Premier League 2
Everton 0 Arsenal 0
Arsenal U23s secured a commendable point away to league leaders Everton tonight, but their hopes of retaining the Premier League 2 title are now over.
Freddie Ljungberg’s side faced a tough challenge on Merseyside, and the young Gunners had to be resolute defensively in order to keep a clean sheet.
Ljungberg made just one alteration to his team, with Nathan Tormey rewarded with a starting berth for his impressive cameo against Swansea City as he replaced Bukayo Saka.
Subs: Balogun (for Tormey, 69), Bramall (for Medley, 79). Not used: Okonkwo, Omole, M. Smith
Arsenal had the first meaningful effort of the game, with Xavier Amaechi forcing his former team-mate Joao Virginia into a save from a free-kick.
Everton then began to demonstrate their qualities, however, with Deyan Iliev having to make a stop to thwart Nathangelo Markelo before Warren Feeney headed just wide.
Tyreece John-Jules, starting up front in the absence of Eddie Nketiah, saw a back-heeled effort cleared off the line and later Amaechi tested Virginia with another attempt.
Arsenal were fortunate to go into the break level, though, with Everton’s Josh Bowler squandering an excellent opportunity to find the net.
The second-half was slow to get going, but Arsenal did eventually press Virginia into action once more, although Charlie Gilmour’s free-kick was saved.
Ljungberg brought on Folarin Balogun but Arsenal had to be heavily focused on defending in the closing stages of the game, with Everton threatening with increased regularity.
Julio Pleguezuelo and Daniel Ballard combined well to deny the Toffees on one occasion, and then Bowler looked to have won in for Everton but his strike was ruled out for offside.
It wasn’t a vintage encounter, but Arsenal should be praised for managing to secure a point against a side that could well succeed them as Premier League 2 champions.