A headed finish from Ro-Shaun Williams was enough for Manchester United’s u23s to secure all three points against an Arsenal side severely depleted due to a handful of talented youngsters training with the first-team squad in preparation for yesterday’s EFL Cup victory over Reading.
Gedion Zelalem, Krystian Bielik and Ainsley Maitland-Niles are just a few of the more experienced crop, all of which trained with the senior side and were consequently unavailable for selection.
Steve Gatting was therefore forced to make a number of alterations to the side, with Josh DaSilva starting at left-back whilst Kaylen Hinds made his first league appearance of the season after nursing an injury in pre-season.
Ro-Shaun Williams’ header was well-taken and the defender had punished Arsenal for poor marking from the set-piece itself. With less than 10 minutes on the clock, the Young Guns already found themselves with a deficit to overturn, and it was always going to be tough especially with a youthful side in tow.
Edward Nketiah struggled for much service throughout and despite spells of good passing in midfield, the team collectively struggled to create many goalscoring opportunities to test Sam Johnstone in the hosts’ goal.
With that being said though, the players had Hugo Keto to thank for keeping the scoreline close. The Helsinki-born goalkeeper made a number of good stops in either half to frustrate United and ensure the visitors were still in with a chance of snatching a point, which eventually failed to materialise.
Kaylen Hinds showed flashes of promise when he sped past his marker effortlessly, but fired over the crossbar in the second-half. Then, at the end of well-worked passing move, Hinds saw another effort denied, this time by an important block from the onrushing Johnstone.
Time continued to run out and despite a few promising chances, it was not enough to snatch at least a point from Warren Joyce’s men, who were full value for their slender victory in truth.
The result leaves Steve Gatting’s side in 9th place with seven points from eight matches.
Up next is a home fixture against Sunderland in 5th, a match that Arsenal will be expecting to prevail in.