Benik Afobe started and scored his fifth goal of the season as MK Dons beat Crawley 2-0. The striker had earlier struck the post with a free-kick in an impressive performance.
Jon Toral marked his league debut for Brentford with an assist in their 2-0 victory over Rotherham. Toral, on as an 82nd minute substitute, crossed for Nick Proschwitz to seal the win.
Austin Lipman played the last 29 minutes as a substitute as Boreham Wood lost 2-1 at home to Bath City. The striker directed an effort wide of the near post.
Wellington didn’t make the squad as Almeria lost 1-0 to Getafe, whilst Carl Jenkinson is still yet to make his West Ham United debut owing to injury.
U18 Premier League- Game 3
Arsenal 2 (Mavididi 17, Robinson 84) Aston Villa 3
SUBS: SHEAF (FOR PLEGUEZUELO, 46), T. BOLA (FOR M. BOLA, 67). NOT USED: HOUSE, TABI.
Arsenal U18s suffered their first defeat under new manager Frans De Kat as they lost 3-2 to Aston Villa at London Colney this afternoon.
De Kat was deprived of the services of Chris Willock and Kaylen Hinds, who featured for England U17s in midweek, and watched his side fall behind to early goals from Andre Green and Rushian Hepburn Murphy.
Stephy Mavididi pulled a goal back before the break, but Hepburn Murphy struck again in the second-half to secure the win for Villa. Robinson scored with the aid of a deflection late on, but Arsenal were ultimately left disappointed.
Julio Pleguezuelo was deployed in midfield as he played 45 minutes on his return from injury, whilst Ainsley Maitland-Niles also featured having been amongst the substitutes for the U21s on Thursday. Robinson and Harry Donovan made the starting line-up, with schoolboy goalkeeper Brad House being named on the bench after earning his first call-up at this level.
U21 Premier League- Game 3
Arsenal 4 (Crowley 3, Akpom 31, 63, 70) West Bromwich Albion 2 (Howkins 79, Roofe 90)
By Jeorge Bird @ Emirates Stadium
Arsenal U21s, helped by the selection of several first-team squad players, continued their unbeaten start to the new season against West Bromwich Albion, but it was two of the younger cast members in Dan Crowley and Chuba Akpom who emerged with the most credit from this entertaining game.
Crowley, again deployed on the left wing, gave Steve Gatting’s side the lead with a sublime free-kick, with Akpom then proceeding to further underline his own credentials by scoring a hat-trick. Abou Diaby made his first appearance of the season and completed 45 minutes, whilst there were also run-outs for Francis Coquelin and Joel Campbell, with the latter setting up the goal that clinched Akpom’s hat-trick.
There were further changes, too, with Deyan Iliev starting in goal and Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill returning at left-back. In fact, such was the strength of Gatting’s side, regulars such as Kristoffer Olsson, Gedion Zelalem and Ainsley Maitland-Niles were only on the bench, whilst Jack Jebb, Alex Iwobi and Glen Kamara didn’t even make the squad. Ignasi Miquel was absent amidst speculation linking him with a permanent move to Norwich City.
subs: Macey, Olsson, Zelalem (for Diaby, 46), Moore, Maitland-Niles (for Crowley, 77).
Arsenal started brightly and they were swiftly rewarded following a quick piece of thinking by Crowley. Akpom was brought down outside the area and Crowley took the free-kick quickly, confidently dispatching the ball into the back of the net.
West Brom seemed a little stunned at conceding so early, but they soon mounted something of a response, with Samir Nabi forcing Iliev into a save.
Crowley was beginning to wreak havoc at the other end, though, with the diminutive midfielder finding Campbell, who sent an audacious lofted effort just wide of the far post.
Arsenal continued to dominate proceedings, with Diaby forcing a corner after his effort was deflected wide. Stefan O’Connor had to be alert at the other end, however, to make a double block to prevent West Brom from equalising.
Arsenal were always dangerous when breaking forwards, but on one occasion Crowley’s effort lacked conviction and instead ended up in the grateful hands of goalkeeper Jack Rose. Campbell then tried his luck without success, but it was soon 2-0 when Akpom finished from close range after Semi Ajayi’s initial effort was repelled.
