Woking 0 Arsenal XI 3 (Ricketts o.g., Aneke, Emmanuel-Thomas)
subs: Brislen-Hall, Murphy, Galindo, Yennaris, Freeman. Not used: Roberts.
The Arsenal XI side that lined up to take on Woking this evening may be slightly different to the one that opens the Premier Reserve League season against Manchester United next month, with many of this group expected to go on loan before then, but this gentle workout proved to be satisfactory preparation nonetheless, whatever direction the various career paths of these players take this season.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, back from an indifferent loan spell at Cardiff, was particularly to the fore, causing havoc for the Woking defence throughout. The gangly 20 year old was involved in the first and last goals; his swirling corner was deflected off Ricketts to open the scoring before he finished himself with a neat strike late on.
Sandwiched in between that, Chuks Aneke, who may experience his first loan spell this season, had doubled Arsenal’s advantage with a ferocious finish following a further demonstration of his almost telepathic understanding with Benik Afobe.
This is a big season for the likes of Emmanuel-Thomas, Sanchez Watt and Rhys Murphy, with the trio’s long-term futures at the club likely to be decided throughout the course of the campaign. Samuel Galindo (pictured), by contrast, made his first appearance in an Arsenal shirt this evening after emerging as a second-half substitute and looked lively, although work permit issues are likely to dictate that this coming campaign will be spent in Spain again.
Whatever threat Woking did possess was sporadic and intermittent, with Kyle Bartley posed few problems at the heart of defence on his return from injury, whilst James Shea was also untroubled, meaning that Tony Roberts, the Arsenal goalkeeping coach who was named on the bench with Damian Martinez preparing for the FIFA U20 World Cup, thankfully did not need to be called upon.
Another plus point of the evening was the return of Nico Yennaris at this level for the first time since his injury suffered against Chelsea in the FA Youth Cup defeat at Stamford Bridge last season.
Oguzhan Ozyakup, who, after much deliberation, signed a contract extension earlier this summer, was hugely impressive and dictated play throughout, instantly rekindling his partnership with Conor Henderson in the midfield axis. Ozyakup is in a similar situation to Aneke in that a loan is surely beckoning this season, meaning that the Reserves are likely to change shape once more as the season progresses.
For now, though, tonight’s match represents a fairly comfortable start to pre-season, with further matches to come before that aforementioned United clash. Gavin Hoyte and Craig Eastmond are likely to miss the entirety of the pre-season preparations as they recover from long-term injuries picked up on loan last season, whilst Henri Lansbury could yet feature for the first-team this season, possibly against Cologne, if not at the Emirates Cup.