Aneke and Gnabry superb as strong Reserves side dispatch of West Bromwich

Barclays Premier Reserve League

Arsenal 3 (Park, Gnabry, Aneke) West Bromwich Albion 0

By Jeorge Bird @ Underhill Stadium

On a night on which the focus was on the several first-team players who were called upon for Reserve action, it was two of the younger cast members in Chuks Aneke and Serge Gnabry who stood out against a young West Bromwich Albion side.

Aneke and Gnabry were impressive throughout as Arsenal enjoyed what transpired to be a comprehensive victory. Both players got themselves on the scoresheet, with the former also involved in the opening goal, teeing up Ju Young Park following a tremendous piece of skill on the halfway line.

As well as Park, four other first-team players received valuable run outs in Marouane Chamakh, Johan Djourou, Carl Jenkinson and Andre Santos, with the Moroccan demonstrating some good link up play and the other trio turning in decent performances throughout.

Arsenal began in dominant fashion, and particularly looked to work the ball down the left flank with Santos careering forward at every opportunity. Park found the Brazilian, who was making his first appearance in Arsenal shirt since December after a spell on the sidelines, but the latter’s shot went well over.

Santos then returned the favour for Park, but the South Korean couldn’t quite connect with a dangerous, whipped cross. The other full-back, Jenkinson, then had a fierce drive blocked after good work from Gnabry and Santos, before a sumptuous piece of skill and a diligent run from Gnabry culminated in a shot from Oguzhan Ozyakup which was also cut out by the visiting defence.

The pressure eventually told however when, after 17 minutes, Aneke worked the ball past the West Bromwich defence with a superb piece of skill before finding Park stationed on the right flank. Park cut inside slightly before unleashing an emphatic finish to open the scoring.

West Bromwich threatened sporadically thereafter, but failed to really test Damian Martinez in the Arsenal goal, with the majority of chances coming at the other end. Gnabry did well to cut inside but skewed horribly over, then Park and Jenkinson were denied in quick succession with the alert Aneke involved in the build-up once again.

West Bromwich subsequently enjoyed a sustained spell of possession but again couldn’t muster many opportunities, a tame free-kick sent dribbling wide the only real chance of note. Arsenal continued to threaten afterwards, though, with Park and Chamakh linking up well and the Moroccan demonstrating excellent close-control but not applying the finish to match.

He did, however, rather inadvertently play a part in the second goal. Aneke fed Chamakh who saw a shot saved before tumbling in the area. Ozyakup’s subsequent shot hit the striker and fell invitingly for Gnabry to stab home. It was a rather fortunate way to score a goal but Arsenal’s dominance of the half had merited a two goal cushion.

Arsenal’s dominance continued into the second period, with Santos seeing a shot well defended after a neat piece of skill. Santos then combined with Gnabry to find Aneke, who rivalled Park for goal of the night with a delightful curling effort.

Gnabry was desperate to extend the advantage and double his goal tally, with the young German denied again following an interchange with Park. Jernade Meade then replaced Santos, who went off to a rapturous reception, and the diminutive left-back immediately saw a shot blocked before Chamakh failed to turn home the rebound.

Jenkinson came close again, shooting narrowly wide from close range, then Ozyakup was denied after further good work from Gnabry. Benik Afobe also received a run out but wasn’t presented with too many goalscoring opportunities, save for the occasion when he saw a shot blocked from close range after renewing acquaintances with his partner-in-crime Aneke.

In truth, Arsenal could have had plenty more, with West Bromwich heavily reliant on the isolated Romaine Sawyers up front. It proved to be a beneficial exercise for the first-team players, whilst Aneke demonstrated his class for the second week in succession and Gnabry’s breakthrough can justifiably be seen as one of the most pleasing aspects of this second-string campaign to date.

Player ratings:


Damian Martinez (6) Had very little to do save for a few tame shots from Sawyers.

Carl Jenkinson (7) Pushed forward well and provided a threat with his crosses.

Johan Djourou (7) Impressively marshalled the backline.

Ignasi Miquel (6) Comfortable on the ball, although not really challenged defensively.

Andre Santos (7) Broke forward effortlessly and impressed with his enthusiasm before being withdrawn.

Nico Yennaris (6) Had a quietly efficient game breaking up play in midfield.

Oguzhan Ozyakup (6) Demonstrated his impressive passing range.

