U21 Premier League
Arsenal 1 (Ormonde-Ottewill 87) Newcastle United 2 (Streete 20, 63)
Arsenal U21s saw their unbeaten start to the season come to an end as they lost 2-1 at home to Newcastle United this evening, although Steve Gatting was without four of his most prominent players who will instead be in the first-team squad to take on Southampton in the Capital One Cup tomorrow night.
Hector Bellerin, Isaac Hayden, Chuba Akpom and Semi Ajayi will all be involved in some capacity with the senior side tomorrow. In their absence there were U21 debuts for first-year scholars George Dobson and Kaylen Hinds, as well as starts for the likes of Tafari Moore, Alex Iwobi and Glen Kamara, who haven’t been regularly involved for the second-string so far this season. Stephy Mavididi made his U21 debut as a substitute.
Gedion Zelalem, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Dan Crowley all trained with the first-team this morning, but they were back on U21 duty this evening against a comparatively experienced Newcastle side containing the likes of Haris Vuckic, Shane Ferguson and Gael Bigirimana. Newcastle prevailed courtesy of two almost identical goals, with Remi Streete scoring with a header in each half, although Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill struck late on for Arsenal.
Streete’s first goal came in the 20th minute when he sent a header beyond the reach of Matt Macey after latching onto Daniel Barlaser’s cross. He doubled both his and his team’s tallies in the 63rd minute when he scored a rather similar goal from a corner.
Ormonde-Ottewill offered Arsenal a glimmer of hope when he found the net with three minutes remaining, but Newcastle held on to win.
Arsenal, maybe as was to be expected with a rather unfamiliar line-up, struggled to create many attacking chances apart from that, although this game did at least provide some of the lesser-used youngsters with some much-needed playing time. Jack Jebb, however, missed out through illness and is yet to make an appearance at any level this season.
Zelalem may consider himself a little unfortunate not to even make the bench for tomorrow’s game, but Arsene Wenger is likely to give playing time to the likes of Tomas Rosicky and, if fit, Abou Diaby, who have barely featured this season.
Bellerin will be seeking to rid himself of the memories of last week’s encounter in Dortmund, whilst Akpom will hope he is finally provided with the opportunity to prove his worth in a competitive fixture having been so impressive at U21 level so far this season.
It will be a big night for Hayden, too, with the England U20 international set to be entrusted with a starting berth at the heart of the defence. Ajayi is likely to be amongst the substitutes.
Arsenal U21 team: MACEY; MOORE, DOBSON, O’CONNOR, ORMONDE-OTTEWILL; KAMARA, ZELALEM; MAITLAND-NILES, CROWLEY, IWOBI; HINDS. Subs: VICKERS, M. BOLA, SHEAF, SMITH, MAVIDIDI.