Arsenal U18s suffered a potentially costly defeat today as they were beaten 3-2 by their Aston Villa counterparts in an eventful game at Bodymoor Heath.
There was some positive team news, with right-back Chiori Johnson making his first appearance of the season after recovering from injury. Ilias Chatzitheodoridis, Charlie Gilmour, Tella, Joe Willock and Edward Nketiah also started in a much-changed side from the team that lost to Fulham on Monday.
Subs: Perrin, Benson.
The young Gunners were shorn of the services of several of their key players as a consequence of the U21 game against Stoke City tomorrow, and they found themselves a goal down within five minutes.
Arsenal responded quickly, however, and equalised courtesy of Nathan Tella’s first goal at this level.
Villa restored their lead before the break but once again Arsenal fought back, with the prolific Nketiah making it 2-2 with his 13th goal of the season.
It was Villa who would ultimately prevail, however, with the hosts making it 3-2 and holding on for the win, with Arsenal reduced to ten men for the closing stages after Yassin Fortune suffered an injury with all three substitutions having been used.
Arsenal surely can’t afford any more slip-ups if they are to finish in the top four and secure their place in the upper tier for the next stage of the competition.
Frans de Kat’s side host Southampton in their next game before concluding this phase with away trips to face London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.