U18 Premier League- Development Group 2
Arsenal 0 Norwich City 0
Arsenal U18s registered their first point under Carl Laraman and halted their run of three consecutive league defeats with a 0-0 draw at home to Norwich City this afternoon. Both sides crafted regular attacks but were unable to find a breakthrough, although Arsenal perhaps should have won it with a flurry of late chances. This was the fourth meeting of these sides at this level this season and the second time that the game has ended goalless.
Coach Laraman made three changes to the side that lost 6-1 to Aston Villa last week, with Josh Vickers, George Dobson and Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill coming into the side in place of Ryan Huddart, Zach Fagan and Alfred Mugabo, with the latter failing a late fitness test. Anthony Jeffrey has joined Stevenage on loan and Serge Gnabry, Hector Bellerin, Kristoffer Olsson and Chuba Akpom are in line to play for the U21s against West Bromwich Albion tomorrow. Jordan Brown returned from an injury lay-off to make the bench.
subs: Hinds (for Maitland-Niles), Brown (for Lipman). Not used: Iliev, Smith, Bola.
Arsenal, seeking to respond to the mauling by Villa, were in determined mood early on and came close to opening the scoring seven minutes in when Alex Iwobi found Tarum Dawkins, who struck the crossbar with a fierce shot. Norwich then enjoyed a sustained spell of possession without creating a clear cut chance before Iwobi diverted Jack Jebb’s corner just wide.
Schoolboy centre-back Stefan O’Connor almost conceded possession with an under-hit pass, but it trickled out of play before Norwich could capitalise. Dawkins then had a shot blocked following good work from the industrious Austin Lipman, with Norwich responding by gallivanting up-field, only for Tafari Moore, restored to his usual right-back role, to make a timely interception.
Vickers was forced into a simple save and Dawkins, a lively presence throughout, saw a shot deflected for a corner before the interval. It was an even start to the second period, but Arsenal created the first chance of note when Jebb drilled an effort wide from distance before another schoolboy, Kaylen Hinds, who has impressed in recent weeks, was introduced in place of Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Arsenal continued to exert pressure, with Lipman shooting just wide when well positioned on the edge of the area, before Jebb did likewise from slightly further out. Norwich substitute Dominic St Louis should have done better than drag his effort wide when well placed, but Arsenal continued to threaten as the game wore on, with Dawkins shooting straight at the Norwich goalkeeper and Hinds having a header well saved.
Brown made just his second appearance of 2013 when he replaced Lipman in the closing stages, and there was a chance for Arsenal to score a late winner when Dawkins was brought down just outside the area, but Jebb curled the free-kick over. Brown skewed an effort into the side netting as the clock continued to tick down, but the game ended goalless.
Arsenal’s next game is at home to Middlesbrough in a fortnight.