On Friday, Tyreece John-Jules made his first start for the Arsenal u23 side since his hamstring injury, and he was a key player in the team’s 3-1 win.
Last week, we wrote about how academy striker Folarin Balogun had been influential for the Arsenal u23s despite neither scoring nor assisting for a couple of games.
With Balogun out injured, Tyreece John-Jules ended up taking on that same role in the team in the u23 North London derby this Friday.
John-Jules was making his first start since his hamstring injury, which isn’t an easy thing to do away from home in a derby game. The striker had a big part to play in two of the Arsenal goals as they eased to a comfortable 3-1 victory though.
The 18-year-old had plenty of chances on the night, and he’ll be a little disappointed he didn’t put one away, but the important thing was that they kept falling to him. Eventually, Arsenal got their rewards for that, as John-Jules was denied by a good save only for the ball to rebound to Robbie Burton to fire home from yards out.
Late in the game, with Spurs threatening a comeback, John-Jules showed composure to play in Nathan Tormey behind the defence. Tormey saw his first shot saved, but he scored on the rebound.
Whilst John-Jules won’t technically get the assist, due to Tormey’s failure to score at the first attempt, his composure and pass were just as good as one.
As always, John-Jules pressed the opposition defence into mistakes, he drew free-kicks in dangerous areas by shielding the ball well and he brought the wingers into play impressively. His all-around play remains more of a selling point for him than just goals.
The u23s have some good players in their ranks. Zak Swanson is showing more and more consistency at right-back, Ben Cottrell and Matt Smith are stepping up from the u18s impressively, and Tormey’s recent performances have gone underrated too, to name but a few.
All the same, they just aren’t the same team without Balogun or John-Jules. Those two put the attacking thrust of the side on their own backs consistently. Without them, there isn’t one result this season Arsenal would’ve achieved anyway.
With Gabriel Martinelli playing as well as he is, it’s hard for John-Jules to get a look in for the senior side. Next Thursday’s trip to Vitoria might be a good time to bring the youngster for the bench and rest Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette for Leicester City though.