The Arsenal u23s lost badly to West Bromwich Albion on Monday, but they managed to scrape through to Premier League Cup knockout stages.

Kevin Betsy with the Arsenal u23s (Photo via Arsenal Academy on Twitter)
Kevin Betsy with the Arsenal u23s (Photo via Arsenal Academy on Twitter)

Following a draw between Bournemouth u23s and Southampton u23s last week, Arsenal went into their final Premier League Cup group game with a fairly substantial buffer between them and elimination.

Already sitting in one of the two knockout stage places at the start of their match, Arsenal just had to avoid their goal difference dropping by four – at which point Bournemouth would take their place in second.

Kevin Betsy’s side were missing a couple of starters in Mika Biereth and Charlie Patino, but they had Omar Rekik back after his AFCON absence, and it was mostly a strong enough side to get the result they needed.

Yet the young Gunners made things as difficult for themselves as possible.

Following a mistake from Alex Kirk in the early stages, Rico Richards fired West Brom into the lead in the second minute. Hubert Graczyk had to make a save shortly after that to deny a second goal.

Arsenal tried to get back into the game, and Salah-Eddine Oulad M’hand hit the bar from distance, but the match reached half-time at 1-0.

Omar Rekik with Arsenal in training (Photo via Rekik on Instagram)
Omar Rekik with Arsenal in training (Photo via Rekik on Instagram)

Rekik came off at half-time, having picked up a yellow card in the first half, and once again the hosts made a fast start to punish another defensive error after the break. This time, Richards squared for Reyes Cleary to make it 2-0 in the 50th minute.

Arsenal needed a nerve-settler, and star winger Omari Hutchinson was on hand to provide one. Hutchinson pounced on a half-clearance to make it 2-1 in the 67th minute.

But once again, Arsenal made things a lot closer than they needed to be in the final stages, conceding a Jamie Andrews penalty in the 89th minute and a Mo Faal chip in the 94th.

Mercifully, the final whistle stopped any further goals going in.

By that point, Arsenal were clinging onto second place by goals scored, level on both points and goal difference with Bournemouth below them. They can be very grateful for the scoreline in their 4-0 win over Bournemouth last month.

Arsenal u23 lineup vs West Brom

Graczyk, Swanson, Kirk, Rekik, Awe, Lopez, Azeez, S. Oulad M’hand, Flores, Hutchinson, Butler-Oyedeji


Ejeheri, Ogungbo (for Rekik, 46), Lewis (for Flores, 84), Henry-Francis, Ideho (for Butler-Oyedeji, 75)

What’s next?

The Arsenal u23s now return to the Premier League 2, facing Leicester City on Monday, February 21st at 19:00 GMT. They also await the draw for the next round of the Premier League Cup.