It was a mixed day for the Arsenal academy, with the u18s pulling off a comeback win but the u23s losing in bizarre circumstances despite a Nikolaj Möller debut goal.
The Arsenal u23s lost 4-1 to Manchester City, but that doesn’t tell half the story. The u23s played over 80 minutes with 10 men and a centre-back in goal, which you can read more about here.
As for the rest of the performance, Nikolaj Möller made a strong start on his debut. He scored the opening goal of the game before the red card, and he offered an option up front throughout the match. He looks good physically and technically for this level.
Folarin Balogun also started well, rounding the goalkeeper to take the shot that led to Möller’s goal. However, he perhaps should’ve added another later in the game. It seems like he’s back in form after his two goals last week.
Joel Lopez looked promising again at left-back. He missed out on last week’s draw with Manchester United after playing well in the previous midweek game against the Crawley Town first team.
But the overall result was another disappointment for Steve Bould’s side. As much as performances and individual development take precedence over team results at this level, they’re on such a dreadful run it must be affecting confidence.
The new signings should help once they gel in, and the squad shouldn’t always be this light. Plus, it’s not often you have to play almost a full match with a debutant defender in goal. Nonetheless, things have to start improving soon.
Meanwhile, the Arsenal u18s won 3-1 away to West Bromwich Albion. After their desperately disappointing 5-0 defeat to Brighton last weekend, more of the same was on the cards when West Brom took the lead within seven minutes.
As a result, it was very encouraging to see the young side fight back. They scored twice in two minutes around the half-hour mark to take the lead, with Omari Hutchinson setting up Luke Plange, before a Lino Sousa own goal made it 2-1.
After the break, Plange made it 3-1, this time assisted by Mauro Bandeira. That’s three goals in three starts for the u18 striker this season.
Just as impressively, that’s five assists for Hutchinson in this young campaign, and he arguably deserved another one for a deflected pass in one of the previous matches. He’s proving himself the creative hub of the u18s right now.
Charlie Patino and Zane Monlouis also deserve a mention. Both were celebrating their professional contracts this week, and Patino played the full 90 whilst Monlouis returned from injury to come off the bench 33 minutes. Congratulations again to both!