U21 Premier League- Game 10
Arsenal 2 (Afobe 25, Hayden 87) Liverpool 4 (Ngoo 4, 29, Smith 41, Peterson 64)
After a positive start to the season, things are just beginning to take a turn for the worse for Arsenal U21s, with a strong side suffering a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Liverpool at London Colney this afternoon. Having remained unbeaten for their first six matches of the campaign, the Gunners have now taken just one point out of a possible twelve from their last four games, with today’s defeat coming off the back of last week’s disappointing loss to Middlesbrough.
Coach Steve Gatting was able to call upon four members of the first-team squad for this fixture, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Carl Jenkinson, Emmanuel Frimpong and Gedion Zelalem all being named in the starting line-up. Jon Toral also came into the side, meaning that Kristoffer Olsson had to settle for a place on the bench, whilst Dan Crowley is expected to be out of action for at least two months as a consequence of the injury he suffered against Middlesbrough.
subs: Olsson (for Oxlade-Chamberlain 62), Maitland-Niles (for Eisfeld 74).
Not used: Iliev, O’Connor, Ormonde-Ottewill.
Second-string meetings between these two sides are usually high on quality, but it was Liverpool who provided the better demonstration of their ability in the early stages. Arsenal had taken the lead very early on against Middlesbrough, but suffered a taste of their own medicine on this occasion with Michael Ngoo rounding Matt Macey before finishing with the minimum of fuss with just four minutes on the clock.
Arsenal responded with Benik Afobe doing well to find Thomas Eisfeld, but the German, usually so clinical in front of goal, could only direct his effort straight at Danny Ward.
Gatting’s side gradually began to garner some momentum, with Oxlade-Chamberlain impressing, and they eventually levelled when Jenkinson delivered a pinpoint cross from the right and Afobe, demonstrating a poacher’s instinct, connected with it to equalise and score his second goal in as many games.
Liverpool were back in front just four minutes later, however, with Kristoffer Peterson crossing from the right and Ngoo turning home his second goal of the game.
Chances continued to be carved out at both ends, with Frimpong striking a powerful free-kick straight into the wall before directing the re-bound just wide. Liverpool, though, would extend their advantage further before the interval, with Brad Smith, who recently featured in the Premier League against Chelsea, applying the finishing touch to a slick, counter-attacking move that the Arsenal defence failed to cope with.
Arsene Wenger was in attendance as the Frenchman considers his options for Friday’s FA Cup tie against Coventry City. Frimpong, who hasn’t featured for the first-team this season, certainly seemed determined to impress the manager and the midfielder did well to find Toral, who saw his effort blocked.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was then, as had been pre-planned, withdrawn after just over an hour, with Olsson entering the fray. The change did little to alter the course of the game, however, with Liverpool finding the net again shortly afterwards, with Peterson this time marauding forwards before beating Macey.
Frimpong still sought to reduce the arrears even though it appeared as if Arsenal’s chances of gaining something from this game had long since dissipated, with the 22 year old forcing a corner with a free-kick from distance. Frimpong again came close late on, before Hayden at least salvaged some pride when he scored his first goal at this level in the closing stages after good work from Toral.