An Arsenal XI largely consisting of under-21 players took on Boreham Wood in the clubs’ traditional pre-season friendly on Sunday.

An Arsenal XI kick off against Boreham Wood
An Arsenal XI kick off against Boreham Wood

For a number of years now, an Arsenal side have taken on Boreham Wood at Meadow Park in a pre-season friendly.

On the first few occasions, the first team took part in the fixture. But pre-season has changed in recent times, and the senior side now prefer to play most of their games abroad against top-tier opposition.

Now, Arsenal tend to send an u21 side to play against Boreham Wood, and that was the case again on Saturday.

It was quite a different side to the u21 team playing in the Premier League 2 last season, however. Some new players like goalkeeper Noah Cooper were stepping up, whilst others like Marcelo Flores and Nathan Butler-Oyedeji have returned from loan spells.

Boreham Wood looked the sharper of the two sides in the first quarter of the match, taking the lead through Kwesi Appiah after a nicely-worked move.

Things quickly got even worse, as a mistake at the back from Arsenal allowed Mo Sagaf in to score a simple finish.

But Arsenal rallied, and they eventually got their rewards as Flores fired in a shot low and to the near post midway through the half.

Towards the end of that first 45, Arsenal began to dominate proceedings. Ethan Nwaneri, Flores, and Charles Sagoe Jr all had good chances, and Butler-Oyedeji was pulled back cynically when seemingly through on goal.

Nathan Butler-Oyedeji competes for the ball for Accrington Stanley (Photo via Accrington Stanley on Twitter)
Nathan Butler-Oyedeji during his loan spell with Accrington Stanley last season (Photo via Accrington Stanley on Twitter)

Yet the young Gunners struggled to find their equaliser. Flores went the closest in the early stages of the second half, hitting the side netting after a clever reverse pass from Nwaneri, and Sagoe Jr had another shot blocked.

Then came the inevitable raft of changes, with Arsenal bringing on nine new players for the final half-hour.

Mehmet Ali’s side continued to have the best chances, with Ismail Oulad M’Hand seeing a shot deflected wide and Khayon Edwards lifting a shot over the bar, but the substitutions killed a lot of the game’s momentum, and it finished 2-1.

Though always disappointing to lose, there was plenty of encouragement to be taken from the performance against senior opposition, and seemingly no new injuries to worry about. So the day wasn’t too bad overall.

Arsenal lineup vs Boreham Wood

Cooper, Sweet, Walters, Monlouis, Sousa, Ibrahim, Henry-Francis, Sagoe Jr, Nwaneri, Flores, Butler-Oyedeji


Rojas (for Cooper, 62), Rosiak (for Sweet, 62), Foran (for Walters, 62), Jeffcott (for Monlouis, 62), Lewis-Skelly (for Ibrahim, 62), Kamara (for Flores, 62), I. Oulad M’Hand (for Henry-Francis, 62), Edwards (for Butler-Oyedeji, 62), Quesada-Thorn (for Sousa, 62), Davies (for Nwaneri, 83), Gower