Steve Bould has emphasised the value of his u23 side playing against more experienced opposition, after their 3-0 victory over Villarreal B on Wednesday.
For those who aren’t already aware, the youth football system works differently in Spain. Unlike the Arsenal u23 side coached by Steve Bould – playing domestic football in a youth league – teams like Villarreal B feature on the senior pyramid.
Specifically, Villarreal are part of the Spanish third tier. Their team is a mix of senior and youth players, as opposed to Arsenal’s lineup of entirely under-21 players.
In fact, nine of the Gunners’ starting eleven on Wednesday were teenagers, with only Tolaji Bola (20) and Konstantinos Mavropanos (21) as exceptions. Steve Bould’s side won 3-0 despite a tight first half, and the coach was happy to get a chance to test his team.
“I thought it was an excellent win,” Bould said. “They were a very experienced side and they play in a proper league in Spain. They had a lot more older players than us who have experience in league football so it was a very tough game and they’re a good side.
“I know we won 3-0 but we had to really dig deep and I’m absolutely delighted with the performance. You can’t buy that experience. For us, the more games we can play like today, the better.
“If we can get matches against teams with experience when we haven’t got a game on, we should be looking to play these kinds of teams. It’s just a great experience for us.”
Tyreece John-Jules seemed to particularly relish the battle against senior opponents. He spent most of the night involved in a physical contest against 26-year-old centre-back Soufiane Chakla, and it’s the kind of experience that will help him progress to the first team.
Arsenal face Dinamo Zagreb and Leicester City in the next two matches of the PL International Cup group stage.