Folarin Balogun and Daniel Ballard faced off in a Championship encounter on Saturday with their respective loan clubs.
With Folarin Balogun fighting his way into the Middlesbrough starting lineup and Daniel Ballard recently returning from injury with Millwall, the Arsenal youngsters lined up against each other on Saturday.
If anyone expected the pair to take it easy on one another, they were in for a rude awakening as Ballard picked up a yellow card for a heavy foul on his Arsenal teammate 16 minutes into the game.
Balogun later went down in the area under a challenge from Ballard, but no penalty was given.
The match ended all-square at 0-0, with Ballard helping to secure the clean sheet for his side. But Boro boss Chris Wilder believes Balogun did well in the contest too.
“It’s great for Flo,” Wilder said. “He got booted a couple of times early on, which I’ve got no issue with. It’s a physical, contact game and I thought his reaction was really good.
“He and Connolly were really bright, especially in the first half with their movement. It’s an experience that won’t do him any harm at all.”
Unlike Ballard, who is on his third loan, this is Balogun’s first experience of regular senior football.
It’s as much about getting to grips with the pace of the game and the physicality of the contest as banging in the goals at this stage.
“He’s been trained by fabulous coaches in the Arsenal academy through into the under-23s and first team,” Wilder added.
“We’re not going to teach him an incredible amount from a tactical point of view…but other responsibilities young players have now when playing in the first team.
“He’ll come away and know if he has to play in this environment — or, for Arsenal, playing in Europe (in intimidating atmospheres) — it’s not easy. People don’t make it easy for you on the pitch as well as off it.”