Arsenal initially signed French youngster Yassin Fortune in the summer with the intention of playing him in a central striking position, but, after a stellar performance out wide from the first-year scholar against West Ham United for the U18s, coach Frans De Kat acknowledged that he may be more suited to playing on the left flank.
It was Fortune’s dangerous cross from that area of the pitch which led to Arsenal scoring the only goal of the game, with West Ham conceding courtesy of an own goal after they failed to deal with the ball in.
As has often been the case at this level in recent years, Arsenal struggled defensively, with Kristopher Da Graca again particularly culpable, but the Gunners were grateful for the presence of Hugo Keto in goal, who made some impressive saves on his return from international duty.
It was another frustrating game against his former side for West Ham’s George Dobson, who also featured as The Hammers were thrashed at U21 level by Arsenal recently. On this occasion the Hale End product was one of West Ham’s better players, but he was unable to find the net with any of his three attempts.
De Kat acknowledged that, despite the victory, Arsenal struggled to control the game in midfield, which is rather unsurprising as the club don’t have a recognised defensive-midfielder to call upon at this level, other than Krystian Bielik, who is firmly ensconced in the U21 set-up.
There is much to admire about this Arsenal side in an attacking sense, though, with Edward Nketiah continuing to work hard up front despite not getting on the scoresheet on this occasion. Substitutes Reiss Nelson and Josh Dasilva also contributed to the attacking momentum.
With the U21s playing Newcastle United on Friday, there is a chance that some members of the U18 squad could train with the first-team prior to the game against Stoke City.
Arsenal: Keto; Osei-Tutu, Da Graca, T. Bola, Chatzitheodoridis; Gilmour, Mourgos; Tella, Eyoma, Fortune; Nketiah. Subs: Agyei-Tabi, Nelson, Dasilva, Pileas, Barden.