Ju Young Park (7) Took his goal well and involved in several other moves.

Chuks Aneke (8) At the heart of much of Arsenal’s good work, he has returned from an indifferent spell at Stevenage with renewed vigour.

Serge Gnabry (8) Delightful to watch, he caused havoc with his trickery and directness.

Marouane Chamakh (6) Tried and toiled up front, demonstrating good link up play but still lacks effectiveness when shooting.


Jernade Meade (for Santos) (6) Slotted into the fold well, bursting forward and demonstrating his efficiency on the ball.

Benik Afobe (for Chamakh) Only one real chance and still lacking a little sharpness as a certain Frenchman might say.

Martin Angha (for Park) Deployed on the right wing, although he drifted inside at every opportunity.

Not used: James Shea, Gavin Hoyte.



  1. Thought Yennaris played well, provided the protection in midfield which allowed Aneke and Gnarby to push on

    Taxi for Chamakh …. put him out of his misery

  2. angha on the wing?

    this kid seems to have played at just about every position besides forward. what’s his actual position? or his favoured one, if there’s a difference

    1. Thought the same thing – I thought he was a centre back. JB – can you elaborate on the formation? How were Aneke/Park/Gnabry lined up?

      1. actually….i think he has played as forward for his national team (youth team obviously)!

  3. Should be more carefully with next loan for Chucks, he needs to go to the team which plays football, not another Stevenage for him, there’s no-one to play with.

  4. Since the whole sale changes last Summer it looks like the squad have finally started to gel at a crucial time. With only weekly games from here in I’m confident that we’ll finish strongly pushing Spurs for 3rd.

    As for next year –
    Looks like Podolski is coming which is potentially a great signing.
    Jack will be flying for the start of next season too.
    Ryo will be the new Ox on the wings

    Likely to shed some dead weight to free up wages & fees for Podolski


    Chamakh – 3m
    Arshavin – 5m
    Bentdner – 6m
    Vela – 4m
    Almunia – Free
    Denilson – Free

    Can’t really see Wenger going for Gotze/Hazard in a mid field of:

    Song/Coqulain Wilshire/Arteta/Diaby

    Podolski/Walcott Rosicky/Ramsey Gevihno/Ox/Ryo

    1. apart from a bit of positional stuff and a few more departures i think you have it spot on ed. dont forget there is also frimpong lansbury eisfeld ozyakup yennaris henderson and aneke who can be added to that midfield choice, now or very soon.

      i would look at hoilett and farfan (both free) rather than hazard (£30m) plus get some more right back, centre back, left back and dm cover. vertonghen and a right footed version of him would be ideal.

      as for departures i think you can add fabianski, hoyte, squillaci, eastmond, park, murphy who are also all over 21 for next season and unlikely to gain a place in the 25 man squad when there is better younger players already in their positions. lets face it the 6 you have already named and the 6 i have named are not exactly going to be missed are they? when you have mannone, martinez, bartley, miquel, botelho, yennaris, lansbury, ozyakup, eisfeld, henderson, aneke, afobe, campbell, ryo, wellington, gnabry all looking close to challenging next season. i know gnabry is very young but he could be a real suprise next season and i know that wellington and campbell may not get permits, even if they dont we should have plenty in their positions.

  5. Don’t know why Jenkinson is called a right-back, he seems to spend more time further forward than the midfield. Djourou did well tonight, covering for Jenkinson’s frequent absenteeism.

    Jernade Meade is a great little player. He hardly ever loses a challenge or misplaces a pass or panics, and is amazingly and amusingly tenacious. The West Brom guy he had to mark, towered over him but the height advantage made no difference.

    1. jenkinson is basically doing a sagna gibbs or santos then. exactly what wenger wants him to do there is nothing wrong wth that.

  6. PS Gnarby looks incredible, only 16. It’s difficult not to get excited about this kid. We’re blessed with great young wingers.

  7. Well Luke Freeman is now at Stevenage, but I know what you mean…it didn’t work out very well. I wouldn’t mind seeing Ozyakup as back-up to Arteta next season. He plays almost the same role and he might be even a bit more forward thinking than Arteta is. I love Arteta don’t get me wrong, we need that ability to keep possession in the midfield and I thought along with Walcott, he was man of the match against Newcastle!!! I’m just saying that Ozyakup could be an alternative in a couple years time fi he goes out on loan next season.

