Goals from the returning Yaya Sanogo and winger, Reiss Nelson, ensured Arsenal u23s were 2-0 winners over Tottenham on Friday afternoon.
Steve Gatting once again fielded a strong side with some experienced seniors involved, including Mathieu Debuchy and Carl Jenkinson.
It was Jenkinson who created the assist for Sanogo’s opener just before the break, after a hard-fought battle for supremacy in the first 45.
The French forward made his long-awaited return from his ‘secret’ injury and was undoubtedly keen to prove himself. His probing runs, pressing Spurs’ backline, were effective in forcing them to be overly cautious and he made good use of a golden opportunity after 42 minutes.
Jenkinson’s interception was crucial here. It allowed the 24-year-old a chance to strike goalwards from close-range. He hit hard and low towards goalkeeper Pau Lopez, who saw the ball ricochet through him and in at his near post.
Sanogo’s afternoon work was complete and he was replaced by Edward Nketiah as the sides came out for the second-half.
Tottenham started brightly and came close to an equaliser before being denied by Debuchy. Shilow Tracey weaved past Emiliano Martinez before watching helplessly as the experienced fullback, operating as a centre-back on this occasion, headed the ball over the crossbar.
Spurs were looking increasingly dangerous as they edged closer to an equaliser, but Arsenal were a potent threat. Lopez made a handful of good saves to keep his teammates in the game, especially from Vlad Dragomir’s powerful effort and a crucial double save to deny Donyell Malen and Jenkinson as the minutes ticked by.
Nelson, who played as a holding midfielder alongside Marcus McGuane, doubled Arsenal’s lead with just two minutes remaining. Malen took advantage of open space to drive towards, cut the ball back in the area and his attack-minded teammate made no mistake.
Recent form too late for sustainable title charge
Arsenal u23s now find themselves in third place within the Barclays Premier League 2, 13 points behind leaders Everton after their 3-0 away defeat at the hands of Manchester City.
With 5 games remaining, it seems a frustrating case of reaching top form too late for Arsenal’s academy players – who have impressed since the turn of the year but lacked enough consistency to challenge throughout the season at the top for the title.