Marseille 1 Arsenal 0
Arsenal’s hopes of progressing to the next phase of the NextGen Series suffered a heavy blow in France this evening as Marseille inflicted a last minute defeat on Terry Burton’s side.
Arsenal created several chances throughout the game, but substitute Antoine Kisaku struck in stoppage time to leave the Gunners with a difficult task to progress out of the group. Since comfortably dispatching of Marseille in the opening game at Underhill, Burton’s outfit have been dealt three key blows, with tonight’s disappointing surrender coming in the wake of five dropped points over two fixtures against Olympiacos. Arsenal must now win their two remaining games, home and away to Athletic Bilbao, if they are to stand any chance of progressing.
Burton was shorn of Serge Gnabry owing to the German’s first-team commitments, but was still able to call upon Nico Yennaris and Martin Angha, whilst Dejan Iliev, the Macedonian youth international goalkeeper signed in the summer, made his first appearance for the club after finally having his transfer rubber-stamped by FIFA recently.
subs: Jeffrey (for Ebecilio, 7), Mugabo (for Monteiro, 57), Jebb (for Toral, 72). Not used: Vickers, Lipman.
The hosts posed a threat from the off, with Sead Hajrovic having to be alert to make a timely intervention with the French side bearing down on goal, before Arsenal were dealt a considerable blow with just five minutes on the clock when Kyle Ebecilio, who has been impressive so far this season after struggling for consistency during his first two years at the club, fell awkwardly and had to be replaced by Anthony Jeffrey.
Billel Omrani then tested Iliev with a swerving effort, which the Arsenal goalkeeper gathered at the second attempt, before, at the other end, Yennaris released Nigel Neita but the forward, operating on the left flank on this occasion, didn’t have his shooting boots on, which wasn’t very surprising considering that he hasn’t scored a competitive goal for the club at any level for nearly two years.
Jon Toral then struck wide from a free-kick, before Jeffrey, who had certainly done his best to liven up proceedings following his introduction, crossed well for Chuba Akpom, but the striker drilled his effort wide.
Iliev was called into action again before the break as he palmed away Emmanuel Loiacono’s free-kick, but it was Omrani who was providing the most dangerous threat for Marseille and he struck a dangerous free-kick that whistled just wide of Iliev’s near post.
Arsenal started to up the ante a little thereafter, with Akpom having a seemingly legible penalty claim turned down, before the same player saw an ambitious effort blocked by a sturdy Marseille back-line after being slotted through by the efficient Toral.
Jeffrey then came close with another effort, before, just as it seemed as if the game was going to peter out into a draw, Kisaku pounced on some poor defending to make Arsenal’s journey home a miserable one.