Iliev still had to make an impressive one-handed save to deny Kemar Roofe, but Arsenal were mostly on top in the opening period.
Diaby, who performed well, was withdrawn at the interval and replaced by Zelalem. West Brom still threatened intermittently, but it was Arsenal who continued to carve out the majority of the chances. Isaac Hayden, deployed as an unorthodox right-winger, did well to work space for himself, but his fierce effort was kept out by Rose.
Ajayi then headed wide from Crowley’s corner as Arsenal looked to seal the win. They did just that in the 63rd minute, with Zelalem sending a sweeping pass into the path of the marauding Hector Bellerin, who crossed for Akpom to head home and make it 3-0.
The fourth, and Akpom’s third, came not long afterwards. Campbell was the creator this time, with the Costa Rican sending a chipped pass into the path of Akpom, who finished well again for his 23rd goal at this level. A loan spell, perhaps after Arsenal’s Capital One Cup endeavours are over, surely beckons.
That looked to be game over, but West Brom, much to their credit, continued to press forwards and were eventually rewarded for their persistence when slack marking allowed Kyle Hawkins to head in. The deficit was reduced further still when Kemar Roofe made it 4-2, much to the delight of the small pocket of West Brom supporters.
It was the 1000 or so Arsenal fans who walked away happiest, however, after witnessing a largely impressive performance. The displays of Crowley and Akpom were the biggest positives, whilst Campbell looked sharp at times and Bellerin attacked well down the right flank. Seven points from three games is not a bad return for Arsenal U21s, whose next assignment is at Villa Park early next month.
Benik Afobe has enjoyed some memorable moments in his fledgling career to date- equalling Michael Owen’s goalscoring record for England U16s, playing for Reading as they were promoted to the Premier League, training with the likes of Ronaldinho and the Brazil national team.
Tonight, however, he played a significant part in a game that may well eclipse all of those heights. The striker may have counted himself a little unfortunate to begin the Capital One Cup tie against Manchester United on the bench, but he certainly made the most of his opportunity after being introduced in the 68th minute as he scored two well-taken goals in an incredible 4-0 victory for his loan side MK Dons.
Afobe, who has endured terrible luck with injuries in recent seasons, found the net just two minutes after coming on and then added to his tally shortly afterwards, demonstrating tremendous perseverance to shrug off the United defence’s attempts to stop him.
For a player who is in his sixth loan spell away from the club, it was hugely satisfying to see him finally playing with confidence. He is perhaps capable of playing above League One level, but, for now, he is certainly enjoying himself and has four goals already this season.
Afobe will be hoping for another game against Premier League opposition in the next round, but fellow Arsenal loanee Jon Toral’s Brentford side will not be involved any further after they lost 1-0 to Fulham. It was still a significant night for Toral, however, as the midfielder made his professional debut and played 63 minutes before being substituted.
Austin Lipman, meanwhile, found the net again yesterday as Boreham Wood beat Sutton United 3-1. Lipman came on as a substitute with 14 minutes remaining and scored in stoppage time after he eluded two defenders before slotting home comfortably.
Hector Bellerin and Ignasi Miquel joined the first-team squad for training ahead of tomorrow’s Champions League Play-Off Round 2nd Leg tie against Besiktas.
Lukas Podolski trained despite reports linking him with a move away from the club before the closure of the transfer window and Yaya Sanogo returned after injury kept him out of the last two games. Olivier Giroud was absent owing to the injury he sustained against Everton.
Theo Walcott, Kieran Gibbs, Mikel Arteta, David Ospina, Serge Gnabry are all still out injured, whilst Aaron Ramsey is suspended following his dismissal in the 1st Leg. Ryo, meanwhile, trained this morning but is not registered to play in the Champions League at this stage. Abou Diaby came through the session unscathed but it’s not clear whether the Frenchman is available for selection.
