17-year-old midfielder Charlie Patino made his u23 debut for Arsenal as they drew 1-1 with Tottenham Hotspur on Friday.
Recently signing his first professional contract with Arsenal, Charlie Patino got his first chance to feature for their u23 side this week. It was well deserved for the talented youngster after his encouraging displays with the u18s.
Patino started in place of Miguel Azeez, with goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo also missing out – to join first-team training.
The Arsenal u23s were going into Friday’s North London derby on a strong run of form. After the terrible winless first seven games of the season, Steve Bould’s side then won their next five consecutively before the derby.
It looked like they might keep that run going after Ben Cottrell gave them the lead against Spurs. The ball dropped to him after a quick free-kick and he finished clinically for his third in six games against the club. However, Kion Etete levelled before the break.
Dane Scarlett blazed a penalty well over the bar for Spurs early in the second half, after Tim Akinola conceded a penalty.
Then, after his hat-trick last time out against Brighton, Folarin Balogun had a late chance to win the match. The opposition goalkeeper got out to smother it and ensured it was another u23 North London derby without a goal for the young striker.
Balogun had a good record against Spurs at u18 level, scoring twice and assisting once in three games. However, he’s now on a run of four appearances (three starts) without a goal or assist against their u23s.
Unfortunately, that meant settling for a draw this time out. Spurs remain top of the table, though they’re only two points clear of Manchester City and Chelsea, who have two and three games in hand respectively.
Arsenal also have a game in hand on their North London rivals, but a win in that would still leave them three points behind.
When you start the campaign so poorly, you can expect the rest of the season to be an uphill battle, as with the first team. The good news is that both the u23s and the senior side are on a much more positive run right now.
It doesn’t get any easier for the u23s now though, as they face Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool in consecutive fixtures. The first of those is on Friday at 19:00 GMT.