Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Debuchy and Abou Diaby all continued their respective rehabilitations from injury as an Arsenal XI beat Brentford 4-0 at London Colney today.
Wilshere hasn’t featured competitively since November because of an ankle problem but the England international could return to the matchday squad against Liverpool this weekend. He opened the scoring against Brentford, with Dan Crowley, a player who has been likened to Wilshere in playing style, then making it 2-0.
Alex Iwobi, who has enjoyed an impressive season, hit a brace as Arsenal made it 4-0 before the break and, despite a swathe of substitutions, the Gunners held on for the victory.
The Arsenal side was a mixture of first-team players and U21 regulars. Mathieu Flamini and Krystian Bielik started, the latter being deployed at centre-back, whilst Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill returned from injury to start at left-back.
First-years Chris Willock, Marc Bola, Stephy Mavididi, George Dobson, Ben Sheaf and Aaron Eyoma were all involved as substitutes, as was Austin Lipman.
subs: M. Bola (for Ormonde-Ottewill, 46), C. Willock (for Diaby, 46), Zelalem (for Arteta, 46), Mavididi (for Wilshere, 46), Dobson (for Crowley, 46), Maitland-Niles (for Debuchy, 60), Sheaf (for Bielik, 66), Eyoma (for Flamini, 66), Lipman (for Iwobi, 68).
Arsenal, as was to be expected given the strength of their side, were dominant from the offset. Flamini saw a shot deflected, with the re-bound falling into the path of Wilshere, who finished well.
In a move that will have many dreaming about a future first-team partnership, Wilshere and Crowley interchanged passes quickly in the build-up to Arsenal’s second goal, with Crowley finishing adroitly to make it 2-0.
Iwobi, who has trained regularly with the first-team squad this season, made it 3-0 with a precise strike and the winger rounded off the scoring when he found the net again, this time from Diaby’s neat pass.
With Diaby, Arteta and Wilshere all withdrawn at half-time, the Arsenal side for the second-half had a less experienced look to it, but Arsenal still managed to create several attacking opportunities.
Willock missed a penalty after he was brought down in the area, with Lipman, another substitute, later striking a post.
Matt Macey made a good save late on to preserve his clean sheet and, overall, this was a very positive outing for Arsenal, with several first-team players gaining valuable match fitness, whilst some promising youngsters had the experience of playing with more senior individuals.