Wenger has a couple of selection dilemmas to ponder for this crucial game. He must decide whether to persist with Calum Chambers at centre-back and doing so would mean that either Per Mertesacker or Laurent Koscielny would be left out of the side. In the absence of Giroud he must also choose who to play up front, with Alexis Sanchez, Podolski, Sanogo and Joel Campbell all candidates for inclusion.
Failure to qualify would also have repercussions for Arsenal’s youngsters as it would mean that they will not participate in the UEFA Youth League this season.
Players in training today: Szczesny, Martinez, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Chambers, Monreal, Ozil, Flamini, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexis, Cazorla, Rosicky, Campbell, Podolski, Coquelin, Ryo, Miquel, Diaby, Bellerin, Sanogo.
subs: Martinez, Bellerin, Chambers, Rosicky, Sanogo, Campbell, Podolski.
U18 Premier League- Game 2
Arsenal 5 (Mavididi 22, 60, Donovan 63, Robinson 79, 89) Chelsea 1 (Ali 42)
After several years of many demoralising results, things are finally starting to look up for Arsenal U18s under new coach Frans De Kat. The young Gunners have taken maximum points from their first two games under the Dutchman, with last week’s impressive win at Brighton & Hove Albion followed by an emphatic dispatch of Chelsea at London Colney yesterday.
De Kat certainly seems to have managed to get his team to play as a cohesive unit, something that was sorely lacking for most of last season when Carl Laraman was in charge. Development always takes precedence over results at this level, but surely victories such as this one, and the confidence that it will bring, will be hugely beneficial for the players involved.
De Kat was able to call upon Elliot Wright and Renny Smith, who were unused substitutes for the U21s on Thursday, whilst Ben Sheaf and Joshua Da Silva were brought into the starting line-up. De Kat will have even more options at his disposal when the new foreign signings- Hugo Keto, Ilias Chatzitheodoridis, Savvas Mourgos and Kristopher Da Graca- are permitted to play.
subs: Phillips, Donovan, Robinson, T. Bola.
At this rate it will be difficult for De Kat to settle on his best side. Stephy Mavididi continues to impress in the lone striker role and the forward scored a brace yesterday. He spurned an early opportunity to give Arsenal the lead when his shot was kept out by Chelsea goalkeeper Bradley Collins, but he made amends shortly afterwards when he headed home from Marc Bola’s cross from the left flank.
Chelsea, despite struggling to assert control in the opening 45 minutes, went in level at the break after Mukhtar Ali’s shot deflected in off George Dobson.
Arsenal soon gained control after the interval, however. Schoolboy Da Silva, already a regular inclusion in the squad, played an intelligent pass to Kaylen Hinds, who crossed for Mavididi to double his tally.
It was 3-1 soon afterwards when substitute Harry Donovan seized possession before finishing confidently to score his first goal at this level.
Another substitute, Tyrell Robinson, secured the victory. The winger made it 4-1 from close range before concluding the scoring with a superb solo goal that showcased his excellent close control and dribbling.
There were plenty of positives to take from the game, with Chris Willock continuing to impress, whilst Marc Bola has also demonstrated some signs of improvement at left-back.
It is still early days for De Kat, but things could hardly have gone better for the Dutchman so far. Arsenal are top of the fledgling U18 Premier League table and they host Aston Villa next week.
Austin Lipman started and played the first 70 minutes as Boreham Wood drew 1-1 with Bromley in the Conference South. The striker was heavily involved in proceedings. Early on he did well to beat two defenders with some impressive close control before seeing his shot saved. Later Lipman delivered a corner which was met by Callum Reynolds, whose header was cleared off the line. Lipman then shot wide himself after being teed up by Ricky Shakes.
Despite his goalscoring heroics in midweek Benik Afobe had to be content with a place on the bench as MK Dons took on Coventry City yesterday. The striker was brought on for the final 20 minutes of the goalless draw.
Jon Toral was again an un-used substitute as Brentford drew 1-1 with Birmingham City, whilst the same fate befell Wellington as Almeria drew 1-1 with Espanyol.
Carl Jenkinson is still absent through injury and missed West Ham United’s 3-1 win over Crystal Palace.