UEFA Youth League- PSG 0 Arsenal 0
Arsenal U19s got their UEFA Youth League campaign underway with a creditable goalless draw away to Paris Saint-Germain today, but their overall performance left a lot to be desired as they were overrun in midfield.
Arsenal had a presentable chance to take the lead in the first-half, but Donyell Malen was unable to find the net. For the most part, though, it was PSG who were the dominant force, with the French side forcing several good stops from Hugo Keto, whilst Krystian Bielik and Kristopher Da Graca defended well.
The young Gunners struggled to keep hold of the ball in midfield, with Marcus McGuane and Josh DaSilva often unable to cope with PSG’s technical wizardry, rendering the decision not to include the likes of Gedion Zelalem, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Ismael Bennacer in the squad rather baffling.
Arsenal were also without Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Ben Sheaf, with Stephy Mavididi operating in the number ten position. Schoolboy Trae Coyle made the bench, an indication of how highly regarded he is within the club.
Johnson-Bielik-Da Graca-M. Bola
Subs: Dragomir, Nketiah, T. Bola. Not used: Virginia, Osei-Tutu, Mourgos, Coyle.
PSG kept the ball well in the early exchanges and that set the tone for what was to come, with Arsenal unable to establish any sort of momentum.
For all their possession, however, the hosts struggled to carve out many clear cut chances, although Ikone shot wide.
It was Arsenal, though, who would create the two most inviting openings of the first-half. First Chris Willock, who was impressive on the right flank, saw his shot saved after good work in the build-up from Mavididi.
The next opportunity fell to Malen, who found himself in front of goal after he was located by Willock. However, the Dutchman, to widespread bewilderment, shot wide.
Mavididi then did well to work space for himself but his subsequent effort lacked conviction, much like PSG’s build-up play as the home side continued to spray neat passes around without hardly ever threatening the Arsenal goal in the first period.
The second half was slightly more open, with PSG eventually deciding to go for goal with greater regularity. The majority of their attempts went over the crossbar, but there was also some noteworthy defending from Bielik and Da Graca, who frequently got in the way of PSG’s shots.
PSG continued to dominate, with one cross hitting the woodwork, and Arsenal attempted to gain a foothold in the game, with Vlad Dragomir and Edward Nketiah, who have both been impressive for the U18s, entering the fray.
Mavididi had an attempt kept out from a difficult angle, but PSG still looked far more likely to score and they came extremely close to doing so in the closing stages.
Arsenal had a chance of their own through Nketiah, whose effort was saved, but in the end a hard-fought game ended goalless.
The young Gunners will certainly be happy with the point, but there is much work to be done if they are to go far in this competition.