Arsenal’s u23s beat Chelsea at London Colney on Friday afternoon thanks to goals from Rob Holding, Donyell Malen, Reiss Nelson and Danny Welbeck.
Steve Gatting selected a strong team featuring Emi Martinez in goal, with Rob Holding, Carl Jenkinson, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Danny Welbeck all starting as Arsene Wenger watched on.
— Dan Fletcher (@Dan_Fletcher10) February 24, 2017
Arsenal were sloppy from the kick-off and took some time to get going. Two early Chelsea freekicks from the edge of the area came to nothing, but the Young Guns were struggling to find their rhythm. Chelsea certainly had the better of the exchanges during the first half of the first half, but the second quarter of the game was a different story.
Rob Holding opened the scoring with his head from a short corner, cleverly worked to Reiss Nelson who crossed. It was against the run of play but the goal injected the whole squad with confidence. Their passing became smoother and quicker, runners of the ball being found.
It was Holding who then set up the second. Rampaging unchallenged from the back, he made it to the edge of the Chelsea box, slid the ball to Donyell Malen and the Dutch youngster scored his first goal of the season for the u23s, through the Chelsea keeper.
The second half saw a great reaction save from Martinez, down low to his right, to deny Chelsea the chance to halve their deficit. He’d been a spectator for most of the game but showed that he was able to keep his concentration. Always a worry when it comes to Arsenal keepers.
Arsenal put the game to bed with just under half an hour remaining. A lovely backheel flick from Reiss Nelson, who started the move, made it 3-0. It was a cheeky little finish, perfectly executed, bamboozling the Chelsea defence in front of their keeper.
Chelsea got themselves on the scoresheet with just over 20 to play. A shot from range by Musonda was parried by Martinez but Ike Ugbo was there to tap in the follow up.
If Chelsea had any thoughts of a dramatic comeback, they were short lived. An Arsenal penalty, dispatched by Danny Welbeck, restored Arsenal’s three-goal lead not long after.
Danny Welbeck on the scoresheet for Arsenal U23's ⚽pic.twitter.com/Jae18ZM2Tu
— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) February 24, 2017
The game offered up a number of other highlights, including the performance of Maitland-Niles who covered every blade of grass at London Colney. He’s a player who seems to have had a massive spurt in his development that could propel him into the first team squad even more next season.
Danny Welbeck also got a full 90 as he continues his long road back to full fitness.
Although they started as the more nervous side, Arsenal took control of the game and at times it seemed as if the players were a level above their Chelsea counterparts.
It wasn’t all roses, issues still remain that will no doubt be dealt with, but the future of most involved against Chelsea looks very bright indeed.
The win drew the Gunners level on 25 points with Chelsea, but wasn’t enough to move Arsenal above them in Premier League 2. Chelsea’s goal difference was significantly better although this result went a long way to carving into it (was 10 better, now 4).
Both sides are 16 points away from Everton who top the table with 41 points from 17 games.