The Arsenal u23s conceded an extremely controversial late goal to draw with Bournemouth in their Premier League Cup clash on Wednesday night.
Travelling away to Bournemouth, Kevin Betsy made nine changes from the side that faced Brighton in the Premier League 2 last Friday. Some were enforced by international call-ups, but many others were simply rotated out of the side.
Omar Rekik and Mazeed Ogungbo kept their places in defence, and Reuell Walters also started – having featured for the u23s fairly regularly throughout the last month.
The other eight players in the lineup were all without an u23 start since August. That was one of the big positives of the night, that many young players without recent minutes got a chance to feature.
Despite the heavy rotation, Arsenal led throughout much of the match.
In the 34th minute, Zak Swanson gave the team the lead on his return from a month out. Joel Ideho won the ball on the left and found Omari Hutchinson, who cut back for Swanson to finish just inside the area.
Unfortunately, Arsenal suffered a setback almost immediately afterwards, with Ben Cottrell forced off for Salah-Eddine Oulad M’hand. Cottrell has been working to get fully fit after a knee injury earlier this year.
Arsenal started the second half the stronger of the two sides, with Hutchinson and Swanson linking up particularly well, but they couldn’t add to their lead. Bournemouth then started to push for an equaliser, forcing a few good saves and blocks.
The hosts eventually did get their goal in the 95th minute, in controversial circumstances. After an Arsenal player went down injured and received treatment, the ball was returned to goalkeeper Ovie Ejeheri.
Ejeheri placed it on the ground, seemingly to take a free-kick, but Bournemouth’s Christian Saydee ran in and kicked it into the net. The Arsenal players were confused and protested the incident, but the referee ruled that the ball was in play and gave the goal.
Christian Saydee’s goal tonight
I didn’t even think the ref even blew the whistle for their goalkick 😆 pic.twitter.com/1NheyZWiRK
— ⚽️ Jon ⚽️ (@AFCB_Jon) October 6, 2021
Tempers flared, and there was a brawl between almost the entirety of the two sides after a late foul in the dying moments. But neither side could find a winner, and both had to settle for a point.
Arsenal u23 lineup vs AFC Bournemouth
Ejeheri, Swanson, Ogungbo, Rekik, Olayinka, Hutchinson, Cottrell, Walters, Butler-Oyedeji, Taylor-Hart, Ideho
Oulad M’hand (for Cottrell, 36), Lopez (for Ideho, 75), Graczyk, Alebiosu, Akinola
The Arsenal u21s travel away to Newport County AFC on Tuesday, October 12th at 19:00 BST in the EFL Trophy.
The u21 team is the same as the u23 side, coached by Kevin Betsy, there are just slightly different restrictions in the EFL Trophy. That won’t affect Betsy’s selection, and he’ll likely pick a similar squad to Wednesday’s trip to Bournemouth.