  8. Lower league football in England is too physical and direct for a more cultured youngster to get the ball down and play, and the managers don’t play them to their strengths either. Lansbury and Aneke would be appreciated somewhere like Spain. They wouldn’t be played out of position or sit on the bench as impact players. They would have the system built around their vision and control and have their weaknesses covered for to make the most of their unique abilities.

    There’s a big gap between Reserve level and first-team level, and unless a player is a special talent who can make that jump almost immediately he has to rely on the rugby game of the lower leagues to refine his game and bridge that gap to the Arsenal first team. It’s fine for goalkeepers and defenders and power players, but creative midfield players have little chance of thriving and improving in that kick-and-rush environment. Lansbury’s had 4 seasons in the Championship and hardly been played in the central, advanced position that suits him best in all that time.

    1. As lower league clubs go stevenage is probably about the best ball playing team u will find with huddersfield (under lee clark at least) being the other. its why stevenage was chosen for our two boys as a good home. i think in aneke we was hoping that a championship team would come in that can play a bit but again this season they are also few and far between. west ham (pre allardyce) would have been the ideal slot so too southampton but with their sights set high and team set out to achieve those heights u cant blame them for playing the way they are playing. there are a few otber teams lower down the division but i am not sure it will do any of our boys any favours to get dragged into a dog fight that could lead to the team dropping out of the.championship.

      1. Yes, some clubs do try to play it on the ground more than others. But from what I’ve seen even the teams who try to pass it don’t tend to stick to that philosophy very strongly if things aren’t going their way. If the opposition put them under pressure on the ball they’ll inevitably start playing longer passes out of fear of losing it in a dangerous position, and a player like Lansbury just ends up watching the ball fly over his head for most of the game. And probably ends up getting taken off with half an hour to go for someone more physical to come on.

        I don’t blame Ozyakup for being reticent about going out on loan, he’s seen how Lansbury has been poorly utilised and a lean, technical player like him isn’t going to get much out of lower league football. Those type of players at Arsenal probably have a better chance of breaking through into the first team by staying in the Reserves and biding their time until injuries/suspension present them with a golden opportunity that they can grab. Either that or go on loan abroad!

  9. Germany obviously have invested a lot of money at grassroots level so now they are producing a lot of great attacking midfielders. Kroos,Ozil,Schurrle,Herrmann,Draxler,Mueller,Marin,Reus, Tore,Holtby,Leitner.

    It looks like Serge Gnabry is another one. Gnabry plays the same way as Goetze and both have huge talent. They are better in the center but do well on both wings. They are great at dribbling and shooting. They have great vision and love to play one-twos. They are really quick and explosive. They are stocky. Goetze was skinny at 16 but he’s really bulked up in the last year or so.

    I think Gnabry will make a name for himself at 18 like Wilshere and the Ox (and of course Goetze).

    1. I think gnabry is better on the wing. Hes not a technical finesse style player like wilshere or gotze, hes a more physical type. I saw a bit of gotze when he was 16/17, and hes really got a very different style of play to gnabry, other than that they are both german i dont know why you are comparing them tbh

      wilshere, gotze, chamberlain, and so the comparisons begin….

  10. Yes, all the best loans have been in Premier league (Wilshere, Ryo, Frimpong) and away (Ryo), it’s not working so great at all for creative players to go loan at lower league but Afobe did well, can’t wait him to get fully fit again.

    1. Afobe did well cos he had jordan rhodes next to him and huddersfield a
      under clark liked to play a bit which is probably why he was always going to struggle in getting them up. jordan rhodes is a fantastic in the box striker who worked really well with afobe i would take him over chamakh park bendtner or vela tomorrow as he is something we havent seen since ian wright and could really bring something to the table. lee clark is also someone arsenal should take a look at his enthusiasn and coaching style and passion to play football the way it should be played would be a real asset to our coaching staff. it would also help us snare rhodes. i know he is not an arsenal man but he.soon would be

      1. Afobe is a physical player though, different to Lansbury and Aneke. He was often used as a target man to hold it up and flick it on for the nimble poacher Rhodes which he did very well. Or when Huddersfield lined up 4-5-1, Afobe was played on his own to use his strength to bring others into play. Afobe played quite differently there than how he did here at Arsenal, when he’s usually trying to get in behind from a cross or through ball at Hudds he was coming short, using his strength, and getting involved in more of the build-up. Not that that’s a bad thing because it’s probably made him a better player, but he had to adapt his game to fit in.

