Hector Bellerín completed his first 90 minutes since injury as Folarin Balogun scored again in a 2-2 draw against Liverpool u23s on Saturday.
After his first senior appearance for Arsenal since January in the midweek League Cup win, Bellerín dropped back down to the u23s to try and further build his fitness and match sharpness.
Though Unai Emery told reporters on Tuesday that Bellerín feels he’s ready for 90 minutes at Old Trafford, the medical team urged more caution, and they preferred him to continue sharing minutes with the youth teams.
Arsenal faced Liverpool at Meadow Park on Saturday, looking to keep their unbeaten season going. Bellerín and the team had a mixed first half, as the right-wing-back for the day provided a lot of threatening attacking opportunities, but spaces opened up behind him that weren’t covered well by the back three.
Curtis Jones took advantage, helping Liverpool into a 2-0 lead with a couple of far-post tap-ins. Nathan Tormey brought the scores back to 2-1 before half-time after being played through by Matt Smith.
Smith was making his first start of the season after injury, and his passing was a key feature of Arsenal’s play until his substitution in the 74th minute.
Before that, Arsenal managed to draw level through Folarin Balogun – who else? Balogun has seven goals and four assists in seven PL2 games this season, but in this case, a lot of the credit has to go to Bellerín.
The Spaniard was played in with the ball slightly behind him, but he took it out of the air and into his path with a backheel flick before squaring for Balogun to tap the ball home.
Both teams pushed for a winner, but in all honesty neither really deserved one. It had been a very even game, with each side on top for various periods, so a draw was a fair result.
The main takeaway was two positive returns for Bellerín and Smith, who got through a physical and competitive match without any injury setbacks. Konstantinos Mavropanos also got another 90 minutes under his belt as he builds his fitness as well.