Daniel ‘Dan’ Crowley, an Arsenal youth player, went on loan to Dutch Eredivisie side Go Ahead Eagles on January 2017 in a bid to receive more playing time. I watched him at GA Eagles ever since and feel this has been his best loan spell so far (albeit the fact that his other loan spells haven’t been the best).
Before joining the Dutch side, Crowley found himself on loan at Oxford United for the first half of the 2016/17 season. Unfortunately he did not manage to find sufficient playing time, with the Oxford manager Michael Appleton not being impressed with his attitude and professionalism.
He’s a 19 year old who has fantastic ability, but his professionalism at times lets him down.
Michael Appleton, Oxford United manager
Crowley admitted that he “never had to work as hard” previously in his career but found himself only starting 2 league games for the League 1 side.
Go Ahead Eagles loan
It was imperative that Crowley impressed at GA Eagles in terms of performance levels and attitude.
His first game came at home to AZ Alkmaar, coming on in the 76th minute with his team 0-1 down.
Daniel Crowley vs AZ Alkmaar thread
Uploaded with my phone in parts. Don't ask, just enjoy pic.twitter.com/xvGjrSrlKo
— Abdul (@Flaminiesta) January 13, 2017
Despite eventually being on the losing side (1-3), I found his willingness to make an impact admirable and a sign of things to come. He started the next two games vs Excelsior (Away 1-1) and Utrecht (Home 0-1) and handled himself well enough before finally finding himself on the winning side vs NEC Nijmegen (Away 1-2). Starting in a number #10 role, Crowley set up the first goal for Elvis Manu, his first goal contribution for the club, and put in a composed performance.
Chrivella scored for GA Eagles with a header from a cross, Crowley with the pre assist. Ok nothing special but I'm taking it. pic.twitter.com/ybTGXQa8CE
— Abdul (@Flaminiesta) January 22, 2017
Daniel Crowley stats vs NEC:
83 pass completion %
71 mins played
— Abdul (@Flaminiesta) February 4, 2017
GA Eagles managed to win their following game vs ADO Den Haag (Home 3-1) with Crowley managing to put in a decent defensive shift, having won 2 tackles and 1 interception. This side of his game is notably lacking but grew as the season went on. Eagles however lost their following two games but in the second loss vs Vitesse Crowley scored his first goal for the club, albeit a mere consolation in a 1-3 home loss.
Crowley vs Vitesse – 1st goal, had a good game pic.twitter.com/kxVQkm1t4u
— ZP (@ZPAFC) March 3, 2017
Crowley then impressed in a 2-2 home draw with Heerenveen (40/44 passes completed and winning 7 tackles) and in a 1-3 home loss vs PSV, managing an equalising assist in the latter match for Manu
Although Eagles managed to win 1-2 impressively away at Twente after a 1-3 home loss to Zwolle, they were soundly beaten 8-0 at league leaders Feyenoord, with Crowley being one of two players to be taken off at half time with the score at 5-0. Altho he managed to complete 22 out of 29 passes in the first half, he struggled along with his team mates and this unfortunately was the point at which the basement team’s season spiralled out of control. Nevertheless, Crowley continued to impress in spite of the following defeats.
With his team 0-3 down at home to Heracles and reduced to 10 men, this moment from Crowley managed to brighten the mood around the stadium.
Here's Dan Crowley's goal, comfortably been GA Eagles' best player tonight
— Abdul (@Flaminiesta) April 8, 2017
Daniel Crowley vs Heracles:
80% pass accuracy
45/56 passes completed
7 tackles won
1 nice goal
Shining light pic.twitter.com/ptWUO7Z3fU
— Abdul (@Flaminiesta) April 8, 2017
Crowley found a resurgence of form in the following three games (although all ended in defeat) and impressed with his dribbling, creativity and range of passing. The most intriguing aspect of his season was that he usually had the most passes, dribbles or even tackles won in most games, in spite of Eagles having the minority of possession and territory, and the worst form currently at the bottom of the league. This was notably seen in the 2-0 loss at Willem, as Crowley managed to create 2 chances, complete 39/42 passes and dribble past a player 7 times. Astonishly in a 2-3 late home loss to Groningen (which effectively sealed Eagles’ fate in the division) he completed a whopping 90/103 passes along with 5 dribbles won and 4 tackles won, having also created 2 key chances. The amount of passes completed was surprisingly higher than any other player attempted, with Pedro Chrivella coming close at 78/87.
His last game of the season was a 4-0 loss at eventual runners-up Ajax, Crowley creating 4 chances and 34/37 passes completed. He did not play their final game of the season however (1-3 loss to Sparta Rotterdam).
The biggest stumbling block for Crowley in his short career has been a lack of professionalism, as aforementioned. However, that aspect has been consistently impressive, both on and off the pitch. He has took responsibility as a player on the pitch and was often Eagles’ best player, was willing to take interviews after games, work hard for the team and start all but two games since he joined them, the former game of course being his debut and the latter game being the final match in which he did not participate. He also did not react negatively to being subbed off at Feyenoord. Ultimately his professionalism will likely be the difference between a potential place at Arsenal or leaving the club.
What does the future hold?
I believe Crowley should go with the senior squad on the summer tour, with a view to impressing and possibly finding a spot in the first team squad for next season. Due to Arsenal being in the Europa League group stages next season, this could be a chance for Crowley to find further opportunities for game time, should the manager decide to rotate. However, I also believe that another loan would be beneficial for his development, hopefully to a better suited side than Go Ahead Eagles. He has played LM, CM and AM this season, mostly as an AM, but has impressed in all roles generally. While I don’t at all see him as a LM long-term, I do feel that a CM role is possible. He showed good defensive discipline, creativity and decision making in terms of dribbling. However, the AM role is perhaps his best position for now at least and the role in which he can develop best. The player is clearly talented and the signs at Eagles show that he may have realised that he must be rid of his attitude issues in the past.
Dan Crowley stats for Go Ahead Eagles 2017:
16 appearances (1 off the bench)
2 league goals in 15 appearances
2 league assists in 16 appearances
17 chances created in 16 appearances (2nd most since he joined) – Squawka
29/60 tackles won (48 %) – Squawka
47/65 take-ons completed (72 %) – Squawka
83.7 pass accuracy
1.3 key passes per game
41.8 passes per game
2.8 dribbles per game
0.6 shots per game
2 tackles per game
0.9 interceptions per game
Credit to @ZPAFC for the Crowley vs Vitesse compilation