, he should develop into a good goalkeeper and the battle between Huddart and Keto as they rise through the ranks over the next few years promises to be an engaging one.
Next season should see Huddart become more regularly involved for the Under-21s, while Keto will be the undisputed first choice at Under-18 level.
Wojciech Szczesny has shown it is possible for a goalkeeper to progress all the way to the first team, but Huddart and Keto will be fully aware that much hard work is required for either of them to even come close to emulating that feat.
Follow me @jeorgebird