Arsenal wasted another chance to secure their Premier League 2 first division status in defeat to West Ham United on Saturday.
Going into the final three games of the season, the Arsenal u23s were in a good position to stay up. All they needed to do was beat Leicester City, or draw with West Ham United, or draw on the final day – against West Ham again.
So far, they’ve let two of these chances pass them by. First, they let a first-half lead slip against Leicester City, then they fell to a late defeat at home to West Ham.
In a match decided by three penalties, West Ham took a first-half lead through Conor Coventry. Arsenal quickly equalised through Nikolaj Moller after Joel Ideho was brought down in the box, but they never really got hold of the game.
The visitors dominated the chances, taking a whopping 23 shots with 12 on target throughout the match. By comparison, Arsenal had six shots and only one (the penalty) required saving.
Tim Akinola, Ideho, and Moller probably should have done better with the chances that did fall to them as well.
As a result, Arsenal couldn’t really complain when Ademipo Odubeko stepped up in the 86th minute to convert another penalty for 2-1.
The only real positive was that Amani Richards got the chance to come on for his u23 debut in the second half. Though that was largely due to the fact that Khayon Edwards had started against Liverpool for the u18s the previous day, it was still a big moment for the 16-year-old.
Lineup: Smith, Dinzeyi, Foran, Oyegoke, Alebiosu, Awe, Akinola, Bola, Ideho, Moller, Lewis.
Subs: Hillson, Jeffcott, Gaspar (for Alebiosu, 67), Sagoe Jr, Richards (for Lewis, 78).
Arsenal will secure their first-division status if Liverpool beat Leicester City on Monday, but otherwise, they’re going to have to try again at earning a point away to West Ham on Friday.
This certainly isn’t going to be easy, as West Ham now have the confidence and motivation to get another win at home.
If everything goes wrong and Leicester City win on Monday and Arsenal lose on Friday, they’d still have one final hope of safety, if Leicester lost (or possibly drew, depending on goal difference) their final match the following Monday.
Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.