Arsenal’s u21s recorded their third consecutive victory in emphatic fashion as they thrashed West Ham 5-0 at the Emirates on Friday.
Just fifteen minutes in, they scored twice in quick succession through Kaylen Hinds and Stephy Mavididi, and they continued to dominate the young Hammers afterwards.
Krystian Bielik was deployed at centre-back once more as Steve Gatting opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation; Glen Kamara and Ben Sheaf occupied the holding midfield roles behind Alex Iwobi, Hinds and Jeff Reine-Adelaide with Mavididi up-top.
Hinds took his opportunity clinically after Reine-Adelaide exploited a mis-timed pass from former Gunner George Dobson in midfield. His initial probing cross into the area was blocked, but Kaylen was in the right place to slot home from close-range.
West Ham looked defensively un-organised having conceded early on, and were hit on the counter a minute later. Reine-Adelaide was unsurprisingly the creative hub once more as he accelerated forward, and his delivery into the box was met by the head of Mavididi, whose effort flashed beyond a helpless Sam Howes for a quick-fire double.
After this, the visitors did their best to try and settle themselves into the match, but were denied any real clear-cut opportunities due to the solidity within the Arsenal backline. Matt Macey, who replaced Ryan Huddart within the starting eleven, looked comfortable in possession and was a secure figure in-between the posts.
Bielik was firm and helped to steady the back-four, especially with Tafari Moore and Julio Pleguezuelo both expressing the freedom to roam forward in possession.
As the second 45 began, Arsenal picked up where they’d left off at the interval. Attacking at speed and with intent to score for fun, it was soon 3-0 as Mavididi was sharp to a poor pass and took his chance cleanly in front of goal with no hesitation. It capped off an excellent few days for the 17-year-old, who was named in England’s u18 squad ahead of their fixtures in September.
Opposing manager Steve Potts took off the side’s most notable attacking threat in Djair Parfitt-Williams, and they struggled to create any concrete opportunities after that.
Iwobi almost got an assist to his name soon afterwards as a reward for his encouraging approach play from the wing, but Hinds saw his strike deflect narrowly wide of the goal. Reine-Adelaide also had a headed effort well saved by Howes.
Kamara got himself on the scoresheet just before the hour mark. It was much deserved for an impressive display from the Finnish youth international, who was constantly linking up with his team-mates in space to create opportunities all too frequently for the visitors to deal with.
Four goals up and cruising, it was time for a few alterations to the side. Chris Willock and new signing Ismael Bennacer featured in the latter stages of the match, and it was testament to the sheer quality within the youth ranks that Arsenal have at their disposal.
Willock put his quick feet to good use within minutes of being introduced, winning a penalty after a cynical foul late on. Sheaf stepped up to the spot-kick and comfortably buried it beyond Howes, putting the icing on the cake after an impressive victory.
Three wins from a possible three, the Gunners lead at the top of the table in the u21 Premier League. Naturally, with so much talent within the youth set-up, you’d expect nothing less.