Folarin Balogun and Calum Chambers helped the Arsenal u23s to a win over Leicester City on Friday, in the final academy game of the year.
With Arsenal’s u18 clash against Chelsea on Saturday being postponed, the u23 visit of Leicester City on Friday night ended up being the last game before the academy’s winter break, so it was nice to sign off with a win.
Calum Chambers and Pablo Mari dropped down to continue to build their fitness, and it was the former who gave Arsenal a first-half lead. Folarin Balogun saw his initial effort saved, but Chambers was on hand to turn in the rebound.
Leicester equalised with the help of one of their own senior players, with Demarai Gray finding Darragh O’Connor from a free-kick for 1-1.
Arsenal thought they’d retaken the lead in the second half through Nikolaj Moller, but Miguel Azeez was offside in the build-up. Azeez was then involved in the winning goal, dummying a Ben Cottrell pass for Ryan Alebiosu to cross and Balogun to finish.
After such a terrible start to the season, with no wins in their first seven league games of the campaign, Arsenal are now on a run of four victories.
The inclusion of senior defenders has certainly helped. Lots of Arsenal’s experienced u23 options went out on loan in the summer, so they started the season with a makeshift backline that struggled for consistency.
Moller has also made a big difference. His presence in the side has helped Balogun to rediscover his form, both thanks to his work in the build-up play and also simply taking the pressure off with a few goals of his own.
Relegation is no longer looking like a serious concern, and a run up the table is certainly on the cards if they can continue their positive run in 2021.