U21 Premier League
Arsenal 4 (Iwobi, Gnabry, Pleguezuelo, Upton (o.g.) Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
Although they may not have managed to gain promotion back to the top tier, Arsenal U21s have ended the campaign in impressive form, with tonight’s comprehensive 4-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers representing the third win in succession for Steve Gatting’s team.
It was an evening of positives for the young Gunners, especially with regards to the performance of Serge Gnabry. The dynamic German youth international hasn’t represented the first-team for over a year, but he provided a reminder of his talent here as he scored one goal and set up two others.
Alex Iwobi capped off a fine season on a personal level by scoring his tenth strike for the U21s this campaign, whilst Julio Pleguezuelo scored his first competitive goal at this level. The rout was completed when Wolves’ Regan Upton scored an own goal.
The major team news saw Isaac Hayden make his first appearance since December after recovering from injury. Hayden partnered Krystian Bielik in the defensive-midfield pivot, with first-year scholars Chiori Johnson and Marc Bola occupying the full-back berths.
Arsenal were without Dan Crowley because of injury and Gedion Zelalem, who is set to represent the United States at the U20 World Cup, so Tyrell Robinson was afforded a start on the left wing, with Iwobi continuing up front.
subs: Kamara (for Hayden, 46), Dobson (for Johnson, 67), Eyoma. Not used: Huddart, Sheaf.
Arsenal had overcome Bolton Wanderers in their previous fixture and they started very brightly on this occasion. Gnabry was on set-piece duty and his free-kick found Pleguezuelo, who could only head straight at Harry Burgoyne.
Wolves responded with Jordan Graham forcing Matt Macey to make a good save, before the bright Bright Enobakhare shot wide.
Arsenal would find the net with their next attempt, however, and, given the form he has been in recently, it was of little surprise that Iwobi was the scorer, with the Hale End product finishing well after Hayden’s initial effort was parried.
Iwobi attempted to get the better of Burgoyne again shortly afterwards, but this time the goalkeeper was equal to his effort.
Wolves briefly threatened to equalise through Conor Hunte, but Arsenal soon doubled their advantage, with Gnabry getting on the scoresheet following good work from Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Wolves, to their credit, continued to battle on despite the scoreline, but Burgoyne was then called into action again, with the goalkeeper doing well to deny Hayden.
The first meaningful opportunity of the second period fell to Enobakhare, who brought another impressive stop out of Macey, but by the hour mark the game was well and truly over, thanks to two moments in which Gnabry was heavily involved.
Firstly Gnabry’s free-kick was flicked onto the crossbar and the eager Pleguezuelo managed to head home the re-bound to make it 3-0. The fourth came from another Gnabry free-kick, with the ball striking the leg of Upton and going into the net.
Robinson and Maitland-Niles missed chances to add further gloss to the scoreline, but the damage had long since been done, with Gnabry at the very heart of matters.
Arsenal end an inconsistent campaign by finishing fourth in U21 Premier League Division Two, missing out on promotion by four points. Middlesbrough and Reading have been promoted to the top tier, with Fulham and West Ham United joining the young Gunners in the second division.