Monday 07 January 2013

Barclays U21s: Arsenal and West Brom kick off second phase

Gunners host West Brom in first Elite Group stage encounter on Wednesday

  • Sides that ended up in Group 2 could still reach the final in the second phase

  • Thomas Eisfeld has been one of Arsenal's shining stars for the Under-21s

  • Liverpool, with Krisztian Adorjan here scoring against Chelsea, were unbeaten through the first phase

  • Niall Keown performed impressively for Reading U21s in the first half of the campaign

  • Yago Falque's goals, such as this one against Southampton, helped Spurs to the Elite Group

  • West Ham comfortably won qualifying Group 1 with the help of Matthias Fanimo

The second phase of the inaugural season of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League starts this week with a new level of competition facing the 22 clubs involved.

Once more the clubs have been split into three divisions but this time according to where they were placed in the first phase of the competition.

The top eight sides will participate in the Elite Group Stage, while one third-placed side and the teams who finished fourth and fifth in their groups will be in the Qualification Tier 1. Those who finished sixth or below have been placed in Qualification Group Tier 2.

The reasoning behind this split is that the best and most evenly match teams will be playing each other in the second group stage, which should encourage consistent competition all the way through the season.

There is also the opportunity for the clubs that will be in the two Qualification Tiers to progress from their group to reach the knockout stage and be crowned champions.

Format

In the second group stage, the clubs will play their rivals home and away again with the chance to progress to the knockout stages on offer for the top teams. In Qualification Group Tiers 1 and 2, this applies to the teams who finish top, who then play off to qualify for the first semi-final. There, they will play the side who finished top of the Elite Group. The teams who finish second and third in the Elite Group will face off in the other semi-final.

These knockout matches, as well as the final, will all take place in May at dates yet to be confirmed.

Groups

Elite Group Group 1 Group 2
West Ham United Everton Norwich City
Arsenal Blackburn Rovers Reading 
West Bromwich Albion  Aston Villa Bolton Wanderers
Tottenham Hotspur Sunderland Newcastle United
Manchester United Chelsea Stoke City
Southampton  Middlesbrough Manchester City
Liverpool Fulham Crystal Palace
Wolverhampton    

Forthcoming fixtures

Download full fixture list here

Wednesday 9 January 2013
Elite Group

Arsenal v West Bromwch Albion, 1pm, London Colney

Thursday 10 January 2013
Elite Group

Chelsea v Fulham, 7.05pm, Cobham Training Ground

Friday 11 January 2013
Group 2
Stoke City v Norwich City, 6.30pm, Nantwich Town FC

Monday 14 January 2013
Elite Group

Tottenham Hotspur v Wolverhampton Wanderers, 1pm, THFC Training Centre
Liverpool v Southampton, 2pm, LFC Academy
Manchester United v West Ham United, 7pm, Altrincham FC

Group 1
Aston Villa v Middlesbrough, 7pm, Hinckley United FC
Blackburn Rovers v Everton, 7pm, Leigh Sports Village

Group 2
Manchester City v Reading, 1pm, Athletics Stadium
Crystal Palace v Bolton Wanderers, 7pm, Selhurst Park

To view the league tables after the qualificaton stage, click here

You can follow developments on Twitter with the Premier League's account @premierleague or via the hashtag #BU21PL

Key Points

  • Barclays Under-21 Premier League resumes in its secon phase on Wednesday
  • Clubs have qualified for Elite Group, Group Tier 1 and Group Tier 2
  • All 22 clubs concerned still holding out hope of reaching final on 18 May

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