Diaby returns but Frimpong sent off as U21s draw with West Brom

Barclays U21 Premier League- Elite Group

Arsenal 1 (Diaby) West Brom 1

Arsenal U21s began their Elite Group campaign with a hard-fought draw against West Bromwich Albion at London Colney this afternoon. West Brom took the lead early on, but Andre Santos levelled for a largely experienced Arsenal outfit, for whom Emmanuel Frimpong was sent off late on.

Coach Terry Burton called upon an extremely strong side, with seven members of the first-team squad making the starting line-up. Abou Diaby and Santos made their first appearances following spells on the sidelines, whilst Frimpong, Vito Mannone, Carl Jenkinson, Francis Coquelin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were also called upon. Conor Henderson, meanwhile, marked his return from a frustrating loan spell at Coventry City by making the bench.






subs: C-Cook, Monteiro, Bihmoutine, Henderson (for Diaby, 67), Ansah (for Chamerlain, 70).

West Brom, in contrast, named a rather inexperienced side, with midfielder Scott Allan their most prominent player, and it was no surprise that Arsenal started the brightest of the two sides, with Jenkinson seeing a shot pushed away by Luke Daniels.

Coquelin then tried his luck from distance, before Chuba Akpom, one of the few players in the side without first-team experience, was flagged for offside having been played through by Jenkinson.

Despite the Arsenal pressure, however, it was the visitors who struck the first notable blow, with Mannone left stranded when the alert Adil Nabi headed home a well-delivered free-kick.

Frimpong hit a deflected effort on goal as some means of retaliation, but Mannone had to react quickly at the other end to prevent Romaine Sawyers from doubling West Brom’s advantage, with the Italian making an impressive stop at the feet of the striker.

Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was a lively presence throughout the first-half, then stung the palms of Daniels with a typically ferocious shot from the edge of the area, before Akpom and Frimpong both came close to restoring parity.

Santos struck Arsenal's equaliser just prior to the interval.

Santos struck Arsenal’s equaliser just prior to the interval.

The equaliser finally came on the stroke of half-time as Diaby, impressive on his return, threaded the ball through to Santos, after it was allowed to run by Frimpong, and the Brazilian slotted past Daniels to make it 1-1.

Arsenal, buoyed by their goal, began the second period in the ascendancy, with Akpom seeing a header saved following a precise delivery from Oxlade-Chamberlain. Shortly afterwards, Martin Angha saw a shot cleared off the line by the alert Sawyers.

Santos then struck a free-kick wide from distance, before Henderson entered the fray in place of Diaby. Henderson nearly made an instant impact, but Daniels just about managed to hold his swerving effort.

Just when it looked as if an Arsenal winner was somewhat inevitable, Nabi tested Mannone twice in quick succession, before Frimpong reduced Arsenal’s chances of a late winner by being sent off for a rash challenge having already picked up a yellow card.

That proved to be the last meaningful action of an entertaining game, and one which Arsene Wenger will no doubt be pleased with having seen several members of his squad, Diaby especially, come through unscathed.

Arsenal’s next game is away to Southampton later this month.



  1. Shame such an experienced side couldn’t win the game, but understandable when a lot of players don’t know each other well. The most important thing is Diaby came through the game. If we can keep him fit (yes, that’s a huge, huge if) he can make a big difference. It’s not wise for Wilshere to be playing 90 minutes every match when he’s only 21 and spent a year out of the game, even if Diaby can only give us 20 minutes at the end of games to save Jack from fatigue and injury that’s already a boost. Although obviously I would prefer it if we bought a player in midfield rather than rely on Diaby not breaking down. Arteta and Cazorla are playing a lot of football too, they all need some rotation.

  2. Talk about making the best of a bad job. You fielded an experienced team, were at home, and against an inexperienced team, yet you only drew. Not the best whatever way you slice it.

    1. Victory is the last thing we were after here.. Diaby, Santos, Henderson, Frimpong are all coming back after months on the sidelines. So the good thing is that they put up a good performance and came back uninjured..

  3. It’s so frustrating that the club have two promising strikers in Wellington Silva and Joel Campbell, but cannot get work permits for them…
    Jeorge, can you see any possibility that one or the other, or even both, could get work permits this summer?

  4. my nigga diaby is back

    top top player

    i pray to mary and jesus that this guy stays injury free pls god

    If he plays against Manchester City then all i see an Arsenal win.

    Hopefully we will see Diaby-Toral-Wilshere agaisnt man city pls wenga

  5. I know this won’t be a popular thing to say but the quicker Frimpong is shown the door the better. Very overrated player who’s cares more about social media than playing football.

  6. Frimpong has had a tough spell at Charlton after yet another cruciate injury, but from what I read Wolves fans were unanimous in their praise for him when he was there. They would have gladly signed him permanently for big money when they were in the Premier League but didn’t believe Arsenal and Wenger would let such a good player go. Frimpong isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed but he’s a good guy, he’s Arsenal through and through and he’s got talent. He’s just not on form right now.

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