  11. highlights for those who dont have arsenal tv.

    park seemed to have a good game tbh dont see why he isnt given a chance. I know we dont get the same perspective the coaches get from the traning ground but to the outside observer it would seem park has been somewhat mistreated…after all we prized him away from lille at the death of the transfer window. We must have surely given him some assurances of playing time. He does only have two years left before embarking on compulsory army training. Aneke definitely had a good game by the looks of it though he still has to prove himself on loan imo. JET also looked as skillful in reserves though aneke seems to have a greater work ethic. If he proves himself fit i think afobe should be third choice striker next year ahead of campbell as he has proven himself on loan albeit in league one he is an exceptional talent (i know it may seem premature to most but i really believe in him,) Campbell still requires another year on loan decision making and link up play still suspect.

    1. well tbh with youtube you really arent missing out on much considering hightlights are always available bout 24hrs after. Chelsea tv and liverpool tv are another matter completely they actually get to televise full matches. Hopefully ill get to see our reserves play liverpool next week as a result! Btw for anyone interested itv4 are showing the fa youth cup semi(or quarter not sure!) finals of chelsea youth vs manu youth. Hate them both but heard much about they much hyped up chelsea youth setup these days!

  12. I am mystified be Park too to be honest. Although there is a big difference between the reserves and the Premier League!!! That is probably why he is struggling hahahahahaha he just isn’t quite good enough for the Premier League but TOO good for the reserves. You never know when he’ll be needed though!!! Hopefully he won’t be needed in the first team because RVP will be healthy the rest of the way. Wenger is stubborn enough to stick with someone like Park and I”m sure he has a reason for buying him!!! Besides selling shirts!!! That would be mean, not to play him and then only play him in Asia in the pre-season to sell shirts. I hope that isn’t what it is all about. I hope he does play a part and contributes to the cause.

  13. nothing’s wrong is park in fact he’s better on the ball than man u’s park. he’s only crime is for being behind chamakh. i don’t know why wenger does that.
    and our best reserve players should be given opportunity to fight for place in the first team instead of being sent on stupid loans crap football teams. aneke and ozzy should be training with the first team and getting minutes on the pitch to help them develop. this crazy loan system is messing our young players. miyaichi will learn better while training with van persie than with kevin davis for sure then running the whole pitch playing long ball.

  14. Park has scored goals for his national team and he seems to have very good link-up play!!! The tools are there!!! I think he just needs some confidence!!! His body language in the matches I have seen him play doesn’t emit confidence!!! Slumped shoulders and all that. I think that if he keeps banging in goals for the reserves, that his confidence will shoot up and he will be an able back-up to RVP and Podolski. I really don’t know why he has struggled soooooooooo much. I think he’ll get there and a lot of fans will wonder how in the hell that happened and where in the hell did that come from. It could happen!!!

    1. confidence?
      chamakh get picked ahead of him and sometimes he doesn’t even get on the bench.
      hey from this game alone who would you picked? but wenger always does the opposite

    1. yeah thomas eisfeld hes been errrr….injured recently although he played in one reserve match. Hopefully its just precautionary though! hes in the reserves not the first team.

  15. You mean Tomas Eisfeld??? He’s injured right now but was playing well for the reserves before he got injured. It’s his knee I think. He’s struggled with knee injuries prior to this which is a bit worrisome…

  16. The games I have seen Park play he has shown he knows how to finish so I’m keen to see next season given a run of games what he can do. When I see him play he hasn’t done anything wrong for me to say he has been a rubbish buy and given more time to adapt I feel he will prove to be a good buy.

    Chamakh has always had a woeful touch, poor link up play and tame shooting when in good positions and these are things Park has displayed he is very good at so I feel he should be ahead of Chamakh in the peaking order. I’m sure he understands that no striker in the world can start in front of Van P at the moment but as fans I think we should reserve passing judgement on him based on the fact he hasn’t done too much wrong.

    Gnarby looked very good again, Aneke is very talented, happy Benny is coming back to full fitness and Ozzy was tidy in midfield, overall a lot for us to be excited about.

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