U21 Premier League
Arsenal 0 Swansea City 0
The game may not have been a memorable one, but Tomas Rosicky took a significant step in his recovery from injury as he played the first 45 minutes of Arsenal’s goalless draw with Swansea City at U21 level today.
The experienced midfielder showed some encouraging signs as he made his first appearance for the Gunners since May before being substituted in a pre-planned change.
The two sides struggled for attacking momentum throughout, with the game ultimately ending in a rather frustrating stalemate.
There were some notable absentees from the Arsenal line-up, with Glen Kamara poised to join Southend United on loan, whilst Krystian Bielik, Ben Sheaf and the suspended Tyrell Robinson were also missing.
Kristopher Da Graca was drafted in to start his first game for the U21s, whilst Tolaji Bola and Josh Dasilva earned their maiden call-ups at this level and were named on the bench.
Moore-Da Graca-Pleguezuelo-M. Bola
Reine Adelaide-Crowley-C. Willock
Subs: McGuane (for Rosicky, 46), Mavididi (for Reine-Adelaide, 63).
Not used: Keto, T. Bola, Dasilva.
With both sides renowned for their passing philosophies, there was a concern going into this game that the two teams could cancel eachother out.
That certainly appeared to be the case in the early exchanges, with both sides playing some neat passes but ultimately being unable to carve out much in the way of clear cut chances.
Gradually the game started to open up, with Rosicky, by far the most experienced player on show, attempting to take the initiative. The midfielder turned cleverly but his subsequent shot went over the crossbar.
Swansea then responded with their first meaningful effort of the game, but Matt Macey was on hand to gather Jay Fulton’s attempt.
Arsenal were striving arduously to create an opening, with Dan Crowley and Chris Willock combining to good effect, but it was Swansea who would have the next attempt when Macey was forced to claim Josh Sheehan’s long-distance drive.
Despite the difficult weather conditions and Swansea’s resistance, Arsenal kept probing in search of the opening goal and they almost got it through Willock, but the winger’s effort cannoned off the crossbar and Jeff Reine-Adelaide was unable to turn home the re-bound.
Rosicky, as planned, only played 45 minutes, with the highly-regarded Marcus McGuane entering the fray in the second half for his U21 debut.
Arsenal started the second half brightly, with Reine-Adelaide cutting inside and seeing an attempt blocked. However, Swansea then staged an attack of their own, with Macey having to be alert again to deny Fulton.
The second half was slightly more eventful than the first, with both sides, at long last, starting to create more chances. Crowley saw a free-kick gathered by Gregor Zabret before Adam King shot wide at the other end, but the quest to break the deadlock ensued.
Substitute Stephy Mavididi, who replaced Reine-Adelaide, was closed down by Swansea goalkeeper Gregor Zabret before he could get his shot away, with Willock being denied shortly afterwards.
Zabret made another important intervention late on, but Arsenal were unable to make the breakthrough and the game ended goalless.